I don’t think it’s possible for me to go a day without reminiscing of the times I used to sit at home and play video games for hours and hours on end. When I was a kid, I’d come home from school and turn on my Nintendo 64, often before even taking the time to remove my shoes. What can I say, Super Mario was WAY more interesting than anything else that could have possibly occupied my time.
The main reason I bring up video games is because this week marks the start of possibly the most important and memorable week for video game developers and fans around the word: E3 2016 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). If you’re not familiar with E3, it’s a huge convention for developers and gamers alike to get together and share some of the exciting new projects they’re working on. It’s sort of like an Apple Keynote, but it covers way more than just one company or console.
Before I go any further, allow me to acknowledge one semi-important factor: Signature Video Group is a video production company – what on earth do they have to do with video games? While I’d love to say we’ve worked with game developers in the past, it’s still on the bucket list and hasn’t quite happened yet (hey, game developers, need any help with video production? :)).
With that said, video games and film aren’t exactly that far apart, as they’ve often drawn inspiration from one and other and grown collectively, especially throughout the last few years. I’ve often maintained that every person with a creative job (or really anyone) should play video games. I don’t mean hunker down in your basement with all the lights off and don’t leave unless you have to pee style of gaming, but recreational gaming is great for mental stimulation, not to mention your reflexes and even inherent social skills (thank you, online gaming). With the longest intro in the history of blogs, I hereby present to you, three reasons filmmakers should play tons and tons of video games.
1. New technology, mechanics and trends
The one area video games don’t quite measure up is in regard to technology, or aesthetic look. Obviously, when you’re using computers to generate a video feed versus actually capturing it in real life, the latter will prevail every single time. However, certain genres and styles of games offer an astronomical exaggeration of reality, which can be tougher to replicate through film. A perfect example of this is Assassin’s Creed – originally a video game franchise that allowed the player to control crazy aerials, dive from buildings hundreds of feet off the ground into a hale bales and perform some of the most unlikely parkour stunts ever seen. I’m not saying the mechanics are easy to build into a video game, but I am saying it is going to be extremely difficult to implement the same “wow” factor the game had at every turn.
If you’re a filmmaker, video games are basically your competition. What better way to make your own work better than to indulge into the work of others? I’ve said before creative people often pull from other creative people, and the recreational sharing of ideas between these two industries is no different.
Video games adapted into movies often get a bad rep. Whether their stories don’t hold up, or the movie just isn’t as fun as it was to play, bridging the gap between the two industries is becoming harder and harder to accomplish. Assassin’s Creed, one of the most successful franchises in recent years will hit the big screen at the end of the year.
2. Creative expression and relaxation
In my short stint in film, I can safely say that industry is full of inspired people. As soon as a filmmaker sees something that inspires them, they immediately want to recreate it or develop something derived from the same idea.
When you play video games, you’re swarmed with nothing else but outside of the box thinkers and often unnatural stories amongst varying styles of gameplay, and it’s an amazing community to be a part of. It’s just like watching a movie. You pick up on some of the more subtle storylines and boom, there you have it. An idea for your next project, and all it took was a few hours hanging out on your couch with your feet up and a few snacks. Sounds like a cheap thought starter to me.
On top of all of that, it’s also a great way to relax yourself. Providing you’re not playing a gut-wrenching game known for causing anger disputes, uncontrollable rage or anything of the sort (cough, Call of Duty, FIFA, etc), it’s a great way to unwind and destress. I’m a firm believer of giving filmmakers the opportunity to stimulate their minds in ways other than just coming up with new ideas, and it’s no secret that video games are legitimately fun to play. The next time you find yourself stressed out about your next project, or if you’re unsure of an idea, pop in a game, sit on your couch and let the natural creativity flow through your body.
3. Develops story telling ability
I’ve played a lot of video games. Some are great, some are just alright, and many are downright terrible. But I still played them. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty that I became a better storyteller because of it. It’s just like writing – if you want to get better, the best thing you can do is read. A lot. It’s not a waste of time, it’s a way of investing in yourself to a point where you can easily identify the elements of a good story, learn what’s predictable and come up with more compelling characters and plots. Even a quick search on Google can help you depict the most necessary elements of a story, and you need not spend money on education or ridiculous amounts of time on story boarding or plot configuration.
Take Quentin Tarantino for example. Do his stories even remotely follow the style of any other film in the industry? Not really. He tells stories in the most outside of the box way possible, and it’s never what you’re expecting to see, which is exactly what makes him so great. Does Tarantino play video games? Who knows? Maybe it’s just a natural ability he’s had since day one, but I can regretfully say that we’re not all quite that lucky, but we might be if we played more video games.
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