Today I want to chit-chat about the notion of video games adapting books and films. When you consider the video game, it's easy to see how one the aforementioned media can take on life anew. However, as we've seen in movies, it's much harder to create a great adaptation of a video game. The reasons I believe stand in the way are the very same ones that determine the answer to a question I've come across (admittedly, not as much as print versus digital publication questions.) Would you ever wanna see your book as a video game?
As it stands, I wouldn't have much interest in writing for a video game unless it came with paycheck that would even make Jesus cry. That doesn't mean I'll never take the offer if it came around. There's simply a few things that need to happen with video games before I'd say "yes", and these things might be the same ones limiting video games - stopping them from being the most powerful medium.
Running, Jumping, Shooting
The main problem for me is the lack of actual story in video games. Sure, there's this landscape you can physically see. There are usually weapons or even violent teams. But when it comes right down to it, we're not very connected to any part of the story. We just want to blow shit up and have a good time. The main verbs in videos games are, by large, running, jumping, shooting, searching, leveling, etc.
Point being: They're all physical things like you would see in action movies.
When a character dies in the game's story, you're not about to tear up. Instead, you're probably pissed because of some healing spell or awesome weaponry they possessed. You have no way to actually relate to the character other than you spent a bit of time raising said character's skills.
Maybe this is why I'm not in the video game industry, but since we can have the story of a novel and animation to rival most films, why can't a video game's story be a little more involved? Why not feel bad for a character or mourn the loss of a character, not because you need a teammate, but because you shared so many strong adventures with the character - the way we're saddened when a character dies on screen or on the page?
Commiserating, Thinking, Loving
In a recent Big Think interview, Jesse Schell made some very valid points about the direction of video games. Who is Schell? He's a video game designer, author, CEO of Schell Games, and professor of entertainment technology and game design at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center.
Here's what he had to say:
"When you see video games, everything is about action, everything's below the neck. All the verbs that are happening are jumping, and running, and moving. Everything is about the physical, and everything in literature is about the emotional, and film is somewhere in the middle because we can't necessarily hear what's going on inside people's heads in film, and we can see them."
If you read further into the interview, you'll quickly realize video games have the potential to be more powerful - in terms of storytelling - if they add more emotion.
At this point, you would be fully immersed in all the normal verbs of video games, while at the same time having meaningful conversations between characters (including missing them when they're gone from the game).
You could experience all the tropes of both books and film firsthand . . . or perhaps first-thumb? When video games reveal something more than shoot-em-ups on a available market, then I might be interested in writing a video game. That is, of course, assuming anyone would want me to do such a thing.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.