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FortKnox's Journal: Gaming Industry overcomes Cinema? 13

Journal by FortKnox
According to a new study by a London-based market research firm (ScreenDigest) and trade association (Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association:ELSPA), the video game industry will continue to grow (and still not peak) over this year. This growth has given Cinema a new rival. Another study shows the steady decline in music sales. Are we seeing a new trend emerge? Can video games overcome Hollywood?
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Gaming Industry overcomes Cinema?

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  • Hollywood will get into the video game market. Expect a lot of the non-EA, non-MS, non-Sony game-houses to be snapped up by the entertainment conglomerates.

  • I would say that the answer is here. [newgrounds.com] The line between them is blurring all the time, the cost of doing each is dropping like a shot (unless you're a capital-bloated Hollywood/Silicon Valley nitwit) and it just doesn't matter anymore.
    Decreasing costs and the globalization of production (did you know that there is a new English language film industry in Africa?) means that it just doesn't matter. I'm not betting movie vs. game, I'm betting small vs. large.
    We're seeing a segmentation and the only thing that concerns me is that while the indy stuff is thriving and the vast projects (LoTR anybody?) are doing fine, the mid-market is struggling. In truth, this will be decided in the fair-use/CRM/online payment arena. If content can be sold in a rational fashion online in a few years then that will stabilize long-term income for content creators. Look at GTA, they can now afford to give away their basic product because they can trust the revenue stream from related and future variants.
    Valenti/Rosen win, the mid-market dies. Legalized, revenue-generating Napster and Tivo win, midmarket thrives.

    My question to you is how many minutes of narrative does a game have to have before it becomes a movie? How about interface? Would a full-immersion version of Myst be a movie or a game?
    I certainly don't know.

    Rustin
  • It looks like we're moving from passive entertainment to active. In this case, we're moving from passively watching a story unfold to being a part of it.

    I've always been a book person, when I watch a movie I miss the depth and detail of a good book. I've never been able to watch a movie and feel a part of the story, in a book, the story takes place in my head. I build an image of the characters and the scenes, I make my own image instead of seeing what a director saw in his head. Playing games is an extension of that, we not only place ourselves in the story, we take an active part in changing the outcome. Roleplayers discovered that a long time ago, and now that computer/console games have evolved a bit and become mainstream, more and more move from passive to active entertainment.

    • I certainly agree with you overall. But I have one point. Look at us; we're slashdotters. Is there anybody in this thred who's never written a line of code? We are more participatory then the general population by far in many ways.
      So let's just keep that anomolous characterisitc in mind while we discuss this.

      Rustin
  • First off there is no cost to the video game makers for people to use their product (as compared to theaters) outside of marketing and packaging.

    But I also think that many of these comparisons forget to add one important difference: home video and DVDs. Now if you add in these cinema is still way out in head. And the best thing is that there is almost no cost in pushing out a DVD... all the material is already made (save for some extras here and there... but many of those were already made to market the movie in the first place) and it can boost the turnstyle throughput for a related movie (say a new X-Men DVD coming out at the same time as X2).

    Right now in terms of resale video games aren't even close. I guess the best thing you could compare would be MMORPG fees... but then you have to add in HBO and other PPV movie channels in...

    But beyond that. I doubt anybody will consider a video game as "fine art". In a thousand years people will be reading Old Man and the Sea and watching The Seventh Seal. I doubt they'll be playing Combat for anything more than a nostalgia trip.
    • I think that the comparisons also include console sales as part of the video game market. They're informative, in that they make it clear that the game market is worthy of serious attention but as far as real head-to-head comparisons, they're meaningless.
    • But beyond that. I doubt anybody will consider a video game as "fine art". In a thousand years people will be reading Old Man and the Sea and watching The Seventh Seal. I doubt they'll be playing Combat for anything more than a nostalgia trip.

      I wouldn't be so sure of that. Remember, less then two hundred years ago novels were considered an embarrassing indulgence of young women too ditzy or homely to properly be pursuing a mate and without a large house to run. Rituals to the gods or not, the classic Greek plays were sometimes *far* from what most people would call high culture. Read some Aristophenes and then tell me that he wouldn't have watched, and liked Jackass, given the chance.

      Do you seriously consider Myst less artistically valid then a David Drake novel? How about building and ship and clothing designs done for the various Star Wars games? I can assure you that the originals of those will be collected and valuable until they fall to dust. Some of the original art is already being collected. Note the resale market in character sketches for games.
      Please note also that outside artists, people with MFAs and viable careers outside of gaming, are being brought in to do those initial sketches. Add the staff at a place like ILM and to deny that some of these folks are artists is to miss much of what they create. I have had more then one fruitful discussion with architects and other "real" professionals about the principles articulated in the synthetic world of Naboo.
      A strong case could be made that the synergistic dynamic betweens the esthetics of games, anime, skatepunk art, and two dozen other kinds of "vernacular" are playing a key and productive role in how we see not only esthetics, but gender roles, authority figures, and even "enemies" overall.

      Drunken Chinese poets were making high art out of the dregs of their dice games a thousand years before Da Vinci was born.
      Eighteen-hundreds posters for booze, peep shows, and thinly disguised brothels now hang in the art museums and private collections of the world. And as a would-be printmaker and the possessor of a Joseph Albers original, I can assure you that there are very good reasons for this.

      Is it *all* art? I highly doubt it. But it will take hundreds or even thousands of years before that determination is made. It is, after all, to some extent in the eye of the beholder. But you can be pretty doggone sure that things of beauty, and even the emotionally affecting of the most obscure sort, are eventually discovered and revered.
      Someday there will be articles about the Baskerville or Caslon of motion capture. And just as attention is paid to the willfull flatness and rhythms of Japanese printmaking, somewhere out there, somebody is creating wondrous things with tiling and the limitations of rendering.

      Oh no, some of it is most certainly art. Do not judge it by the company it keeps or the desires it serves.

      Rustin

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