Books And Games Vs Movies

The a question I have been thinking about recently is an expansion on my thoughts about adaptations post: why do adaptations often fail their audience? In particular ones for video games.

In my first post I covered that adaptations need to be treated a bit like a caricature, taken with a grain of salt.  In my opinion, I would say that the content of most books and games extend the time frame of a movie by at least double. So if a book takes about five hours to read a and a game takes about six hours to play it’s interesting to me that when a 2.5 hour film of each is made, often, the video game’s is worse off than the book’s.

Here is my theory, video games are already a visual experience. It’s rooted in the fact that playing the game means I’ve seenthe story unfold already. I know what the characters look like and how they sound. Where as reading a book I’ve imagined the story unfolding, I picture what the characters look and sound like based on their descriptions.

Book adaptations fail when they get the appearance or age wrong (I’m looking at you Percy Jackson films, strikes on both accounts), when they cut out key plot points, or make the characters flat. Sometimes that’s due to casting, sometimes script, sometimes acting, sometimes directors, most of the time its because the author has sold the rights to the film of the book before it was successful (there is a whole thing behind why they do this that we aren’t going into) so they get little to no say in its production. J.K. Rowling actually got to work with the people making the Harry Potter films, which is part of why they are the some of the best book to movie transitions.

Video games fail when they follow the original story too much, change key character traits, neglect the genre type (ahem, Resident Evil), or ignore the driving point behind the game’s narrative. It can be caused by a lot of the same reasons book adaptations fail, maybe minus the rights to the film, I’m unsure of how that works.

The ultimate thing becomes (hey Hollywood, pay attention) how is this fixed? Well first maybe read/play the source material, that would be helpful. I mean at least Google it, Wikipida and Sparknotes exist after all.

More seriously though, I think for an average book series adaptation television might be the better way to go. Each season can be a book in the series (Game of Thrones style). A single book could be great as a film, just because there isn’t as much information (usually) to cram into the film. Now this is if you’re not going to/can’t consult the author on it too.

Video games, that’s a whole other ball park to be playing in. These usually have seen a really rich history and changed a lot because of it. It may be smarter to approach these like graphic novels and comic books. Look at The Walking Dead and the Marvel movies, this takes characters that are known and loved, keeps them true to who they are but alters the story a bit. The common thing that happens in comic books and video games are reboots which create alternate timelines/alternate universes/future events/legacies, movie adaptations almost have to act like a reboot, same characters, similar plot, new story.

Those are my thoughts on that, what about you? Do you think video games will just for ever fail as movies or is there hope? Would you rather a tv show on your favorite book or a movie? Share your thoughts!

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