Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

July 30, 2010 -

While Prince of Persia director Mike Newell may have the magic touch when it comes to creating a decent movie based on a video game, his actual understanding of video games is almost embarrassing. In a recent interview with Computer & Video Games, Newell had a number of disparaging things to say about games and gamers that have made him this week's whipping boy among the video game chattering classes. But in between slamming gamers and games and even his own son's zombie-like devotion to some unnamed action game, Newell said one thing in particular that ticked a lot of people off: that game's can't convey human emotion that a film can.

But let's pull back the curtain a little more and examine his comments; Newell admits that he can't play games, and that, while making Prince of Persia, he had to rely on an assistant to play through the game while he watched. He said that while he watched the game, he felt nothing - just like when he watched his son play some unnamed action game.

Newell also said that just talking about video games "bores his arse off." But to illustrate his point about games, he talks about 24:

When people watch 24, they're watching for the surprise, you know - when is the great big bad surprise going to step out from behind the palm tree. When they watch The Wire, they're watching the human drama of it.

You can't do it without the human drama. And the video game cannot do that. The video game can do all sorts of face-pulling, all sorts of: 'I am a bad man, I have a mean jagged sword,', but it can't do any more than that.

That quote alone is enough to illustrate that Newell doesn't find the medium very enjoyable, but that simply could be that he doesn't understand games in general or because he has never encountered a game with a compelling narrative that pulls the player in. Certainly the game that his son is playing, which he says "he feels nothing" from observing, is part of his perception problems.

But let’s skip the hatefest and instead suggest a few examples of games that make the emotional connection, in case Newell is reading: Half-Life or Half-Life 2, Heavy Rain, Shadow of the Colossus, Bioshock, Mass Effect, etc.,

Newell's work on Prince of Persia was commendable, but imagine how could it have been if he actually cared about the source material..

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Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I'm a huge fan of prince of Persia.

Regards,

Phlebotomy Certification

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

When I was really young, I thought Shakespeare was stupid.  I just didn't get it.  Until I learned how to properly understand the language, themes and brilliance of it.

If I hadn't taken the time to learn how and why Shakespeare was literary genius, I would never have been able to come to appreciate it.

So those that refuse to learn and criticize games are basically like people who read Twilight and say that Shakespeare could never be as good because they never took the time to understand it. 

------- Morality has always been in decline. As you get older, you notice it. When you were younger, you enjoyed it.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I get teary at the crescendo of Nessun Dorma.  I got extremely emotional at the Presidents speech at the last battle of Babylon 5's "Battle of the Line".  The end of Last of the Mohican's slays me every time.

And I feel the same way about some games.  Vampire:Bloodlines was a huge one, when my ghoul died I felt like shit.  Talking to VV was awesome and when she finally started repeated stock responses it was a kind of shock to remember she was just a scripted graphic rather than a real person.

Half Life 1, the desperation and terror you feel when you first meet that giant stampy bugger in the trainyards and you have to run from him?  I needed a couple of smokes after that to calm down.

The best though is, strangely enough, a historical event in Lord of the Rings Online.  You are cast as a dwarven champion back at the fall of Moria.  The very first mission to you is "Make a stand worthy of song".  The dialog, the desperation, the elation when you actually beat the odds only to be crushed as you see the balrog crest the bridge with trolls in tow.  The final stand against unwinnable odds, tearing your enemies to pieces even as the screen fades to black...

So knowing that games do in fact effect me as much (or more so) than movies, his opinion means absolutely nothing to me.  It would be like listening to a person who never eats a type of food saying it doesn't taste any good.  It's nonsensical.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

"He said that while he watched the game, he felt nothing"

And yet, while I watched the movie, I felt nothing. Imagine that.

More interesting is the fact that while watching Prince of Persia - ever since the first trailer came out - it felt like the movie was lacking... something. I just could never put my finger on it. It wasn't a bad film, it just wasn't as good as it could be.

Maybe that's what is missing: the fact that the directory didn't give a damn about the source material.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

People say the same about The Last Airbender. If an artist doesn't care about the subject of their art, then the art comes off as lacking.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I feel a good sense of satisfaction each time I take down a villain, especially if said villain had betrayed me at some point, like Frank Fontaine in Bioshock. And then there's the sense of betrayal from such a reveal.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

........... Idiot is trying to understand gameing from the perspective f a film director/producer a film a very shot highly directed visual work. All he sees is is the unrefined film bits that come around getting from A to B. In other words he is forgetting its a game a story a interactive visual work thats a few times longer than a film. You can not use film logic to dissect or build a game with... as film design is he complete opposite to game deign. And the sooner the game industry learns this the sooner we can get back to games made around mechanics not made around an film theme with the gameplay shoehorned in....


I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Fall of Kharak in Homeworld.

You just need to be good at what you do to project emotion, like a Radio Drama, or even a book, you don't need facial expressions if the story is good enough.

If he's arguing that games don't transfer well to movies, I'd sort of be inclined to agree, cinema technology is just too far behind to be able to do it properly, and games are games, movies are movies. Like many book conversions of movies, the job rarely goes as planned, but if he's arguing that the lack of visual expressiveness is somehow limiting his scope, then I'm afraid he is a very limited storyteller with very little knowledge of the history of his art.

 

Oh, and considering the amount of research the Film industry has done into using audio stimuli to produce emotional feedback from viewers, I would have thought the producer would have thought this over more carefully. There are those that think a computer game isn't art, it only contains art, to which my answer is, that a Movie is just a long strip of Cellulose, it only contains art. Two can play that game...

 

Edit: I think part of the problem is that 'quality of story' is quite far down on the agenda when choosing a game to turn into a film, far below 'possible Box Office returns'. Are games to blame that the film industry sold it's soul to the dollar at the cost of its self-respect?

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

"Fall of Kharak in Homeworld."

Absolute winner right there.  A game with an entire population as the protagonist and a shadowy alien race as a perpetrator of mass genocide got me choked up when I witnessed the near total death of every person on my planet and when I was forced to destroy the long lost colony of my people.

That game didn't even have FMV cutscenes; it was all naration over static images with amazing audio.  This game is the answer I give any time someone suggests that they've never been induced to emotion in a game.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

A game with great narrative and a story to pull you in? Sounds like he needs some Alan Wake. Seriously, that is the best game I've played in a while, I almost cried at the end. Leaves me wanting a sequel.

Also, I would think that the game that his son has a "zombie-like devotion" to would be multiplayer Halo 3 or Modern Warfare 2, both of which have little to no emotional investment.

 

 

It is not murder; I am merely advancing the hands of the clock, just a bit.

It is not murder; I am merely advancing the hands of the clock, just a bit.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I recommend Chibi-Robo!

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

That game was absolutely awesome.

My pick, though:  Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Greatest.

Game.

EVAR!

---

With the first link, the chain is forged.

--- With the first link, the chain is forged.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I think everybody of a certain age is required by law to say Final Fantasy 7.

Continuing the JRPG vein, the first two Suikoden games.  And the Dragon Quest series (from 4 onward) does quite a wonderful job of making the "big bad Demon Lord must be destroyed" plot almost incidental and focusing on the quieter moments of the hero making a difference in individual lives.  Usually without pulling any faces.

And don't get me wrong, Prince of Persia was certainly one of the better video game movies I've ever seen, but it's hardly a shining example of a movie whose characters have more depth than "he's got a big sword".

Other games...I love me some BioWare.  The Mass Effects have some of the best storytelling I've ever seen in games.  Really amazing, cinematic stuff -- the opening of ME2 is a real high-water mark.  Dragon Age is pretty good too, and anyone who tries to tell me KotOR wasn't way, way better than the Star Wars prequels is not worth talking to.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

it might also be a generational thing. I know a lot of older folks who write games off because the perception is that they are for children or man-children. Obviously there are games for kids and these people know there are games targeted at mature players but the perception remains that video games are toys and can't be taken seriously. When people have this perception of video games, it is very difficult to get them to change that opinion so I don't think this guy will 'get it' if he plays halflife2 or SotC, etc... once these last few older generations die off, video games as an art form will have fewer obstacles like social constraints and warped perceptions perpetuated by the ignorant.

 

The other thing this guy doesn't seem to get is that new media is almost always built upon the media that came before. This means that new media contains almost all of the elements of the previous media types. How does this guy miss the fact that the movies he makes are built upon theater, photography, music, writing, etc... games take all these art forms and adds new elements - video games are an extension (could also argue evolution) of his own medium!

 

This guy simply doesn't see the big picture... I feel sorry for him.

 

 

 

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

"Newell's work on Prince of Persia was commendable, but imagine how could it have been if he actually cared about the source material.."

It could have been a lot worse! The history of bad movies is filled with directors who cared deeply about the source material. One name that springs to mind is Dany Cannon - Judge Dredd fan and director of the appalling 'Judge Dredd'. When a director cares, the emotional attachment is more likely to distract him and overcome his talent, making catastrophe more likely.

Not that I agree with Newell's comments. Clearly he's monumentally ignorant when it comes to video games.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I've played PoP games, isn't the core gameplay just, "Run at scalable object, Hit a button in time, Watch Prince effortlessly surmount object"?  And this guy is saying he couldn't play the game?

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Well no, because here's how it REALLY goes.

Run at scalable object.
Hit a button in time.
Watch Prince mount object to certain position.
Jump since you think you can make it.
Fall to death.
Rewind time.
Re-examine room, figure out where to try next.

See? It requires thinking. Now most of us have Tomb Raider experience, after that PoP is much better. Him? He'll suck. And he probably sucks at combat too, since he's a total newb.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Obviously that's a load of horsecrap. TV Tropes even has entire entries devoted to examples of emotional moments in video games:

tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PlayerPunch

tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TearJerker/VideoGames

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

As an amusing counter point, I recent visited an uncle of mine because one of my cousins was graduating from high school. His younger brother spent as much time as he could while I was there playing Fall Out 3. Both my father, and my other uncle that was there opted to keep watching him play over seeing what was on basic cable when his mother tried to get him to turn it off on the theory that someone might want to watch TV.

 

-Gray17

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

So, basically, his non-interest in video games means that all video games cannot convey human emotion to anybody.

He has admitted to not sharing any interest in video games, therefore he's clearly not a gamer, so he wouldn't understand a single thing about what emotions video games can convey. Video games can have just as in-depth stories as movie's can. These in-depth plot lines, character backgrounds and other pieces of lore can convey just as much emotion as any movie has done and can do.

I've played video games where I absolutely refuse to let a particular character die, because I become attached to that character. I've played video games where some other character has frustrated me so much that I enjoy pumping the bastard full of lead (h yes, I am sadistic, don't say you haven't thought of it! :P) when I finally confront him (or her).

I feel more involved with a video games plot than I do with a movie, when you play a game it's as if you are sucked into that game's world. The very same can be held true for movie's as well, but this is just my take on it as I'm not a fan of movie's. The very same also holds true for novels.

If I had a lack of interest in movie's, and started rambling on about how they fail to displaying human emotion and books and games can do so much better, what would he say? I'm sure he'd argue by telling me about my "lack of knowledge".

-- Randi Tastix

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

No wonder he wasn't drawn in, he didn't play the damned game! Isn't there an easy mode?

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

This guy is a genius : he makes me regret Uwe Boll.

More seriously, a couple of months ago I've read an article about the mediocrity of the movies based on games (including PoP). I don't necessarily agree with everything, but I found the author much more respectful to video games that Mike Newell : http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2010/may/24/prince-of-persia-fil...

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers


So the director of the POP movie admits to not having any interest in the movies source material? I think thats enough to turn me away from the film

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Why? He had his assistant play the game and tell him "okay, this part is awesome, and this rocks, and this", and he used that. I could pick up part of the things used.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I know it's not like he's reading this, but I'd highly recommend Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption.

ME2 has plenty of memorable moments and characters, as well as a cracking build up to the finale. After I finished the game I went and watched the 'worst' possible ending on Youtube where the player doesn't purchase essential ship upgrades or do personal quests for characters, which in turn has a great knock on effect and virtually causes every member of your crew to die. And then the main character right at the end. It was genuinely upsetting to see characters knocked off one-by-one and I can't imagine anyone watching (regardless whether they played or observed the game) not feeling an emotional impact for either ending.

Red Dead Redemption has been out for less time, so I'll avoid spoilers, but suffice to say the ending also left me emotional to one extreme, to say the least.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

There's a point in RDR, where you've just crossed the river into Mexico.  You don't have anymore leads to complete your mission to save your family, your last contact in the world just rode off without you, and you're about to enter this completely new land after a long but ultimately futile adventure.  Then this song plays, "Far Away," the first song in the entire game with lyrics.  And it HITS YOU IN THE FACE.  The scenario, the timing, the raw emotion is just perfect.  You're hit with this powerful sense of isolation and dispair (yet also a sense to just keep pushing forward), and it is incredible.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I hated that crappy song. It was the one thing that really spoiled the game for me. It was just so out of place compared with the rest of the game. I sat there cringing and hoping the damned thing would end so I could get on with the game.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Out of place?  That song was not only very poinant to the situation John found himself in as he landed in Mexico, but the song itself is perfect for a Western.  Here's a link for anyone who hasn't played the game, don't worry it's not really a spoiler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwizeeBTnk8

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

I totally agree here.  That section and the ending of the game (which I won't spoil here) really blew me away.  I had heard they were good (even if the ending was a tad predictable) but the emotional impact of them was something I have rarely felt in a game since The Longest Journey.  Games definitely can have a strong emotional impact, it's just that most game designers (and perhaps moreso the suits that control them) either don't appreciate that or just don't know how to do it well.

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
www.digital-lifeline.ca

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Are you my long lost twin?  Because I was just thinking about moments in gaming that really effected me, and The Longest Journey was one of the first things to pop into my head.  Over the years, I'm reloaded and played that game half a dozen times.  It's not long and I know all the solutions to the puzzles, but the story and the characters resonate with me.  I simply love clicking on everything and listening to April Ryan's comments.

Anyway, other moments include:  FFVI, Celes thinking she's alone in the world after the midgame cataclysm and trying to commit suicide; choosing between Ashley and Kaiden in Mass Effect; standing over your first Little Sister and having to decide her fate in Bioshock (plus tons of other moments in that game, awesome); and Brutal Legend, driving through the cave to the Sea of Black Tears near the end and hearing Ophelia's voice echoing a dire poem.  There are many, many others, but those are the ones that come to mind right now.  Clearly this director has no clue what video games have to offer.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

Half Life 2 should change this guy's mind.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

If games can't draw you in, then why on earth would I have been all fanboy-drooling over the movies of Prince of Persia and Max Payne? It sure ain't just for the special effects. With Max Payne I wanted to know how they'd bring the story. The games kept me tense while playing but I also enjoyed getting to know the characters. Vinny's death gave me a nausating feel and I sure enjoyed getting rid of that bastard of a Vlad, much more than with the end of the first one.

Let's take PoP: Warrior Within. And let's assume you didn't get that spoiling glitch. I was wondering who on earth that thing was and what it was all about. Granted, not as much as the character, but even so, still involved.
Or the newer PoP, where you just can't die. The conversations you could have, and the hints that began to drop tensed me up. And I pretty much sided with the Prince at the end, no way that she has to die for this! If it means unlocking hell, then so be it.
What do you mean, she's... ARGH! Women! Do you have any idea how bad it is that you're splitting off and leaving me trapped with the bad guy here?! Your stubborness will get us all killed!

Ahem. So yeah, screw not being able to get involved. But here's the important detail. When you're playing a game, it's not just about watching. After all, any non-cutscene will be indeed boring to many an observer. But guess what? Games weren't made for watching! They were made to immerse yourself in! If you're not doing that, then what gives you the right to complain you're not feeling involved?? Play the game, try to keep the character alive, depending on the game also protect charges, solve challenges, and when you're used to protecting the character, feeling responsible for its wellbeing, you might end up realizing you're actually feeling involved when the story puts them through hell.

Re: Prince of Persia Director Bags on Games, Gamers

He thinks he knows everything video games have to offer without touching a controller.  Sounds familiar...

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