Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Hollywood Wannabes Need Not Apply

Grumpy Gamer (Ron Gilbert) has a nice rumination on the actual numbers behind the "games are bigger than Hollywood" myth. I wish people would stop trying to frame the game industry's success in terms of Hollywood. It's a different medium, a different industry, a different business model, a different (though a bit similar) creative process... So why use twisted and misleading figures to claim some kind of superiority?

Gilbert makes the good point that blockbuster movies cost way more to make and rake in way more than games. There is no way that the game industry is anywhere near as big as the movies. Gilbert guesses that just about every person in the US watches movies in some form or another. Can the same be said of games? Games are still a fledgling medium/business.

We should be focusing on the cultural impact of games, which, though still nowhere near as deep as film, is definitely growing. Deca talks about the mass-market, and he's right to be thinking about them. The trick is to make mass-market games without dilluting the power of the medium. Gilbert alluded to the unspoken fear that games will never be as big as movies. I prefer to err on the side of optimism in this case. I have great hope for the medium as a cultural force.


At 11:50 AM, Blogger OrangeDeca said...

I agree that the labeling is not only misleading but pretty much a lie. I think what we in games want more than the money is the mind share. Well, we want the money too, but that would come with the mind share. What Hollywood has is a piece of every single americans head. Movies are pervasive. Games are not in the least. Think about being home with your family over Christmas. How many times did a movie come up in conversation. "Oh, I saw Life Aquatic.".."You did? Did you like it?"..... Now how many times did Halo 2 or World of Warcraft come up? But I'm not ready to jump off the deep end or anything. Movies have a lot going for them that we don't. They are short, they have mass appeal, they can be made super cheap or super expensive and its hard to tell the difference, and just about everyone alive today is younger than the medium. If games wants the kind of mind share that movies has it will eventually need to break out of the 15-30 year old boys demographic. My big question is: Do the other demographics *want* games to appeal to them?

At 11:06 PM, Blogger Clubberjack said...

I think the games that appeal to other demographics won't look much like the games that we know and love today. Much more standardized engines will lead to episodic content. Gameplay will have to encompass a much larger range of actions than jumping, shooting, or slashing. And that's just talking about representative, narrative games... Puzzle games, so-called casual games, pervasive games, alternate reality games, and so on... These will develop and further the spread of games. However, I think the many different kinds of games will never have the cohesive image that Hollywood has in the mind of the American mass market.


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