Wednesday, August 21

REEL LIFE: _Trend of films blurring reality with the virtual can be appreciated by gamers of every skill level_

Trend of films exploring gaming culture can be appreciated by gamers of every skill level

For a girl, I was really into video games as a kid. I wasn’t so much a killing-aliens type of girl as I was a Tony-Hawk-professional-skateboarder type. I knew I would never have the balance or bravery to learn how to ride a real skateboard, but for just being a game, it felt very real to me.

I also dabbled in “Tomb Raider” and a few old Nintendo 64 games, none of which I had any talent in, that gave me that same alternate-reality feel.

I get the same feeling from video games as I do from books, but I’m not as invested in books adapted into movies as games adapted into movies. I ended up watching the first “Tomb Raider” and not being able to connect it to my gamer experience. Some, such as Amy Cox, a recent graduate, argued that there are games that don’t need to be made into movies because they’re already movie-like (she lists “Unchartered 2: Among Thieves” as an example). Other people, such as second-year economics student Dakota LaFee, cite films like “Doom,” based on a game with the same name, for incorporating video game elements into movies.

I’m more interested in films that explore our relationships with video games. There’s a trend in movies toward exploring the nature of gamer culture itself. On Friday, CEC is showing “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” the old-school game-reference-heavy Michael Cera film, and next month Disney is releasing the sequel to 1982′s “Tron,” “Tron: Legacy.”

Neither film is based on a video game ““ “Tron: Legacy” is a sequel from an original movie, and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is based on a graphic novel ““ but they explore the obsession with making virtual realities as real as possible and blurring the line between the game world and the real world.

The two big gimmicks behind “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” are, first, that the plot of the movie mirrors a video game plot with different villains that have to be defeated and, second, that there are an insane number of references to old-school video games. Michael Cera might also be a gimmick, but that’s a topic for another time.

In “Tron,” Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a hacker/arcade owner, is sucked into a world controlled by a computer program and forced to duke it out gladiator-style with the alter egos of different computer programs.

At the start of the sequel, that same computer programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who became one of the world’s leading video game developers, mysteriously disappeared 20 years earlier, leaving his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) with a desperate need to find him. Of course, he ends up in the game with his father, and the same sort of life-or-death stakes in the first movie continue.

What’s exciting about “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” and the “Tron” movies is that people who play video games, even people who aren’t very good like me, can connect with the idea of blurring the line between the game world and reality. Also, the special effects in “Tron: Legacy” look amazing.

E-mail John at [email protected] if you think you’re better at video games than she is.

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