Technology is moving at the speed of our imaginations right now. It feels like every few years we have a new console, VR headset, or graphics chip that blows the doors off everything else on the market. Video games might actually be moving at the speed of light.
The difference between what we saw in the late 70s and 80s to today reminds me of one thing: how much Hollywood changed from 1900 to 1940.
Hollywood started with just movies. They were going to be traveling shows that expanded with prints. It was challenged when television rose, but film adjusted accordingly. As streaming took over, the film industry found itself in flux. But Hollywood had a new revenue. Today, the same situation is going on with video games.
According to Polygon editor-in-chief Chris Plante, “Video game movies have been bad because they were based on things that literally didn’t have stories. A plumber with no personality moves right—that’s the story of the first three Super Mario Bros. games. It means nothing. I guess you could say ‘Well, actually it’s fundamentally about the Aristotelian tripartite structure because he jumps up, hits something, and then comes down,’ but you have to squint pretty hard to see anything there.”
Now, games are driving some of the best storytelling today. And getting fans who grew up playing them, and thus are invested for a lifetime.
The money is made by getting people to pay for something that takes up their time. Sure, lots of people play games, go to the movies, and watch TV shows, but everything is now competing.
'Super Mario Bros: The Movie'Credit: Allstar/Cinetext/Allied FilmmakersThat's because places like Netflix want to bring you games, games are now as cinematic as movies, and TV is no longer about cable, but what services you subscribe to and how that all plays out.
But Hollywood and video games need each other. There should be a symbiotic relationship. Not just in intellectual property that can cannibalize one another, but in the future of collaborations and entertainment across platforms. Video games have become so experiential, while still managing to tell engaging stories that consume the viewer and force them to be a part of the worldbuilding.
Craig Mazin, screenwriter and avid gamer, told Indiewire that Hollywood execs don't understand.
“They don’t get it... They don’t know because they don’t play," he said. "And if their kids play, they get it even less because then it’s like ‘My kid loves that game.’ That’s even worse. You have to love games to understand what makes them tick.”
As we know, strictly adapting video games has not been totally successful for Hollywood. It also limits where things can go. Hollywood needs to find a way to broaden its entities. Maybe using video games based on movies to expand the world, or tell different character stores. Or have movies and TV that do the reverse. Episodes that release between levels or shows between game releases that tell stories in a larger universe.
I also think the line between movies, TV, video games, and interactivity is about to drastically change.
We've talked about the Unreal Engine and StageCraft on here before. Those are innovations that came from the gaming world that changed the way we look at sets and CGI backgrounds. they revolutionized one medium but were made from another. This kind of cross-pollination can only make film and TV stronger. And change how we build sets, create worlds, and spend budgets.
There's a huge sea of change coming as storytelling in games surpasses what anyone imagined, and as movies figure out streaming, TV figures out cable, and all media companies try to service multiple methods of entertainment while not being stretched too thin.
Time will tell where this goes. Head to the comments to make predictions.