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October 22, 2005

Turning Video Games Into Movies

I have never played the game "Doom". I haven't seen the movie, either. I know that "Doom" is a fore-runner to other similar games, like "Resident Evil", "Half-Life", and "Silent Hill". The Washington Post is talking about the "Doom" movie. The Post interviewed members of a gaming league, and those people aren't too happy with the movie.

If the strong, boisterous reaction of 14 members of George Washington University's Gaming League is any indication, "Doom" is not quite bleh , more like blah .

"It's nothing to write home about," says Graham Musynske, the league's secretary. "The movie was all right, not Oscar-worthy or anything," adds the 20-year-old, "and thank God I didn't have to pay for it."

The league, which meets on Wednesdays for an hour and holds regular "gaming nights" at GWU's Marvin Center, attended a free advance screening of "Doom" on Tuesday night at the Cineplex Odeon near Tenleytown. The players stuck around after the show, mourning the sad, sorry state of video game movies.

"It's definitely below the 'Resident Evil' movies," Sarah Prisley, 21, the league's event coordinator, says to Paul Liao, the group's PR guy, referring to "Doom."

"I think it's below the first 'Mortal Kombat,' " opines Liao, 22, furrowing his brow, "but better than the second 'Mortal Kombat.' "

I have played "Resident Evil" and "Tomb Raider". Both games were turned into movies that apparently didn't do very well. Still, I liked them, at least the first ones. The second ones weren't anything to get excited about. One movie about video games that was actually quite good was probably the first movie of its kind - "Tron".

There has been a lot of criticism of turning video games into movies. Usually, the movies suck. The game platforms don't provide enough information about the characters to make a good movie. Other critics say that Hollywood is dumbing down and selling out by basing movies on video games. I agree with that. It's the lazy way of making a movie without taking too much effort. Plus, the movie makers are hoping that fans of the games will come out in droves to see the movies. I don't think that has happened.

"Tomb Raider" would have been a great basis for a movie, but neither movie was all that great. I did like the first one better than the second one. A lot of the appeal for me was casting Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Even before the movies came out, I knew that she would be perfect for the part. I am a major "Tomb Raider" fan. I own all of the dioramas, several of the action figures, mouse mats, a pewter figurine of Lara Croft, lots of comic books based on the game, and two bath towels with images from the game. The comic books could have helped provide some great ideas and background on Lara Croft and her adventures. What Jolie really needed was a good script. She portrayed Lara as darker than she seemed in the game and the comics, but I think she did a good job.

There are some games that I think would be great movies, mainly because they have well-developed leading characters and great plots. Three that come to mind are the entire "Myst" series, "The Longest Journey" and "Syberia". If you add the "Tomb Raider" games, those games are my favorites. "The Longest Journey" and "Syberia" are adventure games that are so good they've won awards. Another favorite of mine is "Silent Hill", which I understand is being made into a movie. I have no idea how that will work out.

"Myst" is interesting in that The Sci Fi Channel was going to make a miniseries based on it, but the makers of the game had backed out when they didn't like how the miniseries was going. That was probably a good thing. "Myst" fanatics such as myself cannot see anyone other than Rand Miller playing Atrus. I'm afraid that The Sci Fi Channel would cast someone terrible like Eric Roberts as the villian, Gehn (Atrus' father). While I'm sorry that there won't be a miniseries based on "Myst", I'm glad that a dreadful one isn't going to be made.

I will probably see "Doom" when it comes out on DVD. It shouldn't be too hard to find the game and play it. I'll probably enjoy it.

Posted on October 22, 2005 at 02:13 PM | Permalink


Yeah, I think it's a lazy way of making movies - they hope to get automatic audience from the gameplayers. And I definitely think they should realize by now that's not going to happen.
On the other hand, video games based on movies seem to do better.

I think, overall, it's kind of like how some books made into movies turn out to be crap.
Some stories can't well transcend the media they were originally made in, and others which can, it takes more work to do so than anyone cares to put into it.

I do believe this is closely related to the putting out crap, that's been going on for awhile now with movies in general.

Posted by: Chloe at Oct 22, 2005 7:56:08 PM

Doom doesn't have anything to do with Silent Hill and Resident Evil: Doom was one of the first first-person-shooters (no real plot at the time), following after Wolfenstein 3d. The primary improvement was textures on the ceilings and floors (rather than just the walls) but in that department it was beat by Ultima Underworld (a groundbreaking RP, G, a game you should try if you try any of these) that already had more complex geometry.

Resident Evil is a japanese rip-off of an australian series called Alone in the Dark (which recently had an attrocious Uwe Boll movie starring Tara Reid) that was more Lovecraftian in its tone: the idea was that the main characters were horrible at combat (the protagonists being real estate / insurance agents) so they had to run, rather than fight. Silent Hill is a Resident Evil rip off, although RE4 changed things up a whole lot and is more of an action game.

Doom 3 is the most recent Doom title: it changed things up a whole lot, too, in that rather than lots of monsters=scary, it uses light to great effect; it was one of the first games to really use accurate lightin, making the interplay between shadows part of the general game play. Most people/men hated this. They wanted the lots of monsters back. There's a special edition Doom 3 for the Xbox console out: it has bonus documentaries and the first two Doom games built in. Ebgames.com has it for $30 with a $10 rebate on it--not a bad deal (+free air-shipping!), considering it first retailed for $60 a few months back.

Doom 1 came out a week before my 16th birthday. I always wonder why the Columbine kids are associated with it when there was a lot newer games out at the time; Doom was practically an antique by the time they were in high school.

Posted by: Rich at Oct 23, 2005 12:20:54 AM

"Alone In The Dark" was a game? I had no idea. Uwe Boll... boy, he sure puts out some stinkers. I must admit I don't know much about "Doom", but the way you describe it, I'm going to have to play it. I had no idea the Columbine business was associated with "Doom".

The cool thing about "Syberia" and "The Longest Journey" is that the leads are female, and their characters are very well developed. They are far from bimbos. I'd like to see April Ryan (Longest Journey) and Kate Walker (Syberia) in a movie. The story lines in both games were great, and the visuals were amazing.

I like adventure games. I've never been much into first-person shooters. I've played "The Crystal Key", "Atlantis: The Lost Tales", "Beyond Atlantis", "The Black Mirror", "Aura", "Traitor's Gate", and others I can't even begin to remember. The adventure game I've been recommending lately is "Dark Fall". That one was so creepy it had me scared all night. "Dark Fall 2: Lights Out" wasn't as good, but it was still fun.

Posted by: The Countess at Oct 23, 2005 12:31:54 AM

I haven't been into the adventures since Sierra was number one; I don't have the patience for the obscure puzzles anymore. I think Willy Beamish is the last one I really enjoyed. Only made it about 1/4th of the way through Longest Journey. Indigo Prophecy is the new big adventure game, but it's more of a virtual-movie type experience, choose your own path, etc.

Alone in the Dark was a great series, the first one was in a mansion. It was followed by a free expansion they put out on Halloween (back in like 1991 I think) called Jack in the Dark. The second game wasn't well received, in that there was more combat, but it was on CD and featured goth remixes of xmas songs. Someone stole my disc years ago, I want another just for the music. Third game was also on the playstation and hence it kinda sucked.

I mention the Doom / Columbine thing in the David Brame article:


"While the blame for Columbine was cast in a wide net, from films such as The Basketball Diaries to videogames such as DOOM, nothing was ever made of David Brame’s obsession with The Godfather series: he even had a mounted photo of Al Pacino on his office wall. Given the youth of Harris and Klebold, the inclination to turn to their media influences is more understandable: being that they were not yet old enough to have a string of failed psychological exams and rape accusations under their belts, it was necessary for a society set on willing itself into a state of mock-surprise to turn their microscope towards their more passive pursuits. However, in that such active infractions never seemed to slow Brame’s inexorable career advancement, it seems more than a little bit disingenuous for the same society that once ignored those red flags (indeed, if the Tacoma police had taken domestic violence seriously, John Mohammad might have been jailed on a battery charge and the Beltway shootings might never have occurred) to highlight them in retrospect, pinning the sum of the blame on Brame’s supposedly damaged psyche alone, to the exclusion of outside media influences—influences to which adults are supposedly immune."

Doom 3 trailer (kinda longwinded and it doesn't portray the game's assets very well):


Posted by: Rich at Oct 23, 2005 12:45:40 AM

I used to write about this garbage professionally, so I can go on...

The Quake series is the sibling/cognate of Doom; "Quake 4" just came out this week, attempting to redress criticism of "Doom 3" ("Quake 4" is way more macho! Like a WW2 movie in space), but it's butting its head against another game called "Fear" that everyone says is better: why I'm telling you: it's the first western game to feature the "scary little girl ghost" in it. However, you need a scary expensive computer to play either of these games. If you want the spiritual successor of "Doom 1," though, it's a series called Painkiller that came out a year or so ago. That would give you the best approximation of the feel of "doom 1" (which hasn't aged all that well for those without nostalgia).

If you want to try some first-person games out, though, your best bet this Halloween would be:

"System Shock 2": one of the historic "best games ever" that's tough to find,


(144mb download--it doesn't have the end movie, although I have a copy of that stored on my personal website for people who finish it)

"Clive Barker's Undying"

Ok, Clive hates women, yada yada, the last battle is against this big green vaginal shaped thing... fair warning, but I think you'd dig the game as a whole.

Posted by: Rich at Oct 23, 2005 1:09:34 AM

Doom sucks. I mean yeah, it's got a history, but the game itself is just stupid, and it set the tone for first person shooters; the story doesn't matter. John Romero is known for having said "Anything that's going to stop us from mowing shit down -- get rid of it!" That's why the few exceptions (Half-Life or the Jedi Knight Series (some of them anyway) stand out so much.

Good article on how Doom was made and id software got on the map --> http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/05/05/doom/index.html

Posted by: Bryant at Oct 24, 2005 10:31:39 AM