The Relationship between Film and Video Games


I like movies, but I also love video games. I see video games as another media of storytelling. Video games first came out in the 1960s. Today more and more people play video games, but only a few people know that game is widely accepted as the ninth kind of art. On the other hand, movies, which first came out in the 1890s, were known as the Sixth Art. But why films are called the Sixth Art and video games are called the Ninth Art? To better understand it, we have to flashback to 1818's Heidelberg, Germany when Hegel first gave his influential Lectures on Aesthetics. In the lecture, Hegel classified arts into five categories:
1.    Architecture
2.    Sculpture
3.    Painting
4.    Music
5.    Poetry

In 1911, Ricciotto Canudo, an early Italian film theoretician wrote The Birth of Sixth Art arguing that Cinema was the Sixth Art; later he redefined dance as the Sixth Art, making cinema the Seventh Art. Then, the photograph was defined as the Eighth Art, and on May 9th, 2011, the US National Endowment for the Arts announced officially that video game is a form of art, so-called the Ninth Art.


The film is a comprehensive art that includes static art and dynamic art, time art and space art, plastic art and rhythm art. On the other head, the video game is one of the most popular leisure and entertainment methods today. Even though movies came out 70 years earlier than the video games, the connection between these two forms of arts has been growing stronger and stronger over the years. I am going to discuss the relationship between movies and video games from two different perspectives.


Firstly, there are many films based on video games and many video games based on movies. Publishers and investors find cross-platform production of popular IP products attractive. Game fans are eager to see a series of favorite games that can be adapted to high-quality movies, just like The Angry Birds movie. At the same time, movie lovers also want to have a deeper understanding of the world they see on the big screen in the game.




























                The Angry Birds Movie                                        Video Game: The Angry Birds Space Encounter 


It seems that movie companies and game developers have learned a lot from their experience, and they are now on the right track. Instead of simply copying the movie, the game company starts paying more and more attention to create new contents, so that the game and the film complement each other rather than repeat. This strategic change is beneficial to the development of the whole industry. I would take the Resident Evil series as an example. The Resident Evil video game series is one of the most popular video game franchises in the world. There are 12 Resident Evil games so far, and nine of them are playable through the PlayStation. This franchise is huge. So huge that it is extremely hard to make a good movie based on the series. However, movies and video games are loosely connected. Few of the characters in the movies are from video games, and the background story of the Umbrella Corporation is the same. The creative changes made in the movies make the film world almost unrecognizable when compared to the video game world. However, the deviations might be the reason why the Resident Evil films seem to be one of only truly successful film franchises based on a popular video game.


















my favorite actor, Wentworth Miller played the role, Chris Redfield



Secondly, in recent years, as terminologies like “interactive movie” and “cinematic storytelling video games” coming out, more and more storytelling video games are entering the people’s field of vision. The public is paying more attention to the cinematic elements in the movies. In Terence Lee’s article, Designing Game Narrative, he pointed out that “Movies are second-person storytelling. The audience obverses the events unfold before their eyes, seeing things directly as they are.” However, on the other hand, video games are first-person storytelling. The player is the main actor in the story. The player is experiencing it firsthand. The player not only experiences the story by hearing and seeing a scene but also interact with the story.   














                                              The Comparison between Movies and Games by Terence Lee



Secondly, by taking advantage of interactivity, video games could provide a more immersive and personalized story for each player. I have to admit that when playing video games like Detroit: Become Human, I feel cinematic while still enjoying the gameplay. I can watch it without playing it. I can get something meaningful out of it even though it is again called, a video game. The unique and exciting element in this game is that you are regularly faced with the enormity of ways the story can change throughout the game. Each chapter presents you with a decision flowchart that lays out the path you struck and the tendrils and branches of opportunities you’ve missed.



















The flowchart in Detroit: Become Human



By making the choices for different characters in the game, you feel like you are taking responsibility for what will happen to the characters. I remembered that when I played the chapter Stormy Night for the first time, my poor skill led to the death of Kara. When I played the role of Kara, I took too long to find the way out, so Kara got killed by Todd in the battle. I cried after I killed her because she is my favorite character in the game. Even though the game developer doesn’t recommend to go through the same chapter twice to change the result during the player’s first walkthrough, I had to replay that chapter to bring Kara back.


Another essential element why Detroit: Become Human is made as well as a movie is because of its music. In the film, music can serve several purposes that are either important on the emotional side of the film or enhance the storytelling. Detroit: Become Human did it as well. I have inserted my two favorite music tracks of the game. One is when Kara first showed in the game. She was on her way back to her host’s home, without knowing anything about the obstacles she was going to face in the future. However, even though she has not shown any sign of self-consciousness yet, she looks sad and pathetic. The other music track is when Markus plays piano for his host. Also though the four different choices here do not lead to any serious consequence, all four music pieces are very well composed. I even downloaded the music sheet and played them at home.

























Kara's Main Theme

























All Piano Music Played By MARKUS (Melancholic/Hopeful/Intimate/Enigmatic)



Indeed, the essences of films and videos games are different in theory. A very famous game designer once said: “When you

press the action button, the game will generate feedback.” However, the movie is in a very passive state compared to the game. You sit there and wait for the movie to resonate with you. On the other hand, the game must be operated by you to make a change. Even though in the market, certain forms of arts, which are described as “cinematically narrative game” or “interactive movie,” are coming out, the essence of the movie and the essence of the game will not disappear, and the genres of movies and games will only be increasing. The essence of a movie is a story, but the game is different. The essence of the game can be competition, creation, and also a story. The advantage of the game is to choose and substitute. If the player can decide the direction of the story and the ending of the story, the gaming experience is better than a movie story with a single ending.


Like movies, video games are also a manifestation of human history, cultural heritage, social and psychological activities. They also reflect the characteristics and differences of different historical periods, different regions, different nationalities, and different cultures. Therefore, it can be said that the embodiment of national and social culture in movies is similar to that in video games.


In the near future, the boundaries between films and games will become increasingly blurred. While retaining their independent characteristics, the two will continue to explore the wonderful future of complementarity and integration. I believe that as a movie fan, I will be able to experience many new experiences that I have never experienced before. As a game player, I will be delighted to enter a mature stage with my favorite games.



First Written on 01/24/2019

Updated on 03/07/2019

Ava Tan

Pittsburgh, PA