This post is based on a talk I gave at Audio-Visual round table at Baltic Film and Media School last week. Though not the exact transcript of the talk, these are the basic ideas with the slides my co-founder Jaanus Sakkis from Aplefly created for it.
When talking about games, gaming and their connection to film industry we have to start by defining the state of the gaming industry and its development.
The story of modern gaming probably begins with “Pong” released in 1972. Even though it wasn’t the first videogame made it was the one to take gaming to masses. It even caused the very first lawsuit in video games history!
Pong was obviously nothing like modern video games and had no resemblance to movies. However from there on things started evolving fast. The first sign of what was coming was PacMan, the yellow ball munching pills while being chased by ghosts. It was the first game to feature a distinct character and a basic backstory (he was based on a horror story parents from Japan used to make their kids eat their vegetables).
Soon game franchises followed, Super Mario being the best-known one. These games didn’t just feature a character but also a storyline. I admit Super Mario is not the best example of the storyline in games. Strange monsters called Koopas attack the Mushroom Kingdom turning everyone into bricks and to make things perfect nick the princess. From there on an overweight Italian Plumber takes on the task of saving her killing half the population of Mushroom Kingdom (remember, every brick you break in the game used to be a citizen).
The way Mario looks was defined by technical constraints imposed by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). He was wearing a hat because animating hair would have been too difficult. He has a mustache to hide his mouth. Drawing it would again have been too difficult at the time.
Time passed and technology progressed. Games became 3 dimensional and at this point have become close to having photo-real graphics. So have the game storylines and narratives.
That’s where games and movies meet. I don’t mean games being made based on a movie or vice versa. I mean that both games and movies are mediums to tell a story using audio-visual materials, just games also have an additional element of gameplay mechanics to consider.
But why should anyone in movie business even consider games? There are two reasons. First one being:
70 billion dollars is the expected value of the global game market for 2013. Why not take a piece of the pie?
Second reason is that games are very much like movies your end goal is to leave the consumer with an emotion. If you are good at making films there’s a high chance you’ll be rather good game designer also. Of cause, you won’t probably be programming it and you won’t be drawing/animating the graphics.
However, the great part is that the barrier of entry for games is rather low. A team of 3 people can create a game that sells thousands upon thousands of copies. A local example is Teleglitch, a game made by exactly 3 people. One to do the coding, one for graphics and one to handle the storyline and narratives.
Games are easy to distribute, you no longer need to sell physical copies of the game. With various Android app stores, iTunes app store and many other marketplaces, selling a game have never been easier.
I suggest all filmmakers research games as a potential to expand the scope of your current and future projects.