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Film has seen adaptations since the dawn of cinema, primarily via successful novels and plays. Early examples such as Shakespearean material have been on screen for many years; however, throughout the last century it appears evident that novels tend to be the pick of the bunch. But now there is beginning to be a flourish of videogames in this adaptation process due to the sheer size of the market and the astronomical amounts of money being made:

In the United States, video games scored $21.3 billion in 2008, reaching $41.9B globally.  The US is the biggest consumer of video games, second being Europe at $17.9B, then Asia at $14.9B.  It’s been a growing market since the early 90s, when Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis battled for supremacy.  In 1993, video games were earning $13B, and Nintendo had an astounding 90% market-share.  A decade later, the industry doubled to $30B in sales.

Arguably it is only in recent years that videogames are considered to be a worthy contender of artistic status and I find it no surprise that narrative plays a much more important and valuable role in modern videogame production. Because of this there are now recognised franchises, such as Zelda (Nintendo, Japan, 1987), Call of Duty (Activision, USA, 2000), Mario Brothers (Nintendo, Japan, 1985). There is even an existing synergy process where a videogame of a new film will be launched before or on its release date, for example Eragon (Vivendi, France, 2006), Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green (Groove Games, USA, 2005), and Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace (Lucasarts, USA, 1999).
Videogames have been slow developing over the years in a narrative sense, but in the 1980s companies such as Sega and Nintendo intelligently explored the benefits of producing franchises with basic narrative functions, ‘…always managing to capture the imagination and find some way to invade lives and homes’.  The earliest videogame consoles such as the Spectrum or the Amiga, introduced videogames that did not necessarily use a narrative basis but instead, as Kyle Orland states, focussed on ‘spectacle’ entertainment that was more a celebration of the technology:

My general feeling is that most games aim for spectacle, not meaning. They’re more Jerry Bruckheimer than Alfred Hitchcock or Orson Welles. As long as the main goal of most games is, “Sell the most copies to the most gamers,” they’re not “art.” But like Shakespeare, maybe in 100 years we’ll view them differently.

I appreciate the opinion raised by Orland due to the market competition films and videogames are currently in battle with. However, I have chosen some of the most influential games in recent years to argue that videogames do have ‘art’ in mind due to the strict detail of the writing through to the visuals. This will offer an account of how videogames have evolved toward a narrative form, though still managing to incorporate a ‘new’ spectacle each time around. This involves many things from improved graphics, sound, characters, and speed of the videogame’s/console’s engine.

Early games such as Tetris (IBM, USA, 1985) never intended to construct a narrative but instead provide a new simplistic entertainment source. For example, the aim of Tetris is to stack various shapes of blocks together as they fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. The videogame industry has evolved from this primitive and ‘simplistic’ style when companies gave birth to a new era of consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the Sega Master System; each introducing an individual franchise hero to each console. Nintendo spawned the Mario Brothers (Nintendo, Japan, 1984) and Sega spawned Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega, Japan, 1991). These games were similar in the way they offered basic but fun narrative worlds and characters, but more specifically a hero/heroes that have to save a hostage or hostages in confinement and conquer the villain. However, as Flatley and French explain, both games were also distinctly different in what the had to offer:

….Sega’s new company mascot-he represented the edgier image that Sega wanted to be associated with. Mario, an old man with his bright colours and slow jumping, was for juveniles. Sonic, who tore through huge levels as high speeds, was for grown-ups; he had a character and personality that made Sega cooler; he was a cynical antidote to jumping and collecting coins.

In recent years the Sony Playstation has had successful sales on franchises such as Metal Gear Solid (Konami, Japan, 1999), a game with a narrative that concentrates on an espionage soldier, Solid Snake, who infiltrates a nuclear weapons disposal facility to neutralize the threat of a terrorist group named Foxhound. The Microsoft Xbox also birthed a great franchise, Halo (Microsoft, USA, 2001) which over the years has sold like hot cakes:

Which places gamers in the role of the Master Chief, a soft-spoken cyborg soldier assigned to protect  humanity from the Covenant, a coalition of fanatical alien races united by the apocalyptic prophecies of its ruling class. Human and Covenant forces stumble across the titular Halo, a ring-shaped habitat of ancient and mysterious provenance. The action follows the Chief, his AI Girl Friday Cortana, and a ragtag crew of marines as they contend with the Covenant for control of the ring, only to uncover the shocking truth about Halo’s origin and function.

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(Fig 1.2)7

The Playstation, PS2, PS3, PS4, Xbox, XBOX 360, and the Xbox One allow the customer to play films on the consoles and thus ‘fit’ into the home entertainment ideal securely. It is my understanding that these companies have learnt from the success of the first Playstation console and moved to expand on the high expectations they have made for themselves in the videogame industry. DVD proved early on to be a revolutionary change in the film industry and Sony, having its sister company Columbia Tristar issue stickers on its DVDs with the Playstation 2 symbol, which stated that their products were compatible with the console. It came as no surprise that Playstation and Xbox magazines began to issue free DVDS with upcoming games and film trailers.

In February 2005, both Playstation and Nintendo Gamecube magazines released a DVD containing footage and trailers of the upcoming DVD release of Resident Evil Apocalypse (Alexander Witt, USA, 2004) – An intelligent marketing strategy and synergy process as both companies had opportunity to profit from this franchise. Sony, with its sister Columbia Tristar and film production company Screen Gems, have made and released the film adaptations of Resident Evil (Capcom, Japan, 1996) and their Playstation console has seen multiple games from its series. Therefore Sony had the interest of promoting the film to their console consumers. Nintendo has the advantage of advertising the film as the latest addition to the game series, Resident Evil 4, was scheduled for release on the Gamecube console shortly after the DVD release of Resident Evil: Apocalypse. It is clear that these companies have the advantage of operating through different mediums and expressing their dominance through the synergy process.

So, I am aiming to identify why narrative has become a popular aspect of videogames in recent years and if there is a relationship between this and the sudden ubiquity of videogame adaptation into film. Like most things in life there is more than one way to approach an argument and indeed settle one, but I have chosen to focus on certain areas, for example, the narrative formalities, particularly when compared to Hollywood screenwriting, and practices of cinema elements and structures in videogames which Helen Flatley and Michael French agree to be the fundamental aspects of the videogame relationship with cinema; ‘it assumes that the two media are not simply intersecting: They are converging at many different levels’.  Critics such as Mark Wolf and Richard Boon argue on a similar basis, however, Boon suggests that videogames require more attention toward their writing process, suggesting that they are more complex in terms of simply borrowing aspects of other media. Wolf has a more neutral standpoint and argues that there is an aspect of videogames that is worthy of more attention:

Even as the videogame is clearly a unique medium and worthy of attention and forms of theory that can address it specifically, narrative elements and conventions taken from other media are still present to a great degree in many games, and a spectrum of positions exist combining ideas and terminology from various movements, even as the terms and definitions are not always agreed upon (for example, a number of scholars find the notion of “interactivity” problematic, suggesting that the term is misleading.

Wolf and Perron’s words identify important aspects of how videogames are perceived and how they are evolving, however, they identify interaction as a distinct area of videogames that separates them from other media. Interaction is rare in film, although Wolf and Perron intelligently note that this is regarded as a problematic area much like arguments over an artistic position for videogames, though I find myself agreeing with them when they state is also down to videogames being a young industry:

In past years, videogames, when they were mentioned at all, usually appeared only as one example among many of new media technologies (and often a marginal one at that). But as the medium continues to mature it has in many ways become a centerpoint among digital media and its importance is finally being recognized.

Boon argues that interaction separates videogames and films very clearly, ‘The primary concern of the game writer, then, is that almost every narrative element in the game is triggered by an action on the part of the player’.  Although this can be seen as a contrast to film, I am inclined to argue that this is a similarity of narrative function used in a different context. For example, in a film the audience will often follow a protagonist, and more often that not, this character determines the narrative via the choices he/she makes. In videogames, the player controls the protagonist or protagonists, and affects the narrative via the choices the player makes, especially in RPG titles, which I will get to. Although an audience does not have control of the protagonist in a film, both examples do identify that the principles of the protagonist’s function are the same when it comes to the narrative. So we can see that, paradoxically, interaction can be seen to relate videogames and film very closely, especially as some videogames portray cinematically influenced cut scenes that further the narrative. Richard Dansky argues that this is an important aspect of modern day videogaming:

Some are prerendered for a high level of visual polish, whereas others are produced with the in-game engine to provide visual continuity. Either way cut scenes refer to events or conventions that the player sits back and watches with (usually) no interaction. They can be used to reward the player with a spectacular visual, provide an opportunity for conversation or exposition that would get lost in gameplay, or contain events – such as the death of a character, the pillaging of the main characters’ equipment, or a villain’s escape that can’t be left up to chance. At best, the player can look around during a cut scene, but more often that not, they have a theatrical presentation the player watches.

This is true of many videogames, for example, Metal Gear Solid (Konami, Japan, 1999), where the player becomes a spectator and has to wait for the scene to end before interacting again, however, titles such as Resident Evil 4 (Capcom, Japan, 2005) and Half-life (Valve, USA, 1998) offer interactive opportunities during such scenes to keep the player directly involved. Although either way, cut scenes clearly indicate a developing interchange between film and videogame. It is therefore possible to see that identification is comparable with interaction:

This is important to videogame writing because the fundamental interactivity of videogames means that control of narrative elements are often coded to the player. At a basic level, players are routinely given control of the game camera and therefore choose what to see. Though most games still enforce certain camera views for specific events (by removing the player’s camera control – usually in cut scenes), some games such as Half-life go to great lengths to preserve player control.

Resident Evil 4 has cinematic cut scenes that eradicate this common boundary where the player is a passive observer and has to wait for the scene to end. In this game it is essential for the player to focus during such scenes as they are never allowed to disengage because he/she is required to interact and press instruction controller keys to keep the protagonist alive.

I mentioned RPG games before, so here we go! Star wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Lucasarts, USA, 2003) is a personal favourite and a fantastic example of how videogames have matured and advanced over the years to offer new and exciting worlds, visuals, and narratives to stimulate the player. Yes, it’s a few years old now but one I will never forget, and its sequel.

vidgame-movs03(Fig 1.3)

My interest in narrative stems from the basis that I believe it is the strongest connection between videogames and film as it directly links the cinematic and plot similarities of Hollywood films due to the styles of narratives that they use. Boon suggests that the concept of narrative revolves around ‘what happens’ in a story, whereas narration is ‘how’ information is presented to the audience:

So ‘narrative’ refers to actions, events and characters, whereas ‘narration’ describes a mechanism that controls how the spectator gains information about those actions, events and characters.

Boon’s writing explores many, if not all detailed narrative strategies and frameworks to produce an effective videogame. The principle method for him is to provide the player with as much responsibility as possible to the outcome of the narrative, ‘As noted, the primary concern of the game writer is that almost every narrative element in the game is triggered by an action on the part of the player’.  For Boon then, the concerns of a game writer should revolve around acknowledging interaction and providing the player with many possibilities to a narrative outcome. It is important to understand why Boon refers to the writers of videogames as ‘game writers’ instead of the common film term ‘screenwriter’. I believe the reason for this is directly related to the confidence he has in arguing the different skills needed for the creation of videogames, and thus he tends to separate them from any other media in attempt to award this recognition:

The job of a game writer is to understand, predict, and enable the role that the player takes within the narrative and game spaces presented.

It is through this understanding that Boon emphasises interaction as the fundamental difference between videogames and film:

Interactivity is the primary difference between narrative delivery in videogames when compared to other established narrative media. For a game narrative to be satisfying to a player, it must consider the needs of the player as a player, rather than a passive observer. Within noninteractive fiction, the audience reacts to the fiction, whereas with a videogame, the audience reacts to the fiction that in turn may react back.

This can be seen as a fundamental difference between videogame and film; however, DVD and Blu Ray technology has more to offer in terms of interactive choices for the audience. For example, titles such as Titanic (James Cameron, USA, 1997) have alternative endings for the audience to view instead of the original theatrical endings, others have extended versions, audio commentaries, in depth documentaries, features, cast and crew interviews and so on. This identifies a way for an audience to interact with the film if only in a small way.
Bordwell and Thompson define a narrative as, ‘a chain of events in cause-effect relationship  occurring in time and space’.  This definition identifies narrative structure as a construction of events in a certain order with linked devices, which connect events that are separated by time and space:

…narrative is a way of organising spatial and temporal data into a cause-effect chain of events with a beginning, middle, and end that embodies a judgement about the nature of the events.

The useful aspect of this definition is how it is universal and not restricted to just film, novels or plays, and thus it serves as a useful tool for the purpose of my argument. However, an important aspect that Bordwell and Thompson identify is the ‘inferred event’. This is when the viewer interprets events that are not explicitly presented in the film, the explicit events being examples presented by the storyteller’s or director’s point of view.

Inferred events could include the experience of the characters as children or the readers’ assumptions about what characters might be doing when they don’t appear on screen, but are involved in the narrative.

Bordwell and Thompson consistently highlight narrative aspects specifically related to film, while Boon relates them directly to videogames. Roy Stafford identifies a concept that on first impression seems unlikely to be connected with videogames because a player controls a protagonist that is always on the screen. Therefore the player is not able to assume what the character may have done off-screen since he/she never leaves the player’s sight. However, this theory can be applied considering that both my chosen case studies allow the player to control different characters and leave others to continue on their own. This is a predetermined aspect of the game engine, more obvious in examples like Resident Evil 2 (Capcom, Japan, 1998) and Resident Evil 4 as this crossover is consistently triggered by a previous cut scene explaining the future transition, and thus preparing the player for it. This process is not always as obvious in Knights of the Old Republic as this game provides a lot of responsibility to the player, which results in aspects of the narrative never being discovered, whether the main characters are on or off screen.

There are many areas of the narrative that cannot be unlocked in Knights of the old Republic, which lies entirely with the choices that a player makes. For example, throughout the game the player interacts with many characters that, depending on which dialogue you choose to respond with, can aid or restrict your journey. Some of these characters, six in total, can actually join a player on his/her quest and make a small group/party. A player then has the freedom to choose three characters at a time to continue on with their journey whilst the others wait at the ‘safe house’ or protagonist’s ship, the ‘Ebon Hawk’, until you switch the group around. All of the characters have a back-story that the player can decide to learn about or simple ignore, which as a result, enables further aspects of the narrative to be uncovered or never revealed:

In addition, each party member has his or her own series of conversations throughout your adventure, where they reveal their hopes and dreams. Simply talking to them when prompted and continue to speak to them throughout the adventure until they reveal all their inner machinations.

Some characters thus prompt further narrative outcomes and side missions for the player to engage with, and considering a key aspect of this videogame is to gain experience points that improve stats and abilities of the characters, it is in the player’s best interest to take advantage. The amount of time it takes to actually get each character’s back-story takes a lot of patience, and although the player has the responsibility of choosing which dialogue to use with each character, this area of the game is consisted of long dialogue scenes which can disengage a player from the main interactive experience. However, on a more positive note, this aspect is a useful tool for the more dedicated player as this game can be completed more than once with the promise of different aspects of the narrative being unlocked, specifically down to the dialogue a player chooses when interacting with other characters. In Star Wars (George Lucas, USA, 1977) terminology a player can determine whether the protagonist becomes a Jedi of a Sith:

Many actions you take in the game count as light side “bonuses” or dark side “penalties”. Certain conversational options, for example, take you closer to the dark side, especially if you’re cruel or threatening.

This directly refers to the consequences of making the protagonist a Sith as the player is given the choice as to who lives and dies on many occasions throughout the game, which indicates the diversity available to the player. This is not always the case with the opposite path of a Jedi as a player’s ‘good’ deeds lead the other character’s to simply survive.

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(Fig 1.4)  Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (The character in the foreground is an ally named Mission Vao, and in the background is her trusty Wookie. As a Jedi you all fight to the end of the game as a team and become good friends on the journey. As a Sith, they will not continue on your dark path and you, as the player, have to destroy them.)

Boon consistently supports common opinions of videogame narrative structure; however, I am inclined to disagree with some of his opinions. My goal is to provide evidence for the similarity in narrative structure between videogames and films, and although Boon’s argument suggests common ground, his overall argument is that videogames, no matter how much or how little narrative they use, have an interactive purpose that represents the narrative in a very different way to the linear structure of film:

In short, the writer must attempt to understand the game space, the system of interactions that generates gameplay between player and game.

This quote is accurate; however, even the most interactive games still have scripted elements , which I believe identifies a common ground in relation to film narrative. Knights of the old Republic was epic, fun, intoxicating, and arguably revolutionary to the Role Playing Game genre (RPG) due to its expansive narrative, game-play, and interactive freedom. In 2003 it won a BAFTA for ‘Game of the year’ and the GDC award for ‘Excellence in writing’.  The significance of these awards is that firstly, the BAFTA awards are commonly associated with film, and secondly, the videogame was recognised for its character development in writing. Like many modern games, Knights of the old Republic’s interactive freedom makes it one of the best videogame narrative experiences as the player has control of the protagonist in many ways.  For example, a player will choose a name for their character, a species, whether human or alien, the sex, and combat specialities. There are literally half a dozen worlds that a player can journey back and forth from at his/her pleasure to complete missions, explore character narratives, and further the plot, such as Korriban, the Sith planet, Taris, a Sith occupied planet, Dantooine, home of the Jedi council, Tatooine, the desert planet, Kashyyk, home of the Wookies, and Manaan, the water planet.

Each planet has hundreds of other characters to interact with. By talking to barmaids, peasants, Sith law enforcement officers, robots, aliens, humans, you name it, the player gains information about the surroundings and in doing so can then choose to follow advice and undertake side quests. Such as discovering new facts about the party members, or in Manaann’s case, the player can even undertake a murder investigation. This further supports Boon’s argument that the story emerges from the interaction of game elements with much responsibility left up to the player. However, no matter how much an individual’s choice has influence on the narrative, the actions, events and characters, diversity, and freedom to choose further side quests are scripted possibilities provided on behalf of a writer. Such predetermined outcomes echo Warren Buckland’s description of film narration:

Narrative development is dependent on the way in which the cause-effect logic is worked out in relation to the film’s character (or characters), who motivates that cause-effect logic.

In this case it is the animators and director that design the game and visualize the script, a similar process to the pre-production of a film. Similarities are also found in the way each media advertise its products.   Boon further argues that such interactive freedom is a current trend, and no matter how much a videogame may support or deny the qualities of interaction, a player can choose to proceed as fast or slow as he/she sees fit. However, Knights of the old Republic indicates that this type of interactive freedom is a feature with antecedents. Aside from Knights of the old Republic, Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (Nintendo, Japan, 1998) and other games in its series/franchise have used this feature in an equally positive way. It is therefore not a current trend, but in fact a common feature that has, up until now, barely been used to its full potential. The evidence for this is down to the fact that Knights of the old Republic received awards for its efforts:

Throw in a major plot twist or two, there’s no way you’ll see the first one coming, and it’s clear KOTOR (Knights of the old Republic) is built to entertain both as a game and as another volume in the Star Wars library.

Resident Evil 4 was arguably a fresh start for the series with so many alterations being made to its style and gameplay, which was surprising to say the least for a franchise that was so dependent on consistency of ‘look’ and ‘feel’ to its context and game engine. However, the risk and reward process has never worked so beautifully. The environments, enemies, weapons, and objectives were new and inventive for this sequel with a lush improvement of graphics and movement to accompany it. The setting is far away from the familiar locations of the series, most notably Raccon City, and instead ventures into Europe. Enemies are not entirely human and yet not entirely the living dead-zombies we are so used to. Instead, we are hunted by a secretive community of infected and brain-washed farmers. The only immediate recognisable trait for fellow fans is the protagonist, Leon, born from Resident Evil 2:

The days of scavenging for green herbs with a rotting zombie on your tail are gone, or so it seems, as Leon’s enemies are now human (or are they?).

Visually, the first noticeable change is the eradication of the previously distorted and fixed camera angles specifically designed to restrict a player’s view, making the environment act more like a horror film as the player cannot always see what lurks around the next corner. Instead, the camera angle has been modified so that the player experiences a greater freedom of the environment by seeing everything Leon faces:

The camera now follows Leon, rather than being mounted in set positions. This makes for a much more involving experience, and also makes the game a great easier to control. Additionally, aiming is much more interactive, thanks to an over-the-shoulder camera angle which is activated every time you aim your weapon.

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(Fig 1.5)

This approach to the series makes the game a lot faster and fluent in the game’s engine movement as the player is encouraged to advance, in a visual sense and a narrative one as the goal is to progress forward:

To enable faster gameplay, Capcom have introduced a new context-sensitive control scheme, which allows you to break down doors, climb ladders, jump through windows or physically attack enemies just by pressing the A button.

It is time! I will now analyse the narrative structure of Resident Evil 4 using John Brice’s film screenwriting structure.   I will list the narrative structure in an order of development that would be expected in a Hollywood film that Brice indicates in his writing. The results are as follows:

Resident Evil 4’s narrative structure

1.    Genre:    horror/mythic
2.    Protagonist:    Leon Kennedy
3.    Protagonist’s ghost:    not technically a ghost, but the events from Resident Evil 2 and its characters are explained via Leon’s voiceover at the start of Resident Evil 4 to be haunting memory, which he has move on from physically but not emotionally.
4.    Protagonist’s desire:   to locate the President’s daughter Ashley and return her home. Throughout the game his motivation is also to harm the leader of his enemies that conspired in her kidnapping.
5.    What’s at stake?   Leon’s journey is long and dangerous. His life is now dedicated to saving Ashley.
6.    What the Hero learns at the end:   nothing to learn about himself, however, Leon discovers that past allies can easily be deceptive and that the evil corporation, which is the franchise’s villain, is still in operation.
7.    Context:    this shifts and evolves as the game progresses. Overall it consists of a circular journey, whereby Ashley and Leon set off and then aim to return back to America. However, there is evidence of opposition as the story constantly explains, through primarily cut scenes, that the evil cult who kidnapped Ashley is opposing American politics.
8.    Social stage setting:   village. Leon’s journey is set through a traditional, in visually historical terms, European village, castle, and small island.
9.    Allie: Ahsley, Luis (who was originally working for the villain), Ada (who turns up to save Leon on several occasions, but in Resident Evil 2 was there for the wrong reasons, and to a large extent, is here too).
10.    Antagonists:    lord Salazar along with his bodyguards and number 2, Krausser, and the villagers.
11.    Third element:    the Umbrella Corporation.
12.    Point of attack:    we are introduced to Leon’s voiceover and his new mission. On arrival at the village he is attacked by the first inhabitant he sees and attacked at first sight by others.
13.    The problem:    Leon knows that this village is dangerous, but that there is something significantly wrong with the villager’s.
14.    Inciting incident:     the villagers do not like Leon’s ‘outsider’ presence in their community and make that very clear. They are suddenly distracted from their attack on him when the nearby church bell rings and they hypnotically leave him be and head off out of sight.
15.    1st revelation: Leon finds out that a manmade virus/parasite is the reason for the villager’s behaviour. He must prevent Ashley from exposure.
16.    1st plot point:    Leon aims to uncover the truths, but is injected with the same virus and now has to unravel the mystery of the village and find a cure.
17.    Apparent defeat: Ashley has also been injected with the virus.
18.    2nd revelation:    Leon can remove the virus in the villager’s secret lab and break the hypnotic spell that the antagonist sometimes puts him under.
19.    Plot point 2:    with the virus/parasite out of him, Leon knows how to deal with Salazar.
20.    Decisive battle: Salazar mutates into a huge monster and Leon battles to victor, killing the Villain/Ashley’s kidnapper and torturer.
21.    New equilibrium:    Leon and Ashley head home now that the village and its leader is destroyed, but Umbrella are still out there and Ada took a sample of the virus.

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(Fig 1.6)  Resident Evil 4, Leon, Ashley, Ada.

Clearly there are significant similarities between film narrative structure and the videogame structure of Resident Evil 4. The protagonist, Leon, has a strong desire , or obsessive drive, which dictates the narrative’s progression. For example, the player can only progress Leon to places the game engine allows him/her to venture that are relevant to the structure of its narrative, excluding the gun salesman and the gun ranges where the player can practice his/her aim. This restriction allows Leon’s main desire/mission to be strong. With this in place the narrative can work in a similar way to film. Videogames now offer more than ever a cinematic journey with a complex narrative structure extremely similar to most movies we see.  As Lucius Cook argues: ‘By the early 1990s, computer and videogames had become big business, increasingly driven by Hollywood-like spectacles’.  They have consistently begun to use cut scenes during gameplay to allow the story to be expressed in cinematic terms. This aspect is an effective tool for the progression of a character’s feelings, traits, and back stories as the player is encouraged to watch and listen as if he/she was watching a film. This is evident in the games I have already mentioned, but so many more hit the shelves every year and explore other boundaries and tastes. Check this example out:

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(Fig 1.7)  (I don’t know about you but if I wasn’t such a videogame fan that would scream “movie” to me just by the use of film stars!)

Much like with Knights of the Old Republic, Resident Evil 4 has a game time that exceeds fifteen hours, especially if you don’t rush, and again, much longer than any movie we see of around 120 minutes. However, my argument is that regardless of those differences, these videogames simply delay the cinematic structural expectancies so that the story can last this length of time whilst offering the player a ‘gaming’ experience. For example, the Point of Attack  to the 1st Revelation  is very far apart in terms of running time. The former is at the very start of the game and the latter does not come until the player has journeyed through the first village, destroyed countless villagers and completed many tasks, several hours later:

Resident Evil games are known for their length. Resident Evil 4 is a very long game on your first play through. From beginning to middle to end this game leaves you with a satisfaction only few games could surpass in my opinion. This game has different places to go such as the Village and the Castle and then finally on the Island where the main lab is stationed. As the surroundings change the enemies increase with difficulty as well as numbers. This game will last for quite sometime and if you are somewhat of a perfectionist you will have even more gametime to look forward to after.

As a critic and fan of film and videogames I believe both have evolved from their primitive states to become tools for telling a story, and any videogame without some sort of narrative structure will lack the basic element making it an attractive proposition for a Hollywood adaptation:

On the most basic level, narrative strings together the events of the game, providing a framework and what can alternately be called a justification, a reason, or an excuse for the gameplay encounters. At its best, narrative pulls the player forward through the experience, creating the desire to achieve the hero’s goals and, more importantly, see what happens next.

1-Fig 1.1: Picture provided by:
http://static3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20081008233442/silent/images/4/4a/James.jpg
2-Golden, Geoffrey, ‘How Much Does The Videogame Industry Make?’, Celebrity Networth:
http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/how-much-does-the-video-game-industry-make/3-Flately, Helen and French, Michael, ‘Introduction’, in ‘Videogaming’, (GB: Pocket Essentials, 2003)
4-Kyleori, ‘it’s Our Fault Videogames Are Not Considered Art’, Videogame Media Watch, http://vgmwatch.com/?p=9105-Flately, Helen and French, Michael, ‘Introduction’, in ‘Videogaming’, (GB: Pocket Essentials, 2003) p.27.
6-Cook, Lucius, ‘Gaming the Genre’, Locus Online, http://www.locusmag.com/2004/review/12_Cook_On_Gaming.html7-Fig 1.2: Picture provided by: http://www.brashgames.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Halo_4_Promo_Shot.jpg
8-Bittanti, Matteo, ‘The Technoludic Cinema: Images of videogames in movies’ (1973-2001)9-Wolf J.P, Mark and Perron, Bernard, ‘Introduction’, in ed., The Videogame Theory Reader, (USA: Routledge, 2003) p.11-12.
10-Ibid p.1
11-Boon, Richard, ‘Writing for Games’, in Game Writings: Narrative skills for videogames, ed., Bateman, Chris (USA: Charles River Media, 2007) p.43.12-Dansky, Richard, ‘Introduction to Game Narrative’, in Game Writings: Narrative skills for videogames, ed., Bateman, Chris (USA: Charles River Media, 2007) p.4.
13-Boon, Richard, ‘Writing for Games’, in Game Writings: Narrative skills for videogames, ed., Bateman, Chris (USA: Charles River Media, 2007) p.44

14-Fig 1.3: Picture provided by: http://media.comicbookmovie.com/images/users/uploads/23522/SWKOTOR-Poster.jpg
15-Buckland, Warren, ‘Film structure: Narrative and Narration’, in Teach yourself Film Studies, (UK: McGraw Hill, 1998) p.41.
16-Boon, Richard, ‘Writing for Games’, in Game Writings: Narrative skills for videogames, ed., Bateman, Chris (USA: Charles River Media, 2007) p.47

17-Ibid p.43.
18-Ibid. p.43
19-Bordwell, David, and Thompson, Kristin, ‘Narrative as a Formal System’, in Film Art: An Introduction, seventh edition (USA: McGraw Hill, 2004) p.69.
20-Branigan, Edward, ‘Narrative comprehension and film’, in Buckland, Warren, Teach yourself Film studies, (UK: McGraw Hill, 1998) p.32.

21-Stafford, Roy, ‘Biographies’, in La Haine (UK: York Press, 2000) p.9.
22-Hodgson, S.J. David, Meston, Zach, ‘World-Spanning Quests’, in Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic, Prima’s Official Strategy Guide (USA: Lucasfilm, 2003) p.34.

23-Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2 allow the player to choose, via the dialogue options presented on screen when you talk to characters and the actions you take, whether the protagonist becomes a Jedi (Good/lightside) or a Sith (Bad/Darkside).
24-Hodgson, S.J. David, Meston, Zach, ‘World-Spanning Quests’, in Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic, Prima’s Official Strategy Guide (USA: Lucasfilm, 2003) p.24.

25-Fig 1.4: Picture provided by: http://www.maclife.com/files/gallery/kotor_1.jpg
26-Boon, Richard, ‘Writing for Games’, in Game Writings: Narrative skills for videogames, ed., Bateman, Chris (USA: Charles River Media, 2007) p.45.
27-Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic (Lucasarts, USA, 2003), videogame sleeve p.56. http://www.activision.com/support (link to BAFTA awards and game information)

28-Buckland, Warren, ‘Film structure: Narrative and Narration’, in Teach yourself Film Studies, (UK: McGraw Hill, 1998) p.35.
29-See figures 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4 on pp. 41-2
30-Boulding, Aaron, ‘Star Wars: Knights of the old Republic Review: Impressive….most impressive.. and with fresh movies too!” (US, July 14, 2003) http://uk.xbox.ign.com/articles/428/428645pl.html

31-Washington, Adam, ‘Resident Evil 4 Preview’, Game Power Australia, http://wwwgamepower.com.au/aid=1927
32-Washington, Adam, ‘Resident Evil 4 Preview’, Game Power Australia, http://wwwgamepower.com.au/aid=1927
33-Fig 1.5: Picture provided by : http://www.nintendo-wii-explained.com/images/res_evil_5.jpg

34-Washington, Adam, ‘Resident Evil 4 Preview’, Game Power Australia, http://wwwgamepower.com.au/aid=1927
35-Brice, John, What’s Wrong With This Picture? (The 7 major mistakes that sabotage all stories-and the 34 Story Building Block Principles that make traditional stories powerful, dynamic and memorable)

36-Brice, John, What’s Wrong With This Picture? (The 7 major mistakes that sabotage all stories-and the 34 Story Building Block Principles that make traditional stories powerful, dynamic and memorable) pp. 3-19

37-Fig 1.6: Picture provided by: http://86bb71d19d3bcb79effc-d9e6924a0395cb1b5b9f03b7640d26eb.r91.cf1.rackcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Resident-Evil-4-Promo-Image-646×325.jpg
38-The Protagonist’s desire is indicated on page 31. According to Brice, a film protagonist’s desire is what commonly drives them through the story and all the way through to the Decisive battle (indicated above as no.20)
39-Cook, Lucius, ‘Gaming the Genre’, Locus Online, http://www.locusmag.com/2004/reviews/12_Cook_On_Gaming.html

40-Fig 1.7: Picture provided by: http://www.chiefmarketer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/BeyondTwoSoulsReleaseDate.jpg
41-The Point of Attack and 1st Revelation are indicated on p. 12. (In Resident Evil 4’s narrative structure list)
42-Ibid.
43-Resident Evil 4 review by Nopticmarauder, Gamespot Game FAQS, CNET networks Entertainment, http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/gamecube/review/R85375.html

44-Dansky, Richard, ‘Introduction to Game Narrative’, in Game Writings: Narrative skills for videogames, ed., Bateman, Chris (USA: Charles River Media, 2007) p.5.

About Dominic Schembri-Adams

Dominic Schembri-Adams works full time in Kent with a diploma in embalming and a degree in film studies. Schembri was added to his birth name Adams to preserve his mother’s family name which originated in Malta and ties to his family in Gibraltar. Between higher education and work, his interests include sports, writing and watching films. After studying film for eight years, Dominic spent most of his free time expanding on screenplays he had started during his college days and adapting them into novels. He currently resides in Sussex, United Kingdom.