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Feature: Why  Heavy Rain  Is Not An Interactive Film

Feature: Why Heavy Rain Is Not An Interactive Film

May 6, 2010 | By Staff

May 6, 2010 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

"Heavy Rain is not an interactive film."

That's according to video game designer and Georgia Institute of Technology professor Ian Bogost, who said in a new Gamasutra feature that Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, and games in general, lack a core feature of film:

"To understand why the game is not a playable film, it's important to review what makes film unique as an art form," said Bogost. "There are conflicting opinions, of course, but one stands out: film is editing."

Bogost's argument goes against the assumptions of many gamers, marketers and others who've tried to categorize Heavy Rain as an "interactive movie."

He explained, "Indeed, editing has become an ever more important tool in filmmaking. The use of jump cuts (edits that disrupt the continuity of a sequence) and quick cuts (rapid edits that increase the pace of a sequence) have become ever more common and familiar as action films and television have increased creators' reliance on editing as a central cinematic aesthetic."

Bogost continued, "But generally, video games don't have cinematic editing. They can't, because continuity of action is essential to interactive media. In fact, that continuity is so important that most games (3D games, anyway) give the player direct control over the camera, allowing total manipulation of what is seen and from what vantage point."

There are some instances of film-like editing in games, he said, particularly in the survival horror genre of video games. "By holding the camera hostage, games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill remove player control, a technique needed to create tension and fear."

He added, "The best example of this effect through camera editing alone might be Fatal Frame 2, which creates an effective sense of simultaneous familiarity and dread as the player moves through rooms of the possessed homes in a village."

For more of Bogost's thoughts on Heavy Rain and video games' filmic aspirations, read the full Gamasutra feature, available today.

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