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Cinema and video games: parallel universe!

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Are cinema and video games competing, complementary or totally distinct? Cinema has evolved constantly towards new technology used by the video game industry, making the two a perfect match, although different they are constantly influencing each other.

The cinema known also as the 7th art is over a century old and has become an integral part of present-day society and popular culture. Video game art (considered by some to be the 10th art) is much more recent but its popularity is slowly but surely progressing. Video games still remain in the collective mind a youthful, time-consuming, even antisocial hobby.

As a result, the cinematographic world is not suffering from the rise of video games, as was the case with the democratization of television in the 1950s or more recently of access to films via various online streaming platforms.

Game creation techniques have evolved and are now similar to those used in cinema. Like the Motion Capture technique consisting in digitizing the movements of real characters, which then allowed the development of the Performance Capture or capture of facial expressions, used in the movies from the Lord of the Rings saga to Planet of the Apes (Actor Andy Serkis is world famous for his motion capture performances in both medium) are perfect examples. The boundaries between game and film therefore seem to become not so clear as technological advances progress, the only barrier remaining being the interactivity particular to video games.

This interactivity allows for deeper immersion, with player action opposing spectator passivity. The player identifies with the character in the game, it is their actions that make them move forward or lose. The references to cinema in games do not stop at common techniques or adaptations, designed to bring more revenue. Some apps, not directly related to a particular film, contain more or less subtle nods to classic cinemas, proof that gamers and developers can be well-informed moviegoers.

The fruits of the union of cinema and video games have not always been able to convince, due to sloppy production. Despite this, some quality works have made it possible to perpetuate the links between these two arts, which are increasingly intertwined while retaining their identity, boosting each other.

In the end, cinema wins, because video game developers still utilize storytelling and filmic techniques from a range of our favorite movies and books. If you don’t believe it, play the first 15 minutes of Last of Us or a few missions from any Grand Theft Auto game and see how many of them you notice are inspired by popular movies.

Game over!

Photo credits:

Screenshot - Assassin Creed

Screenshot - Lord of the Rings video game

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