Nerd Talk: Video games shouldn’t be movies

Megan Roth’s weekly column on pop culture and all things nerdy

I recently had the chance to watch a movie I had been waiting quite awhile to see, and I was disappointed to say the least.

I shouldn’t have been surprised really, I should have expected it to not be as great as its source material.

The trailers and sneak peaks made it look so good, and like it had so much potential.

Maybe that was the problem, it had potential but couldn’t figure out how to live up to it.

Assassin’s Creed was originally released in theatres last December, and was released on Netflix on Sept. 1.

This movie appeared to have it all; great visuals, an interesting story, stellar fight choreography and even an interesting female lead who may or may not be a villain.

Unfortunately the good did not out weigh the bad. And, it’s not just me who thinks so, the movie only has 18 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.

In fact, a little research shows that no movie based on a video games has a score of higher than 50 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, critically speaking. Some movies do have an audience score of over 50 per cent, but those are pretty few.

So this got me thinking, why can’t a video game translate into a movie?

The late, great movie critic Roger Edbert said it was because video games aren’t art.

“No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets,” Ebert once famously wrote.

Now, this is a statement that has garnered a huge response, with many arguing in favour of video games. After all, a video game is able to beautifully show distant world, possible futures, uncertain past and alternate realities in a gripping and memorable way.

Though it is a zombie game, The Last of Us speaks about the cruelty of man and the uncertainty of the future. And, it is surprisingly realistic for a computer generated image. If that isn’t art, I’m not sure what is.

Maybe it isn’t the lack of art, that makes it nearly impossible to translate a video game to the silver screen. Maybe it is the experience.

My theory, and one that seems to be shared by many, is moving a video game to the big screen takes away from the experience of the game.

I am not what any one would consider a gamer, not by any means. My favourite video games are Mario Kart and Spyro. However, I can say these games hold a similar experience for me as gamers have when they play the “hard core” games.

When you play a video game you, in some way, become the character. It is a form of escapism completely different from other forms.

In a book you are along for the journey, but you aren’t the character. You don’t make his or her choices, you don’t see the downfall of your choices.

When playing a video game you do. It is in your hands to decide which way you turn or what missions you take.

When a video game moves on to become a movie, all that experience is gone. The audience is just that, bystanders watching an adventure they have no part in.

That isn’t even mentioning the hours of time and energy one invests in even a short game. Tens of hours are spent on each game played, which is stretched over weeks in some cases.

Maybe that is why the games don’t become great movies. Taking 20-plus hours and jamming it into maybe two hours just isn’t enough.

Though, it could also be the story itself. Yes, every game has a plot of some sort, even the mindless shooters have a story to sort of follow. Taking a story, that is almost secondary to the action, and making it the key focus just doesn’t really work.

Back to Assassin’s Creed. The plot is interesting, I’ll give it that, but what is really fun is exploring the far past and being able to do ridiculous things no human could actually do. Being able to jump off of a high rise and into a stack of hay at ground level isn’t a smart thing to do, like you can with the game’s Leap of Faith. In the video game it is exciting and happens regularly.

It’s time to stop. Let video games stay video games. Yes, we have the technology to build it, but that doesn’t mean we should.