Why putting Bioshock on hold is great news

According to various news sources, the planned film adaptation of Bioshock has been put on hold, possibly indefinitely. The film adaptation of this award winning video game was to be directed by Gore Verbinski and was budgeted at around Eleventy million dollars. (The budget is being oft cited as the reason for the production’s troubles.) I loved Bioshock probably more than any other game last year, and I love movies. However it's clearly a good thing that this adaptation will most likely not come to pass.

I was as excited as anyone else to see the movie version of Bioshock. It was without a doubt the best-written, designed and conceived game of the last year. But because it was so good, doing a movie version does damage to serious game innovation. Once a great source material is co-opted into a film it can really tarnish the image of said source (see Watchmen.)

This is obvious, but while comics are getting more and more mainstream respect every day and have a serious level of proper criticism these days, the game world seriously lacks such introspection. Chuck Klosterman recently wrote in Esquire about this very issue. He wonders aloud where is the Lester Bangs of games journalism and how much longer will it take for him to arrive?

So as we search for better game criticism in the world, it will inevitably be games like Bioshock, the best of the best which call out for a deeper appreciation and understanding of game design. When these games are then converted into film it makes it all the easier to write off the need for serious game criticism. After all, people with serious critical faculties can then just wait for the inevitable linear adaptation, which is much easier to apply standard critical tools to. The constant adaptation and re-appropriation only further delays the creation of new critical thought for the interactive medium. Klosterman himself acknowledges this difficulty in analyzing artwork, which takes on different form for every audience member.

Therefore, yay to Mr. Verbinski's troubles. My apologies for the Scradenfrude.

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