Why Games don’t fool us whilst Hollywood has crossed the Uncanny Valley

The movies vs games argument is hackneyed and tired. The problem is there are some things that games simply cannot do.

Games aren’t funny. They try but it always comes across as a sixth form joke that was funny for about 30 seconds in a room when people we trying to impress each other. Once the code has been written, the voices recorded and subtitles typed that’s evaporated. Games are also never hip, they often aim for cool and on very few occasions they get there. In 99% of instances its tragic or simply not valid. FIFA 11 will never be hip, but then again it’s not even trying.

A couple of fundamental problems exist. The  gene pool of ideas that games plunder is so shallow and linear that the sample culture found in music and films is almost non existent. Cross references outside of games is rare, and when its done it’s so heavy-handed as to pollute the reference. Games are level based, a legacy reaching right back to the arcades,  they inhabit a realm that culturally isolates them. Technology limited the ability to convey narrative. Pac Man has no story (apart from being chased by ghosts in a maze) because the tech at the time was trying to create a world, not stimulate a world like a book where the reader creates the vision in their mind. The best games portray a believable synthetic universe like Fable but they fail to live one once the silicon cools. Game memories are shallow, music and film plug into collective recollection. In hindsight they look and sound like life so are easier to assimilate

Films based in the current day can reference what is happening now, and can tap into the collective past of history. Games aren’t a believable representation of real life (namely they don’t look real), the failings of non photo realism mean that as humans we aren’t fooled. We know it’s a game, a synthetic representation of a game world, not the real world.

Hollywood has blurred computer reality and real life to a point where a synthetic representation is completely believable. At this point Hollywood can fool us, games cannot. This leads to the problem of evocation of emotion. We cry at films because we  not tricked into thinking a real person is suffering or in joy. They call it acting.

Games can’t act. they imitate, duplicate and deceive.


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