The GameSkinny Roundtable Episode 14: Video Games & Movies

For many, video games and movies are two pastimes that often fight to occupy our free time. Unfortunately, since Hollywood figured out it could cash in on succesful game franchises, gamers everywhere have experienced the utter garbage (with the exception of a few rough gems) that are video game movies or video games based on movies. This week,ErnestoLuiRyan, and Stephanie delve into the murky depths of mediocrity to discuss why these horrible movies and games keep being made, and what makes them so bad in the first place.

"Fruit: goooood. Cake: greaaaaat.  Fruitcake: nasty crap."

On paper, it seems like it would be a no brainer success combining these two industries. Unfortunately, after all the push-and-pull of deadlines, shoddy focus groups, and a plethora of revolving-door writers, what we are left with are movies that do neither their source material or their budget, justice.

These movies flop so hard, they are repeatedly nominated, and even win, Razzie Awards. It probably doesn't help that the infamous Uwe Boll takes credit for these flops, landing himself in "Worst Director" nominations 3 times for his video game movies alone.

"Look upon my face, and realize despair."

Bad directing aside, what makes these movies doomed from the start, and on the flip side, what makes video games based on movies just as awful? To do that we have to split up these camps.

Bad Video Games Based on Movies

While we (hopefully) won't see a Twilight game released anytime soon, companies see potential to make quick easy money and use these games as mere merchandise to coincide with theatrical releases. To them, it is nothing more than a cheap secondary form of advertisement that happens to offer a tangible return.

Unfortunately, for the unlucky developers this shovelware is pawned upon, they are given an incredibly limited budget and a non-negotiable launch date that MUST be met. All this, plus a non-existent passion for the project, leads to some underwhelming games such as any Iron Man or Spider Man released in the past 10 years. Even worse is when movies which do not need a video game adaptation (or whose content does not translate well into the format) are pushed out like The Golden Compass.

It's a cutthroat industry, and for small developers, they take whatever they can get. But they are expected to make diamonds out of coals with their bare hands, and the results are as throughly underwhelming.

Bad Movies Based on Games

Hollywood, on the other hand, is just as demanding. But with multi-million dollar budgets and armies of crews at their disposal, do they really have an excuse for flops such as Prince of Persia (scoring a whopping 35% on Rotten Tomatoes)?

What seems to be a common trend among all failed video game movies are one of two things. They either A) pervert the source material, making it unrecognizable from its namesake, or B) completely abandon and discard all source material.

Movies such as the Resident Evil series will have main characters from the games randomly show up in the movies, even though it is impossible or breaks cannon. Other films like Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li completely throw all video games inspirations out the window. For example, Chun-Li is now a white concert pianist instead of an asian Interpol agent, and the super powered M. Bison is now an Irish real estate agent.

Grim and cringe-worthy stuff. But now we are starting to see some trends develop that give us hope for future video game movies and vice versa.

So What Does That Mean For Us Now?

Partnerships have been blossoming all over these two industries. Stephen Spielberg is producing and helping direct a live action Halo TV series, and AAA titles such as Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed are being turned into feature-length films. That is not even mentioning the tons of other big name game titles that are currently in the works for 2015 and beyond.

We also have the creative minds that brought us enthralling stories such as Bioshock and Spec Ops: The Line, returning to their original jobs by writing screenplays for these video game movies, so you know they will put thought and passion into these works, unlike what we have seen in the past.

Both industries have begun to realize the error of their ways, or at least how much money they are losing from poor creative choices. They are beginning to take their collaboration with each other a bit more seriously, and that can mean only good things for us in the future.

Though to be honest, we will all miss the so-bad-it's-good gems like Super Mario Bros.

(This weeks write-up brought to you by Lui)

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The Official GameSkinny podcast, created by gamers for gamers. News, gaming culture, and rogue unicorns are all fair game. Have a topic you want us to discuss? Let us know! Join us for our weekly stream on Wednesday nights at 9 PM EST on! Cleaned podcast recordings can be found on GameSkinny the following Friday. We also do the occasional Let's Play and game stream.

Published Sep. 14th 2013

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