popular video games making way to the big screen

(originally published 12/15/16 on thecspn.com and in the december 2016 edition of the mhs chronicle)

Put down your Playstation and grab your popcorn–video games are hitting the silver screen.

With the advent of increased graphics, stories, and accuracy in gaming, movie directors are adapting many popular games into film. One such movie, “Assassin’s Creed,” is set to hit theatres Wednesday, December 21, joining the likes of “Warcraft” and “The Angry Birds Movie” as gaming-based releases from 2016.

Junior and long-time gamer Zach Leininger said that though these movies may not always go over well, the concept has merit.

“In the past, we’ve seen it fail and we’ve seen it succeed,” Leininger said. “There’s always the idea that because a game is a game, it should stay that way. But it’s absolutely possible to take the concept and make it into something different.”

Though Leininger is optimistic, junior and “Assassin’s Creed” fan Ian Peebles said that the idea has flaws.

“It seems like a good idea, but it hasn’t ever been played out properly,” Peebles said. “When you make the switch, you lose the element of control players have in video games, which gives viewers a completely different experience.”

The increase in the game to movie trend has directors looking from apps to action for source material. “Angry Birds,” for example, is different from “Assassin’s Creed” in both gameplay and audience. Leininger said this affects the movie’s success.

“Action movies typically have a larger audience; the games and movies based on them seem to be more interesting to the general public,” Leininger said. “App-based games tend to be aimed more at kids, so it’s all a matter of audience. But you’re really given a chance to expand on the story, and bring the world alive in a different way.”

Junior and game enthusiast Lauren Beaudry said that these differences result in opposite standards for the movies.

“You can do a lot more in a movie based off an action game than an app when it comes to the story,” Beaudry said. “The expectations for an action game movie certainly are higher; if the action movie bombs, people will get upset whereas if a movie like ‘Angry Birds’ failed, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal.”

Gamestop Senior Game Advisor Dustin Kuebler said that movies have been adapted into games for years.

“For a while, it was a one-way street–developers would take movies and turn them into games but it didn’t really go the other way,” Kuebler said. “Then directors realized the games had a story; they realized there was actually some material there, and they decided to do something with it.”

Kuebler said that the growth of the video game industry and technological capabilities were what led to the recent increase in popularity.

“As developers come up with better graphics and more stories, games have become more like movies,” Kuebler said. “Since these games are already getting closer to what a movie would be like, it’s become easier to make the change.”

Peebles said that upon a movie’s release, the game and the movie affect one another, especially when it comes to a franchise as successful as “Assassin’s Creed.” The game recently reached 100 million copies sold over its history, creator of the series Ubisoft said.

“The game provides a fanbase that will go see the movie,” Peebles said. “It brings back old ‘Assassin’s Creed’ fans, to both the movie and the games. Because of the movie, the game also sees an increase in sales because it’s reaching new audiences.”

Kuebler said the game series could be expected to continue for a long time, but that the movie could have an effect on that.

“This year, the creative team at Ubisoft decided not to release a game,” Kuebler said. “They never explained why, but most people think it’s because they wanted to focus on the movie, and getting it done right. They seem to be banking on it, and if the movie does well, it could result in further expansion.”

With all this dedication, Leininger said that he has high hopes for the movie.

“With video games, especially ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ there’s so much plot; there’s a huge opportunity to move forward in different ways,” Leininger said. “They really need to satisfy fans. Whether it’s staying true to characters, backstory, or camera angles, fans are looking for that.”

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