Book Review: Film and Games: Interactions

| September 28, 2015 | Comments (0)

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Deirdre Molumby reviews Films and Games. Interactions, a descriptive dialogue between theory and practice. With international contributions from multidisciplinary perspectives including film studies, game studies, art and cultural studies, media studies, and pedagogy.
 
Published by the Deutsches Filmmuseum and extending from an exhibition of the same name currently being held there, Film and Games: Interactions focuses on the relatively young medium of video games and investigates how games are informed by movies. In fact, the book analyses this relationship from every possible angle you can think of – intersections between the two mediums’ origins, visual comparisons of the two, adaptations of one to the other, the role of music in both, and, of course, the interactive role of the game player versus the movie viewer. Though the title of the book suggests equal focus on films and games, and indeed ‘Film’ actually comes first in the title, the book is really more about games and how film has affected their development.

The large hardback book isn’t ideal for popping in one’s handbag or bringing down to the beach, but it has a comprehensive layout and engaging format whereby each section consists of two to five essays replete with much illustrative content. The references to both older games from the 1980s and 90s as well as contemporary games, and the interviews with established game developers such as Jörg Friedrich, design director YAGER (Spec Ops: The Line, 2012), senior game designer at Crytek Dennis Schwartz (Crysis, 2007; Ryse: Son of Rome, 2013), and James Mechner (Prince of Persia, 1989) should find an invested audience in enthusiastic gamers. At the same time, the information is also accessible to those who are not avid players, with the inclusion of definition boxes for several terms, for example, ‘glitch movie’ and ‘flow channel’, throughout. There are also interviews with filmmakers Paul W.S. Anderson (the Resident Evil franchise) and Uwe Boll (Rampage, 2009; Attack on Darfur, 2009).

Several of the essays strike one as being geared towards an academic readership, for example, gender stereotyping is questioned while the construction of space in games (which is again contrasted to film) is also explored. Indeed several of the contributions come from professors and lecturers. While these are punctuated by interviews and illustrations, some may dislike the predominantly theoretical style of the book. At the same time, the arguments put forth in the book, which includes a particularly interesting section on creative gaming whereby games have developed in such a way that players now have the potential to become a kind of filmmaker in their own right, facilitate in giving an intellectual perspective on the phenomenon of video games for which they are long overdue.

The book asks ‘Are video games a form of art?’ but it investigates several other issues as well. Camera aesthetics, the potential of machinima and archival processing also get a look while one of the more film-focussed chapters looks at media reflections in Fahrenheit 45 (François Truffaut, 1966), The Matrix (The Wachowski Brothers, 1999), eXistenZ (David Cronenberg, 1999) and The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam, 2013). From its introduction to the final essay, which criticises how recent games like The Last of Us (2013) and Red Dead Redemption (2010) are trying too hard to be like film, the reader is left with much food for thought and is free to question, investigate or merely ponder on the many reflections that have been raised by the book. You may never play a video game in the same way again.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bertz + Fischer (1 Oct. 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3865052428
  • ISBN-13: 978-3865052421
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 2.7 x 28.7 cm

 

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Category: Book Reviews, Reviews

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