Thursday, June 21, 2012

Community Building through Movie Tie-Ins

My latest PopMatters article is now live: Community Building through Movie Tie-Ins

First off, a big shout-out to Grayson Davis of Beeps & Boops who wrote the fascinating inspiration to this article about King Kong and movie-to-game adaptations.

I initially wrote this article as a way to justify the Battleship movie. Of course that idea came to me before the film was released and almost universally panned. The fact is, it is hard to justify

the production of shitty products that come off more as cash grabs than genuinely inspired works of art. Ok, so maybe Battleship deserves no praise, but in principle, a tie-in product can serve a community driven purpose.

If we look at artistic works as, in some way, community owned, then we have to find a place for tie-ins somewhere. Fans of particular works devote thousands of hours towards cataloging the project and plumbing its depths. Wikia (full disclosure, Wikia is my employer), precisely because fan communities want to be a part of an ongoing world. Look at the Elder Scrolls wiki. It has nearly sixteen thousand pages! Exploring those pages will yield more lore in an hour than I discovered while wandering the tundra of Skyrim. For many, participating in any Elder Scrolls experience, be it a game, a wiki page, or a comic-book or movie tie-in, adds to their overall conception of the world.

When we hear a movie will receive a game tie-in, we tend to shrug off the concept, and for good reason. These games are almost universally terrible. I can't help but feel that if we recognized tie-ins as small pieces of a community and world building project, then we might have more entertaining pieces of trans-media storytelling. If movie studios are ok releasing a small and even independently produce game for a low price, they might find fans of their I eager to put themselves in the world in any way possible.

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