Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I want my film to be interactive

The other day I found myself wondering if video games would be the last medium to be created. It is certainly the youngest by far, with comics being just over a 100 years old (this is very debatable, I know), and the oldest recorded being written fiction, though I would guess music far predates this. I was trying to think of what would possibly supersede games, but be it 3D goggles or holographic rooms, they would still be games.

Then I played Dear Esther, and it occurred to me that the next medium will be an offshoot of games, in much the same way that comics is an offshoot of art and novels. Dear Esther is a “game” in which you traverse a hauntingly beautiful island, whilst the character you are playing monologues the journey. It is left the the player to piece together the story from visual clues and what the character says. Let me be clear, there are no gameplay mechanic, aside from being able to move about (the game is view in first person). No puzzles to solve, no enemies to shoot, heh no blocks to move, hell you can’t even jump.

I guess that question is, would have Dear Esther worked as a tv show or movie. No I don’t think it would have, as it is essentially about looking around and experiencing the journey, if it was simply being watched it would have been dull and uninteresting. The fact that it is the “players” journey that makes it engaging in a way that i feel none interactive forms of media struggle to be. I have written before about how I struggle to focus on tv and movies, but I found Dear Esther to be very engaging as the experience was controlled by me, even though as a player you can only explore.

So this new media type is purely a story delivery system, much like movies and books are. There aren’t many games like these, though there are a few more I can think off that are in the ballpark, The Walking Dead and Journey spring to mind.So if video games aren’t the last form of medium, then we need a new way to descibe experiences like Dear Esther. I guess interactive films is about as close as it gets, though as a term it is a bit of a crappy one, especially as it makes me think of those awful FMV games of the early 90s.

Regardless I don’t think it will be a medium filled with a vast number of entries, though I suspect that I will get very excited every time a new one pops up.

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