Videogames vs. Movies: Have games replaced films as the modern popular narrative medium?

Red-Dead-Redemption-vs-Inception

Image Credit: Melissa Moseley

Comparing one narrative medium to another is a tricky business. Read the full post.

Comments (81 total) Add your comment
  • Beckie

    While I respect that videogames truly reach a portion of the population in both story and emotion as well as experience, I find this debate fairly trivial compared to the other pop-culture debates. When you look at the demographics of who plays videogames versus who goes to the movies, there is no comparison as to what is the greater medium. A much greater variety of people go to the movies for a shared experience than play videogames. And for every 10 horrible movie, there is a truly immersing, emotive movie to counteract that. Granted, I wish that figure was reversed, but I do not at all think film as the great medium is over.

  • M&M

    Star Wars: The Force Unleased I & II video games versus the entire Star Wars Prequel trilogy.

    Who wins?

    The VIDEO GAME.

    Video games just have better story narratives than movies these days. You would think that would make the Hollywood crap factory work harder at creating a quality product but it hasn’t. Let’s face it, you’d be hard pressed to find any movie of late that’ll be considered “classic” 20 years from now.

  • k

    Videogames have gotten better with storytelling over the years. Heavy Rain is a perfect example of what you can do with the tech and create an immersive experience for the player. Another example would be Red Dead Redemption or LA Noire. When a hero you’ve grown attached to dies you feel sad because you wanted them to achieve what they set out to do in the first couple cutscenes

    Now I’m not saying that videogames are better then movies because thats not it. They go hand in hand but it’s up for the viewer to decide which form of storytelling they enjoy more

  • Shannon S

    I love video games, but the problem is that there’s probably only 4-6 games per year that I’m excited enough to buy it right away. By comparison, I’d say there’s at least 15-20 movies each year that I make a point of seeing in the theaters. Now, I’ll admit, the biggest factor with this is time and money. I’m married with 2 children, and it’s a lot easier to tell my wife I’m going to the movies for 2 hours and will spend about $8.00-$10.00, compared to telling her I’m going to Gamestop and spending $60 on something that will take 10-15 hours to finish. I’d love to buy more games than I currently do, but the bottom line is that (especially when you have kids and have to share TV time) movies is still the more convenient medium. Games might be better right now, but unfortunately “quality” isn’t always my top priority when it costs $60.00 to enjoy a new release video game.

    • Mike

      This just scared me a lot. I have my first kid on the way and I’m married and still play too much video games. LOL Baby is due in January, Uncharted 3 comes out in November. Could be my last hoorah!! lol

  • Charlie

    How does no one mention any of the recent Fallout games? They are the one game I can think of that truly lets you decide what kind of person you want to be and if you will become evil or good. I think that would satisfy the authors a bit when they say that movies and games lock people in to a story. Fallout doesn’t do a perfect job, but it comes pretty darn close.

  • @Jamesmoore80

    Money’s tight and so is time these days so I had to make a hard decision. Have kids or be able to afford the awesome titles coming out. Like Uncharted 3, Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Rage, Arkham City and that’s not even accounting for the great smaller games like Limbo and Outland. If this trend continues then I may never have children and so I believe movies will win in the long run. Unless there’s a singularity of course too.

  • MrDew

    Tic for tac there are just as many sequels and reboots in both mediums. Hundreds of movies come out every year, and I would wager at least half if not more are original ideas. Super 8, Bridesmaids, Insidious, Tree of Life, Beginners, Source Code are all well received original titles.

  • Amy

    First off, I am not an avid videogamer, so I’m probably not aware of the full video game experience, but in addition to books, movies are my favorite form of entertainment. Yes, you are technically just sitting there watching something you have no control over, but when I watch a really good movie, it’s a truly transcendent experience; I spend weeks, even months thinking about it and wishing I could watch it for the first time again. I also think that Darren and Adam are being a bit cynical when it comes to modern-day blockbusters. My favorite movie of this year so far is Super 8, which has a fair share of special effects, but at its core, it’s really more about the characters than the monster or action.

    But obviously, I really don’t think you can compare different mediums. It’s like the TV v. movie debate: they both have flaws and benefits, and it’s really all subjective. And of course, it’s possible to enjoy both equally.

  • Brandy

    The story in Bioshock is waaaay better than any movie I’ve seen in a loooong time.

  • Kim from Texas

    I really think that videogames are the future. Talk to a teenage boy in the 70s and 80s, and the dream job would be a movie director (aka George Lucas in Star Wars) Talk to any teenage boy today, and the dream job is working at a videogame company.

  • Kimba

    I’m in my 40’s, worked in the computer industry all my life. I still go home every night and play a few hours of video games after I watch my news. I might watch 1 movie a month. And if there are ever any programs on TV I want to watch I record them so I can watch and skip the commercials. I prefer the active role that I play in video games more than the passive role I play watching a movie.
    Going to a movie theatre to watch a movie nowadays is horrid compared to when I was a kid. Everyone behaved once the show started. Now you have to deal with people talking, cell phones, rugrats kicking your seat, etc. Yeah, I’ll stick to my games.

    • Andy

      I’m pretty sure people acted the exact same way when you went to the movies as a kid, they just didn’t have cell phones. I was a teenager in the 90’s and we were definately loud and obnoxious. Time has a way of making the past look much better than it actually was.

  • Justin

    I think everyone who believes games would eclipse movies or win this poll is not thinking. Where do u think games come from huh? about 65% of games made today and years before are made from movies previously made: Kingdom Hearts, super hero games like captain america, thor, pokemon, and many more games that the guy who fought for games said have come from movies. Games also get 50% of their magic from the MOVIE clips they have in like the halo and call of duty series for example. Movies are natural based on real life or comics or anything. Movies entertain people with real life aspects and what could happen if our world was in sci fi, or fantasy or anything else. I could go on but I think i proved my point: GO MOVIES SCREW GAMES! VOTE FOR MOVIES!

    • Andy

      Sure, they make games based on movies, its a great way to get some money, but those are not the games that give you the rich story this article is trying to argue for. A movie tie-in game like Thor or Shrek is just a cash grab while something like Mass Effect or Red Dead Redemption is an original story with something to say about humanity, just like our best films. Its a kind of stupid thing to try and say one is better than the other, but I think someone earlier said its a slow news day, so what else is there to talk about? Also, Pokemon was a video game first, then a tv show, then a movie.

  • Daniel Montgomery

    As someone who has been enthralled by some video games (“Portal,” “Mass Effect”), I think it’s silly to even suggest that video games are currently better than movies. Adam’s argument seems to be based on whatever drivel has been pumped out to 4000 screens by the studios each weekend and ignores some of the wonders of independent and international cinema, which still leaves video games in the dust. Too many games are still stuck in witness adolescent fantasies, even the good ones. And a lot of the most popular ones, at a basic dialogue and story level, are embarrassing (my brother played “Bulletstorm” and just watching it lowered my IQ). Letting “Green Lantern” and “Cowboys & Aliens” represent the medium of film is like letting “Twilight” represent great literature. That argument is a nonstarter.

  • Andy

    Its been said plenty of times here already, but its really just apples and oranges. Both mediums are fantastic when they can be, and awful too. Games have just recently in the past 15 years or so become much bigger in the mainstream world, so we’re getting games with bigger budgets and better storylines, its a very exciting time. What I think games have over movies right now is the independent market. it is much easier to find great indie games that can take your breath away or make you laugh, then it is to find a great indie film playing in your city’s theatre.

  • Anon

    TL;DR

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