Films (not movies) were the primary artistic forum for scene creation and storytelling. TV Shows remained the best entertainment outlet for character development as multiple episodes and seasons allowed dozens of hours for characters to grow learn, and change. Literature is old school, but the written word remains the best outlet for creative thinkers. Then there were video games, entertaining certainly, but nothing close to art. Until recently that is.
With the advent of modern graphics technology and the ever growing video game market, games have been challenging the boundaries between gaming and on-screen “literature.” These days, video games are so in depth, with characters, story lines and virtual worlds that they are becoming indistinguishable from films or TV shows.
In fact, an argument could be made that the most creative visual outlet are video games. Most films these days are big budget sequels on pre sold concepts. They are entertaining, much like video games, but there is no real creativity about them. Special effects sell tickets while quality writing and acting is merely an afterthought. TV shows follow a similar formula typically borrowing a few facets from already successful shows in an attempt to attain a familiar and popular feel. Again, nothing wrong with making a show people watch, but the ingenuity is lacking.
That brings us full circle, back to video games.
Video games are apparently the last bastion of creativity. Technical advances shown in the game “LA Noire” bring the actors right into the game, and detailed research and creative art departments create a breathtaking world for gamers to experience. A fully explorable Los Angeles circa 1947 is available for the gamer to explore, all the way from the LA River to Hollywood. Films don’t allow the freedom that video games can provide. In films the viewer is forced to go where the characters go. In video games an entire world is open for exploration. The level of detail provided in these games is immense, and the amount of effort put in is clearly evident.
Like films, the bestselling games are also sequels but where films do a poor job in elaborating upon a story, most game sequels use a familiar style but introduce a completely new setting and cast of characters. Successful gaming franchises, just as “Call of Duty” and “Resistance” operate through exciting game play, as well as compelling story lines and well-acted voice performances. Both are war games, and first person shooters. Adventure games such as the “Uncharted” franchise draws from “Indiana Jones” to create an entire world to explore. Gameplay is similar to an interactive movie where the viewer gets a chance to participate in the direction the movie takes. All of these games settings and stories are drawn from history but are freer to diverge from them in order to create a more satisfying and entertaining experience.
Video games have production budgets equal to that of many large-scale films, yet video games frequently deliver where many films fail. Budgets are spread around differently in video games and in film. Film budgets are dedicated to actors, directors and special effects, while video games use a more balanced approach with art direction, storylines, and characters (voice acting in this case) each receiving similar attention when it comes to finances. It has become obvious that the entertainment world is less prepared to take risks, except when it comes to video games.
Video games allow for their creators to take a greater number of risks in their creation and execution, and that freedom allows for a greater range of possibilities to spring forth from such efforts. Films and TV will always be a primary source for creative talents, but video games are getting closer and in some ways have already become the true artistic outlet.