The incredible leaps and bounds made in technology have given computer and video games of the past an inferiority complex when compared to the stimulating masterpieces created today. Gaming industry trends have established a realism comparable to that of the big screen, with lifelike characters, developed dialogue, sophisticated environments and visual effects that have catapulted them into a category all their own. And with the onslaught of new game consoles, there's an even greater hunger for slick new software.
"Until now, expressing complex behaviors and portraying a range of convincing emotions through characters has been very difficult," explains David Luntz, 27, president and CEO of computer and video game designer Z-Axis Ltd. in San Mateo, California. "New technology is removing the creative restraints that have burdened game developers to date." Case in point: Z-Axis' latest endeavor, the Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX game, which allows users to freeze time and spin the camera around the rider, was inspired by the "bullet time" camera effect used in The Matrix.
But what differentiates games from film is the obvious interactivity factor, which has managed to increase the gaming-industry audience and keep this evolving category in the forefront of new technology-leading many to consider the possibility that computer and video games could eventually rival other entertainment mediums, including film. "As an experience, video games are more 'sticky' than movies," says Luntz. "You may watch a movie four or five times-that's eight to 10 hours of entertainment. A video game you love to play is good for hundreds of hours of entertainment."
Still, Helmut Kobler, 31-year-old president of K2 Films, a Hollywood, California, film and Internet production company, doubts the gaming industry will ever upstage Hollywood. "It's not so much that games are trying to be like movies," says Kobler. "They're pushing the realism envelope-to create the sense that everything around you feels alive."
And that's really the appeal of games to begin with-the fantasy factor. "Everyone wants games to be realistic," he notes. "They want the ability to do whatever they want in those worlds."