After reading CJA’s writeup for the new “first-person shooter” zombie thriller Pandemic, I racked my brain trying to think of a practical application for FPS-style movies that wouldn’t feel gimmicky or old after the first twenty minutes. After all, “subjective camera” sequences have been around for almost a hundred years, since Abel Gance’s Napoléon (1927). It’s just very rare that entire feature films have been shot using the technique, like Lady in the Lake and part of Dark Passage. Both movies came out in the late ‘40s, and the approach never quite caught on. And despite the widespread popularity of first-person video games over the past quarter century, the format still hasn’t gained much traction, the lousy Doom movie notwithstanding.
But then I remembered RealmPictures, and their Real Life First Person Shooter series of videos, and a whole new world of possibility opened up. The “players” are unsuspecting Chatroulette users who don’t realize they’ve stumbled into the next dimension of interactive entertainment. And the onscreen protagonist is an actor who responds to their requests, much like an avatar. The result is, needless to say, amazing. And it might just be the only non-pervy justification for Chatroulette’s continued existence. (I’m reminded of the “ractors” in Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, who were human performers who played the roles of characters in VR melodramas and the like, conveying believable human emotions and responses that AIs were incapable of simulating.) I don’t know if this is the future of entertainment, but it’s certainly more fun than a half-assed FPS with no narrative, or cheap horror film pretending to be a video game circa 2005. In the meantime, I guess there’s always Radio Zork.
(Also, that’s totally the voice I use when playing games by myself.)