A steady uphill climb

Machinima has a lot of interesting affordances, most significantly its accessibility as a movie-making medium. The appeal of machinima is the idea of “player as creator”, as Lowood says. And, with the development of the Internet, creating and sharing machinima has become even more widespread. When Lowood talks about machinima made with Quake, he says “indeed, the demo format required access to the game even to play the movies.” And, even when gamers began converting their machinima creations into widely viewable formats, there wasn’t a place where these videos could be collected together and easily viewed. The game The Movies allowed users to post their machinima creations on a community website, as did Blizzard for World of Warcraft machinima, but there was no one common platform for sharing videogame-based movies at the time of Lowood’s article.

Now, YouTube is an Internet giant that exists for the sole purpose of video sharing, and machinima abounds. The videos that we saw in class are a sample of this bounty – we watched machinima videos created by The Movies, Minecraft, Overwatch, Grand Theft Auto, and HALO. The increased accessibility of machinima now provides for exposure to a wider audience, which leads to more impact on Internet culture. For example, the “Diggy Diggy Hole” video (meme? phenomenon?) could not have gained the popularity that it has if everyone who watched it had to be an active Minecraft player. Yet, because of the viral quality of YouTube videos, it has become an element of Internet gaming culture.

Another significant addition to machinima, post-Lowood, is the Sims franchise. Sims allows players to create characters and then basically manipulate their lives, and it seems like a perfect opportunity for people with little movie-making experience to create works of machinima. Indeed, a quick Google search for “Sims machinima” returns a wide selection of videos and articles about how to best create Sims machinima. Second Life, the game we’ve been using in class, is a pale imitation of the Sims universe, but even there we can see the potential for machinima in social games that give the user a god-like role in the lives of their characters. Machinima has come a long way since the early DOOM demos, and its accessibility will likely sustain its popularity and increase its sophistication in the future.

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2 thoughts on “A steady uphill climb

  1. Hey April!

    I really liked your blog post, it effectively captured some of the affordances and constraints of Machinima throughout the years. YouTube has enabled this type of media to be more prevalent in culture and society as it offers a place where it can be easily accessed and shared.

    The name “YouTube” itself is a reminder that this site is a place where ordinary people (yes, even you) can become directors, actors and editors in their own movies and short clips. This is where Machinima magic can truly shine. Amateurs filming live action movies can do so pretty decently provided they are equipped with a good camera and some friends who can act. However, making an animation film would be inherently more difficult without artistic skills.

    Machinima film creations allow players to direct their own stories utilizing the existing animation. Instead of having to start from scratch, they can jump right into the narrative and plot out a more complex story. The complexity of the story can depend on where the director wants to take it. It can become extremely entertaining or it can have a deeper meaning and tell a story based on real events like we saw in The French Democracy created using The Movies.

    I also agree with your point that the increased accessibility of Machinima films have allowed it to have a greater impact on Internet Culture. The “Diggy Diggy Hole” phenomenon was a prime example of this as its popularity spread like wildfire.

    In addition to spreading to Internet Culture, this type of media has also spread to mainstream culture. It apparently has been used for music videos and various different commercials. Australian performer Megan Bernard had visual artist Bryn Oh create a piece for her song “Clean Up your Life” using Second Life.

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  2. There’s no doubt that YouTube had a profound effect on the evolution of machinima. However, there was a vibrant community (however small) before YouTube, specifically at machinima.com where folks could upload their videos. The advent of YouTube has also shifted machinima away from using video games as a platform for making movies and more to traditional animation. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing of a bad thing, but the heart of machinima for me is creative misuse, doing something with a tool that it wasn’t designed to do. The difference between playing a game and playing with a game. Sadly, I think the evolution of machinima that began with the move to YouTube lead to this less-subversive form of film making.

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