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discovering games as expressive media

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    FreePixel looks at video games as part of the moving image culture. Games are not movies. But games use moving image tradition in their presentation. That is why FreePixel offers a critical look at games and their expressive qualities that grow from the use of the moving image.


    [January 16th, 2013]

    Disney Infinity and Machinima?

    Posted by micnit

    Now the trailer for Disney’s Infinity is out and promises the world (see Forbes for a short write up on the press event). Skylanders landed with a splash, so it probably was only a matter of time to see the next version of this. When John Lasseter sells the product the jump via the “toys” is how he explains why they chose to do the step from the individual franchise to the larger world. He oozes over the advances in games and “what we can do with it” but basically argues that the films left us with worlds that these characters live in and these worlds can be treated like game levels. In the past, I did criticize exactly that in movies such as Cars 2: it only had a world and no story – barely any characters anymore. Notably, players are promised access to these worlds and the set pieces turn more into malleable sandbox stages.

    The model here is Little Big Planet. The problem with Little Big Planet machinima (at least for me) was always that the character is optimized for gameplay, not machimina. It has all the great features, including some puppeteering functions, great customization, camera controls but ultimately was meant to be a fun Sackdude. And that is done very very well.

    Infinity offers the other approach: character-driven game worlds. The translation of such a character-based approach into the world is limited. For example, what to do about the characters’ voices?

    Still, my first question was: what are they going to do about Machinima? The initial universe seems to offer a ton of interesting characters and sets (including Phineas and Ferb – the not-so-secret behemoth in there). Thus, the question is much less

    “Who would win a sword fight between Jack Sparrow and Phineas Flynn? This is the promise and magic of Disney Infinity. It’s up to you to unlock the heart and soul of Disney Infinity.”

    … as posed by Disney Interactive’s John Pleasant, but much more: how do they control the possible plethora of machinima series spin offs from within this platform?

    Sure, there will be EULAs and rigorous legal hurdles but depending on what controls and tools will be given to the players, this could be huge and a direct attack on the sacred horse – namely Disney TV. Will they fight it? Or is there a snowball’s chance in hell that they will embrace it – for example in a style like Lionhead’s The Movies tried?

    Somebody should talk to them.


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