Friday, March 21, 2008

Video Game Tales

I’ve been playing video games so long that my family had the first system made by Coleco. Not the “Colecovision” but the odd triangular shaped one. We had Atari 2600, naturally. I followed video games on through their rise in the arcades (Mappy & Ms. Pac-Man were my favorites) and their home console death and then rebirth via the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’m a Nintendo guy. Before the enormous popularity of the Wii, people asked me why I stick with Nintendo. I answered with one word: Zelda. Needless to say The Legend of Zelda series is well, a legend.

But what I really want to bring to light is how intensive and in-depth games have become. And not just Zelda. I mean the industry in general. I know many people still roll their eyes at video game playing. Whether they deem it a waste of time or disapprove in some other capacity, I have this to say: It is no more a waste of time than watching a movie. For that, in fact, is exactly what they essentially are: Interactive movies. If you’re not aware, “today’s” video games have long passages of “cinemas” that can be just as impressive as a CGI animated feature. And those are what...two hours at most? Okay. Now consider that in order to complete a video game it can take as much as 80 hours of play/watch time. 80 as opposed to 2. That’s quite a bit of story going on there! Lots of time for development of plot, characters, settings and situations. Plus the added bonus of being the one who makes the story come alive. And often it takes quite a skilled and seasoned player to be able to get to the end. Consider also the voice acting talent put into them. Or the soundtracks. They are wondrous orchestral scores comparable to a feature film. These, too, require longer compositions. That’s why video game movie adaptations do not always work so well. Try squeezing 60-80 hours into two and half.

Video games have come a long way from a yellow pie eating little dots.
They’re a modern means for storytelling.

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