Moviemaking and gamemaking are converging

pseudolus | 185 points

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The article says that there are similarities between the two industries, I see these similarities too between how the workforces are treated. Whereby Hollywood VFX workers are overworked and underpaid, and some even end up going under, and the Academy is always there to stomp out their protest during the few minutes they get at the Oscars [1]. Much like with game development, where waves of contractors are hired, then subsequently fired [2], or being just subjected to endless crunch [3]. I think it's fair to say that game dev companies are the sweatshops of the tech industry, and I feel for anyone who wants to break into what otherwise could be a creative industry.

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bkq | 3 months ago

That's mostly because filmmaking is ceasing to be filmmaking, at least for big movies and TV shows.

I tend to ignore new TV shows these days. Why? I just know they're gonna be great for a few seasons at best then start sucking, and I don't feel like wasting my time in the meantime. I can count on one hand non-episodic TV shows in the last 25 years that have maintained their high quality throughout.

  The Wire
  The Sopranos
  Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul
  Mr. Robot
Honourable mention for Twin Peaks: The Return, although Twin Peaks didn't exactly maintain its quality throughout season 2 even if Lynch swooped back in to save it near the end.

All cases where one person or a couple people had strong creative control of the project throughout.

I could sit here all day listing shows that started out really good but then it became clear the writers had no idea what they were doing, or the writers who did left.

These shows are all written by committee now. All these garbage Star Trek shows. Westworld has really neat sci fi premises for each season but other than season 1 they always devolve into action schlock because the writers don't understand how to actually write good sci fi.

As for big movies, they feel like they're written by marketing people not writers. They're optimised for getting people into the theatre and everything else is an afterthought.

There's still a handful of auteurs making great movies you could think of as big. People like Tarantino, Scorsese, the Coen brother. Christopher Nolan gets lucky sometimes, but most of his sci fi is ruined by sloppy writing for me(Interstellar...)

One thing is certain for me though. I can't think of a single recent movie I've enjoyed that had lots of CGI in it. The movies with the best writing are pretty much never the ones with huge effects budgets.

The true art of filmmaking lies in the writing. You can have all the effects in the world, the best actors and directors. Doesn't matter one bit if the script is terrible.

mtlmtlmtlmtl | 3 months ago

I have increasingly become disinterested in CGI-heavy movies. I have taken to watching more foreign-language films, which seem to still be more interpersonal and grounded in reality. I say this as a person who would usually prefer sci-fi and fantasy over other genres, which are the genres which are historically the most heavy in CGI and VFX.

TheUndead96 | 3 months ago

It's an exciting time. Unreal Engine is being used to great effect in things like The Mandalorian:

The latest developments in large language models are another area interesting to me personally as a developer. Since the beginning of the video game medium, limitations in programming game AI have left video games stuck in a corner, where they use violence as the primary means of driving immersion, simply because it's just too complicated to model human-like behavior outside the domain of simple carnival games. Some games try and brute force their way around this by explicitly picking from a set of predetermined branching paths at predetermined critical moments. But the latest AI tools, first seen in stuff like the GPT-3 powered AI Dungeon, reveal that there will soon be new methods of maintaining a coherent story in a simulated game.

We won't have to always resort to violence and fancy carnival games for much longer.

doomlaser | 3 months ago

I am glad I moved from game industry some time ago. The company I worked for wasn't bad, but it went bankrupt. Staying in the industry meant they I had to deal with less than great employers at some point, being overworked, having a smaller salary and my future growth perspectives to be limited.

That being said, I've enjoyed the years I worked as a game programmer, I had fun and I've learned interesting stuff.

DeathArrow | 3 months ago

Anecdata: My wife was addicted to the story in God of War Ragnarok.

She walked through the living room during the opening cut scene and exclaimed "Is that Toby Ziegler ZEUS?"

She ended up hanging out in the living room crafting, reading, playing on her phone, or watching her own shows while I ran around smashing and killing, and then would pay attention whenever a cut scene happened.

Movies and games are not the same thing.

But blockbuster amusement park movies and AAA video games increasingly are.

citizenkeen | 3 months ago

Well there's a headline ive been reading since the 90s.

What seems to have changed is that the stories were presented back then as a way for video game makers to tap into larger audiences, and to benefit from being in the good graces of the film industry. These days it seems to be a story about a Hollywood past its prime seeking to maintain relevance by partnering with game studios.

sophacles | 3 months ago

You don't say; I honestly can't tell the difference between most AAA titles and Hollywood films nowadays.

No, I don't buy either.

Dalewyn | 3 months ago

With the torrent of live service games failing spectacularly over the last several years, the Economist is here to tell you about why making good games is bad for business, that single-player is dead, what a 'live service' is (now and looking ahead to 2017), and the infinite money circle powering some of the sexual predators at Ubisoft.


> Developers used to finish making a game and go on holiday.

Citation needed? Maybe they meant: "holiday" /s/s/s

I assume 'developers' refers to the people who make the game, as the company can't really "go on holiday". With that in mind, developers used to, and still do, after (nearly dying) shipping a game, get laid off.

qwery | 3 months ago

It's not mentioned in TFA, but Unreal Engine is also used by the BBC to create real time virtual studios for its various football punditry programmes [0]


KineticLensman | 3 months ago

It has never been clear to me why people want movies and games to be the same thing. Most AAA games that are "cinematic" are just bad or mediocre movies that wouldn't get made or have already been made. For example, even some very famous video game designers have mentioned that they would rather make movies. Why don't they then? I think it's because the threshold to make a story good enough for a movie is a bit higher than a video game, even with the bar falling a bit in modern times for movies. There's even a question as to why gamers want movies made out of their favorite game. There's a reason why these usually fail, and it's usually because the underlying story is just not that interesting.

In my opinion, a video game should be a game and not a larping simulator for movies. Games like Journey, The Witness, The Last Guardian, Shadow of the Collossus, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Mirror's Edge, etc. should be the standard for video game designers.

bmitc | 3 months ago

Besides the article being a bit behind the times ("Blizzard has turned World of Warcraft into a subscriber service", really, The Economist? You just discovered WoW?), most of the games it mentions are the kinds of games I find uninteresting.

WoW, PUBG, "games that retain players", no thank you.

For me, it's all about self-contained single-player games with no subscription or DLC (which I ignore), and no grandiose longterm plans. I hate "seasons" in games or DLC or any attempt at retaining me. I vastly prefer small, innovative indie games.

the_af | 3 months ago

I got this strange feeling that this article is behind the Times. The gaming industry has been getting progressively closer to the movie industry for about 20 years. I think they already have converged

Overtonwindow | 3 months ago

Finally, the gameplay of a Michael Bay movie combined with the story of Super Mario

not_enoch_wise | 3 months ago

It might be countertuive but I've developped a sort of claustrophobia watching heavy cgi/vfx movies, I can't stand layers and layers of fake peoples, cities, ships, cars... It might not be aligned with my political views and might be sad to disclose but I kind of find relaxing watching the true cows, horses and landscapes of Montana in Yellowstone.

doe88 | 3 months ago

They have to diverge for the medium/media specific traits to emerge.

The 3D action MMO is the final medium/media.

Nobody is working on that.

bullen | 3 months ago

And is it a good thing or not? Both industries are notoriously for overtime and underpayment.

raincole | 3 months ago

They are not.

The gamedesigners who are all "Show" not "play" are the worst. Same as authors who wan to "tell" and not "show" in movies.

Those who have "cool" scenes in there heads, which they want to make into a game, make for the worst, cause not interactive game experiences. Stop conflating a passive medium and a active medium.

Its even worse, if they glue singleplayer "movies" into multiplayer without gameplay considerations. As if the the ten other players want to wait for that cool "finnish" him cinematic to play the 100 time over.

The technology base might be merging, but god safe us from the merging of the creator bases.

I wish this myth would die, once and for all.

qikInNdOutReply | 3 months ago

Maybe for AAA games - granted, of which some are good. But the type of games I sink most time in (like factorio, satisfactory, stardew valley, terraria, ...) are not

Aardwolf | 3 months ago

I am tempted to argue that this has been in the process of happening ever since the first episode of Red versus Blue back in the early (mid or late?) 2000s

bioemerl | 3 months ago

I was chatting about this with a friend as we were watching John Wick (2, I think)

Straight up 3rd person Shooter but as a movie.

And similarly, watching The Last of Us you can see how they broke down the screenplay into “levels” or “missions”. Maybe a bad example since it’s explicitly a video game crossover though.

rco8786 | 3 months ago

Haven't I heard this one before? Multiple times? Over the past 20+ years?

What's different this time?

coldacid | 3 months ago

How many years until a small team of less than 10 people can produce a full feature film with generative tooling?. I'm pretty exited about the potential of powerful storytelling being in the hand over everyone without needing massive amounts of capital, especially if it shatters the entertainment semi-monopolies.

christkv | 3 months ago

> One is that labour markets and production techniques for gaming converge with those of the film business, to the point where some envisage a single production process.

Seriously? "envisage"? Is that word really necessary to express this point?

xdavidliu | 3 months ago

I've seen some impressive audiovisual experiences in VR

7373737373 | 3 months ago

Everything its a remix (look for the documentary)

kristianpaul | 3 months ago

Unreal Engine 5

unixhero | 3 months ago

They have been good decades.

pleb_nz | 3 months ago

Moviemaking, gamemaking and education are converging. I can see the day when blockbuster education games/apps are built with the budget of a Hollywood movie.

tonyoconnell | 3 months ago