Why Video Game Movie Adaptations Always Fail So Hard

Oh boy, Video game Movies. Nothing says stage 4 cancer like a video game movie. I guess you got the point from the title of the article. Months ago, Warner Bros. announced they’d be making a feature-length film about Five Nights at Freddy’s. It was only recently that the news popped back up into my head again. It sparked a series of thought processes. You guessed it, they revolved around why video games make you walk faster than the NPCs you have to follow. But deep down somewhere in this (I hope) satire/purposely evasive to the point line you realized I meant “Video game movies fail harder than Bart Simpson at a maths test.”

It’s simple. Medium. A video game is a whole other medium that enables things only a video game can achieve. One point that will always surface is length. A movie is about 2-3 hours on average runtime-wise. But video games are ridiculed if they’re long/short(you’re opinion here) 5-7 in length. This means depth is an issue and a movie simply cannot portray the deepness a video game possesses.


Let’s talk a look at a professor in the Cinema Department at the Virginia Commonwealth University, Kirk Kjeldsen, who said something similar to me.

“[Games and movies] completely different animals”

This was in regard to EA’s need for speed movie and how it did poorly at the box office, even though it made back the production budget in the opening weekend. The problem like I mentioned before is the medium. Movies follow a 3 act structure which a video game simply does not do. (a good one anyway).

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Video games enable an interactive experience with the player directly and the story (even though in the back bone of it all, will lead up to a certain end point) is experienced differently by everyone as everyone has a different interaction with it.

Of course, I can imagine VR being introduced (Augmented Reality) into cinemas one day but even then, the viewer is not shaping the experience. Just simply, experiencing it.

resident evil movies fail

Wheeler Winston Dixon, professor of film studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln backs up my point by saying:

“”With video games, the player is really the star of the movie, directing the actors, deciding what plotline to follow–and most importantly for most games, whom to shoot down to get to the next level. When this aspect of the game is missing, viewers no longer feel like part of the action.””

Dixon adds that the day “may soon come when video games are played by audiences in movie theatres. But until that time, movies will never be able to replicate the gaming experience.”

Have you ever been excited for a video game movie? I know World of Warcraft is coming out soon along with angry birds but are those things you fancy? Let me know in the comments!