Why Are Video Game To Film Adaptations Impossible To Get Right?

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Video games have come a very long way since the release of Pong in 1972. The industry has grown decade-by-decade to quickly become the most profitable entertainment industry through quite some way.

Attaining a global revenue total of $179.7 billion in 2020, the video game industry is thriving as it takes advantage of customers who would prefer to stay in the comfort of their home as opposed to taking a trip to the cinema to watch the latest movie.

While the likes of Sony and Microsoft and even brands like Rush Casino thrived during the Covid-19 pandemic, cinema suffered one of its worst years on record. Now Hollywood is turning to video games for assistance.

The Video-Game-To-Movie Adaptation Is No New Concept

The phenomenon began with the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1993, which sparked interest in a whole collection of content Hollywood had been leaving untapped. The likes of Mortal Kombat followed in 1995, as well as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001 and Resident Evil one year later, though as fans of each respective franchise quickly learned, none of these films were any good.

Despite this fact, video-game adaptations remain a popular Hollywood exercise to this very day with Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, Rampage, Monster Hunter, Mortal Kombat and Werewolves Within having each been released in the previous decade, with Sony’s action-romp Uncharted also just around the corner.

Games As A Feeling

Many video game journalists believe that the reason why video game adaptations fall short is that a film is a passive medium while a game is not:

  • You sit down, relax, and allow the filmmaker to tell the story in the way they created it.
  • Conversely, video games are an active medium.

And even though a writer still scripts the story, you frequently get to choose how that story unfolds at a pace that you choose.

This establishes a unique power of connection to the story. When we reminisce about an adrenaline-filled moment in a film, the experience was the outcome of how the story was crafted. However, when we reminisce about exciting moments in games, they’re not the result of cinematics or award-winning acting (although, that is now very prevalent in gaming).

Rather, the experience has to do with the player controlling the scene to overcome the odds, not the character. Whether linear design or open world, the player is the one who makes the moments happen.

The Differences In Media

One of the many attractions of gaming is that, in a video game, you are able to do and be anything. Ifit’s conjure up a spell using blood magic, have a Palico as a sidekick or – alternatively – take down a flame-throwing machine bear. The possibilities are pretty much endless. Even games which boast photorealism – such as The Last of Us and Horizon Zero Dawn – feature gripping action scenes that can’t actually pan out well in real life. However, when you try to translate all that fantasy into live-action, well, during a lot of the time it just ends up looking like a cosplay or a Comic-Con reunion.