Archive for Media

Missing The Bleeding Obvious – Media Convergence In Games

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by Adam Broome

Just today I picked up a game as an early birthday present from my uncle. I’ve been playing computer games since I was little (let’s hear it for the SNES!), but now it is a rarity I buy games fresh off the production line. However, when I game like Aliens Vs Predator comes out, for a movie buff like myself it is almost against religion not to purchase it.

Then I realise something – I have difficulty realising convergence in media outside the realms of the internet. Of course, gaming has gone online as well, with things such as Xbox Live now revolutionizing the way people play games. But what of the media convergence occurring within the games themselves? The first thing that came to mind was a game a while back called Need For Speed: Most Wanted. That game integrated songs from actual artists, who used the game as a means of advertising their tracks and albums. However, I don’t own that game anymore (caused the Xbox to overheat). I figured it much better to review my recently-purchased blockbuster game.

Did you know we can’t really call these ‘video games’ anymore? Yeah, it’s apparently an archaic term now, because of the word ‘video’. It’s ‘computer games’ or bust now.

Not that that’s all that relevant, just thought I’d squeeze it in there. So yes, Aliens Vs Predator. Based on two very popular movie franchises… or one, depending on which way you look at it. Here is a game featuring dynamic sounds from the films, as well as three different campaigns mimicking the mise-en-scene of the movie blockbusters themselves. But that’s too easy – what about the music? What about the graphics? These have all been enhanced since the days of the previously-mentioned SNES. And of course, as with the internet, advances in technology is what it’s all about.

But modern games also borrow off other, older games as well. Previously released games, such as Turok, offer different gameplay styles to copy / improve. Modern gaming follows the rather cliched thought that the rest of the media world does right now – TRUE originality is a hard thing to come by nowadays (hence so many re-makes). It’s all about doing what has already been done before and improving on it. Whilst I may call an offensive word and state true originality will always out (The X-Files wasn’t THAT long ago), it certainly seems to be the case in modern day media. Lots of superhero films, lots of remakes. Bands are often citing the bands that influenced them, and the bands that they imitated off before putting their own ‘spin’ on things. Alien Vs Predator is actually a remake itself, from a ‘video game’ that came out in the mid nineties.

So after all this, what is it exactly that I’m trying to say? Well, convergence is everywhere. Yeah yeah, yadder yadder. But convergence has been happening for some time. Perhaps, longer than a lot of us may think. I believe it started at the arrival of the internet (early nineties). I may be wrong. Convergence is itself in some ways fundamentally all about building on the previous, taking what is already there and merging it together to create a hybrid form. Aliens Vs Predator (the remake) has taken what was already there in the original game, and merged it with new things. I can personally vouch that it takes ideas from the 2005 game Doom 3, but it also incorporates things such as online play, sounds and visuals, because technology has opened it up to a greater array of convergence than it could have in the mid nineties.

The intriguing part is – what if convergence, directly or indirectly, is responsible for all the remakes these days? Are people just remaking the old because technology allows them to merge the original concept with other ‘stuff’ and create a new piece of hybrid media? This would be especially true for games, as that market changes every year at least – the way we network, they way the games are presented, even the very way we play them. Supposing this hypothesis is true – we can expect remakes of Lemmings, Crash Bandicoot and Rayman sometime in the future. And as for the remakes of today, such as AVP here… what, we just remake it ten years on, when technology gets EVEN better? Ho hum.

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