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Hollywood and Games Summit: crossing over from film to games

Kevin Kelly

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Jordan Mechner hosted a panel about talent (mostly writers and actors) crossing the "digital divide" between film and TV and video games. Sadly, they didn't drop any information about the Prince of Persia movie. For the most part, the panel covered familiar and expected territory. Yuri Lowenthal, voice of the Prince in several Prince of Persia games, said that the crossover is fairly easy for actors, although he would like for the actors to be more involved in the development process, if possible.

Writer Flint Diller (The Transformers Game, Dead to Rights, and several more) said that as far as writers are concerned, you have to have a sense of humor going in with the underlying knowledge that,"This is gonna be a long, bumpy ride." He also said that you can't compare it to screenwriting, and if you try you'll find yourself very disappointed.

Producer Ben Mattes from Ubisoft went on to say, "There's not really room for "writers" in the video game world. We have game and story designers, not writers." Flint backed him up saying, "Your job is to give meaning to the gameplay." He went on to point out that in the film industry (he's written for both film and tv as well) you'll never be told at the last minute, "Hey, we had to cut out the leading lady, so you need to write her out of the story." On the other hand, that sort of thing happens all the time with games, so you have to adjust your expectations accordingly.

Flint pointed out that a good writer should be able to make a story out of every game, even something like Pac-Man. "Hey, Pac-Man is all about greed. I know it might sound silly, but there's a three-act story inside." Is there? Don't look for Pac-Man, the movie anytime soon, despite what some ambitious You-Tubers are doing. He also went on (and this was some fascinating stuff) about military simulations, and the fact that the Germans simulated war games before WWII, which was "Why they woofed everybody at first." He even said that the U.S. government should have used Tropico to model out what they different groups in Iraq wanted, and played out many different scenarios before they went in. According to him, it would have helped tremendously. "I know it sounds ridiculous, but it would have been a good idea!"

Too bad Flint didn't know that Hitler never played Risk.

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