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10th October 2011

The Multimedia Revolution

All fun and games

As technology progresses media intertwine, and nowhere is this better expressed than in the development of film. Colour, CGI and 7.1 surround sound replace monochrome, monster suits and a live band. There is always intellectual value to great film, but for most entertainment lies in escapism – so how does big cinema better appeal to such an audience? Having already absorbed music and visual art into film, the future will see it take the key property of the latest artistic medium: the interactivity of video games.
There are already trends towards such a fusion. We see video turning towards audience interaction through the likes of television and YouTube – scaling it up to the big screen isn’t a huge leap. Likewise, games are becoming increasingly cinematic, with devices like quick time events across lengthy cutscenes. Even in action-oriented games plot is taking a leading role.
The question is not whether film and video games will merge, but how they do so. Currently, ambiguity and reliance on convention allow movie-goers to easily project themselves into the leading role of a movie but in games the freedom with which one can control protagonists voids this necessity. Assimilating the best of each form would give scripts room to develop novel and fantastic plots without sacrificing the hyper-realism of film, but will we see the budgets to construct vast non-linear storylines? And film is watched by scores at once – could audiences interact within the new medium, even working as a group to bring the plotline to its conclusion? Would we see contrarian cinema whose patrons enjoy being pushed along a linear path, forced to see things from outside their own perspective? I’ll leave that to the producers to decide. But the similarities between film and games are unavoidable.

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