Why video games are the new entertainment leaders

Don Reisinger thinks video games have supplanted movies as the de facto leaders in entertainment. Is he right?

After playing through Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it became quite clear to me that video games have supplanted film as entertainment leaders. The game shines on so many levels, it's difficult to recount them all here. But perhaps more than anything, it allowed me to become a part of an environment that goes above and beyond anything I've ever experienced in a movie.

And after playing through this instant classic, I can't help but wonder if the video game industry has finally realized that it commands mainstream attention and must favor a new type of gaming that creates unprecedented entertainment value.

I'm a firm believer that video games have replaced movies as the de facto leader in entertainment. Games offer greater entertainment value, usually have better stories, and generally appeal to people far more than any movie currently in theaters.

The way I see it, movies are the next logical entertainment vehicle.

I'm sure you're thinking that I've lost it (again) and video games could never replace movies as entertainment leaders, but I ask that you don't underestimate the power of gaming and the value it offers to the average person.

Today, movies are thinly veiled attempts at turning a profit by over-hyping with utter disregard for the opinion most people will have. How many times have you seen a preview of a movie, went to the theater on opening night, and left with a poor taste in your mouth, crying that it wasn't anything like you thought it would be? Probably more times than you're willing to admit.

But video games are different. Unlike the film industry, which relies on slight of hand and the audience's desire to see their favorite celeb reprise a role they've played too many times before, the video game industry is governed by sales and customer appreciation. That's not to say that some games don't stink -- many do -- but when a game shines, it's much better than anything we see on the big screen. It's sad, but true.

The real value of gaming though, is not that you're experiencing entertainment in a new way, but that you're invited into the movie for once and you don't feel like such a spectator. In most movies, I find myself looking at a screen (and my watch) wondering when the pain will stop. Yes, there are some good movies out there, but I think most of us will agree that the vast majority aren't worth the $10 at the theater or the $29.99 for Blu-ray. In fact, I'd venture to say that it's probably not even worth half that.

Movies have been the de facto leader in entertainment for years because they always provided the greatest value proposition. But now, video games have acquired that title as movies become increasingly derivative and boring.

And isn't that the scale by which we should be judging both industries? Shouldn't we judge both forms of entertainment by the actual amount of entertainment they provide? And considering video game sales are on the rise to the detriment of DVD sales, I think most people would agree.

In a perfect world, video games and movies will co-exist and offer the kind of entertainment value we've come to demand from films and enjoy from games. But this is not a perfect world and more often than not, video games easily best movies.

For a while, I was unwilling to admit that films were losing ground to video games, but it has finally happened. With the advent of games like MGS 4 and GTA IV, the video game industry has laid down the gauntlet and let the world see that it can produce a movie-like experience without the movie-like baggage.

Video games lead the entertainment pack and there's no sign of the industry slowing down anytime soon. For once, movies have taken a step back, and I'm happy to see it.

For more on what Don is up to, follow him on Twitter by clicking here!

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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