Why Video Game Film Adaptations Don’t Work


We’ve seen a lot of video games adapted into movies and short films, but has this quantity left these films without quality? The straight answer is yes. Listing the amount of decent video game films would be a less harsh option, but it would be a short list.

A couple of examples of decent video game adaptations are Warcraft, but only if the viewers are familiar with the lore of the game otherwise it will be difficult to watch; the Tomb Raider movies; and the Resident Evil series which has got better and better throughout each new adaptation.

The issue with video game adaptations is that they do not allow the freedom and the true enjoyment of playing these video games yourself. People find solace and invest themselves in these games to get away from reality, and while these movies take people’s minds off life for an hour or two, nothing beats the real deal of a video game. 

Robert Kazinsky, star of Warcraft, has told other media why he thinks video game films are not up to par with their playable counterpart.

“I was thinking about this last night, right? Do you know why I think computer game movies have generally sucked? It’s because you put hundreds of hours into playing them and finding a storyline. And it’s impossible to put hundreds of hours of story and play time into a two-hour movie. It’s actually impossible. With a game, you sympathize with the character because you spend so much time with them and their development, and you learn their story,” he said.

Torryn Clark has been reviewing video games and films for more than 5 years. 

“User immersion via user intervention/controls just doesn’t translate into user immersion without that same intervention. You’re attached to a game because you ARE the character you’re playing, carrying out actions, whereas a movie you just watch characters you have no control over carry out actions. Copy pasting from one medium to another just doesn’t work and needs an awful lot of time and care to translate the nuances of the different mediums,” he said.

The list of under-performing video game film adaptations is almost endless, with the likes of Super Mario Bros, Doom, Assassin’s Creed, Ratchet and Clank, Alone in the Dark and Silent Hill, all receiving underwhelming ratings in comparison to not only other films but their video game counterparts as well. The following is a list of the above films ratings and their gross:

Super Mario Bros: Gross $21 Million, 4/10 IMDb, 15% Rotten Tomatoes.

Doom: Gross $56 Million, 5.2 IMDb, 19% Rotten Tomatoes.

Assassin’s Creed: Gross $240 Million, 5.9 IMDb, 17% Rotten Tomatoes.

Ratchet and Clank: Gross $15 Million, 5.6 IMDb, 17% Rotten Tomatoes.

Alone in the Dark: Gross $10 Million, 2.3 IMDb, 1% Rotten Tomatoes.

Silent Hill: Gross $98 Million, 6.6 IMDb, 30% Rotten Tomatoes.

While all of these video game film adaptations are let downs in comparison to their successful video game counterparts, there is still hope for this genre in the future.

Reddit user Bonjangles1987 made a very compelling argument which could easily turn video game film adaptations around. “No one should be trying to condense any video game’s prolonged experience within 2 to 3 hours. And that’s a big mistake which sinks many of these movies. You should tell your own story that can be executed within a movie’s time frame, not trying to recreate the game,” he said.

Perhaps if movie executives took this redditor’s opinion, like many others, we would get the video game movies that we want, and that we want to love. There is still hope, but only time will tell if video game movies can ever be true quality.



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