Films and Video Games: A Beautiful Union?

With the announcement of Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls starring Ellen Page, we as an industry find ourselves looking out over an interesting horizon. Could the future of gaming be closely tied to film?

With the use of well-known and successful Hollywood actors and actresses in games, we are definitely offered a chance to improve gaming quality as we know it. Voice over work will be better, motion capture will be able to convey a more realistic sense of bodily reaction and gesture, and the characters within the game will feel more fleshed-out and realistic.

We saw this in Rockstar’s LA Noire, starring Mad Men’s Aaron Staton as Cole Phelps. Through his masterful acting, gamers were given a fresh, interesting character who could both be appreciated and connect well with the audience. Facial animation was dramatically improved by Rockstar’s updated motion capture tech, and the NPCs in the game had a more human feel and likeness to them that we hadn’t seen before.

Of course, there are drawbacks to consider as well. Bringing a well-known “big” actor or actress into the game will most likely spark recognition, risking a loss of story immersion when the player feels more like they’re using a character rather than being the character. If you recognize a face, it will be harder to connect with it as a separate new character, thereby drawing you out of the game’s immersive quality.

But the prospect of bringing Hollywood acting talent into gaming also brings about an exciting and intriguing new opportunity. While gaming has experienced amazing growth and improvement over the last 25 years, it’s still today what rock n’ roll was in the 40’s/50’s; it’s the devil that makes children violent and forces young men to become lazy basement-dwellers who don’t contribute to society.

We all know these stereotypes are ludicrous and could not be further from the truth. But could the possibility of a crossover between games and film be the beginning of gaming’s eventual acceptance as a legitimate form of art and entertainment?

It’s still way too early to tell, but with the steps we’ve been taking recently, it’s looking better and better for us every day.