In his Wired article Forget Film, Games Do Sci-Fi Best, Clive Thompson claims that the Star Wars universe is better realized in games than in the movies. I tend to agree with that statement and would also include (from what I hear) the Star Wars books as well. There is much more room for exploration in games and books than in the few Star Wars movies that exist.

But then Thompson goes a step further and claims that all science fiction is better realized in games than in film.

Why were the games so comparatively good? A cynic would say it’s because Lucas probably isn’t as closely involved in the games, so his young designers aren’t hampered by his inane creative decisions. But I actually suspect it’s deeper than that. I think it’s because games are beginning to rival film — and even eclipse it — as the prime vehicle for sci-fi and fantasy.

An interesting observation, to be sure. It doesn’t help that a large majority of sci-fi films aren’t very good.

Thompson doesn’t mention the book medium much. I suspect he’s more of a gamer than a reader, whereas I am the opposite. Personally, I prefer the world-building of books better than movies. I find it exercises my imagination more than the lazy “here-you-go” visuals of movies. That said, I do enjoy the eye-candy of movies like Star Wars and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

All of which raises the question that asks if film is somehow just a poor medium altogether for science fiction concepts. Is this an explanation of all the poor sci-fi films out there?

I say “No” is the answer. There are some really great sci-fi films out there which dispel that belief – enough of them that it cannot be a fluke. True, the good movies are few and far between. But I think that rather than this being the result of film being a poor medium, it’s just a plethora of bad filmmaking.

What do you think? Is film a poor medium for science fiction?

Filed under: GamesMovies

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