Computer Games Versus Hollywood – Will Games Ever Surpass Films in Terms of Popularity?

Video games vs Hollywood films

Popularity Contest - Video Games Versus Hollywood?

We all know that video purportedly killed the radio star, and likewise it seems that MP3 has practically killed CDs in cold blood too. In other words we're used to the idea of new media storming in and taking the place of the media we're used to, so the question is whether anything is eventually going to come along and usurp film and TV.

Well while it might seem unlikely, there is one potential candidate that could – the video game industry. It seems like not long ago at all that computer games meant things like 'Pong' where you would control a pixelate avatar left and right across the screen and create lots of blips and bloops until you got bored; but today games are a completely different kettle of fish.

In fact I was playing 'Transformers: War for Cybertron' the other day and I realised that the experience was just like watching a blockbuster movie. There were huge set pieces and explosions, moments of quiet character development and a fantastic score backing all of it. Apparently the video games industry has already over taken the music industry in terms of profit, so could it one day replace Hollywood as well?

The Challenges

Asking whether the gaming industry could surpass Hollywood in terms of sales is to me something of a moot point. To make a big blockbuster you need to hire special effects teams, you need to pay for lots of expensive actors and directors, you need to create huge explosions and destroy expensive real estate and cars, and you need to create mammoth sets. In other words the overheads are much higher so it's unfair to compare games in terms of money made alone.

If computer games could ever surpass films in terms of turnover then that would be an incredible accomplishment, but it would require games to become even more 'mainstream'. Could that happen?

Halo 4's Master Chief as a youth
Halo 4 cutscene shows Master Chief as a youth

The first thing here to consider is the graphics and the new directions many games are taking. Check out a cut-scene in Halo 4 and you might find like me that you have to make a double-take – the CGI characters are so lifelike as to look almost like real human actors. Meanwhile with the story that game features and the amazing set pieces this is something that even my Mum can certainly appreciate as being 'good' and that she at least wouldn't laugh at.

But by the same token she'd also never pick up a remote control and play it. Why? Because she doesn't understand the controls and she has no interest in repetitively blowing stuff up. She prefers rom coms to action films, but she'll watch Iron Man because at least it has character development and romance. No so much with Halo 4.

The first way that games would need to become more mainstream then is to provide a deeper experience that isn't all about shooting things. This is something that some indie developers such as That Games Company have experimented with in games like Journey, and that other games like Limbo have attempted.

Then there's the controls which one company has already addressed. The company is Nintendo, and the device is Wii – a console that even my Mum had a go at. Mobile games too have found success with wider demographics because the touch screen is such an intuitive interface (something Nintendo hope to capitalise on again with their Wii U).

So if games ever hope to rival films in terms of mainstream acceptance I hypothesize that you need a motion controlled, artistically themed game with realistic graphics. Enter the next console generation…

Andrew Simon is still a kid at heart who likes reading Batman and Spiderman comics. He also enjoys writing reviews for the new movies that releases.


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