01.20.12

Can videogames and cinema coexist?

Recently, the Village Voice caused a stir when they fired the long-time, reputable film critic, J. Hoberman. The NY Times today has a piece out in which their own big name critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott (you’ve seen their write-ups on Rotten Tomatoes, surely), speak with the now decommissioned Hoberman about the “Changing Science of Movieology.” 

Now, what does this have to do with gaming? 

In response to Scott’s question regarding the shifting media landscape, Hoberman addresses the evolving nature of film and how, unlike before, it now competes with videogames for an audience. 

I was around in the ’60s but hit my stride as a critic in the ’80s — Reagan time — when the study of film culture, a science of movie-ology, seemed as though it should be the central pursuit of the age. (That’s now conventional wisdom, as when political pundits routinely read motion pictures as big social metaphors.) Even then, people were bemoaning the end of cinephilia. Movies had already been displaced.

Over the past 15 years the photographic basis of the medium has been eroded by digital image making, the traditional delivery system is changing, not just for cinema but for criticism, the audience is dwarfed by the audience for video games, and yet great things continue to be made. 

The response seems to lack proper regard for modern mediums- “eroded” is a strong word after all. What’s more is that film and videogames have very different types of audiences, and thus we should not feel threatened by “the other.” Also, if film and journalism are really suffering under the poor economy, wouldn’t greater acceptance for interactivity and gaming only help?

But that film critics and subsequently the film industry are at least acknowledging the power of videogames- we hope that this is a sign of cross-acceptance, a meeting point where cinema and gaming may exist together under cooperative terms.

- Lyndsey Edelman