March 27th, 2008
Last Sunday was Easter Sunday which for me meant a day with the family that consisted of a stereotypical Australian BBQ lunch followed by watching the preceeding game of (Australian Rules) footy on TV. Over lunch my family conversed over a series of topics such as religon, multiculturalism, television etc. One of the topics that really caught me was cinema and movies.
Our conversation on this topic essentially consisted of family members suggesting movies that truely had a significant impact on them, so much so to warrant the expression “you have to see this movie”. I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot over the past few days and what it genuinely means.
What I realized was that it takes something really quite extraordinary to warrant such a phrase from anybody. People don’t use this term unless they really mean it. So there I was thinking of how I could contribute to the conversation, I was running through a list of movies which in recent years had moved me considerably. What I discovered was that I could not think of any movies to suggest, all that I could collectively gather were names of video games.
This is where the flood gates started to open I think. The family were throwing around names of movies left, right and centre and despite the thematic being set around movies I realized that the real conversational theme was narrative. We were sharing ideas of stories which had captured our imaginations. Movies in this case were only the medium for which narrative could operate.
This is where I actually started to feel greatly offended because even though narrative in movies was the focus of our discussion there was no way that my family would ever talk the same about narrative in video games. Never would they talk of games like Abe’s Oddssey, Shadow of the Colossus, Silent Hill 2 or Metal Gear Solid.
For me, in the past 10 years of my life nothing has captured my attention and danced with my emotions quite like video games. Video games allow the potential for much more engrossing experiences through interaction. Yet despite all of this, normal, average people such as my family remain clueless on such essential experiences. I heard a fact that even if a video game is a huge success, it still only reaches less than 3% of the global population. This is the sad truth.
So this typical family exchange had drilled home the point of where video games stand amongst ordinary consumers. It will be quite possibly decades (I predict) until video game narrative is garnered with the same respect of movie narrative. You think about the production of blockbuster video games in comparison to blockbuster movies. In both cases an incredible amount of effort is poured into each and yet movies receive worldwide acclaim where as video games acclaimed on a comparatively minute scale. Just something to think about.