I’ve always believed that games and movies walk similar pathways.
Of course, there’s that one teensy-weensy difference: interactivity.
Movies can tell stories that might engage you whereas games tell you a story where you actually are in control. Games let you walk the walk, something movies can’t exactly do.
But there is ONE thing that movies have the potential to do that games do: give the audience a choice.
Let me explain this to you real quick!
In video games, you’re in control of the character for almost ninety percent of the game’s runtime. The story is played out as the writer intends, but you are the one who journeys through it. “So then the only difference between movies and games is character control?” you may ask. Well, mostly. But a lot of games also provide gamers with choice. For instance, you come across an old security guard who has the keys to the armory. Do you force him and take the keys to better your equipment? Or do you just walk away and carry on with the mission? Both these choices will have consequences and THAT is what makes the player feel like he is a part of that world.
That, right there, is what’s missing from movies: choice. We, the audience, are never presented with a choice in the movies that we watch. It’s always the writers who pen down the story and we just journey along with the characters of the film. We might yell at our televisions at home, shouting at the dumb blonde who is about to open the door to her eventual doom, but it’s all in vain as that dumb blonde will still open that door.
What choice does is it presents us – the audience – with an opportunity to make certain decisions for the characters in the movie. By doing this, we get into the movie much more than we would just by watching it. I know that not everyone would prefer to make decisions as they like stories told to them, but there also are many who would love to help that dumb blonde.
Confusing? Not really.
Let me reiterate. Like 3D; like 4DX, we need a theatre-experience where we get to make choices in the movies. So instead of wacky glasses, every seat has an attached remote control with buttons A, B, C & D. And in pivotal points during the movie, the audience will be presented with a choice and then has to vote for their preferred option.
There’s one extremely important thing to note here, however: What I’m stating here isn’t a groundbreaking idea. Now before I hear you going, Of course it isn’t! Video games are practically interactive films, here’s presenting to you two of the most important testimonies to what I’m trying to say.
1967 saw the groundbreaking innovation of this technique through the Czechoslovakian interactive black-comedy film Kinoautomat, which – at nine points in time, presents the audience with either of the two choices, waiting then for the overall vote to then take them to the next level of the film. Shamefully, the film – after quite a few successful runs and positive feedback, was banned.
Only to come back with another film – I’m Your Man – in the US; possibly the first interactive film experience in the vicinity which was supposed to change the way films were viewed, but due to the extremely negative reception, the equipment was removed and the technology wasn’t ever worked on.
Time for another example? Time for another example.
Remember Give Yourself Goosebumps? It’s something like that, but in the form of a live-action film. Allow me to give you a clearer picture. It’s a romantic movie. The guy is in his girlfriend’s apartment when her father comes home. Screen freezes. We are presented with 4 choices:
Hide under the bed.
Run out of the window.
Act like they’re studying
Tell the truth.
And based on the collective votes of everyone in the movie theatre, a decision will be made and the movie will carry on from there. And this way, the audience will finally be even more engaged in the story and feel more for the characters as their decisions will impact those characters on screen.
Obviously since it’s a poll, not everyone’s choices will get considered and that’s the only downside to this idea. But hey! A chance at choice is better than no choice at all. I am the minority with my choices so I would probably face similar situations when the audience decides to let the boy run out of the window or hide under the bed and I just want him to tell the truth. What fun that encounter would be.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to make important decisions ourselves rather than just screaming at the screen (or if you’re like me, mumbling to myself) to no avail? I know I, for one, would love to have that control. Plus it makes you feel like you’re actually a part of that world. I can only imagine how brilliant writers and directors would play with us.
Looking at you Nolan.
Also, apart from the two above-mentioned examples, this sort of thing does exist even currently, albeit on a smaller scale – YouTube Videos. I came across an interactive advert for Twix a long, long while back, where you were presented with multiple choices at the end of each segment and – based on your choice – the next video would play out. It was short & – inevitably – funny. I wouldn’t have remembered it so if it weren’t for my involvement in the decision making of the ad; even though this ad likes us to follow their path at the end of the day. I’ll give you a taste of that below, but after you have gone through it, you can only imagine how this would feel on the big screens.
Yes, that’s the quiet sound of me drooling right there.