Top 10 film & TV moments that gamers will recognise

Top 10 film & TV moments that gamers will recognise

Games are a very unique medium, but young. The bottom line is that the midrange trend we tend to think of is the liberal borrowing of cinematic techniques by the triple-A game industry. This is all starting to change. While we haven’t always had the highest-quality translations of game properties in this largely one-sided love story, recent films like Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) and Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), and shows TV shows like The Witcher (2019) have all seen positive critical reception. Now, apparently, every game property in the sun seems to be adapted from Borderlands to Uncharted.

On the contrary, now we have directors who grew up with video games that tip the scales of influence. Who needs straightforward cinematic adaptations when games can subtly and not so subtly inspire a generation of filmmakers? ‘ Some academics even suggest The games help reshape the film on everything “from the narrative, structural, visual and philosophical levels.”

Given the breadth of experiences and genres that gaming encapsulates, “like a video game” is a largely empty phrase unless more specific. So here are five serious moments and five not so serious moments where gamers will recognize their hobby in film and television.

Can you choose the more direct influences from my more “fun” parallels? Only one way to find out!

Warning: some spoilers to come!

1 – Soundtracks – It Follows (Jay theme in particular)

Hands up who was stunned with a huge smile to boot when they heard the revealing synth styles of Disasterpiece in the 2014 film It follows?

Synthwave is a very popular electronic music microgen among contemporary horror filmmakers and has been inspired by both horror and sci-fi cinema of the 70s and 80s as well as video games. An excellent example of these reciprocal media relations that are formed. In fact, author Nicholas Diak credits Grand Theft Auto: Vice City with largely spawning the synthwave and vaporwave genres, claiming that this shifted “attitudes into the ’80s … of parody and ambivalence to that of homage and respect ”.

It Follows brings all these influences together in one fell swoop. Not only does Disasterpiece pay homage to old horror and sci-fi with its soundtrack, but by composing soundtracks for movies and games, they manage to bridge the gap. Whenever Jay’s theme pops up (for example, the lipstick scene above), it looks like a track straight from the 2012 indie puzzle platformer Fez. Which makes sense, since The disaster made it up.

2 – QTE Boss Resolutions – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (The End)

We all know that when you have a seemingly unassailable enemy, there’s no better way to defeat them than by testing your skills by pressing an X or square button.

It might sound silly at first, but even in movies and TV the most important scenes with antagonists just have different rules for dealing with everyone. Since so many villains are loved, not only do you want your antagonist to come out with a bang, but those end scenes often carry the full weight of the themes and storytelling on their shoulders as well. A symbolic struggle like in Rise of Skywalker therefore presents very well how a game would resolve this encounter. Vigorously press a button to fight for victory instead of standard combat for improved pace and cinematic presentation. It certainly invites a comparison to 2008’s Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which booked every fight with the QTEs and also had an encounter with the Emperor.

3 – Sports broadcast graphics (ESPN, etc.)

I know companies like ESPN have worked with game companies for years “to match broadcast graphics to things like on-screen information (eg, frontline football).” That’s in addition to their ongoing moves in the esports space.

When sports games began to offer detailed in-game stats, networks like ESPN sought to mimic game design so that there was seamless integration between mediums and thus enhanced the potential for cross-marketing. Now if only sports games could stop emulating mid-game network ads in return.

4 – Round trip levels – Mad Max: Fury Road (plot structure)

Ah, go back. Do you know level five? Level eight is the one reversed at a different time of day. But the enemies are different this time! Oh, and level ten is the first level reused to boot.

I’m referring to Halo: Combat Evolved, of course, which I love despite that. Mad Max: Fury Road emulates this gameplay trope when the characters decide to return to the Citadel (from which they desperately fled the entire movie) exactly as they came. However, I think it’s safe to say in both cases that returning to places has thematic value and can also show you how things have evolved over time.

5 – Storytelling Database (Snyder Cut and Fan Cuts)

We now take it for granted that there are deleted scenes and many alternate versions of a movie (on the editing room floor). We might even see an alternate version like Justice League’s upcoming “Snyder Cut” or various director cuts. It was once seen as a mixture of revolutionary and blasphemous – that we only watch one on a “database” of a movie’s possibilities. It’s a transition in mindset that has been facilitated by the interactivity and less limited space of possibilities of video games.

When Doom came out in 1993, it helped transform what it really meant to be an entertainment fan. id Software released the game with the in-game code as shareware and now modding is often seen as an integral part of the fan experience on PC. The same goes for cuts of movie and machinima fans made using games.
As video games emphasize choice, divergent paths, unique experiences, and mods more than ever before, some moviegoers are clamoring for choice more than ever in the “real, final” movies. Especially if they suspect interference in the studio or that it is not “their Star Wars”, for example. It’s a different time indeed.

6 – Detective Vision Bullet Trajectories – The Wire (Season 1 Episode 4)

Yeah, I only want that here because it’s one of the best scenes on TV. You got me. Detective games, however, have a real obsession with bullet trajectories. The only difference between this scene and most games is that video game sleuths all instinctively have a “detective vision” at their fingertips and are able to sense exactly where everyone was standing from an ethereal dimension. I can’t watch police scenes the same way after video games.

7- Visual language – Scott Pilgrim vs the World, etc (spatial editing)

Aesthetic choices like slow-motion fight scenes, camera perspectives like a side on, first person, GTA-esque car-driving perspective, etc., and a specific aesthetic reminiscent of video games like Sucker Punch or in Scott Pilgrim vs the world references are all common in modern film and television. Scott Pilgrim vs the World certainly models its cinematic language on the visual language of video games, as the graphic novel did.

What’s also interesting is the disruption of the traditional single frame of cinema with the widespread standardization of “multiple screens and windows” or “spatial editing” in cinematic parlance now, in part due to the influence of gaming.

8 – Side Quests with Moral Decisions – The Witcher

The strangest thing about the Netflix TV adaptation of The Witcher is how many episodes have taken the form of near-standalone side quests with moral choices that are now commonplace in games. Of course, being a TV show deprives you of any agency in making those choices, which makes watching those scenes play out a sometimes bizarre experience.

So this is just a nod to the game series, but I can imagine The Witcher is well suited to be adapted as a Netflix “interactive special” at some point.

9 – Game Engines on TV – Time Commanders (Rome: Total War)

Time Commanders was a television series produced for BBC Two in the UK from 2003 to 2005. Teams of four played through great historical battles as historians commented on their strategies and tactics in relation to real life events. It was great.

While it was never clarified on the program itself due to rules against product placement, the “game” played was actually a very slightly modified version of Rome: Total War.

I’m sure a lot of Rome: Total War players back then were provoked into a double take when they saw the schedule.

10 – Everything – The Mandalorian

The Mandalorian is as close as a TV show can get to a video game. It has allusions to everything we recognize as the mechanical pillars of the action game. Armor, Weapon & Ability Upgrades, Turret Sections, Weak Point Boss Battles, Defense Against Waves of Enemies, Sniper Missions, Quest Quests, Healing, Removing Upgrades, Escort Missions , marking enemies through walls for stealth sections, etc. has helped fill the Star Wars void for decades, a TV show designed for gamer sensibilities is ringing on the money.

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