So I just finished Firewatch (yes I’m late to it) which we actually reviewed and you can check that out here. Now that I played it through myself I have been thinking about the first person experience story telling and what that impact can be on gaming and the movie industry.
When you read this article make sure you give the soundtrack a listen as well because it is really well done.
The First Person Experience:
For those that might not know (and shame on you if you don’t) a first person game is a game where you are the character you play as and you see the world as your character does. You don’t know anymore than the character does. Now that the explanation is out of the way let’s get back to the point here. Can first person games rival movies especially now that VR is going to be a thing, for better or for worse?
I think the answer is yes. Let’s start with Firewatch as our first example. Most people refer to this game as a “walking simulator”. The game is also tells an interesting story and the player is dropped into an engaging world that is close enough to reality where the players can all sorts of feelings while playing the game. Firewatch makes players question their decisions, makes them wonder what would they do in the same situation. These questions are some that people struggle with every day of their life and the game draws those questions out from the player. A lot of movies will do the same thing. A movie like The Matrix makes us wonder if we are in The Matrix or not. The type of critical thinking and self reflection is what turns the game into an experience and the sheer fact that a video game can be an experience should be a concern in the ultimate competition for the couch. So if video games are a legitimate contender for the couch than it is pretty clear that all other forms of media should be concerned. Potential viewers can be lost to the gaming industry because there are games out there eliciting a greater emotional response from their viewers than let’s say Batman Vs Superman.
So how does VR fit in?
A virtual reality headset can be the determining factor in whether or not gaming can topple the movie industry. Virtual reality headsets might be a gimmick but if the technology works the way it’s supposed to we can be looking at the early stages of “Second Life Living”. This is the idea that people will live two lives one in the world we all share and the other in their virtual world. I think a good example of this is how seriously The Sims became. People would live real lives in their video game and start to think that the world we all share was the fake part. So imagine what “life” could come from the realism of a virtual reality system. If the tech is a success then people will start abandoning all other forms of media just to make more time for their second life. If people are willing to spend days of playing time to level up their characters and bring those characters to some sort of end game what’s stopping a gamer from starting a life and going on a journey with a character they might become more connected to this avatar mainly because it is a reflection of their own personality. For some that might be scary thought, for others that might be the most interesting game in existence. And depending on how passionate one may get for a game like this a VR game can be the illusive second chance that everyone wants in life.
So when someone asks me if gaming can topple the movie industry I say yes because in future we might not even know the difference.