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How do you feel about digitizing Hollywood stars into video games? [roundtable]
 
I am, of course, referring to the upcoming PS3 game Beyond: Two Souls from Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain, Indigo Prophecy) which stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. And by stars I do not mean voice acting, I mean literally stars; they have been motion captured and digitized into the game itself, and the advertising for the game has been completely based around their starring roles.


This isn't the first time the video game industry has put famous people into games, but most of the past examples I can think of offhand were either using actual (generally poorly compressed) video, such as several Sega CD games did, or having the person in question play themselves, such as the old Michael Jackson game or that terrible 50 Cent game. This seems to me to be the first time that actresses and actors are being used "seriously" as actresses and actors in a high profile video game in the same way that they are in movies, not just from the acting side but from the advertising side.

While talking about this with a Facebook friend I realized that it kind of turns me off a bit, and though it is tough to really put a finger on why, here are a few of my reasons:

1. Uncanny Valley gets taken to a whole new level for me when it is using real people that I have seen before.
2. I'm kind of not a fan of the Hollywoodization of video games to begin with, and this feels like it could be (if successful) a big step towards more Hollywoodization in general.
3. It kind of kills the immersion for me (ironic, since it's supposedly being done to be more immersive) because I can't not think "that's Ellen Page in digital form", etc. I have this issue with film casting famous people in multiple roles as well to some degree, which is why I love going into movies that don't have anyone I recognize in them, but I guess I'm more used to it there?
4. It just feels sort of unnecessary and contrary to what I like in video games, which is the unique worlds and characters. I'd rather see Nathan Drake than see Nathan Fillion stars as Nathan Drake. This is especially an issue to me if this trend catches on and the same actors and actresses end up playing multiple roles in multiple games.
5. Honestly? It just feels a bit cheesy to me.

Still, that's just me, and I totally acknowledge how subjective a lot of this stuff is, and how, if it did become a trend I would adjust to some of it over time, and maybe a lot of these concerns would diminish.

What do you think?

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Posted: 10/05/13, 21:04:02
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Well you saved me a lot of typing. I think I agree with all of that.

Mostly though, it does feel "cheesy" and unnecessary to me. It's like games are trying harder than ever to be movies, and I think they should be going in the opposite direction. The visual freedom to create your characters' faces and body shapes should be embraced.

I think it's kind of funny that you could "make" celebrities do a bunch of weird things, potentially. Like have them kiss or do naked handstands. Of course, I'm sure there'd have to be some sort of contractual thing preventing that.
Posted: 10/05/13, 21:24:02
I'm all for it, it only makes sense since they are doing full performance capture on their faces, if they're going to hire actors who can emote let's see it!

Also, we're almost out of the Uncanny Valley, I don't know about Beyond Two Souls but The Last of Us had some pretty stunning acting, the tech (and the craft) is getting better each year.
Posted: 10/05/13, 21:27:37  - Edited by 
 on: 10/05/13, 21:33:09
sorry to break it to anyone that doesn't realize this.....but dozens of dozens of celebrities already do voice acting for games and tv shows/movies that get turned into games so you might as well do the facial patterning match the actual actors. Or hell even better like the Uncharted games have the actual voice actors acting out the motion captures as they talk hence making the game that much more realistic. Until artists can get it right on their own doing it themselves....it kind of kills the atmosphere when someone is talking or moving and its totally not matching up with the voice work!
Posted: 10/05/13, 22:07:07
I don't like realistic games so I wouldn't like it if this became a trend and meant even more boring realistic games on the market. There's a place for movie games in the market and this kind of thing makes some sense for those games so I don't mind it in that context, but there's just too much of this these days.
Posted: 10/05/13, 22:12:52
It's really nothing new at all.



Certainly most games don't go "WE HAVE DIGITAL TOM HANKS HERE!" but that's gonna happen regardless, eventually. Quantic Dream in particular is a company that shouldn't even be making video games because they always talk about how great it would be to make movies and TV shows.

That said, just because a few big budget games are gonna do it, that doesn't mean it's going to become the norm. I imagine it's ungodly expensive and ultimately I doubt it'll show all that much ROI, relatively speaking.
Posted: 10/05/13, 22:16:54


I find it enjoyable.
Posted: 10/05/13, 22:44:47
TriforceBun said:
I think it's kind of funny that you could "make" celebrities do a bunch of weird things, potentially. Like have them kiss or do naked handstands. Of course, I'm sure there'd have to be some sort of contractual thing preventing that.

There was some deal back when Guitar Hero 5 came out with a disagreement over how they would be able to use Kurt Cobain in the game. His estate just wanted him to be playable for Nirvana songs, but he was just a regular character in the game, so you could have Kurt Cobain up there singing Ring of Fire.

I thought the whole thing with Ellen Page's likeness being "stolen" in The Last of Us was totally goofy. Next time a game stars a super-charismatic handsome male character, I'm gonna go off on a huge tirade about how they stole my likeness for that role. How dare they create someone as loveable as me!
Posted: 10/05/13, 22:48:53
I wish I could find the texture of Bruce Willis' face they used for Apocalypse on the PS1. Now that was creepy.
Posted: 10/05/13, 23:40:15
Mocap is dumb and I don't like it.
Posted: 10/05/13, 23:58:35
-JKR- said:
Mocap is dumb and I don't like it.

Mocap is amazing, face scanning is dumb!
Posted: 10/06/13, 00:05:58
Cole Phelps, badge one-two-four-seven.

I like it as long as the person being digitized isn't too famous.
Posted: 10/06/13, 00:54:44
I love that there's a "Willem Dafoe reveal trailer" for the game. For some reason I read that and think he's being announced as a character in the next Smash Bros or something lol.

Anyway, I have no problem with it in general. If they give a good performance, I don't care if they're famous or not. And while I've only watched the demo, I don't really get the uncanny valley feeling from this game. I thought it looked pretty impressive.

Xbob42 said:
Certainly most games don't go "WE HAVE DIGITAL TOM HANKS HERE!" but that's gonna happen regardless, eventually. Quantic Dream in particular is a company that shouldn't even be making video games because they always talk about how great it would be to make movies and TV shows.

That said, just because a few big budget games are gonna do it, that doesn't mean it's going to become the norm. I imagine it's ungodly expensive and ultimately I doubt it'll show all that much ROI, relatively speaking.
This. I don't see this becoming the norm. Quantic Dream is pushing for games to be movies because David Cage seems like someone who would rather be in Hollywood, but I don't see it catching on elsewhere. Most other AAA studios don't seem to care that much. And I don't think this game specifically will move the needle much at all.
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:01:31  - Edited by 
 on: 10/06/13, 01:07:03
@deathly_hallows Uncanny valley is relative, I don't think we are anywhere near out of it yet, and seeing digital versions of people who I have seen act before makes it even more evident to me that something is a bit off. If they were going for a more "cartooney" look like well... cartoons do when they have famous people cameos, I might feel differently, but they're shooting for realism and it's obviously a bit off to me.

@Wellsy529 You're not breaking it to me, I know all about voice acting. I just think it's odd and unnecessary to put their actual likeness in the game. I know it's being pushed as like the ultimate way to truly motion capture someone, and maybe there is some truth in that, but it just feels like a cheap marketing ploy to me.

@Xbob42 I have no idea who that is and I doubt most people who played the game did either. I'm talking about basically approaching games like movies... sign on your star, get their likeness in the game, they "play" that character, then advertise your game around your stars. I'm just not a fan, although I guess it was inevitable.
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:01:33  - Edited by 
 on: 10/06/13, 01:03:30
BTW I'm not like up-in-arms over this or anything. Just curious what people think. I'd prefer that the video game industry not move in this direction and I kind of feel like it will more and more in the future, but maybe it will still remain a minority of games.

We shall see.
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:05:44
@Zero

How did you feel about games that are based off of movies, and use "digitized" actors in them? Like the various James Bond games?
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:23:58
@GameDadGrant That seems to make a bit more sense to me, although I still don't really like it much. Honestly, I'd rather just have a game do its own thing. I remember some people thinking it a bit odd that Batman: Arkham Asylum wasn't some "The Dark Knight" game, but I think it turned out much better than any Dark Knight game would have.

You know what is just about the worst thing in the gaming world? A game based off a movie based off of a game. I know you're a big Street Fighter fan so you probably know firsthand about how terrible that can turn out.

I also hate when novels that get made into movies release versions with the movie actors on the cover of the novel. What does the Lord of the Rings novel really have to do with Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen? It existed long before they were in the movie.
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:40:27
Not a fan. It might have a place, but I probably wouldn't care for the genres in which it did. Even if real actors were to be used, it breaks the immersion when they're famous. Just like in big-budget animated movies. I'm all, "Hey, that's James Woods!"

The whole mocap/facecap thing is particularly weird when you take it to the level of Heavy Rain. I mean, why spend so much effort to recreate real performances in digital form? Why not just film it and make it a branching DVD?

But, yeah. I don't even really care for spoken voice in games.
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:41:11
Zero said:
You know what is just about the worst thing in the gaming world? A game based off a movie based off of a game. I know you're a big Street Fighter fan so you probably know firsthand about how terrible that can turn out.

Oh man, don't remind me.

Anand said:
But, yeah. I don't even really care for spoken voice in games.

Not in any game? C'mon now!

"Do a barrel roll!"
"Can't let you do that, Star Fox!"
"Oh, I've been saved by Fox. How swell."

Classic.
Posted: 10/06/13, 01:47:40
I don't really care. I think it's a interesting idea, and I'm curious to see how it fares and develops, but it's not something I'll think much about either way. I haven't even played Heavy Rain or Fahrenheit yet, so I might not get around to Beyond for awhile either.
Posted: 10/06/13, 02:45:43  - Edited by 
 on: 10/06/13, 02:46:47
Zero said:
I also hate when novels that get made into movies release versions with the movie actors on the cover of the novel. What does the Lord of the Rings novel really have to do with Elijah Wood and Ian McKellen? It existed long before they were in the movie.

Agreed. I'm really picky about my book covers. Give me something classy and understated.
Posted: 10/06/13, 04:04:06
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