Sandbox and Open World Games

Technology has provided authors and narrative creators with many different mediums to portray the story they have created. Recently, advancements in 3D modeling and video game design have allowed people removed from the cinematic world to instantly become involved. Initially, this idea known as machinima was used by those who were capable of altering the programming behind the game to create maps/worlds upon which their fictions could be based.

One creator, by the name of Alex Chan began machinima with no experience making movies. He simply decided to purchase The Movies and make his own cinematic statement about the French riots. As video game development becomes more advanced, the portion of the public that can use it greatly increases. For example, some of the first machinima came from the classic first-person shooter, Doom. However, since the field of machinima was developing, no in game components were added to allow the user to have control over cinematic aspects including camera angles and lighting. As a result of this, the sect of the public involved in creating movies/films from the video game was largely kept to those with capabilities in altering game files or with extreme skill as a player.

With time, however, game developers began implementing tools for players to instantly become creators without any knowledge of films and programming. Some of these games include Halo 3 and World of Warcraft. I see there to exist two different mechanics that allow players to become creators, and to inspire within the realm of machinima.

Firstly, there is the sandbox game. Halo 3 provides a good example of this. Within the game, there is a mode where the user is capable of altering maps and building structures as well as moving the camera in 3rd person perspectives which provides users with ample capabilities to quickly create a film. In sandbox games, the developers intentionally allow the user to have creative control, this very easily lends itself to the nature of machinima in that users would want to show off their creations, and could even use them to tell a story.

A second type of game that lends itself to machinima is open world games. These games provide the user with expansive space to explore and interact with in ways that permit the telling of a story. Two great examples of this type of game are Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft. These games provide the user with a world ready to be explored and interacted with, often times creating a situation on which a story of narrative could be based. The creation of new games and modes has greatly increased the public capable of using machinima to instantly become content creators. One can only wonder the next game/type of game that will easily and rapidly allow users to create stories at a reasonably high quality.

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