The Effects are Taking Over

What is it about parts of our modern film and game industries ? Why have they become so obsessed by effects ? While I’m playing a video game I don’t want to be going “amazing models”, or “amazing effects”. I’m so supposed to be so whisked off by storyline and immersion that I don’t know what the fuck is going on !

The same with films. I should not be sat there going “amazing effect”, or “amazing CGI”. I should be whisked off by the narration, the acting and general quality of production. I should not even be aware that I’m sat in a cinema any more so fused with the film I should be ! The same with a game. Look at Quake II, or some other early’ish game creations. They are involving and take you away from this universe into another, just as a good book should do. The engine technology is irrelevant in many ways. We’re in the territory here of pure artistic creation. A gun should feel dangerous. Like it can really kill and hurt and not be some jumping model pumping out effects. Far Cry 2 certainly has achieved much in this area. The lighting model in it is exquisite, but I only noticed that after comparing with a few other games. Actually, in game you don’t notice it. You are just there. The landscape and foliage are set up properly and are artistic. There’s no need for the latest engine technology or shaders, it just works at a level of quality production. This is where Crysis failed on a major level for me. It feels amazing when you run it but it leaves nothing behind. It’s just a sort of plastic experience .. a lot like some of those over blown effects driven movies.

So what’s going on here ? Have we fallen in love too much with the technology ? Partly it’s the commercialisation of Nvidia and EA amongst other companies. They have brainwashed many people into thinking that games are defined by polygon counts and the latest 3D acceleration hardware. So much so that some companies are led into developing, not for storyline or artwork, but in a way that is geared towards being able to quote impressive sounding polygon counts or DX shaders. Seem familiar ? It should do. It sounds a lot like the push in Hollywood towards render farms, digital cameras and even digital actors. Sad really. All it will create is plastic disposable entertainment that is barely enough to provide a quick distraction on a Saturday night.

I think it’s worth remembering that computers are only a tool, not and end in themselves. They are there only to help an artistic experience .. they are not the experience itself.

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