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Archive for August 25th, 2010

By Bob Clark

I often find myself somewhat at odds with myself as a game-designer and cineaste, especially whenever critics disparage works in the latter medium with comparisons to the former. Whether it’s due to over-reliance on artificially generated imagery or character so thinly portrayed they seem to be nothing but ciphers for audience projection, hearing a movie being called “video game-like” bristles me personally, saddened to hear the language of one passion being used to disparage an object from another. At the same time, as a designer I often find myself comparing games to cinema unfavorably whenever they spend too much devoted to non-interactive cut-scenes rather than actual playthrough time. When you spend more time watching a video-game than actually engaging with it, calling out its movie-qualities can be a legitimate criticism, just as early silent-cinema could be overly reliant on theatrical or textual qualities in less than capable hands. Yet there’s always an amount of cross-pollination between cultural artifacts of different creative forms, and as new digital media have risen up in prominence and sophistication, it’s only been a matter of time before we started to see younger artists in the dominant expressive forum (cinema) begin to invoke the tropes and themes from the new kid on the block (video games) in earnest, beyond the empty criticism. Edgar Wright’s latest film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, is a prime example—a movie-musical pretending to be a comic-book pretending to be a video-game.

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