Art and academia collide with just a fire button away in Deutsches Filmmuseum’s Films and Games: Interactions. We live in an increasingly multi-media age and nowhere is that more apparent than in the world of films and computers. Their relationship has evolved since the earlier video games from their depiction in popular visual media to film related tie-ins that became mainstream releases in the 1980’s. Even today, streaming reminiscences of that early video game age can be seen in advertising bill-boards which have a deliberately accentuated reincarnation of the classic 8-bit superstar that was Pac-Man, evidence of nostalgia and multi-generational appeal which Wreck-it Ralph so wanted.
Modernity meets technology meets modern life in a world where art can combine with interactivity for anybody and where revenue from the next Grand Theft Auto game could exceed the returns on a Hollywood blockbuster. This is also a world where, strangely, different franchises may have unexpected outcomes, where, for example, Prince of Persia makes the transition from a multi-decade gaming environment to a big star, big budget, big flop feature film. Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy, Lara Croft and the inevitable ‘kick ass’ spin-offs of Street Fighter and Mortal Combat feature here. And yes Silent Hill can be found here too, as well as Resident Evil.
In Films and Games: Interactions visual creativity and its depiction are central to the work at hand. It is a lovingly formatted tome which offers a fascinating and in-depth history of the interactions between games and films, which is especially impressive considering the sheer depth of products and characters, interfaces and locations to examine. It also discusses the creation and intellectual aspects of what can sometimes be considered by many to be ‘just games’ and gives an in-depth perspective on their development. The ‘interaction’ in the title is fundamental to the depiction of gaming as art and academic science, from wish fulfilment of Promethean tendencies to abstraction and gaming culture which shows us an interaction beyond the ‘physical’ gaming environment. It also presents a number of interviews with key developers in the field which offers a fascinating insight as it reflects their views on the premises, creation and outcomes of gaming as well as notable film directors who have brought video game franchises to the big screen. The world of internet gaming is also analysed, notably the way that it has changed aspects and perspectives of ‘traditional’ games development. An industry that continues to evolve, this is an increasingly emergent market which makes full use of developments in technology from consoles to computers to mobile devices. These are interesting times in the evolution of interactive games and this book demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the integration between history, philosophy and illustration. Essential for the next era of games and concepts.
So we live in an increasingly multi-media age but – ironically – Films and Games: Interactions is something that, whilst discussing the modern aspects of our age, rejects one element of it. This is a book that you definitely do not want to read in electronic format but in print. It is so beautifully illustrated, compiled and composited that any electronic format would not do it justice; it may feel incongruous that its subject matter can only be viewed on screens but in this instance you want them on the page. Intelligent and beautifully illustrated, this is something to read and admire in multiple measure – a multi-media treasure.