Too Many Cooks: Media Convergence and Self-Defeating Adaptations
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.