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Storytelling, cinematic video games and 3D

“Video games will be the fastest-growing and most exciting form of mass media over the coming decade” declares the headline to The Economist’s recent video games special report “All the world’s a game.”

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consulting firm, the global video-game market was worth around $56 billion last year. That is more than twice the size of the recorded-music industry, nearly a quarter more than the magazine business and about three-fifths the size of the film industry, counting DVD sales as well as box-office receipts (see chart below). PwC predicts that video games will be the fastest-growing form of media over the next few years, with sales rising to $82 billion by 2015.

I don’t love video games. I’m not good at them. But I’m so enthralled by Raiders of the Lost Ark-like cinematic experience of games such as Uncharted: Drake’s Deception that I’ll play them on “Easy” just to get to the next reveal. It’s also why I’m more wedded to the PS3 console, because of story-centric exclusives such as Uncharted, and the just-announced I Am Legend-inspired horror-apocalypse game, The Last of Us (trailer below).

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I’ll temper my excitement about The Last of Us (due in late 2012, early 2013) until I hear whether it’s in 3D or not. Yup, you heard me. I didn’t think much of the blockbuster Avatar — as a movie, or as a 3D experience. I’ve resisted the urge to get a 3D TV because the glasses strike me as anti-social, unhealthy for young children, and hardly worth the investment especially with companies like Toshiba developing 3D technology that doesn’t require eyeware.  But when it comes to interactive cinematic entertainment such as Uncharted (and now Batman Arkham City, which I’ve just started), I’ve discovered that 3D makes the story experience that much immersive. It’s akin to introducing home theater 5.1 surround sound into the home after a lifetime of mono television. It helps that Sony just released an accessibly-priced 24″ 3D monitor that works for both PS3 and Xbox (already reduced to $399 — glasses, game and HDMI cable included – $299 this week at Best Buy for American residents).

I’m also willing to believe that 3D might make it beyond fad to fixture if game companies see it as a worthwhile feature. But $299 is about as far as I want to go to experiment in the third dimension for now.

Meanwhile, I just might continue to devote more of my entertainment dollars to immersive, story-rich video games, rather than Hollywood movies — which could be the way the industry goes as well.  After all, Activision’s 2010 video game, Call of Duty: Black Ops was the “most successful launch of an entertainment product ever” observed The Economist, grossing $1 billion one month after its release. The British publication went to press before the world discovered last week that the follow-up release, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (not produced in 3D) grossed the same amount in 16 days, besting the previous record, set by a movie – Avatar. As we all know, the real name of the game is “follow the money.”

“We’re trying to move the medium of video games into an area elevated in the same manner of respect of film,” [Naughty Dog co-president Christophe] Balestra says. “We want to redefine what our medium is even called. ‘Video game’ is not an accurate name anymore. It is not necessarily a game with rules and a winner and a loser. It’s an experience.”

source: USA Today

Originally posted to Storyteller Uprising

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