The video game industry is perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of the rapid evolution of entertainment technology in the past two-and-a-half decades. People barely in their thirties can recall the early days of the Atari 2600 and Amiga systems that first brought electronic media games into their homes, followed by the rise of the Nintendo and Sega phenomenon, and then a little later the stampede of the Playstation and MMORPG juggernaut. What started out as simple 8-bit hoop-jumping or puzzle-solving has evolved over a couple of decades into an medium that will soon rival traditional cinema.
Rival is perhaps the wrong term; it seems that the video game beast is more of a consuming gargantuan than a spiteful competitor. It doesn’t need to overthrow cinema and television because it has overcome them by amalgamation rather than defiance. The pure attitude of innovation that has fuelled video game creation from its infancy has in a way assured that it can never become irrelevant. As long as technology continues to drive and motivate society, video games will evolve and assimilate these new developments to continually elevate the interactive experience. No other format is undertaken with such complete openness to new ideas, perhaps not even cinema, at least not in a long time.
This is not to say that cinema does not try new things technologically, far from it. The current obsession with 3D and CGI is proof that even proponents of the old guard like Scorsese are curious about what te future holds. What is of increasing relevance is that the video game and filmmaking industries are beginning to merge into a single entity and this symbiosis has already begun to produce interesting results. Whatever becomes of these hybrid medias is not entirely certain, but the gaming industry’s flirtation with cinema is on the verge of coming full-circle, while films have also begun borrowing more than just tech from the medium. This could be an opportunity for a whole new artistic genre to emerge, and independents are standing on these front lines already.
The brightest star in this new cosmos is the cross-over phenomenon is the mixing of computing experts with storytellers, whereas once upon a time they had to develop each other’s skills by necessity or fascination. More and more we are seeing not just filmmakers and game makers collaborate, but either industry is now a very valid career choice for an emerging artist with right mix of references. For the independents this marriage between mediums could not be more promising. This may be the era where imagination really does cross over fully into reality.