Film Industry is to Game Industry as …

I’m really enjoying the film class that I’m taking this semester. Not only am I seeing a lot of movies that I wouldn’t (but should) have watched otherwise (Rashoman, The Philadelphia Story, and The Gold Rush among others), but I’m learning a lot about the history of film as it matured throughout the first half of the 20th century.

Naturally, I can’t help but make parallels between the movie industry and the gaming industry. In fact, the similarities are pretty striking:

The Golden Age of Hollywood refers to the period between the late 1920s to the late 1950s where a small number of major studios individually controlled all things related to film – from the talent, to the production facilities, to even the theaters themselves. Independent film companies (such as Charlie Chaplin and Co’s United Artists) released their films on screens owned by the Major Studios. Sound familiar?

Denis Dyack, founder of Silicon Knights, has repeatedly gone on record with his belief that the maturation of the video game industry will mirror that of the film industry. More specifically, he uses this comparison to argue that we are nearing the point where hardware improvements will be negligible to the general public.

Denis is right – the gaming industry is similar to the film industry in many ways, from general maturation trends to target audience. But his conclusions and predictions based on these similarities are shortsighted and unlikely. If the film industry is any indication, technology will continue to play a large role in video games for years to come.

In reality, technology has never ceased to be a driving force in cinema. The list of industry-driving technologies ranges from the advent of color, to the introduction of animation, to the melding of animation and live action, to the refinement of the film projector, to the transition to computer aided animation, to the evolution of cinematography, to the increased reliance on computer created visual effects. Even movie cameras themselves have changed and improved constantly over the years.

Of course, video games and movies are different because games are inherently interactive. But they are both a means, ultimately, of entertainment. And ‘entertainment’ is really just the umbrella term for anything that consistently or purposefully stimulates, interests, amuses, or moves people. Technology, because of its constant forward momentum (the ‘wow’ effect), will always be a source of entertainment (and thus of game industry growth).

Beware, though – the game industry’s direction of growth is contingent on the rate of adoption by the general public. As Nintendo has shown with the DS and Wii, technological advancement does not only apply to GPU and CPU design, but to input device design as well. These factors, along with price, will continue to change the industry in new and interesting ways.


3 Responses to “Film Industry is to Game Industry as …”

  1. 2 Dave October 5, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    The PC gaming market would seem to fit Denis’ comments more so than the console market.

  2. 3 Geoff October 7, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    In what manner do his comments fit with the PC market?

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