molyneux’ machinima movies

The MoviesThe Movies, a new game by game-designer legend Peter Molyneux of Black & White fame has hit the shelves just recently. The game allows the player to take over the part of a Hollywood mogul, to design a movie studio, shape movie-stars’ careers, and finally produce and shoot movies. This ultimate results are of course machinima—according to the strict sense of the latter’s definition. The release of The Movies has triggered an article by Jürgen Schmieder [in German], published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) [the SZ is one of the more respected transregional daily newspapers in Germany; as ↑2R correctly has ↑observed and stated, the SZ’s coverage and comments of and on gaming culture and related issues have substantially improved during the last year, both in frequency and quality] which reflects a bit on the game and the phenomenon of machinima in general. Schmieder argues that machinima once was a revolution, but now no more is, and that both The Movies and machinima in general create a new hybrid out of movies and games. When hearing or reading “revolution” I always feel a bit uneasy, as it implies replacing one thing with a radically other one. For example, I do not take the Open Source movement[s] to be a revolution, but to be a manifestation of resistance. Open Source does not thrive to overthrow the current global economic system, but it strives to install changes in procedures and new policies within that very system. Likewise I do not take machinima to be a revolution—striving to destroy and replace ‘traditional movie making’. Whatever the latter may be, or did it ever really exist? In my view the phenomenon of machinima is a result of the cultural appropriation of computergames, heavily related to the demoscene.

I do not understand the concept of machinima to be a term for a genre of movies, merely referring to the technicalities of production. The Wikipedia-entry for machinima hits it right home:

Machinima (a portmanteau word for machine cinema and/or “machine” “animation”) is both a collection of associated production techniques and a film genre (film created by such production techniques).

As a production technique, the term concerns the rendering of computer-generated imagery (CGI) using low-end 3D engines (as opposed to high-end and complex 3D engines used by professionals) in video games (typically, engines in first person shooters games have been used). Consequently, the rendering can be done in real-time using PCs (either using the computer of the creator or the viewer), rather than with complex 3D engines using huge render farms.

As a film genre, the term refers to movies created by the techniques described above. Usually, machinimas are produced using tools (demo recording, camera angle, level editor, script editor, etc.) and resources (backgrounds, levels, characters, skins, etc.) available in a game.

Machinima is an example of emergent gameplay, a process of putting game tools to unexpected ends, and of artistic computer game modification. ↑[…]

The Movies in turn means the commodification of creating machinima in the form of a consumable commercial computergame. In my opinion the interesting things in respect to cyberculture will be the mods for The Movies—if there will be any.

See also
strong and dreamscream. For loads of machinima see—there’s an Interview with Stephen Wood, one of the designers of The Movies, too.
initially via entry at 2R

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