Video Game Film Adaptation Differences between Video games and Films

Video Game Film Adaptation: Differences between Video games and Films





Video Game Film Adaptation: Differences between Video games and Films


In reality, video games and movies appear to be quite comparable mediums to one another. Both use graphics and audio heavily, and both are capable of engaging in speculative fiction. There is also a good number of inspirations and material exchange between the two. This, nevertheless, does not imply that effective adaptations from one form to next will be fruitful. Even though video game adaptations are well-known for being dreadful, minimal academic consideration has been devoted to the reasons why such adaptations have proven to be so disastrous in virtually every aspect of their production, including audience acceptance, critical reception, and investment rewards. This is a problem that arises because of inherent variations in the media used. Games are fundamentally founded on rules and objectives, and the inevitability of predictability and dependability in the rules does not lend itself to fascinating adaptations in the game world. Aside from this, games position the gamer at the core of the procedure in making meaning, a rank that appears nearly fortunate when contrasted with the more voyeuristic place of the cinema viewer. I agree that the differences between films and video games makes it practically impossible to create excellent video game film adaptation. In order to avoid becoming another casualty of the video game movie plague, filmmakers must adjust their work with an increased awareness of the underlying contrasts between different media.

Video Games to Films: Good or Bad?

To argue that something is awry with video game adaption may be an underestimate of the situation. Video game movies have received poor reviews from reviewers on two of the most popular film review platforms, Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, respectively (Stobbart, 2018). On Rotten Tomatoes, video game movies typically receive rating of 25 percent and a Metacritic score of slightly more than 3/10. These films do well from the perspective of the general public. On Rotten Tomatoes, the average rating is 31 percent, and on Metacritic, the average rating is 3.7/10. Judging on these figures, it is clear that video game movies do not fare well, despite the fact that they are developing. It remains a mystery as to why. This question has not been satisfactorily addressed in a formal academic setting (Crawford, Garry and Gosling, 2009). In addition to academic research, various film and videogame journalists have undertaken to investigate this topic.

Despite the fact that certain video game movies earn well financially, Mathieu Chin-Quee of Shifter claims that no film has met the expectations of both film lovers and those attached to the original material, in this case a video game. While acknowledging that amazing stories may be delivered through the format of video games, Chin-Quee (2017) refers to titles such as Warcraft, Uncharted, The Witcher, and The Elder Scrolls as examples and instances of excellent story telling in a video game. If one wants to make a video game movie that is successful, Chin-Quee (2017) suggests that one does not make it solely for game enthusiasts, no emphasis on crew and cast, and approach it a business.

Video Game Films

In a post for Screenrant, Gordon (2018) issues that there are several notable achievements in film adaptation of video games genre citing the success of Mortal Kombat and Silent Hill among the films that lived up to expectations. Yet, while most other video game films are entertaining, they fall short of being considered “excellent.”  According to Gordon, there are several guilty pleasures among them are Resident Evil, Need for Speed, Tomb Raider and Prince of Persia movies. In Gordon’s opinion, the medium of video games is to blame for the current dry spell: Video games are conceptually distinct from other forms of media, and as a result, there is little to no association between them and other forms of media with regards to adaptation (Dong & Mangiron, 2018).

Differences between Video Games and Films


Among the major difference between movies and video games is autonomy. When it comes to games, there is a tendency to provide room for gamer autonomy, which consequently leads to the emergence of gap in protagonists and narratives for the gamer to fill in. In a few of the notable games in the history of video games, the gamer is either treated as an empty canvas or as if he or she has no personality at all. Gordon cites Gordon Freeman, the game’s protagonist, as an illustration of this idea in practice; absolutely mute and completely reliant on the gamer for all activities, Gordon Freeman is a “vacuum without a personality,” created particularly for the player to enter. This is hardly the type of subject that lends itself to effortless adaptation into a movie (Shute, Ke, & Wang, 2017). On the other hand, Gordon (2018) contends that even the process of creating an original character might result in changes with regard to content. Introducing a new protagonist who is at conflict with the story’s original driving force can make the plot lose its flexibility, while committing to a certain character can make the plot lose its flexibility. The film Doom illustrates this, where the creation of a certain protagonist resulted in the movie lacking the same reaction.


During a game, gamers have complete influence over the storyline; they can direct the activities of other players, as well as the direction of the story itself in some games. The same way, Gordon (2018) says that video games provide satisfaction because of occasions that cannot be replicated in movies. Bogost (2017) offers that worldbuilding in video games is unusual in that it can be undertaken entirely at the player’s discretion. The game Mass Effect, for example, allows players to contribute to worldbuilding through providing information, giving opportunity for dialogue and life in a virtual world. Gamers have the choice of participating or not participating in this optional material. It is the opinion of Gordon that video game films flop since video games are essentially not possible to translate into a film format.

Cultural Differences

There also exist a cultural difference between video games and films. Across the academic world, video game adaptation has received minimal attention than it deserves. Editors Joseph Michael Sommers and Gretchen Papazian highlight two concerns that are critical to the subject of adaptation in their book Game On, Hollywood. According to Papazian and Sommers, the gamer has now taken up residence in the central place of the artistic work. Video games, in contrast to other ways of perspective previously adopted by other forms of media, puts the gamer in the position of a creative director (Bontchev, 2016). The game is not about a certain protagonist, but rather about the gamer themselves. This concept deals more explicitly with the subject of adaptability than the previous one. Adaptations are component of a “currently underway vortex of intertextual references and transitions,” according to another critic, Robert Stam. He claims that there exists no such thing as an original manuscript in the context of adaptation. The development of media takes on the appearance of an organic process, becoming increasingly complex as branches interweave and grow altogether.

Purpose and Intention

Another difference that exists between the two mediums is that they serve a distinct purpose. Games and movies cater to a variety of various requirements and wants. Unlike movies, where audiences can immerse themselves in a rich imagined scenario, games are not typically able to achieve the same level of immersion (Kokonis, 2015). Movies are fabricated observations of the world. Every element of the scene, every person, and every phrase has been meticulously created to create a cohesive experience. When compared to video games, the entire experience in a movie is tailored by the production crew, rather than the audience. Games offer a radically distinct experience, as they are not directed by a director, but rather by the rules that have been written into the game itself (Katsaridou, 2017). Players can accomplish tasks in a variety of ways, including failing and trying again or skipping sections of the game. When compared to a movie, there is reduced control over how individuals perceive video games, since control is found in the association between the gamer and the rules. As proposed in Game On, Hollywood, video games introduce a new perspective: the fourth person perspective. This, in turn, highlights a fundamental characteristic of video games that movies do not have (Parkin 154-155). Storytelling is done by audiences, whereas gaming is done by players.

Converting Video Games to Films

When translating video games to movie, it is indeed necessary to consider what the viewers may miss out on as a result of the transformation. The gamer no longer has the capacity to act on the writing in the very same, interactive manner; instead of having to interact with the text on a physical level, directing another gamer, or directing the virtual environment itself, the gamer now only has authority over their own understanding of a movie, instead of the text itself (Konzack, 2002). To the point made by Stobbart, games that depend on adventure, such as Super Mario Bros., relinquish control over that discovery to directors and cinematographers. For watchers, this transition of authority can be a source of frustration.

Hutcheon (2004) points out that the joy of viewing adaptations is fuelled by a sense of familiarity. However, it is also clear that awareness and recollection play a role in the masochistic anxiety induced by adaptations, which is a very genuine phenomenon”. According to Hutcheon (2004), recognising characters and narrative lines is part of the enjoyment. For example, being able to watch an actress portray a character that did not represent their own view of the original content became an object of resentment for lovers of Harry Potter (Bailey, 2017). It can also happen in video games when an individual who formerly held a significant amount of power in a plot is abruptly reduced to the role of a voyeur, watching other, more powerful characters win in a game environment that was once centred on the player.


Indeed, as thoroughly discussed above, the differences between films and video games makes it practically impossible to create excellent video game film adaptation. Beyond the purely mechanical, this centrality has ramifications. The gamer does have a separate role in the play spaces, which is true despite the fact that games cannot physically operate without the gamer there. Gamer characters are frequently offered a privileged place in the tale; not only are they the protagonist, but they are also a hero of monumental proportions in many games. Keeping the distinction between the mechanical advantage a gamer persona is provided in a storyline, in which they are the focal point of events, and the moral advantage a gamer character may have is critical when developing a player character. Player-characters are frequently the movie’s heroes, both literally and figuratively. In order to save humanity, the player must kill monsters, battle nefarious organizations, protect the defenceless, and defeat malicious institutions. Players are seldom invited to take on the role of the evil guy, and if they are, it is often as a last resort after exhausting all other more morally acceptable options.


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