July 24th, 2006

Yes, I’m a giant dork. We should get that out of the way.

Like the rest of the known world, I’ve recently become addicted to Lost. I thought it would be silly. I was wrong. I now have crushes on both Sawyer (the character, not the actor) and Evangeline Lilly (the actress, not the character). But please, please, I’ve only seen season one, so no spoilers.

Anyways, in my newly-acquired state of addiction, I found myself watching all (and yes, I mean all) the season one special features–and somewhere in there, I was surprised to hear, the show’s creators mentioned they were trying to make Lost like a video game.

Before on the site, we’ve talked about how a complicated movie can be a lot like a game, in that it requires interactivity (your active input, as the viewer) to figure things out, to rearrange them and try on answers. Lost, it seems to me, is another great example of this. Heck, a whole internet culture has sprung up around the show: an entire fanbase trying to work out what in God’s name is really going on.

But actually, it seemed like the Lost creators had a different gaming metaphor in mind: leveling up. Or, more specifically, the idea that you see something (a new area, a new mystery) a few steps before you can actually get there. Like the door you can’t unlock until you return with the right key from the boss fight down the hall. You know the drill.

Nice to know that the exchange of ideas between artistic mediums goes both ways: games inspired by the cinematics of movies, shows inspired by the logic of games.

P.S. I love you, Lost. Let’s be friends forever.

Tags: television

11 Responses to ““Lost” Is a Video Game (Sort of)”

  1. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    I LOVE LOST!

  2. Bonnie Says:

    Well, at least somebody else does.

    Hey, did you watch all the special features yet? It’s so cute to see them, you know, not actually facing imminent death.

  3. Patrick Says:

    I don’t watch the show, but you’re right about the way media is developing in general. Now 24, thats a kick ass show.

  4. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    Sayid, IRL, sounds like David Brent, which is a turn-off.

  5. Bonnie Says:

    Sayid, IRL, sounds like David Brent, which is a turn-off.
    Serious-ment.

    Now 24, thats a kick ass show.
    Ah, our other addiction. Scott and I are Netflix fiends. We just finished the second season, and we hear the third gets pretty wackp. Jack Bauer, my hero-ish. (Kim Bauer, total flake.)

  6. Coldstone Says:

    I disagree with the movies as video games (not that anyone cares I am sure ;) ), but as much as I found this book obnoxious Game Architecture and Design, its makes some good points against classifying interactive movies as a ‘game’. I guess it all depends on the definition (which the book is pretty narrow minded about).

    For me, TV and Movies are always passive experiences, even when they make me think. For me, its simple, if I can’t influence the actions of the characters (either directly or indirectly) its not a game. I would even call ‘choose your own adventure’ books games, because you have a tiny amount of choice/control.

    While I think Media that involves a person (congnitively or emotionally) is more enjoyable media, I wouldn’t call it a game.

  7. Bonnie Says:

    I would even call "~choose your own adventure' books games, because you have a tiny amount of choice/control.

    But if you think about it, plenty of games are pretty limited in choice themselves–in the overall at least. Sure, you can control whether you step left, right, shoot now, or later–but usually, in order to progress, you have comply with a set plot and a set ending. In that way, linear games can leave little room for meaningful deviation or input.

  8. FerrousBuller Says:

    “But if you think about it, plenty of games are pretty limited in choice themselves"”in the overall at least. . . . In that way, linear games can leave little room for meaningful deviation or input.”

    Sure, but it’s never an all-or-nothing thing: it’s not like your only options are ever “total passivity vs complete freedom.” Every game operates within certain fixed limits and usually have some pre-defined endgame state. Obviously, some are more rigidly structured than others, but it’s mostly a difference of degree, IMHO.

    When people talk about movies, books, et al being “passive” I think what they really mean is “fixed” or “non-interactive.” You cannot change the content of a TV show or novel; but you can interpret it in different ways from other viewers. So a show like Lost may be sprinkled with clues, red herrings, etc. that not every viewer will pick up on or interpret in the same way you do. But you cannot directly interact with so-called passive media, in the sense of changing its form or function. I.e., the media remains fixed, but the perception of it is fluid.

    Games, by their very nature, require active input from the player to progress: even if that input is fairly minimal or the structure of the game is fairly linear, it still requires effort to advance. If nothing else, the pacing and flow of the game differs depending on how you play it.

  9. Coldstone Says:

    I second FerrousBuller, he was able to put it much more succinctly.

  10. Bonnie Says:

    he was able to put it much more succinctly.
    Ah, but that’s only if you agree with him :-).

  11. FerrousBuller Says:

    “Ah, but that's only if you agree with him :-).”

    Bonnie, my dear, haven’t you noticed yet?

    I’m always right!

    ;-)

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