May 23, 2024

The line between video games and movies becomes more blurred every year. Over the past 20 years, the technology used to make video games has become so advanced that many high-budget games are almost photorealistic. Also, the budget of AAA games often rivals the current blockbusters. For instance, the gaming studio CD Projekt Red stated in a financial report that Cyberpunk 2077 cost $174 million to develop. Countrywide, in 2022 the U.S video game industry earned almost $350 billion, according to Statista. As video games have crept toward mainstream entertainment, using A-list actors as voice actors has become a regular occurrence, such as Keanu Reeves starring in “Cyberpunk 2077” and Giancarlo Esposito in “Far Cry 6.” While these are significant factors in the rising popularity of video games, the main reason they are flying off the shelveis their ability to facilitate a level of immersion that is impossible in film.

“Every person’s experience with the game will be entirely unique, and their role in guiding the characters  along on their journey causes players to not only feel invested but responsible.”  

Connor Ryan

According to a study by presentation design agency Buffalo 7, about 67% of people prefer the stories of video games over movies. One of the main reasons video games often have better plots is because they can get away with telling a story that occurs over 20 to 50 hours of gameplay. Unlike with movies, gamers have no qualms about playing video games for long periods of time, allowing for more character development. Additionally, character development in video games is further enhanced by one’s ability to control the main character. Playing as a character rather than just watching them on the silver screen creates an intimate connection between the player and the story. Since players are directly responsible for moving the story forward, they are more likely to feel like they are a part of it. 

“Character development in video games is further enhanced by one’s ability to control the main character.”

Connor Ryan

One game that does this well is the “Mass Effect” series. The story, set in a futuristic outer space setting, follows Commander Shepard and his crew as they take on galactic threats. The most engaging aspect of this story is that the player’s decisions impact the outcome of a given scenario and have long-lasting consequences across all three games. Thus, every person’s experience with the game will be unique, and their role in guiding the characters along on their journey causes players to not only feel invested but responsible for these characters. 

Even completing the game itself is highly fulfilling. While many movies have inspiring or thought-provoking story arcs, no one feels as though they’ve accomplished something as they get up to leave the theater. Conversely, video games, especially harder ones, require a player to possess a certain skill level to progress through the narrative. The ending of a video game is extremely rewarding, as it represents an individual’s mastery of mechanics. Players must earn the conclusion to the narrative through their individual skill, which makes it more meaningful as it is a product of their hard work. 

Thus, video games are often more impactful than films. Video games possess a unique ability to connect to people through personalized narratives. Players’ ability to interact with the narrative through the characters allows them to feel like they are contributing to the story, something that movies are incapable of facilitating. Video games also challenge people, making the conclusion of the narrative both a destination and a reward. Overall, the medium provides opportunities for unique and immersive storytelling in a way that surpasses the limits of cinema. 

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