Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Is Heavy Rain doing videogames a disservice?

4:00 PM on 01.31.2010 // Jim Sterling

Heavy Rain arrived this week, stuffed in a fancy box with all manner of promotional material. I can't talk about the game itself right now until the embargo, but what I can talk about is the pre-release hype, and the way in which is seems to undermine the accomplishments of videogames as a creative medium. 

You've doubtless heard game director David Cage talking about his "interactive drama," likening it to movies and almost distancing it from videogames, trying to make out that it's something more than a mere game. I would like to direct you to the aforementioned promo material I received, and two statements that really stuck out for me. They are as follows:

  • "Film Quality Narrative -- Heavy Rain brings a high-quality story filled with tension, emotion, intrigue, and dramatic sequences."
  • "Hollywood Production Values -- From the length of the script, to the musical core, to the number of hours of motion capture, Heavy Rain is a vast and ambitious project that delivered a true film noir feel as well as production values that rival a cinematic experience."

Hit the jump to find out why this is a problem. 

Spotted the problem yet? If you haven't, let me make it clear -- Quantic Dream is not in the movie business. It's in the videogame business, and it should be comparing itself to the best of its medium, not the best of other mediums. When I see a game promoting itself by saying it's "movie quality," do you know what that says to me? It says that videogames are not as good as movies. It says that the more gaming emulates film, the better videogames will be. And that's bullshit.

It's a disservice to videogames to claim that your title is good because it's as entertaining as a movie. That essentially discredits the hard work of game writers and directors, who have a hard enough job as it is in trying to convince people that games are a legitimate work of creative entertainment. The last thing they need are having members of their own industry implying that credibility comes from a direct comparison to other mediums. 

There's a real problem in the games business of people latching onto more established forms of entertainment instead of trying to establish gaming itself. It all goes back to that ludicrous Citizen Kane argument. People need to stop asking when gaming will get its Citizen Kane. They need to ask when gaming will get another Super Mario Bros. They need to ask when gaming will get another Shadow of the Colossus. Videogames should be compared to videogames, because they are an artistic and creative medium in their own right, and deserve to be treated as such. 

This attitude towards the relationship between games and film is why we have so many arrogant Hollywood directors thinking they can make terrific videogame movies. Just take the failed Metal Gear Solid film, for example. Metal Gear Solid already tells a brilliant story, and if you want to pull a Quantic Dream, you can argue that it rivals any film and possesses these so-called Hollywood production values. Metal Gear Solid already does enough to be "cinematic," but some people were egotistical enough to think they could do better. Because, of course, a story isn't legitimate until it's been in a movie, right? That's the only way narrative can gain credibility for these people.

Silent Hill is another fine example. Nothing wrong with that game's narrative, and yet they made a film out of it -- not a very great film, either. A BioShock film is also on the cards, despite that game's story being helped along by its interactive nature. This attitude that any game with even a semblance of plot would be improved in movie form is ludicrous. 

You can turn a book into a movie because you're adding a visual element missing from the books. When you turn a game into a movie, you're not adding a new element. In fact, you're taking an element away -- interactivity. This is why game movies fail so often, because something is always missing and it can't be emulated. So why is it, then, that so many film makers persist? 

Aside from the money, the problem lingers in attitudes like Quantic Dream's. This idea, rooted deep in tradition, that movies are the be-all and end-all of sublime narrative and top-notch production. I'll concede that videogames might not produce the cream of the storytelling crop right now, but will they ever if developers are too busy trying to copy other industries rather than forge their own way? There's all this talk about innovation in the games industry. If game makers are so innovative, why do they let their perceptions of entertainment tread water in this way?

I would ask that game developers stop looking from side to side and spend more time looking at themselves and the industry they chose to get into. Games don't need to be compared to movies. There has been so much wonderful writing, emotional attachment, astounding insight and technological achievement in the medium of interactive entertainment that we don't need to keep looking at books, films or television and trying to hold a measuring stick to them. Let videogames be judged by their own merits, not the merits of a completely different world.

Whether or not Heavy Rain succeeds in what it tries to do is a subject for another day, but the way in which Quantic Dream and Sony have chosen to promote the game seems to me to be a slap in the face of gaming in general. Let it not be said that Heavy Rain has "Hollywood production values" and a "Film quality narrative," Let it instead be said that Heavy Rain has "Sony production values" and a "Quantic Dream quality narrative." 

Have some damn pride in yourself, in your industry, and in what you have created. Have enough respect for your creation that you let it stand on its own two legs without using Hollywood as a crutch. It's high time developers stopped living in the shadow of the movie world and started to cast some shadows of its own.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

KyWii avatarKyWii
Happy Thanksgiving all! Load up on carbs and then get back to playing Fallout 4.
Archelon avatarArchelon
New extended television spot for The Force Awakens! [youtube][/youtube]
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
I dunno if I just had a freak incident but I think Ubisoft may have just changed the Renown gain in Rainbow Six Siege to be less shit as in overnight they've patched it. If true, kinda good on them.
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Does it mess with anyone else's head that when beating a SMBW level in Mario Maker the music doesn't do that little 'booowoo oop' at the end. [youtube][/youtube]
ScreamAid avatarScreamAid
I've developed a new hobby to indulge in while on Skype with friends: creating stupid Sonic OCs. I have so much fun making them for some weird reason, and once I have enough of them I might as well post a c-blog of them, am I right? Look out in the future
El Dango avatarEl Dango
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Boy howdy, does Divinity: Original Sin take a while to get going. But, it was worth it in the end. Probably the most hardcore RPG I've played. Stellar writing, at that! Combat's pretty amazing too. [img][/img]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
So it seems I've locked into the Neutral ending for SMT IV and now I need to find specific challenge quests and complete them...? How (un)fun! Google is your friend - the videogame.
Riobux avatarRiobux
Interested in playing some Pathfinder? Trying to arrange a Dtoid Pathfinder group for Saturday nights (GMT) on Skype & Roll 20. If you're new to pen-and-paper RPGs, I don't mind at all and can bring you up to speed quick. Just comment if interested.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Local convention had a great selection of game soundtracks 5 for $20! I got Halo 3: ODST (2 disk!), Gears of War 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Darksiders 2 (2 disk!), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some of the best soundtracks of the last 7 years!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -