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Computer Games as a Comparative Medium: A Few Cautionary Remarks

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Abstract

Present-day games of progression are often film adaptations or are adapted themselves into other media. Computer games are also used in transmedia storytelling. As these games use (visual) narrative techniques, it is natural to use research methodologies from literary and film studies to analyse them, especially when the game is compared to its filmic or literary equivalent. In this chapter, I will show that genre, in itself already a contested term, is used differently in literary, film and game studies. In addition, the changing game demographics have prompted a rethinking of the term for computer games. I will furthermore show that in mise-en-scène, the way a game visualises setting and props depends on the technical capabilities of the system the game is played on. In newer games, film style cinematography is possible but not all gamers are well versed in film cues. Furthermore, modern style games increasingly put the camera in the hands of the gamer. Because of these differences, the comparatist should always be aware of the specificities of the particular medium or media in question.

Keywords

  • Computer Game
  • Camera Position
  • Media Object
  • Film Theory
  • Genre Category

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-2777-9_3
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Notes

  1. 1.

    As I use examples from a selection of media, both original creations as well as adaptations which often carry the same name as the original, typography will be used to identify the different media. I shall use italics for (comic) books and graphic novels, small caps for films and italic small caps for computer games.

  2. 2.

    Or graphic novels (e.g. World of Warcraft Graphic Novel 2008) or even books (e.g. Assassin’s Creed Renaissance 2009).

  3. 3.

    This was not the first ‘original’ Bond game. As early as 1983, games were released that were not directly derived from a Bond film or book.

  4. 4.

    What I present here is a more classical take on genre, as manifested mainly in the Hollywood film. Genre studies that look at genre form a more semiotic and structuralist approach have produced alternative theories on film genre.

  5. 5.

    Lately, new taxonomies have been proposed; see Elverdam and Aarseth (2007) or Djaouti et al. (2008).

  6. 6.

    www.mobygames.com.

  7. 7.

    If we only consider the various lord of the rings games, we find the genres action, adventure, role-playing and strategy.

  8. 8.

    See Adams (2003) for a detailed description of the use of architecture in computer games.

  9. 9.

    Note this is not black and white as in film (a wide range on a scale of grey). This literally is only white (light on) and black (light off).

  10. 10.

    Some well-known computer display standards over time have been CGA (640 × 240 pixels with 2 colours or 320 × 200 pixels with 16 colours), EGA (640 × 350 pixels; 16 colours out of 64), VGA (640 × 480; 16 and 256 colour modes), SVGA (800 × 600; 16 and 256 colour modes) and XGA (800 × 600; 65,536 colours and 1024 × 768; 256 colours).

  11. 11.

    As cut-scenes are usually not rendered in real time, the issues addressed here do not affect them. They are therefore left out of the discussion.

  12. 12.

    The film theorist could not mistake them for symbolic props (see the contrasting red coat of the little girl in schindler’s list (1993)) as their proliferation excludes this interpretation.

References

Bibliography

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Filmography

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Correspondence to Connie Veugen .

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© 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Veugen, C. (2012). Computer Games as a Comparative Medium: A Few Cautionary Remarks. In: Fromme, J., Unger, A. (eds) Computer Games and New Media Cultures. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2777-9_3

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