Preserving the Experience

Monday, September 28, 2009
In an interview with Kotaku, Fumito Ueda spoke briefly about the Shadow of the Colossus film. Ueda mentioned that he will be involved in the film to some degree. While some may take this as good news, it got me thinking about video game movies in general, especially if anyone can really do a game like Shadow of the Colossus justice.

I've said before that film and games are very similar mediums. I'd like to take this opportunity to clarify that statement. While I have seen plenty of crap-pile movies based on video games, there remains the potential for decent cinema from the stories within.

You see, I believe there's a fine line that Hollywood should not cross when considering video game based films. There are certain games like Shadow of the Colossus that rely so much on the exploration and discovery. It's not something film can really capture.

Let me give you an example. When I played Shadow of the Colossus I spent a great deal of time wandering the world, exploring every little nook and cranny. When I discovered the secrets of the fruit and the white tailed lizards, I felt a little more connected to the game world. I don't imagine any filmmaker could recreate that feeling.

Other games rely on having open ended gameplay and encourage the player to find their own path through the story. Mass Effect has several possible outcomes depending on how the player decides to go about the various missions in the greater story. How can you preserve that core gameplay element in a film?

Some games, particularly those with linear story lines (Halo, God of War, etc) whose relatively formulaic construction that lend them well to film. That is not to say that they should all be made into movies (Prince of Persia).

I can't stop Hollywood the from making horrible movies based on the games I love. As long as there is money to be made by making films based on popular games, there will be bad movies based on games. Until they find a way to recreate the feeling of playing the game within the film, I'm afraid Shadow of the Colossus and a great deal of our other favorite titles are doomed to mediocre results.