Manifest Narrativity — Video Games,

Movies, and Art and Adaptation


GRETCHEN PAPAZIAN and JOSEPH MICHAEL SOMMERS

Video games are not art … I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place [and] I should not have written … without being more familiar with the actual experience of video games. This is inarguable.— Roger Ebert, 2005 Video games are, in fact, art… Art is the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.— Relict Santiago, 2009

This is not a book about art — whatever “art” is or maybe. However, it is a book that, in its earliest stages, arose from a discussion of art by one of the most visible media pundits of the twentieth, let-alone, twenty-first century: Roger Ebert. Ebert, a movie critic, journalist, prolific writer of prose and criticism, and frequent, if not ubiquitous, online presence, generated a bit of an uproar by claiming, ad museum ad infinitum, that video games lack the aesthetic quality and power of other narrative media’ Initially, his position held some reason:

There is a structural reason for [the “inherent inferiority” of video games]: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control. I am prepared to believe that video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful. But I believe the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art… That a game can aspire to artistic importance as a visual experience, I accept. But for most garners, video games represent a loss of those precious hours we have available to make ourselves more cultured, civilized and empathetic.

Galling to many (“loss of … precious hours” indeed), Ebert’s position seemed somewhat thoughtful or at least considerate.  End of discussion. Mind you, he also openly admitted, throughout the sequence of his “evaluation” of video games (Ebert 2005, 2010), that he was entirely unfamiliar with playing them in the first place. Not even Pac-Man.2

Much of the response to Ebert— or rather, perhaps, the position he insists on—has not been balanced, measured, or polite. However, there are those who have tried to make sense of his complaints. For example, Kellee Santiago, a video game designer from the University of Southern California, was willing to give his perspective its due. She agreed with Ebert that few video games have achieved the same sorts of artistic accomplishments as films and literature, but she also reminded Ebert that painting, easily considered by most as unequivocally-accepted art, started out as “chicken scratch” on cave walls before evolving into more complex chicken scratching on more complex walls, such as Michelangelo’s fresco, “The Creation of Adam,” which adorns the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Santiago’s point is straightforward: before one can perform any great aria, one must discover music and hone a voice to the precision of a musical instrument; before one can learn to sing that well, one must first learn to use one’s voice to create words and then set them to music … and the human race first likely started using their voices to create words in order to warn some Flintstone-like cave-dweller, “Hey, there’s a cougar behind you!”

Moreover, Santiago’s response draws attention to the notion of “art” embedded within Ebert’s position. He is, after all, primarily a film critic, and the film was not always considered art. (Something he is well aware of.) Even Werner Herzog, one of Ebert’s unequivocally favorite film directors, remarked in Herzog on Herzog, “Film is not the art of scholars but illiterates”.

Even earlier, in 1961, Jean Cocteau rarified that position even a bit further. In an interview with Esquire, he referred to film quite simply as a “petrified fountain of thought”. In fact, motion pictures likely were considered as little more than perfunctory pictures that happened to move sequentially up until the French philosopher Henri Bergson recognized moving images as something worthy of study, of criticism, in his 1896 work Matiere et Memoire (Matter and Memory). Granted, just ten years later, in his essay “L’illusion cine-matographique,” he denies that movies were what he had in mind.

However, let no mistaken interpretation halt the progress of a revolution: a year after that essay was published came Ricciotto Canudo’s The Birth of the Sixth Art, oft-acknowledged as the first formal study of the medium of motion pictures.3 What was done was not to be undone, and it is our commonly-held belief that there would be very few who would watch Georges Melies Le Voyage Dans la lune and not acknowledge it as art. Some more recent talkies just the same. All in all, this history serves to remind us all that movies were once perceived as Ebert’s views of video games.

 This discussion of art might seem a curious starting point for a book examining the intersection of video games and movies. Then again, as with Ebert’s position, it is not just that video games are a newer media that has not yet reached its potential as art. Author, film director, and video game writer, Clive Barker, clarify: I think that Roger Ebert’s problem is that he thinks you can’t have art if there is that amount of malleability in the narrative. In other words, Shakespeare could not have written Romeo and Juliet as a game because it could have had a happy ending, you know?

If only she hadn’t taken the damn poison. If only he’d have gotten there quicker [in Ebert 2010]. In her response to Ebert, Santiago works to dismantle the divide he constructs between art and form by arguing that “art is the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions”; the mechanics of the process—the form of the art—is irrelevant.” Still, Ebert’s “problem” raises questions more central to this book than ones merely of “Arc video games art?” For, it draws attention to the operation of narrative, of story, in relation to different media forms, and, in this, it suggests that a key difference between game and film emerges from differences in their individual story-telling mechanics.

 

Ebert is not alone in noticing the difference. In fact, within the scholarship on video games that have emerged in this first part of the twenty-first century, much of the debate in both video games and video game studies have fixed on the idea of narrative. Are games a narrative form? Can the tools of literary and film studies be used to analyze games, or are they a vastly different kind of thing? On the one side of the conversation, there are those, like Janet Murray, Ken Perlin, and Michael Mateas— the narratologists— who have argued quite persuasively that video games stand as a new form of storytelling, a form that speaks of and to the increasingly game-like and rule-oriented modes of everyday experiences in the postmodern world.

On the other side are those, like Markku Eskelinen, Espen Aarseth, and Stuart Moulthrop — the audiologists — who have argued, also quite persuasively, that video games belong to the realm of games, not narrative; they function via strategy and skill, logic and experiment; they are interactive. Ebert’s position clearly falls into this second, ludic, camp: “Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control” (“Why?”). More recently, the conversation has taken a turn beyond such simple binary constructions of “narrative or game”?

Both Henry Jenkins and Marie-Laure Ryan, contend that, ontologically, video games operate neither in the realm of the narrative nor in the domain of game, exclusively. Instead, video games are — or, more accurately, can be (some are; some aren’t) – a hybrid, both narrative and game. Extending this view in relation to operations of narrative, Henry Jenkins, Tadhg Kelly, and Gretchen Papazian argue that, in games that have a narrative component, the emphasis of story becomes what Jenkins identifies as world-designing, space-sculpting, “narrative architecture”, and Kelly calls “worldmaking,” using a new narrative point of view Papazian deems “fourth person”.

In other words, rather than the kinds of plot events or character development/psychology at the center of film/literature texts, game texts emphasize the making of place (Jenkins, Kelly) and the collective “who” (player, avatar, game designers) of “who is making the story”. In reaching beyond the narratology/ludology binary, as well as the sorts of staid conversations that once also besieged movies concerning art and artifice, such approaches move the conversation into discussions of how do games/garners create worlds and experience? When, where, and how are games hybrid? 

 And that is what this book concerns: adaptation and intersection within video games and filmic experiences. Anyone who has gone to a movie theater of late knows that Hollywood seems to have finally become utterly bereft of original ideas for narrative and plot; whereas anyone who has purchased a video game lately recognizes the “every-feature-film-(and popular television show)-must-have-a-game-version-too” mentality that seems to dominate the shelves. Perhaps these are exaggerations; perhaps not. Clearly, though, the American film industry has mined the video game industry since at least the 1970s for both stories and storytelling modes, creating movies that involve gaming as part of the plot.

or, remember War Games (1983) and its implicit metaphor of video games —or at least one gamer’s obsession with games — potentially causing the fall of Western Civilization. The Last Starfighter (1984) even used the idea of playing video games as the proving ground to test the mettle of a young man who fights either to save the Earth or win the admiration of his girlfriend. More frequently, however, the interaction between film and video games takes the form of adapting video game stories to film (Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter [1994, 2009], Mortal Kombat, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Doom [2005], Silent Hill, etc.); adopting mechanics of digital storytelling and gameplay, such as clear-the-level plot structures and try-die-try-again movement through the story 1999), Run Lola Run [1998)); and/or drawing on video game production techniques, including movies seemingly crafted almost entirely out of computer-generated images.

 The movement of story, aesthetics, mechanics, and production has not been a one-way road by any means. In an effort to sate players who crave immersive, interactive narrative experiences, the video game industry has increasingly borrowed from the film industry. Increasingly, in fact, the two industries work together, creating games as product tie-ins for films and film franchises,’ and collaborating to create films and/or television series as product tie-ins for video game stories (e.g., Pokemon or any of the number of television anime series, including Dragon Warrior: The Legend of the Hero Abel [1989] inspired by the Dragon Quest [1986] games).

Perhaps less obviously but even more importantly for this book’s efforts, video game makers mint the film industry for stories and story type (i.e., Horror [Silent Hill (1999), Alan Wake (2010)], the Western [Prince of Persia (1989), Oregon Trail (1971)], Gangster films [Street Fighter (1987), The Warriors (2005)), Detective narratives [Pro-fessor Layton and the Curious Village (2007), L.A. Noire (2011)]), visual styling (i.e., mise-en-scene), and the mechanics of storytelling such as those increasingly ubiquitous filmic cutscenes that move a game’s story along, point-of-view camera positions, and even filmic techniques such as suture.

The ways in which the two media take up, adapt, and/or play with conventions of the other—borrowings and processes that Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin call “remediation” in their book of the same name — sometimes echo each other, sometimes harmonize, and sometimes create an absolute cacophony. Nonetheless, these interactions call out for scholarly attention. Loudly… Admittedly, the scholarly study of adaptation has a long history in the study of film. Indeed, it is one of the most common and longest-running approaches to film in both popular and academic discussions.6 Alas, until very recently it has also been one of the most neglected, almost maligned, within the field of film studies itself.

Film scholar Thomas Leitch accounts for this by explaining that adaptation study “traces its descent more directly from literary studies,” and it has tended, through an insistence on the topic of fidelity, to assert hierarchies of narrative art, aesthetic form, and chronology of pro-duction that privileged text over image as a storytelling mode (Film Adaptation 3).7 However, at the very beginning of the twenty-first century, Leitch and, even more powerfully, his film studies colleague Robert Stam, rejected fidelity as the place to begin studying adaptations.

Identifying adaptation as a process — rather than a pair of texts waiting to be compared — they drew attention to a complex series of operations manifest in the process. Stam, for instance, rejected the idea of there is an original text for any adaptation or any other sort of text, instead insisting, quite persuasively, that adaptations must be conceptualized as part of the “ongoing whirl of intertextual references and transformations, of texts generating other texts in an endless process of recycling, transformation, and transmutation with no clear point of origin” (“Beyond Fidelity” 66).

Adaptation, as such, has also begun to move out of film studies into other areas. For example, James Narcmore has called for the study of adaptation to look beyond film and literature, to be joined with the study of recycling, remaking, and every other form of retelling in the age of mechanical reproduction and electronic communication. By this means, adaptation will become part of a general theory of repetition, and adaptation study will move from the margins to the center of contemporary media study.

Linda Hutchcon’s 2006 A Theory of Adaptation begins this work in earnest. Looking to “video games, Web sites, graphic novels, song covers, operas, musicals, ballets, and radio and stage plays” as well as literature, film, and television, she theorizes “adaptations as adaptations,” shifting attention from individual media to “the very act of adaptation” as a focus of study (xiv). In systematically taking up the “What? Who? Why? How? Where? [and] When?” that characterize adaptations as a phenomenon of text, she argues that adaptation is a form characterized by “repetition without replication,” a form defined by a fluidity of back-and-forth migrations of thought, belief, and culture across time and media, as well as between producers and consumers (vii-ix).

She highlights that adaptations believe, as well as the show, that versions of a story exist laterally—not vertically as classically conceived; a story functions differently in different cultures at different times and each version affects the versions that came before it as much as those that came after. Most significantly in terms of the project in hand, though, Hutcheon fixes on variation in the ways stories are told (telling, showing, by generating physical or pseudo-physical experience through interaction) in order to theorize “adaptation” as a process of creation, a process of reception, and a product.

These three — the three ways stories are told (showing, telling, interacting) and the three aspects of adaptations and the myriad ways they intersect and interact with each other stand at the center of much of the discussion in this book. As does a story! For, all of the characterization of aspects and processes of adaptation, as well the attention to play, interplay, recycling, ongoing whirls, bring to mind several very simple, yet very complicated questions: What actually is narrative today in 2013? What can it be?

Is there anything that it can not be? Henry Jenkins approaches the topic quite deftly in his book Convergence Culture, in which he identifies and discusses a new, media paradigm, one in which “old and new media collide, … grassroots and corporate media intersect, … the power of the media consumer and the power of the producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways”

(2). The paradigm does not merely concern type, economics, and power, though; it also involves the content and form of the story. Stories/narratives have become vast: that is, progressive and open-ended. They exist not as single, independent texts but in what video game scholars such as Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin label “multiple instantiations” (2) film scholars like Leitch, Stam, Hutcheon might claim as their kind of dialogic, whirling adaptation; and Jenkins himself calls “transmedia”. There is “a new aesthetic” at play here, Jenkins claims; a story “unfolds across multiple media platforms, with each new text making a distinctive and valuable contribution to the whole”. This multimedia, multimodal system of story delivery makes all sorts of new and different demands on media consumers as well.

In addition to inter-acting more directly with media producers as noted above, the new media paradigm requires consumers to take up “the role of hunters and gathers, chasing down bits of information across media channels, comparing notes with each other via online discussion groups, and collaborating to ensure that everyone who invests time and effort will come away with a richer entertainment experience”. In other words, being a media consumer means collaborating with other media consumers, as well as producers.

 All of which, of course, raises questions about canon and canonicity (What is “official”? What is not? And, perhaps, most importantly, who really cares?), while also discarding long-standing notions about ownership and property. To say that such developments represent exciting times and radical modalities is a bit of an understatement. It also tends to result in a greater frequency of pronounced “air-quoting” in introductions trying to take into account so many new epistemological concerns lacking proper identification.

The essays in this volume take on, theorize, and offer case studies of the various points of convergence in the landscape of contemporary media — particularly, the intersections emerging in relation to contact between video games and other media especially, but not exclusively, film. The essays might have been organized in a variety of ways, including according to critical/theoretical approach, media emphasis, or even scholarly field.

Instead, we choose to arrange the essays in groupings that draw attention to the ways, workings, and possibilities of the story in the present moment. While the first section draws attention to modes of storytelling (showing, telling, interacting), the second looks to the sociological conditions of storytelling (time, place, ideological underpinnings), and the third explores the growing vastness of narrative in the age of transmedia storytelling.

These essays together highlight that media convergence is much like the story has always been an in-process art. Anchor-ing such a study to video games a media still in the process of defining and developing itself puts an even finer point on the subject. In the book’s first section, “The Rules of Engagement: Watching, Play-ing, and Other Narrative Processes,” contributors investigate what happens when a story moves from a media that tells one that demands interaction.

In setting Joss Whedon’s 1997-2003 television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer next to one of the video games attached to the series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds, Katrin Althans finds game narratives can powerfully augment and reinforce filmi televisual genre conventions—in particular, the often transgressive notions of gender contained within the Gothic—as players bring these conventions to life through gameplay.

She holds that “the player of Chaos Bleeds deconstructs the traditional Gothic heroine and thus becomes the agent of cross-media interactivity by enacting ideas familiar from other parts of the Buffyverse.” Deborah Mellamphy, too, finds media consumers’ agency in/over the narrative a vital distinction between the operation of film and the working of video games texts.

As she explores the ways spectatorship manifests in film/video game Torture Porn (an especially graphic, violent version of Horror that seems to take pleasure in brutality), Mellamphy finds that games such as 2006’s Dead Rising “show that violence in cinema” (as represented by movies such as Saw or Wolf Creek “involves a different type of gaze than violence in video games.

” For, in games, the audience becomes the proponent, the actual agent, of violence, as well as being spectators to it. Fascinatingly and in stark opposition to media watchdogs, Mellamphy argues for the increased, cathartic effect such games generate in relation to the stresses and fears of images in our moment. Jason W. Bud, like Althans and McIlamphy, situates his discussion in relation to genre a topic we will return to before the close of this introduction.

He compares the narrative elements of a set of Western video games, including The Oregon Trail and Red Dead Redemption, to the conventions of classic Western films, to argue that video games’ invocation of classic film genres not only “elevates games to higher level of artistry and prestige” but also encourages deeper, critical reflection on the ideologies conventionally embedded in these genres (especially the sense of American exceptionalism fixed in the Western) by actively interactively involving the player in the construction of such ideologies.

Ben S. Bunting Jr.’s and Marcus Schulzke’s approaches differ from Althan’s, Mallamphy’s, and Bud’s, in that they situate their claims about storytelling modes (showing versus interactive) in relation to the (relative) failure of all game-to-film adaptations.

For Schulzke, such adaptations have generally failed because they have not been able “to adequately translate between different media’s types of interactivity? Hutcheon’s exploration of different modes of interaction in chapter four of A Theory of Adaptation, “How?,” sets out some of the same ideas in slightly different terms, but Schulzke’s essay offers the kind of case study examples that Hutcheon left to her readers and other scholars. Rather than directly charting failures, in his essay, Bunting takes up a specific game-to-film adaptation (Jordan Mechner’s game Prince of Persia: The Sandi of Time [2003), adapted to film in 2010 by Disney), delineating the war in which Disney’s Prince of Persia comes closer to being a successful film rendering by staying “true to its medium” more so than any film-based-on-a-game thus far.

Ultimately, he suggests some possible strategies for “how to build a better adaptation”— strategies that include greater attention to structures of inter-action available via film versus those accessible through video games. The second section, “The Terms of the Tale: ‘lime, Place, and that Other Ideologically Constructed Conditions,” turns attention to the role conditions of context play in adaptation. Like Mellamphy, Aubrey Anable tackles representations of violence as they play out in film versus game across time. In examining two versions of a story (Walter Hill’s 1979 film, The Warriors, and Rockstar Games’ 2005 reinterpretation of the movie as a game The Warriors).

Anable finds that 26-plus years of radical shifts in political and social climates impact the story’s ideological messages about urban violence as much as the form of media through which the story plays. Denise A. Ayo introduces print media to the conversation, as she looks at a game adapted from an epic poem, across a time chasm of 700-plus years and two continents. Remarkably, and quite convincingly, she finds the game (Visceral Games’ Dante’s Inferno [20101) a successful adaptation of a fourteenth-century poem (Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno [13080 despite, and even more because of, its hypermasculinization and sexualization of the medieval poem’s characters. David McGowan’s discussion of the triangulation of three texts  Martin Campbell’s film GoldenEje.

Rare/Nintendo’s game GohlenEye 007 (1997), and Eurocom/Activision’s update to that game, GoldenEye 007 (2010)—complicates this section on context and adaptation by introducing the notion of the remake, as well as drawing attention to the roles played by systems of production and commercial interests in film-to-game adaptations. Stewart Chang, who looks to game-to-game adaptation, adds the important matter of location and national culture to this set of essays on context. He argues that the process by which games such as the Dynasty Warriors series are “localized” from Japan for West-ern markets erases aspects of Japanese culture that might be deemed offensive to Western sensibilities (especially those tied to gender roles), while they paradoxically “allow American consumers to derive racial and misogynistic pleasure’ by inculcating an image of a racialized, sexualized, Asian “Other.”

The final section, “Stories, Stories Everywhere (and Nowhere Just the Same): Transmedia Texts,” expands the collection even further beyond film/ game adaptation, calling attention to the significant place adaptation study holds in media studies more broadly, while it also directs attention to stories being told across media forms. Michael Fuchs’s study of narrative structures in Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake and the game’s interlocking web series companion, Bright Falls, opens this section because it illuminates a set of innovative strategies that “reshape— or even eliminate—the story-telling divide between video games and other visual media.” Felan Parker looks at the vastness of franchise and media.

In his piece on the Star Wars omniverse, he considers questions of authenticity, originality, and canon in relation to the variety of media forms — including, film, television. toys. hooks, video games— that make up the “official” and “unofficial” stories of the Star Wars Universe. TreaAndrea M. Russworm’s discussion of racial stereotypes and the character Ninja Ninja in Namco Bandai’s 2009 Afro Samurai would have easily fit into the previous section as it looks to textual (manga, anemic) and cultural materials for the source of the games stereotypes and parody (and it also offers a nice complement and counterpoint to Chang’s piece).

However, it has been located here in order to draw attention to its arguments about the transmedia story of race and racialized constructions in our moment. For, Russworm finds that the game’s story and adaptations of established characters “deliberately make dilemmas surrounding stereotype, parody, and psychology,” especially through the character Ninja Ninja, who “is an extension an ideological system that produces controlling images of Black masculinity as a racialized caricature.”

Lisa K. Dusenberry’s essay on Disney Epic Mickey concludes both this section and the book perfectly, as it takes up many of the terms that play through the collection; it explores the (trans) mediation of the Disney brand through and across a variety of media. Moreover, in its exploration of the operation of nostalgia, it reveals a game using an emotional process that operates much like adaptation itself does, as, per Bolter and Grusin, tension is created through the story’s “immediacy” (the lived-ness of something, its presence “in the/its moment,’ the ephemeral nature of the now of a text) and textual “hypermediacy” (a consciousness of the ways in which one media draws on the devices associated with another).

In looking at the sit of essays together, it is tempting to conclude that one of the things this book suggests is that adaptation generally, as well as film-video game interplay specifically, is a genre: a grouping of texts of a type. Encouraging such a suggestion is renowned French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s characterization of the genre as a way that texts participate in—rather than belong to —certain typologies. And, yet, few arcs willing to make such a claim. Notably, Hutcheon is unwilling to go so far, and adaptation scholar Christine Geraghty quite firmly asserts that adaptation is NOT a generic category.

She writes, “The term is too broad and lacks any specific weight in terms of narrative organization, characterization, iconography, or setting”. Nonetheless, as several of our book’s scholars draw attention to, genre analysis offers an illuminating entre into adaptation study perhaps because it is a term that, like adaptations themselves, works in a variety of ways, serving a variety of purposes, for a variety of people in various times and places. Genre theorist Rick Altman claims, for example, that “genre … is not your average descriptive term, but a complex concept with multiple meanings,” including

• Genre as the blueprint, as a formula that precedes. programs and patterns of industry production.

• Genre as structure, as the formal framework on which individual films are founded.

• Genre as the label, as the name of a category central to the decisions and communications of distributors and exhibitors.

• Genre as a contract, as the viewing position required by each genre film of its audience.

In other words, “genre describes the dynamic, multilayered relationships between industry, audience, and text wherein generic labels become a means through which producers construct, the industry sells, and consumers engage with texts. Although Altman specifically speaks of film, Geraghty’s work on film adaptation and genre, along with Hutcheon’s extension of adaptation study out of film studies, highlight the appropriateness of and the acute need for attention to the role of genre as it manifests in multiple media’s interplay with each other as they share their stories and means of telling stories with each other. Game On, Haywood’ begins such work—as it shows a number of other directions the study of adaptations could go, would go and should go, as well.

It contains a set of essays that offer deep and thoughtful insights about the story of the way is being shaped by a range of interacting media, their structures, their consumers and producers, and a myriad of intersecting socio-cultural, economic, artistic and ideological forces of our moment. It offers readings and case studies of specific texts, showing how they might be understood in light of the emerging theories of media and narrative. Game On, Hollywood’ also seeks to remove the sense of video games as an inferior medium from the world of media studies. As Santiago’s quotation established at the outset, video games, as much as films or anything else, possess the capacity to be art. But perhaps that is not what is at issue here at all.

The essays in this volume illustrate that the idea of a text and textual adaptation, itself, seems to be becoming a malleable concept or form that transcends time, space, and issues of authority in a way that we have not seen in the past. For now, though, we are at the place of looking really, really hard at the texts of media convergence, how they operate, what they share, where they succeed, where they fail, and the stories they tell — in all their greatness and all their vastness. In many ways, such examination, in its relative infancy, is more of an art than a science. As such, perhaps this is a book about art as much as it is about anything else.

NOTES

1. For an excellent counterpoint to Ebert’s statements, refer to Aaron Smuts’s essay “Are Video Games Art?” And perhaps more interesting, while Ebert may hold qualms with the idea of video games as an art form, the United States National Endowment for the Arts declared that video games were eligible for funding, ostensibly recognizing them as an art form (Protalinski). Not surprisingly, other noteworthy institutions have as well: On March 16, 2012, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, one of the greatest such institutions in the United States, opened an exhibit entitled, “The Art of Video Games.”

It is described as one of the first exhibitions to explore the forty-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium, with a focus on striking visual effects and the creative use of new technologies. It features some of the most influential artists and designers during five eras of game technology, from early pioneers to contemporary designers. The exhibition focuses on the interplay of graphics, technology, and storytelling. Millions of inner-children within garners cried and possibly booked passage to the museum. It’s the description of the exhibit, however, that rejoins Santiago’s remarks: “graphics, technology, and storytelling.”

2. And, if you believe that, we have some property south of Chicago we would like to sell you; in 1993, in one of television’s defining moments as an art form, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel played an early version of a Sega Genesis handsfree boxing title using what Siskel described as an “activator body ring.” Even if he does not consider the narrative of the game itself as art, surely, his dance moves must be considered art to some degree. 

3. In true revisionist fashion, Canudo came to recognize cinema as actually the seventh art. At the time of publication, he had forgotten the dance.

4. Interestingly enough, Stanley Kubrick thinks very similarly: “A film is—or should be— more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes late?

5. For a discussion of the business mechanics at work in such collaborations, see Robert Alan Brookey.

6. For a concise survey of the history of the film scholarship on adaptation, see the work of Sarah Cardwell, Kamilla Elliott, and/or James Naremore.

7. James Naremore, Dudley Andrews, Robert Scam, and Linda Hutcheon are among the “others” who have expressed it in their work. Leitch’s “Twelve Fallacies in Contemporary Adaptation,” however, stands as the most direct, concise articulation of this position