chapter  11
24 Pages

Too Many Cooks: Media Convergence and Self-Defeating Adaptations

WithTrevor Elkington

Within the general trend of media convergence, the relationship between the film, television, and video game industries present a particularly interesting love-hate dynamic. On the one hand, visual and interactive media show increasing aesthetic and procedural similarities. Video games have generally become more narrative-based and increasingly draw upon filmlike special effects and celebrity-power to stand out in the marketplace. Likewise, the technologies used for computer-generated imagery (CGI) in film are more and more often the same technologies used to develop video games, to the point that artists and technicians are able to move between the two industries with increasing fluidity. This process of convergence is expedited by the rapid expansion of the video game market and the horizontal integration of the media industry. The parent companies that own film and television studios are also increasingly invested in video game development, making synergistic collaborations between film, television, and video game developers commonplace. Major film releases like Spiderman 3 (Sam Raimi, 2007) and the The Lord of the Rings films (Peter Jackson, 2001, 2002, 2003) are accompanied by video game adaptations, classic films like The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) and Scarface (Brian De Palma, 1983) are licensed for interactive media, and more video games are adapted to film, such as Doom (Andrzej Bartkowiak, 2005) or the Tomb Raider films (Simon West, 2001; Jan de Bont, 2003). And yet,

licensed adaptations are commonly dismissed by critics and players as nothing more than cynical attempts to cash in on hype. Films based on video games usually do not fare well among critics and audiences, though they are capable of performing well at the box-office. Likewise, video games based on films receive a generally hostile reception from game reviewers and players. Rather than successfully drawing on the synergistic advantages of cross-media development and promotion, licensed film-to-game adaptations in particular must overcome a long history of critical and commercial failure.