In 2005, I sat in awe as the closing credits of Batman Begins rolled. It was the first time I had ever considered that an actual team was behind the film I had just seen, rather than a phantom production that had materialised out of nowhere.
This is what grew my love for film. This is what made me want to pursue a career making them. Behind that cinematic wonder, were real people who were helping bring that vision to life.
So how does that relate in any way to my game?
Growing up, I always wanted to see a card/board game emulating the process of making a film. This sounds oddly specific doesn’t it? At the time the only games based around films were focused exclusively on trivia, featuring clips from various movies. Even then I saw right through these games, as cheap gimmicks that tried to pander to film audiences through a generalised gameplay structure (that was often identical to the sports trivia game the company had released earlier, just with a Hollywood coat of paint).
Scene It? a popular game created by Screenlife, is a perfect example of this. The game focused around DVD-intergrated gameplay, which would test each player on their film and pop culture knowledge. On it’s own, the game is all a film-buff like myself would need, but as soon as you look at the expanded roster of Screenlife’s games, a disturbing pattern begins to emerge; they’re each almost identical.
Although the majority of the Scene It? series focused around film franchises, they were all ultimately the same game with adapted questions. Yes, this may be a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but as someone who wanted to engage with games that complimented film, I felt as if Screenlife were misrepresenting me, and other fans of the medium. To them, trivia was all we cared about, and as players, all we needed. It became quite evident that Screenlife was, in a way, underselling the very audience they were marketing their games to.
Now, eleven years later, Masters of Hollywood: Director Face-Off sits in front of me. Hopefully making some kind of personal amends for the inner child inside me. This is the audience I hope my game reaches; those interested in film, who want a quirky and simple to play game that gives a simplified depiction of filmmaking, but ultimately stays faithful to the process.
In a journal article written by Adrienne Shaw, she states:
“A dominant thread in much of my research is that in many ways marginalized players do not care about the lack of representation in games, or at least do not expect it to happen particularly when they do not see themselves as gamers.” (Shaw, 2014)
I completely disagree with this notion. Although I’m not as much of a gamer as I was many years ago, the idea of representation (or misrepresentation) is still one I take seriously when engaging with games. When the reboot of Tomb Raider released, I was anxious to see whether Square Enix had stayed faithful to the strong character Lara Croft had become and not represented her as the over-sexualised character she had been perceived as in the years prior. As a male gamer, this just goes to show how important representation in gaming is, as by all accounts this issue had no personal relevance to me, and yet I still cared about the outcome.
The concept of Masters of Hollywood: Director Face-Off wouldn’t have even popped into my mind, if I hadn’t noted a clear absence of authentic film-related board/card games while growing up.
I’m sure, in some sense my above complaints in comparison to my board game might come across as a little hypocritical. As after all, aren’t I just giving into a satirical depiction of filmmaking? A heavily watered-down version of a real life process?
The answer is both yes and no.
While my game is an overly-simplified version of the real-life filmmaking process (in some parts barely resembling it), I’m also trying to help break the perception that most film fans are only interested in recycled trivia games. I’m trying to deliver a game that is an homage to filmmaking, without relying on that sole fact to sell my game. I hope it stands on it’s own merit, and in a sense people forget that the game is even tied to film, as they get invested in the mechanics and gameplay.
In some way, I hope to stand up to the perception that trivia games are the best film fans can expect in the game world. We deserve more, and hopefully this game, even though far from being a solution, will contribute to amending that.
- Shaw, A. (2013). On Not Becoming Gamers: Moving Beyond the Constructed Audience. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, [online] (2). Available at: http://adanewmedia.org/2013/06/issue2-shaw/ [Accessed 5 May 2016].
2. Boardgamegeek.com. (2002). Scene It? Movie | Board Game | BoardGameGeek. [online] Available at: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4864/scene-it-movie [Accessed 5 May 2016]