Friday, April 29, 2005

Original interactivity ...

Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit links to and comments on a piece by James Pinkerton over at TechCentral about the immense popularity of video games, in which Pinkerton wonders why Hollywood has failed to notice the lure of interactivity. Movies, comments Reynolds, “encourage passive titillation; videogames encourage active involvement.”
Which brings me to my favorite form of interactive entertainment: reading. Ever notice how often, when you see a movie based on a book you’ve read, you’re disappointed? That’s because you imagined it all differently. Reading is not at all a passive activity. It demands an active imagination, not only the part of writer, but also on the part of the reader. Not surprisingly, I’ve always been a reader, but never more than since getting this job. And I find that the more I read the less I enjoy movies and TV. To say nothing of a lot of other things that clamor for my attention.


  1. Books and films are such different media. They each have their allure and I love them both. Nothing will ever replace reading for me, which I suppose is my first love. But I'd hate to give up movies either.

  2. Anonymous1:04 AM

    As a student of Literature, of Art, and of Music, I must, in our culture, be an avid student of cinema as well, and well worth the effort. But it's not a passive endeavor, even though the medium may present itself in that manner.

    I think the important thing to recognize about cinema versus books is that the art of adaptation separates the men from the boys.

    Think of Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange by Burgess. Or Tarkovsky's adaptation of Stanislav Lem's Solaris. These and many other cinematic works based on novels do not detract or blaspheme their originators but make them accessible to those that might not have thought to pick up the book otherwise. How about Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, by Will Burroughs?

    As a novelist that has adapted his own novel into a screenplay and looks forward to doing the same again, I have no trouble in translating the one to the other, and I love translations that are fitting and enjoyable. I am not a purist in this regard.

    TV encourages passive involvement, but not so DVD's. You can pause, have a discussion on a plot point or a similarity with another medium or book or movie, rewind to hear that line again just right.

    What many people probably don't know is that they spend sixty million dollars developing a videogame just like they do a movie. That much is seldom spent on a film.

    Read Poe's "Never Bet the Devil your Head" then watch Fellini's "Toby Damnit." Bravissimo! Authore! Directore! Maestro!