See the buzzwords I had to contend with? The EIF was dominated by discussion of this sort of thing. With Ubisoft moving into movies and opening up a CGI studio, Endemol is building online games off the back of its TV shows, CCP building a pretty much self-contained online society with EVE, Ian Livingstone talking about creating characters that can crossover between media, and Linden Labs saying that their online society second life will be going completely open.
The games were a small part of the conference, which makes it slightly different from affairs such as Leipzig or E3, it was quite highbrow, though sometimes from different directions. There was a talk on the first day that I’m glad I skipped, the reports I got from some of the press and delegates were less than glowing. Very business oriented and full of figures.
You can see it happening though, these virtually converging casual societies. TV programs build communities of bloggers around them and their websites and have little web games that they play. Second Life is somewhere alot of people go to amuse themselves for a little while, without having what might traditionally be called a game to play, its more a social activity than anything else. EVE is looking more and more like a social experiment with a game tacked on (though you’d hardly call it casual), and more often than not movies and their accompanying games share the same art assets, even going as far as textures and models.
The lines between digitally produced medium are becoming ever more blurred. and I’m not sure if this a good thing. Surely diluting the spending across many forms will merely end up with us only getting mediocre results in any of them. Games which are primarily games, and not the result of some misshapen union between games and other mediums, should be recognised as being different from those games which have sprung from a mass media spanning license or franchise. I’m not going to get all fanatical about the purity of games and how it shouldn’t be sullied by mixing it up with lowbrow entertainment, part of me would like to but I realise that that is not the way forward.
We shouldn’t be afraid of convergence between the various media, we should however be sure that it is done properly, with the care and attention due to each of the forms. Companies like Ubisoft and Endemol shouldn’t be the ones to do it. They are already steeped in the way of doing things of their respective industries. They may eventually have the necessary ability but it will take a lot of work and quite a bit of pain (for us and them) to get to that stage. We’re going to see a pile of rubbish from them both before they get it right. Games with movies tacked on, and TV shows with games tacked on, just aren’t going to cut it.