Game Eaters

Friday, September 02, 2005

Goldeneye is the best movie ever based on a game.

Did you know this? I watched Goldeneye last night, part of my Bond-a-thon. I hadn't seen the movie since it came out in 1995. All these years I've actually been more familiar with its characters and situations from the famous N64 game. Watching it last night flipped me out. Through the whole movie I was screaming "I've been there!" It felt more like the movie was based on the game than the other way around.

Why is this? I'm sure there could be various theories, but to me the obvious answer is because RARE's FPS actually created coherent spaces out of the locations seen in the film. This is different from a normal movie-to-game, where you usually get linear obstacle courses designed to create the events of the film. RARE wasn't trying to create the events of the film at all, just the world. It made the locations from the film places I could explore at my leisure. Therefore I felt like I had been there. Seeing the movie afterwards is like seeing a film shot in your home town.

This begs the questions of what it means to adapt film, or some other media, to a video game. I recently spoke with Espen Aarseth about this. We were talking about the Pirates of the Caribbean game versus the movie, and I remember he kept asking "But is the game really the same story as the movie?"

This is beside the point, I think. Adaptation don't need to be about story at all. Why can't they just be about a world? And I don't think even so-called linear media is just about events. Do audiences go to see Pirates of the Caribbean just to see a sequence of events, or is the sequence of events just a convenient means to illustrate a world?

Different media are limited in different ways. You can describe smell and touch in literature but in film it's almost impossible. One tends to adapt the aspects of fiction that carry over naturally from one media to the other. So what's wrong with calling a video game an adaptation of a movie if all it does is recreate the world of the film?

Goldeneye certainly works for me. Because it models the world and not the events it stands the test of time. Stuff like Enter the Matrix just gets it all wrong. I don't want the story. I want the space.


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