As video games evolve, they edge closer and closer to the kind of realism that our minds expect to see when we indulge in a little CGI escapism. After all, what is escapism in a virtual world if it’s only virtually realistic?
And as these games shift almost inexorably closer to true realism, they take on the attributes of those other, more common-place sources of entertainment and visual escapism.
Movies have been around for a long time, and what makes the good movies enthrall so is the exceptional acting, solid scriptwriting, lighting, location, cinematography, musical score, sound effects and the computer generated graphics, too.
During the course of this week, two video game video clips came to my attention. Both videos were showcasing the latest offering for their respective video game franchises; those being StarCraft 2 by Blizzard Entertainment and Halo 3 by Bungie, now owned by Microsoft.
The reason for these videos surfacing was because of the E3 Expo, being held in Santa Monica, Los Angeles. I wasn’t aware of the E3 Expo, but that was purely incidental.
The future of video games
It’s not the first time I’ve pondered over the ever-changing face of computer video games:
“But where are we going with games?
Is there an overall direction that all games are following?
To build upon and increase the realism, to draw upon the sense of cinematic size and to more fully immerse the player in the world they’re within, in time, we’re going to see games publishers working directly with the film producers and the film studios.
The game production will be interwoven with the production of the film.
The reasons being quite simple; save cost, save time and make the most money for the least amount of effort.
So all of those in-game character sequences will be added to the movie filming schedule, or maybe lifted directly from them.
Further into the future, I foresee a time when the distinction between movie and game is so blurred as to be invisible and seamless.
Imagine being in the film. Imagine being the protagonist running against the clock to save the whole of mankind.
Space Invaders this isn’t…”
There was a time when, as a kid, my friends and I would argue over which was the best game, but I think those days are going away.
With the likes of StarCraft and its sibling WarCraft – which has gone beyond a mere franchise and has since swollen into a vastly popular MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Roll-Playing Game) – as well as Halo, Resident Evil et cetera, these video games are franchises which command massive budgets to firstly develop and then latterly market.
The developers are usually partnered by entertainment behemoths like Sony Entertainment, who have deep pockets to fund these games. They also have the massive infrastructures in place to promote these ventures, too.
In many ways, these video games follow the same or similar paths as movies, some of which make use of professional, notable actors for voice-overs, or even for their faces and likenesses.
What we now have are hugely complex video games with intricate plots, sometimes tied to their parent movie franchises, which make for exceptionally complex and detailed games, some of which are genres of their own making.
In this sense, these games are stand-alone brands which command audiences, even followers (acolytes, if you will) who spend enormous amounts of their personal time immersed in these on-line worlds.
These people simply don’t have the time to play any other game, especially since many of the MMORPGs require monthly subscriptions.
So in the same way James Bond, Casino Royal won’t compete with the new Transformers movie for shelf space in your local Blockbusters, so too with StarCraft 2 and Halo 3 serve their own audiences, both of which sit at the edges of their respective seats, waiting anxiously for the latest developments…