With Steven Spielberg’s new feature debut, Player # 1, questions about why video game games are not generally successful as movie adaptations reappear. More than that, the expectation of those who watch shows that it can be as or even more important than the quality of production. Cinematographic adaptations of video games come with the same baggage, usually brought by players who know the story head-on.
In the case of Player # 1, the new production of director of hits like Jurassic Park, E. T. and Tubarão, the plot is completely based on the rules well known in several video game games. All in the immersion of virtual reality. However, the film is based on the book of the same name by writer Ernest Cline. Thus, the expectation is all in the work. And that’s why it’s enough to make fans anxious and worried about their reinterpretation of the cinema – but the expectation is not as great as the reinterpretation of a real video game.
If in books we know characters and imagine their appearance, just like the universe in which they live, in video games we are presented the same in the smallest details. Not only do we understand their personalities, but we also already know how they walk – something that in literature is only in the imagination. However, the videogame goes beyond all that. As we control the characters, the players become these. How, then, can filmmaking compete with this?
One of the most famous games in history is the Warcraft universe, created by Blizzard Entertainment. The RTS (acronym for strategy game) is so famous that it has more than 12 million players worldwide and fans in other media, such as books. So when Warcraft – The First Meeting of Two Worlds debuted in 2016, the expectation was immense and it yielded more than 400 million dollars of box office.
However, for a title that is so well known, such a number is small. The feature film, like most games-based productions, is not a completely cinematic or interactive play, staying in the middle of a movie and video game. So, those who do not know the title feel that they lack drama and a more complex plot in production. On the other hand, who knows the game, believes that the film was not faithful to the style and the characters wanted. There are also those who believe that the very structure of Warcraft is not compatible with movie scenarios.
This may be true. One of the games that was, from the point of view of some of the most successful players, was Silent Hill, and the biggest reason for this was that the game not only has this dramatic structure more compatible with cinema, but also the fact that the long one stayed true to the narrative of the game. However, this was not enough for the film to be far beyond the prurient that already knew the title, not pleasing to the majority of the spectators, especially the critic. As Silent Hill is not as famous as Warcraft, it also did not get a big feat at the box office.
However, this gives us an idea of what it takes for a video game game to be potentially successful – the title must be compatible with the dramatic structure of the cinema in a natural way, the game must have a large number of fans, and finally , production must be faithful to the work. If not, it is safer to produce longs like Detona Ralph or Player # 1, who have the bias of a video game without being one.
(This article original language is portuguese. This translation was made with Google Translate)