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CliffyB: People Need To Stop Comparing Games To Movies

We've all heard it before: "Wow, that game looks like a movie!"

As video games have progressed at a rapid clip over the past few decades, everyone has heard similar statements many times over. Of course, they're usually just referring to the realistic graphics in the game.

However, some would argue that games should be more like film, an idea former Epic Games boss Cliff Bleszinski says is ridiculous. Speaking on Twitter, "CliffyB" said "games shouldn't aspire to be movies," and when publishers compare their games to movies, it's only a sign of widespread "insecurity."

He added:

"I really need to get around to writing that blog about how gaming still feels like Hollywood's pimply kid brother and how that's bullsh**."

It's true, gaming shouldn't be like movies; they're two entirely different entertainment mediums. Most importantly, one is passive entertainment while the other is active. However, as the two mediums share similar elements (acting, choreography, score, writing, etc.), I think it's perfectly valid to compare those elements. We all know the writing and acting in games isn't on par yet with film, and yeah, I think games should - and can - improve in these categories.

Tags: video games, movies, gaming industry, cliff bleszinski, cliffyb

10/27/2014 11:14:14 AM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (17 posts)

Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 11:49:02 AM

Has anyone watched the "Video Game" documentary?
They sort of touch on this topic. CliffyB, Will Wheaton and others put in their 2 cents.

Very interesting documentary for any gamer!

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Solid Fantasy
Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 2:25:25 PM

Thanks for reminding me. Just popped up in my Netflix. Was it well done?

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 4:44:23 PM

Overall, I thought it was well done. They did cover the history of video games (albeit briefly), and covered the games/people that created an influence in the video game movement.

I remember a part in the documentary relevant to this article...
Will Wheaton goes to explain the difference between a movie and a video game. He says video games offer the player options where a movie does not. For instance, what if in 'The Empire Strikes Back', the scene where Darth Vader is asking Luke to join him and rule side by side, and Luke goes... "Hmm... Okay, sure!". The rest of the story would play out entirely differently than what we see in the movie.

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 12:01:39 PM

I agree that it's valid to compare games and movies in certain areas, but it is a lot harder to write a story for a game than it is for a movie. In movies you can control every detail, the viewer only sees what you want them to see whereas in games you can't always control where the player is looking or where they are going to go which is why most games resort to cutscenes to tell the story which results in pacing that isn't as fluid as it is the movies.

Basically in games you take the cinematography element out as the player is the cinematographer and taking that control away from the developers deprives them of an essential storytelling tool.

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Solid Fantasy
Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 2:33:57 PM

I'll always see video games as the ultimate story telling medium. It's taking the back story and lore of a rich literature series and the limitless special effects of a Hollywood blockbuster and putting them into an interactive form with the potential for A list acting. Most games don't achieve this. I don't think it's a lack of tech anymore. More so, developers like this guy and top selling publishers restricting bold changes from developers who feel differently.

Remember this is the guy who criticized the core consumers for condemning the XB1 24hr log in rule. Strangely enough the trailers for GeoW always had a very well done cinematic feel to them...?

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 3:15:15 PM

In some cases it's fine because something like Uncaharted is deliberately "cinematic." and something like Heavy Rain is deliberately playing out noir interactive cut scenes.

In total though I do understand his point, that games should be as differently received as music and food are. To say a great game has to live up to a great movie or games will always be the "pimply little brother" isn't looking at the whole picture.

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 4:49:59 PM

If you boil it down, you can say games are math + art but it can be cinematic in it's approach. It is not only about the graphic either.

Xenogears which is pretty old now had many camera movements during it's ingame cutscenes. It also had anime during big events though.
It got a lot of movie references as well.

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 5:12:43 PM

The main difference I see between games and movies is the ability to *create* a story, rather than *tell* a story.

Many games *tell* a story, rather than letting you *create*. Metal Gear, Uncharted, Final Fantasy, Halo, Heavy Rain, Tomb Raider, etc. They all set up pre-determined story points, and then put obstacles between them; or in the case of Heavy Rain, constant QTEs. The comparison to movies is invited and appropriate in these cases, because they are so obviously imitating film. In their case, they *are* film's pimply kid brother, and there's no getting around that. It doesn't mean that they're bad, but it's what they are: A film inserted into an arcade game.

Just about the only story I can *create* in something like Final Fantasy X, for instance, is what path I choose on the sphere grid and what items I use and equip. It has a good story, but that story would be just as good--possibly better--without the game.

If we want to get away from film comparisons, something like Skyrim is a much better example. In Skyrim, your path is not set. It offers endless possibilities for *creating* stories. -- Walking through the woods, finding a cave full of bandits who overpower you, and fleeing only to run into a fearsome bear! What will you do?! -- That's a good story! And it was not planned in advance. The set pieces are made available for you to do what you want. Skyrim may have a preset main plot, out of tradition, but we all know what happens in Elder Scrolls: The main story is chucked to the side as soon as you start playing. We're there to *create* a story, not be *told* a story.

Both styles of story-based gaming are fine, but I feel that gaming's true potential is yet in the future. We're still in the pie-to-the-face mode of sophistication that film had to contend with, as it separated itself from the likes of vaudeville and stage plays.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014 @ 5:02:18 AM

This is exactly how I see it too.

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 6:11:18 PM

Cliffy B needs to shut the ^%@$# up. He's always saying stuff that shows just how out of touch he is.

Just before (or after?) the Xbone reveal, he was talking about how he doesn't get the hoopla over an always connected console and that we need to just "deal with it" because that's just "the world we live in."

The guy just needs to shut up.

Last edited by SaiyanSenpai on 10/27/2014 6:19:59 PM

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Lawless SXE
Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 7:31:50 PM

Interactive storytelling is still in the process of finding its feet. Admittedly, the quality of stories found in the gaming industry right now isn't great, and that's a flaw, but it's more than that. The nature of the medium calls for a fundamentally different approach from movies due to the fundamentally different experience. Developers need to become better at telling stories without wrenching control away from the player. For action scenes, that element is only going to improve because action is pretty easy to put players inside of, but emotional scenes? That's a different beast altogether and needs to be handled differently, and the games that manage it effectively are few and far between.

Gone Home did a decent job, but there wasn't a lot to it except walking around an empty house. The Last of Us had that minimalistic segment in the beginning that was really effective, and I personally found the microwave corridor in MGS4 to be rather harrowing. The most emotional moments in games are often those where you're disempowered, but most games are interested in inverting that and making you into superman, but I've deviated from the topic of my post.

In short, I rather agree with Cliffy B.'s statement in spirit. If the medium is ever going to succeed on a creative level, it has to shake off the ideology that the established storytelling methods of film are not ideally suited to gaming.

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Monday, October 27, 2014 @ 8:03:47 PM

Don't pimply kids brothers typically use PG swearing in a desperate attempt to ensure everyone knows they aren't the same as their big brother?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 1:12:43 AM

Unfortunately with games, it's the other way. They're all grown up and "mature." See all the cussing, sex and gore?? That shows just how sophisticated the medium is! /s

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 5:04:11 AM

maybe but they are also just trying to be more accepted using the both of ur comments as a reference point i can see both stand points and i think they are both saying that we are trying to get games to be more accepted more widely

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014 @ 12:33:29 AM

Remember Rico's swearing in KZ2? That's a great example of trying to be like big brother.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014 @ 5:02:02 AM

yeah i will agree the things that can be compared yes but not everything like you don't sit in a movie theature with a ps4 controller for arguments sake and go now why can't i control this character onscreen thats not the point of a movie you are there to watch it where as you don't sit infront of a tv with a playstation and go this is great tv or a great movie you play the game thats in the ps3/ps4 so yeah they are different but i think they can definately learn and improve from each other in certain areas for sure but don't compare the two all the time that i agree with

happy gaming

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014 @ 6:05:54 PM

I can't for the life of me remember when a movie drew more emotion out of me than a game does... "Saving private Ryan" just popped in my head when the coward stands on the stairs and his squad member gets knifed in the heart? I felt shit like that several times during The last of us. Game makers need to realize that movie theaters are shutting down or are practically done and that they have the ability to affect us players more than any movie can.

Last edited by Iconoclasm on 10/29/2014 6:07:08 PM

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