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The Game Industry’s Invitation to Movies

Posted May. 23, 2005 03:38,   


Movie virtuosos around the world are making their way into the cutting-edge game industry. In the Electronic Entertainment Exposition (E3) 2005, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 17 through May 20, “City of the Dead,” a game planned and produced by legendary horror movie director George Romero, was exhibited and drew huge attention from visitors. Romero established himself as a horror movie master with his “Dead” trilogy, including “The Night of the Living Dead,” a horror movie about corpses reviving and attacking humans. For this game, he took charge of the planning, storytelling, and even the design of the zombies in the game.

More Film Directors Producing Games-

George Romero was the only film director to exhibit a game that he produced at E3 this year. However, most game makers participating in this year’s E3 say that they asked famous Hollywood directors to write scenarios for and produce their games, some of which are already under development.

UbiSoft, developer of “Splinter Cell” and other popular titles that are popular in Korea as well, joined hands with John McTiernan, the director of the movie “Die Hard,” to produce an action game set in Moscow, Russia. Another game maker, Midway Games, asked “Boyz N the Hood” director John Singleton to produce “Fear and Respect,” an story-based adventure game.

John Woo, a Hong Kong action film director well known for movies like “The Killer” and “Mission: Impossible 2,” established Tiger Hill Entertainment and is now developing a game titled “Shadow Clan.” The game includes a distinctive characteristic of the director’s works: spectacular gunfight scenes.

Director Brian Singer of “X-Men” will produce Tigon Studios’ new title, “Secret Service.”

Why Movie Directors Are Needed-

The reason why a growing number of famous film directors are taking part in game production is that the game industry is recently suffering from a lack of creativity.

The world’s largest game maker, Electronic Arts (EA), introduced 26 titles at E3 2005, 19 of which are sequels of existing games. Even among seven new titles, “Batman Begins” and “The Godfather” are based on the same-titled original films.

Benefiting from the popularity of previous works, game sequels are highly likely to be massive hits, as is the case in the film industry. Nevertheless, these sequels are quite less creative, for they share the same plots and characters with their previous series.

Chief operating officer Arcadia Kim of Electronic Arts Los Angeles (EALA) explained that game developers “are pushing ahead with entrusting three or four Hollywood directors and screenwriters with game planning and directing.”

Electronic Arts is not the only game developer to have such headaches.

NPD Group, a US IT-specialized market researcher, released a finding that 80 percent of game titles published in the United States last month were sequels. James Brooksby, the producer of “Kuju Action” who developed the game “City of the Dead” along with George Romero, met reporters in the E3 2005 exhibit hall and confessed, “By growing much faster than movies, games were simply underlined as businesses while losing their creativity.”

He went on to explain, “Working with Mr. Romero, I learned techniques of ‘synthetic arts’ that can resonate with the public, such as special effects, music, design and story reality of horror movies.”

How Much Progress Korea Has Made-

Converging filmmaking know-how with games has already become a global trend.

In Korea, movie directors have yet to write scenarios for and produce games. However, there have been cases where film composers produced songs for games or novelists wrote game stories.

The music for “SUN,” an online game introduced by Webzen shown at E3 2005, was made by Howard Shore, a famous composer who did work on the “Lord of the Rings” series.

NC Soft also let novelist Lee In-hwa take part in the scenario work for “Guild Wars,” an online game whose open beta test kicked off right before the launch of E3 2005. The reasoning behind this was that novelists could do a better job than game experts in creating well-organized and plausible stories.

“The quality of the title was greatly enhanced when a novelist with a deep understanding of games participated in the scenario work,” said NC Soft President Kim Taek-jin. “Only when games are viewed not as mere entertainment but as culture,” he added, “would the game industry be able to grow one step further.”

Sang Hoon Kim sanhkim@donga.com