Saturday, September 20, 2008

Game adaptations and PICNIC

Busy week ahead. I will be presenting during the Third Annual Association of Literature on Screen Conference in Amsterdam. My talk is called ‘Tales of the Past: Performance-based Adaptation in World of Warcraft Machinima’ and is, as one would probably expect, part of the ‘adapting video games’ panel.

What I won’t be doing is discussing the growing number of terrible game-to-screen adaptations made by the likes of Uwe Boll. My paper will focus on how to retain player agency and performance while adapting game to film and will, as a result, discuss player created films, more specifically machinima. Here, play is adapted to film, not just a story.

My case study, the impressively large-scale machinima production Tales of the Past III, blends existing storylines and characters from World of Warcraft’s Azerothian lore with those of the players involved. In a game where you cannot have any lasting impact on the fictional world, a homemade adaptation like this one empowers players to establish themselves as true heroes in Warcraft’s grand narrative.

This conference, pure humanities academia, is as far removed from the marketplace as you can get. The other conference I will be visiting is the opposite. PICNIC is an annual, large-scale, new media oriented event and, quoting their site, ‘brings together and disseminates the ideas and knowledge of the world's best creators and innovators.’

Part of ‘Enquiring Minds’, a group of new media researchers invited to PICNIC, I’ll be looking at all the new developments and ideas in the new media marketplace, with people from companies like Philips and Google giving presentations. Glancing at the program, I’ll be bombarded with a whole lot of utopian celebrations of ‘we’, the creative masses. The inclusion of Aaron Koblin’s The Sheep Market made me chuckle.

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