Video Gaming (EL 250)

4 Jan 2006

Replayability in Movies

On the course blog, participate in a discussion on It's a Wonderful Life, Groundhog Day, and/or Sliding Doors.

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Bill Murray simply "has to relive Groundhog Day until he learns to become a better person." Well, there is the shallow significance I found on IMDB(internet movie data base). But it more so critically analyzes the methods of replay. He is shocked at first, but when he is concious of the rewind, he takes different approaches. He acts wild, drives off a cliff, tries to accomplish a perfect day, and eventually submits to just living the day through. All of these are different methods in all replays. Trying to make sense of what you are doing wrong to not complete the level. What is missing? But then when he tries to perfect the day, yet still ends up waking up to Groundhog day, he tries to make it through the experience with natural grace, which succeeds. Can replay of a game reveal new insight, or is it better for the consumer to move on?

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 3, 2006 06:43 PM

In Sliding Doors a young woman's route of life is determined by a subway door. As we go through the movie we find that if she had gotten on the subway she would have met a wonderful man and be happy and successful. However, if she doesn't get on the subway she gets mugged and ends up finding out that her boyfriend was cheating on her. I like how the movie potrayed her life in both scenarios. If she knew what lie ahead, would she have chosen a path that led to the final conclusion in the end? Would this ability to replay her life have influenced her decisions?

Posted by: Kayla Lukacs at January 3, 2006 11:49 PM

Puff, in Groundhog Day, was Phil a consumer?

Hmm... he called himself "the talent" at one point, and was very conscious of his role as a celebrity. When he stopped playing the game -- he stopped trying to trick Rita, and instead concentrated on becoming a better person -- she started pursuing him. She even bought him at an auction!

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 4, 2006 01:40 AM

Because Sliding Doors has only two plots, and there is only one node (the branching point, the missed train), it wouldn't make a good game. But think of an interactive movie where the player could make a decision, say, every three minutes. Let's say there's a 3-minute opening scene, then a branching point, which leads to 3 more minutes. But because the filmmakers have to provide 3 different minutes of movie to each player, they have to create 6 minutes of new content. That doesn't sound too bad. But after choice A and B comes AA, AB, BA, or BB, and another three minutes of film. That means the filmmakers have to provide each branch with another 3 minutes of content. But to do so, that means filming 12 minutes. At the next stage, with eight possible story branches, that means 24 total minutes to give each player 3 more original minutes.

Just as the early text-adventures were constrained by the technology available, the merger between computers and movies (which was much hyped during the 90s) was checked by the sheer production costs of generating enough content to provide players with meaningful choices.

You'll still encounter scholars who approach games such as Tomb Raider or Buffy the Vampire slayer as if a computer game is a kind of interactive movie -- just as you saw, in the Scott Adams discussion panel, I approached interactive fiction as a kind of narrative. I do think that the narrative approach makes perfect sense when examining interactive fiction, but it's a stretch to suggest that Pac-Man or Tetris has any kind of deep "story" that is "told" through the manipulation of the joystick. (In my defense, I hadn't read the books you're about to read, because they hadn't been written yet. You'll soon know a heck of a lot more about the study of games than I did when I organized this panel.)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 4, 2006 02:03 AM

I always enjoy watching It's Wonderful Life. Any form of communist propoganda is fine by me.

George Bailey, like Phil in Groundhog Day gets a second shot at life. The difference is less comical, however, and happens much less frequently.

Mr. Potter the very essence of the American *cough, cough*Capitalist*cough* Dream threatens everything that Bailey stood for: community, self-sacrifice, serving others (must be part of the Jesus League).

The mistake that Bailey made was giving up (slightly contrary to Groundhog day). In the end we learn that lives of virtue do make a difference and people do care.

Notice how, in this game, Bailey could not face off Potter alone, but his selflessness created community and the community defeated Potter.

This is something you don't see in video games; the concept of loss to win. Bailey gave up everything for his community, which ultimately made him a winner.

The only thing you should not give up, according to the movie, is hope. Very emotional movie without using binary contrast to ellicit the emotions. This is my personal favorite film, and I am always surprised that--unlike a game--the more I watch it the better it gets.

Posted by: Evan at January 4, 2006 04:10 PM

Groundhog Day is a classic movie. I have watch this movie numerous times so it gave me time to think about what if this scenario happened to me? It brought up many issues for me and made me think about many things that I probably would have never thought about. Groundhog day really makes you realize that Time is precious.

I do not think that this would be a good video game because it would be boring because it would be the same rountine over and over again. It's already laid out for you and there's no way that you would be able to conquer it.

Posted by: Gina Burgese at January 4, 2006 05:05 PM

In online team games it is often that players sacrific themselves for the team. At least in my experience. There are really bonding communities online, of course they can be a little fickle sometimes, but that's what happens when you interact without using any of your 5 senses.

Posted by: Stephan Puff at January 4, 2006 05:37 PM

I pose a very abstract interpretation of Groundhog Day, so just let me know what you think. I did a project on the movie last year for Frank Klapak in Faith, Religion & Society and I drew off of some interesting theories that the movie represented re-incarnation etc. If this movie is a metaphor for Buddhism, and involves replayability, which are a part of video games, is there a Buddhist element in video game life?

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 4, 2006 07:20 PM

I posted a more in depth response on my blog.

Posted by: Leslie Rodriguez at January 5, 2006 01:16 AM
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