Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How Games Can Go Where Movies Never Can; in Association with CODE WORKS CONNECT Supporting Digital Industry Perfect Image the Producer of One of the Coolest British Films in Recent Years Has Turned His Back on the Movie Industry for Now to Join the North East's Global Video Games Revolution. Andrew Mernin Talks to American Todd Eckert to Find out Why Games Are Set to Blow Movies out of the Water

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How Games Can Go Where Movies Never Can; in Association with CODE WORKS CONNECT Supporting Digital Industry Perfect Image the Producer of One of the Coolest British Films in Recent Years Has Turned His Back on the Movie Industry for Now to Join the North East's Global Video Games Revolution. Andrew Mernin Talks to American Todd Eckert to Find out Why Games Are Set to Blow Movies out of the Water

Article excerpt

WHEN actor Sam Riley and his backing band gave a frighteningly accurate rendition of Joy Division songs, it brought to an end years of hard work for Todd Eckert.

The producer had spent four years helping to create the movie Control - the profile of Joy Division's enigmatic lead singer Ian Curtis.

And, as the lights were switched off and sets dismantled, the cast performed Curtis's songs note for note in an on-stage performance to celebrate the end of filming.

But while such memories clearly bring much joy to Eckert in his career as a film producer, he has seen the future and left that world behind him for now.

The American believes video games are set to take over movies as the world's dominant medium, and so has joined Newcastle-based games firm Eutechnyx to lead its expansion into the US.

nedigitalbusiness crossed the pond to find out why the producer has so much faith in the video games industry.

nedigitalbusiness: How long will it be before the games industry becomes the world's dominant entertainment medium and what are the indicators that this shift is already under way?

Todd Eckert: Grand Theft Auto IV is the evidence. Regardless what you think of its sensibilities, it is the largest media release ever - bigger than any movie or album. To me it's also a tech issue.

When people are able to identify with characters in a game on an emotional level, then make decisions that will impact those characters' actions, they'll become real participants in their own entertainment and therefore have meaningful relationships with the games. Film could never do this by virtue of the medium's constraints.

It has the power to move, but not the potential to move "personally".

What mistakes have been made by the movie industry that the games industry can learn from?

Film is a giant industry and there are great films made every year. Unfortunately the industry today is frequently more focused on making money than in making features worth two hours' dedication.

The conventional wisdom is that the lowest common denominator of entertainment will sell the most tickets, and therefore you have this sort of rehashed, senseless goo getting made as the norm. It's easier to green light something like a reworking of The Dukes of Hazard than to cough up even a small budget for anything new. To the public, a game's success is still experience-based.

Which is the more lucrative industry to be involved in?

There's money to be made in both but I think owning a successful game IP has the potential of being far more valuable in the long-term than film. It's certainly more difficult to pirate a game, which is awfully helpful today, and that includes the viral piracy that exists over the internet with film. I was talking to a band after a gig a couple weeks ago here in the States, and they said they loved Control, in fact they had watched it just the night before on the tour bus. …

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