With the latest in the colossal Halo franchise on the horizon, The 405's film and games editors discuss the series of live-action short films marketing the game.

Danny - Film Ed.

The singularity is approaching.  The debate has raged for some time in the gaming industry, and more simmered in Hollywood, about the implications of games imitating cinema; and in more recent years, with the power shift of massive mainstream acceptance of gaming and Hollywood's desperate reliance on sequels, films imitating games.

Halo, if you're not already aware, is rather a large franchise and, irrespective of your thoughts on the franchise, it's Bungie and 343 Industries (the latter having taken the franchise's torch) that have done by far the most for quality game/cinema crossover.

 

 

Hot on its tail comes the news that David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club and Zodiac) is producing a trailer, with Tim Miller (an acclaimed visual artist who had a big hand in Scott Pilgrim) at the helm.  These two pieces of what ostensibly boil down to marketing collateral could potentially mark a seismic shift in the way the respective industries, and consumers, think about game-film.

 

If the quality of the mini-series keeps up and depending on the ramifications of the soon-to-be-unveiled trailer, we might in the near future be able to put such monstrosities as the Resident Evil series and adaptations of games like Hitman and Max Payne (shudder) behind us once and for all, and usher in a glorious new era.  

What does our gaming editor think of the matter?

Ed - Games Ed.

Call me a cynical old bastard (and people often do), but I'm not entirely sure how comfortable I am with Hollywood and the gaming industry getting so cosy. Sure, no one can deny that, at the moment, developers and publishers are working with some amazing people to help create, or spread the word, about their games (Fincher isn't the first director to get involved in games marketing; lest we forget David Lynch's Playstation 2 commercials). Neil Davidge (a producer and composer probably known best for his work with Massive Attack) has also created a breathtaking soundtrack for Halo 4, following in the footsteps of Clint Mansell (who composed a track for Mass Effect 3).

These are all hugely talented people who are well respected for their art in both the film and music industry. However, (and here's where my doom and gloom prophesizing starts) they might just be paving away for the hacks. At the moment, the divide between Hollywood and the gaming industry is still pretty wide - but the more people who crossover, the closer we get to the horrible consequences of Danny's aforementioned singularity.

Danny hopes the merging of the industries will result in more intelligent films about, or based on, video games - I predict that video games are probably more likely to become more like the terrible films made in their name, and it could only be a matter of time until you switch on your console, pop in a game from your favourite series, and see the blood curdling words "directed by Uwe Boll" pop up on the screen.

Hyperbole, and scare-mongering aside, my point is that the reason Hollywood is starting to gain interest in video games is because the film industry knows that at some point gaming will eclipse cinema (if not in prestige, then certainly in sales). We're in the process of watching a specialist interest completing its evolution into the mainstream, and as developers have grown in size and popularity, they've started playing it safe. No one can deny that there's more than a slight whiff of Hollywood in today's gaming market - sequel after sequel after sequel, franchises tweaked to appeal to a wider audience, and once intelligent design being sacrificed for a low difficulty curve so as not to scare off casual gamers.

However, as always, there's still a thriving independent community, and a couple of major studios developing some truly innovative IPs, so while the Bays, Bruckheimers and Andersons of gaming rake in the big bucks, the Finchers, Lynches and Aranofskys will still be there, toiling away in the background, reacting against the mainstream.