Video games are still in their relative infancy compared to other industries such as movies, but they are a growing influence on those mediums due to their rising popularity and innovative takes on imagery and thematic content.
Directors have been inspired by games for decades now, with Joe Cornish recently revealing that he used creatures from the 90s SNES game Another World as a template for the distinctive aliens in his recent blockbuster Attack the Block.
Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson have also lent their skills to producing video games.
Video game movies are becoming big business too. Tomb Raider and Resident Evil were among the first huge gaming franchises to translate to the cinema for multiple movies back in the early 2000s and many are still getting the full Hollywood treatment.
In 2016, hugely popular mobile game Angry Birds became a 3D animated feature and MMO behemoth Warcraft found its way onto the big screen with its fantasy world of Azeroth intact. There remains big budget cinema on the horizon too as Michael Fassbender will make his debut in Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed later this year.
Why is it that video games make great cinematic opportunities? For a start, many beloved game characters transcend their mediums. Lara Croft is a hugely iconic adventuring hero who draws parallels with Indiana Jones.
The enduring popularity of Pokemon has also spawned a wave of anime TV shows and films and there is no sign of the thirst for entertainment featuring these intellectual properties slowing down.
The boom during the last decade is also largely due to the emergence of cinematic storytelling in games and high-definition graphics.
Many game developers such as Naughty Dog are now delivering gaming experiences that mimic films with gripping narratives, plot twists and high quality motion capture and dialogue. It is much easier for cinema to see the potential in a particular gaming franchise now, as like books, interesting stories are being told.
Game developers create IPs with a fully fleshed out world, cast of characters and plot developments and movie studios are realizing that this potential can be translated to big money on the big screen.
These developments have not gone unnoticed in the world of online gaming and one of the biggest companies, 888 Poker, is taking full advantage of the opportunities presented by the film industry. It has developed a service that allows regular poker players to create their own video segment that they can then share with friends and family.
Using a database of players, personalised videos can be ready to view in 24-hours. The videos are distributed via email and are available in the private zones of players on the website. They summarise weekly activity and include numerous stats from cash and tournament poker games. This new initiative is likely to be copied by other companies.
Poker has inspired cinema and TV for even longer than video games. The glitz and glamour of the card game has been a central theme in classics such as Cool Hand Luke (1967) and Casino Royale (2006).
Poker has evolved from an offline game to a thriving online pastime in recent years with players regularly taking part in Internet tournaments, table games and sit n gos. It remains to be seen whether the rise of the online poker gamer will become a Hollywood story in the near future.
Movies, TV and gaming are set to become more intertwined than ever before. The upcoming generation of filmmakers are more likely to have grown up with gaming consoles and their feature content is more likely to incorporate elements and ideas from them.
Movie studios will continue to see the merit in bringing these games and their themes to life too due to its potential to unearth a new classic.