Henry Cavill as Geralt. Finally a Good Video Game Movie?

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by Joe Deeney

Could this be the one? After suffering the Tomb Raiders, and Resident Evils, and Warcraft, and that bloody Mario film, could we finally be getting a film of a video game we’ll treasure as much as the video game?

The short answer: no.

The long answer: The Witcher won’t be an adaptation of a game. It’ll be the adaptation of a book by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, just like the game. The question really is, can there be a film of a book we’ll treasure as much as the book? The answer is to that is obvious. Click here to be patronised.

I see why people are keen for their pixelated heroes to find shelter on the silver screen. We become ensconced in these worlds that make us feel good; triggering memory sensors, adrenaline, hormones, even nostalgia. And, when the game’s done and there are no lands left to explore, there can be withdrawals. We need more content. So a film that could delve into the storyline with more avarice seems the perfect recourse.

Here’s the problem. Despite being an active experience, watching a film requires little from its audience past keeping one’s eyes and ears open and paying attention. The joy is experiencing the events objectively. The user/game feedback loop is a video game’s unique selling point. That’s what defines it as a form. Let’s use The Witcher, as an example: most people would agree that its a series increasing in quality based on the honing of its controls, quests, and empowerment through experience. It’s the ongoing feedback that occurs within these elements that allows for things like story to flower. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of story in gaming, but to suggest it plays a more important role than the things mentioned previously is foolhardy.

Resident Evil 4 is a great example of this. It’s easily one of my favourite games. It’s a stupid, over-the-top, chilling, tense, camp, celebration of the art. But these things only work because of water-tight controls, an impeccable collectible system, a constant upward trajectory, and atmosphere. These are the nucleus of Resident Evil 4, everything else that makes it so great spins around it frantically.

I think we need to let go of the idea of there ever being a good video game movie. There might be one or two that surprise us, and you know what, I bet they do a good job of The Witcher, but it’s impossible to replicate what makes video games great in this format – it’s like writing a play about photosynthesis. Both are incredible components of the human experience, but it just doesn’t fit.

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