Let’s Watch a Video Game: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Movies & Gaming

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An infection has spread and most of the population has turned into mutated monsters with a hunger for flesh. The key to the world’s survival is a young girl whose blood carries the antidote. A disheveled man is tasked to deliver her across the country – on foot – to a group that plans to culture her blood and create a cure. Brought together by harsh circumstances, they must survive a brutal journey througgh a post-pandemic wasteland in order to save the world.

Sounds like a great summer movie, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. It is the premise to the Playstation 3’s 2013 game of the year, The Last of Us; a gorgeously cinematic game filled with so much action and dramatic stakes that one could argue the game itself is better than any post-apocalyptic movie ever made. However, since the game’s release (and subsequent “Remastered” release for the Playstation 4 in 2014), the adventure game has been rumored to make the transition to the big screen and according to the comments on the film’s IMDb page, fans are clamoring for the adaptation.

Fans of video games have seen their film counterpart for many years – from campy entries like Super Mario Bros to successful franchises such as the Resident Evil series. Is Lara Croft a digital babe or Angelina Jolie in tight-skin grey leather? And will Angry Birds ever become an epic action flick directed by James Cameron? Probably not – but it doesn’t change the fact that film studios and video game creators rely on each other for ideas, increase their fan base, or simply to reach an audience through a different medium.

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Just like Hollywood might borrow from video games, developers also create games based on popular movies (take a look at Disney’s collection of video games). Just last year, one of the most successful video games was based on the Alien franchise. Alien: Isolation took gamers through a terrifying mission while expanding on the film’s mythology, which just might change the way fans view the movies after playing.

The symbiotic relationship between films and video games is one that is not only healthy, but keeps both industries thriving. In a time when movie-goers are force-fed remakes and sequels, it can be refreshing to see content being built of off familiar material – and though it may not be completely original, many film adaptations of video game franchises have sprouted their own stories. Take the Resident Evil film series as an example. The films use a very basic plot outlined by the video game, but the stories, and most of the main characters in the films are original. Some fans of the game have voiced their disdain of the film franchise because of how much it has departed from the original story; however, it allows a new core audience to experience the story without having played any of the titles on various game consoles. Conversely, film franchises with wide appeal, like The Hobbit franchise or Disney’s Frozen are a shoe-in for video game adaptations and guaranteed sales among the core movie-going audience. What better way is there to experience a blockbuster film like The Avengers than being in control of Iron Man himself, and being partially responsible for saving the world?

This year alone, there are at least half a dozen video game film adaptations in the pipeline; from Uncharted to Hitman, and Warcraft to Tetris (yes, you read that right – a movie based on Tetris). And with the last Hobbit movie released and a new Avengers film due out this summer, be certain that video game adaptations will follow. It’s clear that both industries feed off each other, and whether it’s for financial reasons, or simply to expand and solidify a fan base, is neither important nor significant to fans of both. Be entertained by sitting in a dark theater, or by holding a wireless controller. We’re buying both.

-Carlos R Savournin

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