Dec 05

Video Games – Vintage vs. Modern

On October 29, 2017, I went to a special theatrical showing of a movie — 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors — I hadn’t seen on the big screen since I was a child.  I thought seeing the film in this format would be a nice trip down memory lane.  I wasn’t disappointed, even though it was a version of Little Shop of Horrors with an alternate ending in which the plant lives.  There was something magical about seeing the actors’ performances and stellar musical numbers, such as “Skid Row” and “Suddenly Seymour,” in the theater again after thirty years.

What I wasn’t expecting was to find inspiration for a video game blog.  But seeing a preview documentary prior to the movie about the film-making process of Little Shop of Horrors got my creative juices flowing.  The film-maker’s talk about all the practical effects, as opposed to the digital effects of today, that went into the film raised an interesting question for me.

Have films — or video games for that matter — lost some of their magic because it takes less work to generate the effects for them?

I know it takes time to put together computer-generated imagery for today’s films or video games.  But I feel there is less room for imagination on the movie\game designer’s part.  Technology — specifically digital technology — has gotten so advanced that there seems to be no limit to what can be created for movie-going audiences or gaming enthusiasts.  There have been times as of late where I’ve felt like some video games — not to mention films — have gotten too overblown and flashy because of the “sky’s the limit” mentality adopted by the production crews or studio execs.

In my opinion, what made the video games of the 1990s and early 2000s so much better was that there was a greater emphasis on story-telling and practical effects.  I know of many game production companies from that time period that hired and filmed live actors for inclusion in a particular title, such as Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun.  I feel there was more creativity when it came to designing environments, creatures, and vehicles until digital technology became more prevalent.  I’ve seen too many game designers nowadays re-use or modernize concepts of what came before rather than take time to come up with something new and innovative.  The Dead Space trilogy would be a good example — all three of the main games in the series might as well be the same since there’s not much variation in the story, gameplay, or creature design.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy playing modern games.  But it would be nice to see a resurgence of the production practices of yesteryear.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this particular topic.  Please leave your feedback in the comments below.

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