LUC Briefing 003: Games

Welcome to the third Leamington Underground Cinema briefing, this time our team of crack researchers (or should that be crack team of researchers?) bring you a bundle of information on the historically difficult intersection between the seemingly connected worlds of cinema and games.

Thanks to a new dietary supplement that has been successfully tested on the research team, from now on these briefings will be a weekly affair, appearing every Friday.

The next instalment will be on the shady, whispered subject of Conspiracy.

i. Nuke ‘Em

Satire it may have been, but in the late 80s everyone wanted the future to arrive quickly so we could play this apocalyptic family board game of nuclear paranoia rather than Monopoly.

Unfortunately, the actual Robocop board game that came out was a load of rubbish.

ii. The Most Dangerous Game

As the titular 1924 short story warns, hunting man is the most dangerous game. This is a trope that has been recycled repeatedly by the movies in various forms ever since. Notable examples include 1945’s A Game Of Death and John Woo’s Hard Target starring Jean Claude Van Damme and a mullet that was cited as a war crime by the UN security council.

The mad, bloodthirsty pinnacle of the genre is probably the 1994 version Surviving The Game, starring Ice-T, Rutger Hauer and the astonishing Gary Busey, who literally acts himself out of breath in this unhinged monologue…

iii. Choose Your Own Film Adventure

The idea of interactive cinema, where the audience determine the turns of the plot and eventual outcome, has been around for a while. An infamous early example was Mr Sardonicus, where the film was stopped and the audience voted on whether the villain should be executed at the end. Legend has it that no audience ever voted to spare the life of the hapless Sardonicus – which was helpful – because legend also has it that the alternative ending was never actually filmed.

Experiments in this sort of thing have never gone particularly well, or caught on to any great extent, probably because as Roger Ebert pointed out, movies are a collective experience, while games are more solitary and insular. Still this hasn’t stopped the idea from hanging around. Reports exist that the old line of Choose Your Own Adventure books have been licensed for adaptation, while Steven Soderburgh’s next film Mosaic will have some form of interactivity/multiple paths driven by a mobile phone application.

Where interactivity is working to a degree is in the world of YouTube, where all sorts of clever linked films can be found As is usual on the internet a lot of them involve zombies but others involve more meaningful stuff, such as the self explanatory Interactive Hot Tub Girl:

iv. Video Game to Movies // Movies to Video Games

It is fair to say that despite years of trying, no-one has made a decent film based on a video game franchise or property. When the laughable Mortal Kombat is held up as one of the better examples, you know that something is wrong. However, in an industry that is generally ruthless on ditching poorly performing ideas, Hollywood can’t stop banging its head against this particular wall. According to this article, there are no less than 56 video game properties currently being adapted into films – I haven’t checked but this may well be one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Going in the other direction, despite a lot of rubbish, rushed, blatant cash-in examples, there are actually some quite good video game adaptations based on movies. In 2014 LUC ran a contest for people to make game adaptations as part of our festival, the art department came up with this surprisingly gory take on Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, which you can play online by clicking the image below.

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v. Video Game documentaries are surprisingly good

In contrast to the appalling narrative features that have sprung from the video game well, there are loads of really rather good documentaries about the creation and playing of games out there. LUC particularly recommends checking out King Of Kong, Ecstasy Of Order and Man vs Snake. Although you may end up having nightmares about some of the people featured in them.

vi. The Shining Board Game You Can Download for free

Visit this site to download a bundle of .pdf files and then warm up your printer for some table-based mad axe-brandishing fun.

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vii. The Top Five Fictional Cinematic Sports

Number 5: The Transcontinental Road Race

Number 4: BASEketball

Number 3: Whack Bat

Number 2: Rollerball

Number 1: Skeet Surfing

viii. Tom Hanks Was In a Film About How Dungeons And Dragons Is Evil

Mazes and Monsters reflects the strange moment in pop culture when polite society viewed role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons as a corruptive influence on younger minds. Many thought that immersing yourself in the fantasy fiction of an RPG could lead to flirtations with Satanism, occult worship — and, in turn, criminal behaviour.”

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(article on Mashable: http://mashable.com/2015/10/28/tom-hanks-dungeons-dragons/#A12SpfkVsEqF)