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Games success influencing movie industry, says MW2 director

No longer the "bastard step-child" of film, games are inspiring Hollywood

The high-profile success of titles such as Modern Warfare 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV has turned around Hollywood's perception of videogames, as the film industry looks to alternative mediums for new movie content.

That's the view of Keith Arem, director of the Call of Duty and Modern Warfare series', who said that both industries can learn from one another as they continue to grow as the leading entertainment mediums.

"The success of the games industry is going to benefit those other movie industries. It's providing more work, it's providing more content," said Arem, speaking in an exclusive interview published today.

"Finding new content in the games industry is going to absolutely expand into the movie industry and vice-versa. By expanding these franchises out the film industry is going to re-seed stuff into games. As much as people are threatened by the fear of the unknown, it's going to be a huge benefit to both industries as they grow hand-in-hand.

"It's amazing to see the difference between what it was a few years ago and what it is now," he added. "Games were always the bastard step-child to the film industry and what's interesting was games were always considered a secondary property. There's been a complete 180 in the past several years with games like Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto, and these have shown that these can change perceptions."

Arem, who also writes graphic novels for Image Comics and is about to begin work on his first feature film, Frost Road, hopes that as a games creative in Hollywood he can influence the future direction of projects that are looking to combine multiple media.

"I'm really excited about bringing all these industries games, movies, graphic novels together and changing the way people perceive a franchise so it's not just a film or just a videogame, but a better integration of story and content," he said.

"So it's not just an ancillary product derivative of what that tent-pole property was, but it actually goes hand-in-hand and can tell backstory or other trans-media elements through the internet, or other mediums that are converging. If you can tell a compelling story in each medium - and what's proper to that medium - as opposed to just regurgitating a story you've already seen in a better format. That's my goal as a director, to fix that world and come up with a new way to look at franchises."

The full interview with Keith Arem, where he discusses the differences between directing movies and games, can be read here.

Latest comments (4)

Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo8 years ago
That's quite the logical leap. Last I checked, 99% of video game movies bomb spectacularly, and movies like The Hurt Locker and Green Zone were inspired by REAL events in Iraq, not Modern Warfare 2.

Also, he points out that GTA and MW2 "changed perceptions" in Hollywood, but never really explains how, or why. If anything, video games today remain pale imitations of the Hollywood genres that inspired them.

Note to video game land: Stop trying to become Hollywood, forget about "narrative" and just make games.
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Russell Watson Senior Designer, Born Ready Games8 years ago
"That's quite the logical leap. Last I checked, 99% of video game movies bomb spectacularly"

Obvious answer to that, im pretty sure 99% of video game movies are made by Uwe Boll ... amirite?


"Also, he points out that GTA and MW2 "changed perceptions" in Hollywood, but never really explains how, or why."

Again fairly obvious, those two games especially, made Hollywood sit up and say "Games make money? lots of money!"
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Jack Loftus Contributing Editor, Gizmodo8 years ago
Bah dun dun. Poor Uwe.
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Fred Skoler Business Strategy, Design, Engagement, Sweepstakes, Contests, Executive Producer 8 years ago
Games have had a long sometimes successful relationship with film. Consider the release of GoldenEye 007 in 1997. This first-person shooter, developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64 video game console, gave the James Bond film license a tremendous boost and a new generation suddenly found interest in an aging action icon.

Everyone is aware of games today. Film directors play games and game designers watch films. Cross fertilization of ideas is a natural evolution. Even professional sports players are doing moves on the field that can only be attributed to an homage to their experience playing video games.

We are living in a time when there is a great opportunity to see successful properties developed that exist in all media. There is an engaged market. Consumers want to seamlessly travel between their media and enjoy quality content wherever they land. Different media lends itself to different types of content. That's not a limit but an opportunity.

The hurdle is the talent to make it happen. Just because someone is a great film director does not mean he/she will have the same skill in designing an engaging game experience. When talented artists from multiple media (E.g. games, graphic novels, linear animation, film, music, etc.) are collaborating and working with the same IP I believe that exceptional content can produced. It will require a strong director at the helm. Someone who understands the strengths of the various platforms for delivery (e.g. film, video games, graphic novels).

I think the time is right for there to be a new wave of directors who really "get it." I for one am excited for the future of combined media and experiences. Bring it on!


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