Movie-Goers Don't Deserve an Uncharted Movie

Illustration for article titled Movie-Goers Dont Deserve an emUncharted/em Movie

There was a time when video game developers seemed to be seeking approval from a wider, more mainstream audience.


Games were child's play, or so non-gamers seemed to think. I believe that's one of the reasons, maybe even right behind money, that so many developers seemed interested in having their games turned into movies. It was the ultimate form of acceptance by a global audience.

But games have far outgrown that need for acceptance, as have the people who make them. Movies based on games, though, seem to keep coming.


After watching a particularly spectacular session of people playing a bit of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, I sat down with one of the Playstation 3 game's lead designers to talk about his games.

I am an unabashed fan of Naughty Dog's work on the Uncharted games. They are spectacular, I told Richard Lemarchand. They're so wonderful, so character-driven in such a unique way, they shouldn't become movies, I said.


Make people come to gaming to enjoy this experience, I told Lemarchand. If they don't want to play games, they don't deserve to experience Uncharted.

Of course, that's not happening. Director David O. Russell, the man behind Three Kings, Flirting With Disaster and I ♥ Huckabees, has already signed on to direct the Columbia Pictures flick with Mark "Say hello to your mother for me" Wahlberg portraying lead Nathan Drake.


And Lemarchand seems OK with it.

"We are at an exciting time in terms of the history of play as culture and story-telling," he said. "We really are right now in the middle of the transmedia age."


Transmedia storytelling involves telling stories across a number of different mediums. You can, for instance, extend the fiction of a game through comic books, alternate reality gameplay, marketing and, of course, movies.

That's what's happening here, Lemarchand said. The movie won't be a retelling of the events of any or all of the video games, it will be its own story. A story that will still have some connections between the movie and the video games, he said.


But in the end, it will be Russell's story to tell.


"We know," Lemarchand said. "David is keen to make a film that carries his voice."

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This article reeks of the ignorance that so pervades discussions of adaptations. But first, let's address the hipster-like snobbiness, in which one group is worthy and the other group is not. In this equation, it's gamers who "deserve" Uncharted, non-gamers who don't. Here is how we address this: get over it. You are not so unique that your tastes should be applauded and the taste of others denigrated.

As for the real issue. The movie version of Uncharted is not the game of Uncharted. Likewise the book and the movie, the book and the game, etc. Romeo and Juliet was adapted from a short story and a narrative poem (the story having been an adaptation of the poem and the poem itself being an adaptation of an Italian tale), but that does not mean that it is inferior, or superior than either because of the fact of which came first or which came later, nor which was more or less faithful. They are different and they are supposed to be.

Yes, it is true that the experience of the Uncharted games is completely unique and it is, indeed, something that cannot be replicated by a movie. It isn't supposed to. A game can never be a movie and a movie can never be a game, but this does not mean that there cannot pass through translation something worthy in its own medium. I do not hold DaVinci's The Last Supper in condescension because it portrays the table in a way that is not wholly true fact (You know, using both sides of the table, for instance) nor because as a painting it is unable to convey the narrative time that the bible does. So why do people get frustrated when a movie is unable to show the gameplay elements of a game. Of course it can't, they are entirely different. Just because they both make use of moving images and sound does not mean that they are equivalent.

Did movie goers not deserve the Coen's marvelous No Country for Old Men because they had not read McCarthy's masterpiece novel of the same name? Of course they did, and the book and the movie are very different beasts, with entirely different textures and different means, aims and audiences; both very worthy of their audiences and neither exclusive to the other.

I know that this is a gaming blog that is more interested in the commercial aspects of gaming, that it runs reviews aimed at helping people to know whether to buy or not buy rather than criticism that is aimed at uncovering deeper understanding and unearthing narrative/rhetorical/philosophical impacts, and etc., and that is fine and dandy; but can we not have an understanding of the critical discussions that underpin such ideas instead of off-the-cuff fanboy rants? Especially from the Editor in Chief who is otherwise quite a smart, level-headed man.