Thursday, February 07, 2008

Gore Verbinski on Films and Games

Today's Gamasutra has an article covering some comments that Gore Verbinski made during a speech at the DICE Summit about the film and video game industry. There's a good deal of the type of comment one would expect at any conference dealing with entertainment. You know, the "be original," "hire talented people," and "find your own artistic voice" kinds of comments.

Not that these comments are not true, they are, it's just that they are a little cliché.

What isn't cliché is one of the final comments by Verbinski in the Gamasutra article. Verbinski states:

"This is not a debate between active and passive engagement," he added. "A novel requires active participation by imagination... a film used to do that, but now it just reminds people of that other film. Let's not do the same thing with games. You haven't even scratched the surface of what is possible."

I am absolutely in love with this passage. Lately, I have been doing a good deal of reading regarding game design theory and there are those who are dismissive of other media because they believe non-video game media are non-interactive. I usually find myself with a desire to murder these people and remove their faces to make masks I can where during speeches I give (as them of course) recanting "their" previous position. Not really, but I do find the pretense of these people as annoying as those who deny narrative elements in many modern video games. Sorry, but I believe you have to be intentionally obtuse to think that Fable or Mass Effect aren't narratives.

Verbinski gets it. He sees that novels are an interactive an immersive experience that requires "user participation." Interactivity isn't exclusive to the video game world. He is also asserting, and I'm not entirely in agreement with this part of his argument, that films don't do it as much, anymore, as books or video games. I think that whether watching a film is a passive or active experience depends upon the individual film and how that film balances Boorstin's "three viewing eyes," which he writes about in Making Movies Work: Thinking Like a Filmmaker.

Arguably one could use his three eyes theory of viewing and combine it with whether a film is passive or active to create a kind of film review matrix. Such a matrix might look something like this:


In fact, I might try and elaborate on this theory later when I have a copy of the Boorstin book in front of me. Like when I'm at home.

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