Video Game-Inspired Movies: Good or Bad Idea?

Video Game-Inspired Movies: Good or Bad Idea?


The last few offerings of video game-inspired movies *inserts VHS tape into player* have left many hardcore gaming fans wanting to hit the reset button. For those who are fully immersed in the geek lifestyle, how many times have you left the movie theatre after watching a video game-inspired flick only to find everybody wandering out like they just witnessed a train wreck. Silent, shell-shocked, and jaws dragging behind them like carry-on luggage at the airport. That walk to the parking lot peppered with exclamations like, “Bruh, what the fu*k just happened?”

While we’d all wish the two industries could just get along, from what we’ve seen so far, Hollywood has released only two types of video game-inspired movies so far; those which have failed, and those which have failed badly. And with the not-so-recent big-budget boo-boo Warcraft, sadly it seems like this trend isn’t going to change anytime soon.

But, we’re not here to take a dump on these stinkers or the folks that make them. Mainly because, if there’s one thing, we’ve found out the hard way, that there are few things harder than adapting a video game for the big screen. To take a proactive approach to this sad situation, let’s take a look at the reasons why Hollywood hasn’t been able to get the formula right for so long. So, let’s plop that big-ass video-game inspired movie on the autopsy table and begin dissecting all the guts and splash around in the blood that pumps in the heart of a video game-inspired movie’s story.

The Audience

Yes, it’s your fault too. Oh, wait. Wait a minute. It’s not all your fault, because of the long history of shabby adaptations, almost every announcement of a video game-inspired movie is met with trepidation and much wailing from a visibly injured segment of moviegoers – the geeks. With the greatest hits list of worst videogame-inspired movies growing like Pinocchio’s nose every time, a new flick is released, it’s no wonder that fans expect all of them to be stinking piles of garbage. Until studios come up with video game movies that are fun to watch and have a kind of ball-tickling energy to it, the curse will continue. The high expectations that studios face when adapting video games into movies mean that they have an uphill battle from the get-go.

Adapting the Wrong Stuff

Good video game stories are often times too complex and varied to fit into a movie. For instance, GTA V has great characters and a solid story, but it only works in a game because of the many smaller missions that the player has to go through. The same can be said about games like Skyrim which has many separate stories that do not necessarily connect with each other in the game, but it would be a nightmare to include all of those stories into a single coherent movie.

Hollywood seems to be attracted to basic action games, like Doom and Hitman. As a result, the audience gets a mediocre action flick. That said, there are still so many other games that are out there which can make great movie adaptations. Thanks to the creativity and ingenuity of the gaming industry, Hollywood has a treasure trove of great options from Elder Scrolls to Gone Home and even The Wolf Among Us, there are plenty of good video games which could be successfully adapted for the big screen. Yet, while feats of excellence in video games sit on the shelf as potential possibilities, we have to endure the 40th Resident Evil movie (can somebody please tell me whose asking for them).

Video game Stories Aren’t Being Told the Right Way

Video games such as Street Fighter or Hitman (the first one) aren’t heavy on the story front, but they do give moviemakers the excuse to give us some great action sequences that movie-goers enjoy since we’re viewing and not playing. While that does nothing to diminish the fun aspect of a video game adaptation, adding a little nuance to the characters would be nice. Then there’s another gripe of this big man-child when it comes to video game-inspired movies – the action sequence. A good example here can be given of the 2005 release Doom.

It’s true that this video game adaptation didn’t have many things going for it, rather than going with the original, the storyline that was adopted was flimsy. That coupled with corny dialogue and uninteresting characters, and this one was going downhill from the moment the characters liftoff to Mars. But, it’s one saving grace was the inclusion of a first-person shooter segment which was added towards the end of the movie. But, then, in that classic Hollywood-style twist, the movie ends in…wait for it…a fist-fight.

Movies are Not Interactive

While the video game experience is all about interaction, movies, on the other hand, are not. While video games allow the player to make choices whether you’re a striker in FIFA or a soldier in an FPS game, the person playing is in charge, unlike movies where the viewer is taken where the moviemaker wants you to go, whether you want to go there or not. Sure, the environment of a video game adaptation can look stunning. Simply looking good (Warcraft looked amazing) is not enough, which is why games don’t necessarily translate into good movies as well as comics.

Video game Stories aren’t Exactly “Oscar” Material

And finally, the main reason why video game-inspired movies suck is because of the simple fact that video game stories are rarely good. The video game industry doesn’t have very high standards when it comes creating good storylines. Most of the FPS video game stories out there are cliched, dank and are best described as copies, of copies of more copies, with a few changes sprinkled in. For instance, The Last of Us, released in 2013 is widely considered as having the best storyline of in a video game. But, it doesn’t take long to notice the similarities, the lonely girl, the reluctant mentor, and so on, have all been played out millions of times in comic books, TV shows, movies and video games. So, if video games have such a low watermark for quality storytelling, then how are the movies they inspire able to be any different, better. When it comes to Hollywood, the story is the backbone of any movie. The plot of a movie is driven by interesting characters rather than a cold, unfeeling universe.

About author

Owen Mayers

Pro PUBG Player, Gaming Enthusiast

  • Sleepdrone1

    3rd September 2018

    90% of the time they are atrocious. Although I have to admit the new Tomb Raider movie was pretty good.

  • Omnimushu

    Marc Busby2

    3rd September 2018

    I have yet to watch the new Tomb Raider. Can’t be worse than the old ones. I did enjoy Hitman though and the Warcraft film, but then I’m a fanboy 🙂


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