BioShock Boss Says Game Industry is Too "Star-Struck" by Movies

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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BioShock Boss Says Game Industry is Too "Star-Struck" by Movies


The entertainment industry tends to see videogames as the "junior varsity" to film, says BioShock [http://www.amazon.com/BioShock-Playstation-3/dp/B001B1W3GG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286381211&sr=8-1] mastermind Ken Levine, because too many people in the game industry are "star-struck" by the world of movies.

The videogame industry is a monster, yet to many people, a game hasn't really "made it" until somebody starts talking about turning it into a movie. Games, when you get right down to it, are still greasy kids' stuff, the thinking goes; true mainstream success can only be found on the big screen. But Levine, whose credits include BioShock, Thief: The Dark Project [http://www.amazon.com/SWAT-4-Gold-Pc/dp/B000EDVRUA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286381243&sr=8-1], believes that's the wrong attitude to have.

"I was offered the chance to make a game with a film director. A very talented film director. [The Hollywood execs said] they really liked what I was doing and wanted to share it - that this project with creative leads from both game and film was going to be amazing," he said in an interview with Develop [http://www.develop-online.net/news/36046/Were-too-star-struck-by-Hollywood-says-Levine].

"My feeling is, why? Why would any game designer want to do that?" he continued. "What's the point of having two creative leads together, and why would I want a film director to help me make a game, any more than they would want me to help out with their films?"

Levine noted that the flow of talent between the game and film industries tends to run in one direction, as the videogame industry throws its doors open to high-profile movie directors who have no game-making experience whatsoever.

"signed a deal with THQ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0868219/] to make videogames. And I'm thinking, 'He's never made a videogame'," Levine said. "Maybe he's got a genius for it. But games are really, really hard to make well. In our industry there's too many people star-struck of the movie world, jumping into deals with some big movie director just because they're big film directors."

Levine's current project is BioShock Infinite [http://www.amazon.com/BioShock-Infinite-Pc/dp/B002I0KOSI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1286381428&sr=8-3], which is currently slated for release sometime in 2012.


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lee1287

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i would like Bioshock now, please?

I can see how a game made by a movie Exec and a game executive could end up bad, as in, too many great effects and not enough gameplay, but then it could go the other way too, right?

Soo, i don't see anything wrong with it.
 

Alandoril

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In such a situation you do the logical thing and dispose of your ego, then both work together for the good of the project.
 

Onyx Oblivion

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Sep 9, 2008
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I thought that this would be about video games trying to be movies...

I don't like to watch movies, short of the occasional comedy, so why in the fuck would I like a "cinematic" game experience?

But he is right. Film to games is odd. Speilberg made Boom Blox. Wait a sec...that was good! REALLY GOOD.
 

IamQ

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I don't like having a movie director being involved, either. It's annoying how so many games tries to be "cinematic" as in "being more like a movie". Why would you want that? If you want it to be like a movie, then go make a movie instead.
 

Undead Dragon King

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Apr 25, 2008
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I swear I've heard something like this in Extra Credits somewhere. Maybe Ken Levine should make a guest appearence on the show.
 

RatRace123

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I think in the case of working with big name film makers it's partially about their star power, but it's more about what creative ideas they can bring in.
Since, the game industry's definition of "creative ideas" seems to be "brown military shooter"
I'm willing to give them a chance, I mean Steven Spielberg stuck his hand in the games world and gave us Boom Blox so...
 

Space Jawa

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Onyx Oblivion said:
But he is right. Film to games is odd. Speilberg made Boom Blox. Wait a sec...that was good!
Yeah, and it also dispensed with any attempt to be cinematic, and included hardly any story - just a few quick blurbs to provide a excuse plot in single player to connect the individual levels in each theme together. Which I think helped contribute to it doing it's job well.

Ironic how there's all this talk in video games about them being more like movies, but when a big-name movie guy comes in and makes a video game, he doesn't try to make one that does its best to be like a movie. He makes one that's doing its best to be the best dang video game it can.

It's sad too few took notice and got the hint that Speilberg was giving them that they should have already known in the first place - video games are video games, movies are movies, and you shouldn't try to make one act like the other.
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
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Jul 18, 2009
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Right you are, Kevin.

For a multi-billion dollar industry, videogames have a very low self-esteem in the face of Hollywood.
 

Dexiro

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It's when game developers try to make their game's more like movies that we end up with 2-dimensional badly written cinematic crap.

Game developers need to realise that games and movies work completely differently. If they took the time to figure out how the narrative in games works they'd easily be on an equal footing with the movie industry.
 

PunkRex

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Alandoril said:
In such a situation you do the logical thing and dispose of your ego, then both work together for the good of the project.
Although I agree with him, I also agree with you. I think it was less ego and more taking a stand. I mean dont forget the big deal people made about that Block game Speilburg made. That did not really go anywhere even if it did get a sequel. I also heard it won awards but WAAAAAGH. However when really creative people get together it can lead to something great.

I think that if he thinks he knows better he should demonstrate it to the Movie crowd instead of just writing them off as, after all, is that not what their doing most of the time.
 

Rawle Lucas

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Hoo boy. Yes.

Video games are not films, so they should completely dispense with attempts to emulate them too slavishly. I'm guessing they want the cultural capital that comes with film; they want to be seen as one of the "cool kids."
 

PunkRex

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RatRace123 said:
I think in the case of working with big name film makers it's partially about their star power, but it's more about what creative ideas they can bring in.
Since, the game industry's definition of "creative ideas" seems to be "brown military shooter"
I'm willing to give them a chance, I mean Steven Spielberg stuck his hand in the games world and gave us Boom Blox so...
Thats the game im talking about, was it any good? I dont really want to go talking about it as I never played it.
 

twm1709

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The gaming industry tries to use "cinematic" as a means to lure bigger audiences into their games, since veryone loves movies, but videogames? those are for kids, or nerds...
Personally I find it be quite a problem but here's hoping it's just a stage we have to go through and eventually movies and games will be considered equals.
 

Space Jawa

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PunkRex said:
RatRace123 said:
I'm willing to give them a chance, I mean Steven Spielberg stuck his hand in the games world and gave us Boom Blox so...
Thats the game im talking about, was it any good? I dont really want to go talking about it as I never played it.
Boom Blox? Dang right it was good. Think Jenga if you weren't restricted to the basic tower format, then threw in explosions and "lets throw things at the tower to knock it down" modes.

Plus an editor for creating your own puzzles. It's one of the few console games me or my brothers have been successful in getting my mom to play, and she had a hoot with it.
 

Orcus The Ultimate

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PunkRex said:
RatRace123 said:
I think in the case of working with big name film makers it's partially about their star power, but it's more about what creative ideas they can bring in.
Since, the game industry's definition of "creative ideas" seems to be "brown military shooter"
I'm willing to give them a chance, I mean Steven Spielberg stuck his hand in the games world and gave us Boom Blox so...
Thats the game im talking about, was it any good? I dont really want to go talking about it as I never played it.
or they could be adding to the cast of voice-overs and script modifications... like what they're doing in Lionhead...
 

RatRace123

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PunkRex said:
RatRace123 said:
I think in the case of working with big name film makers it's partially about their star power, but it's more about what creative ideas they can bring in.
Since, the game industry's definition of "creative ideas" seems to be "brown military shooter"
I'm willing to give them a chance, I mean Steven Spielberg stuck his hand in the games world and gave us Boom Blox so...
Thats the game im talking about, was it any good? I dont really want to go talking about it as I never played it.
Yeah it was fun, the physics were really impressive.
 

boholikeu

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As much as I agree with Levine in theory, everything I've read about Guillermo del Toro indicates that he "gets" what makes a good, engaging game. Now whether or not he can handle the day to day challenges of leading a design team is a different matter, but I don't think that's really what Levine was referring to.

I get his frustration at being expected to be "honored" to work with a film director, but if he put his own insecurities aside I think a collaboration like that could be beneficial to the industry.

PunkRex said:
Alandoril said:
In such a situation you do the logical thing and dispose of your ego, then both work together for the good of the project.
Although I agree with him, I also agree with you. I think it was less ego and more taking a stand. I mean dont forget the big deal people made about that Block game Speilburg made. That did not really go anywhere even if it did get a sequel. I also heard it won awards but WAAAAAGH. However when really creative people get together it can lead to something great.

I think that if he thinks he knows better he should demonstrate it to the Movie crowd instead of just writing them off as, after all, is that not what their doing most of the time.
So Speilberg's game made lots of money, was hailed by critics and players alike, and won a few awards. Yeah, it definitely sounds like that game "didn't go anywhere". /sarcasm