- As video games became more popular, and made more money, more time was put aside to ‘script’ games
- Cut scenes began to emerge, providing players with informative cinematic transitions between game sections
- “CUTSCENES ARE […] USED AT VARYING INTERVALS THROUGHOUT MANY GAMES, TO FORWARD THE STORYLINE AND TO ENTICE OR REWARD PLAYERS WITH SEQUENCES OF SPECTACULAR.” (KING & KRZYWINSKA, 2002, P.142-143)
- Developers began to base video games on Hollywood Blockbusters, for example E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (Atari, 1982)
- Video games started out without any form of narrative, for example Pong (Atari, 1972)
- One of the first massively successful video games to implement a typical protagonist/antagonist narrative was Super Mario Bros. (1985, Nintendo)
- Nowadays, plot is an essential part of the modern video game industry
A apparent difference between games and film is the feature of player participation. Modern games involve plentiful cinematic experience, which is made more complex by the way games are engaged with by the player. Interactivity is key in the games sphere. Both mediums are fundamentally in different positions – Films ability to time the progression of the narrative plot which maximises its impact. Games construct narrative by allowing the player to explore and uncover narrative by exploring and completing sections of a game.
“Games are, generally, much more demanding forms of audio-visual entertainment: popular, mainstream games require sustained work of a kind that is not usually associated with the experience of popular, mainstream cinema.” (King & Krzywinska, 2002. p.23)
Narrative is central to the experience and construction of film. With the lack of interactivity within film means that those involved within the creation of a film; writers and directors have complete control over the progression of narrative and how it unfolds, divulging narrative content occurs only when the director intends.
Developers within the game industry seek to portray compelling narrative within their games, developers seek inspiration from the film industry and integrate many techniques into their games.
Despite their differences, games and film share similarities. Both art forms embrace and learn from each other In terms or narrative and visual aesthetics. Films such as Saving Private Ryan (1998) have clearly influenced games series’ such as Medal of Honor (1999-2012) and the flourishing Call of Duty series (2003-2012)
Will Brooker states in Videogames and the “Cinematic” ,“Games continue to simulate mediated experience is underscored by the way they digitally recreate the view through a camera lens, rather than the human eye.” (Brooker, 2009, p.126)
The presence of the camera is predominant in Max Payne 3, as lens flare is used throughout the game, with familiar thematic and visuals to create distortion and represents how Max see’s the world, these techniques are also dominant in Man On Fire (2004) Both Man on Fire and Max Payne 3 (2012) use on screen text for style and to place emphasis in terms on highlighting important segments.
Camera techniques and other cinematic conventions are also evident in the first Max Payne game; players navigate through a part of the game where players are immersed in a dark nightmare where a fish-eye lens is used to showcase Max’s drug hallucinations.
Max Payne (2001)
- Influenced by Hong Kong action cinema genre, mostly the work of John Woo and Film Noir
- First game to incorporate bullet time effect which was popularised in The Matrix (1999)
Even though the Film noir period ended in the late 1950’s, the style and characteristics still influences modern Hollywood films, not only does the classic film noir period inspire films, but also games too, which is evident in Max payne through characterizations such as obscure camera angles, low-key lighting and deep dark shadows. Another aspect from the classic noir period that is heavily predominant throughout the max payne series is non-linear plot lines and the use of flashbacks. Stories regarding crime from the perspective of the investigator is featured in classic film noir film’s such as Double Indemnity(1944) these crimes normally consist of crimes of passion such as murder which is also the case throughout the Max Payne series. Protagonists moral judgement is questionable in classic noir films which is also the case in Max Payne, characteristics of Max Payne include being mentally unstable and requires Max to be involved with criminals in order to get answers over his murdered family and seek revenge.
King, G. and Kryzwinska, T. (2002) Screenplay: Cinema/videogames/Interface. 1st ed. London: Wallflower Press.
Brooker, W. (2009) Camera-eye, cg-eye: videogames and the “cinematic”. Cinema Journal [online]. 48 (3), pp. 112-128. [Accessed 28 April 2013].