What's Machinima Got To Do With It?

written by: Pooky Amsterdam

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Machinima is film done on a game engine, that is, machine cinema. It might not mean robots are taking over your job anytime soon, but the increasing use of video and console games for fun and entertainment is here: we play on machines daily.  

Let's say you are in advertising and marketing and see news that you find intriguing, and can understand like:

WPP Group, the world’s largest advertising company, escalated the industry’s digital arms race, saying it had reached an agreement to buy AKQA, one of the biggest independent agencies specializing in new forms of marketing.

Established advertising titans are gobbling up new digital shops to keep current. How are you keeping current?

You might be planning your integrated second screen campaign as of this writing or “going mobile” or deciding if AR will help you sell your clients product or if your App market has reached saturation.

You might be thinking of Gamification, a newer digital word which translates into turning real life situations, including consumers goods & services into a game: making it fun.

There are more than half a billion people worldwide  playing online games at least an hour a day and Everyone loves games, so....How do we cash in?  5 million gamers in the U.S are spending more than 40 hours a week playing games -- the same as a full time job!

Games are respectable, games are generating billions of dollars and hours depositing players on the digital shore who will venture into the sea of whatever you are selling as long as you make it fun enough.

Games yes, video games digital games and programs about games filmed on game engines are hot right now. You might have heard of Machinima.com. After being first reported by AllThingsD, online video creator Machinima confirmed Monday that it has closed a $35 million funding round led by Google, which also included existing investors Redpoint Ventures and MK Capital. The new financing comes as Google’s YouTube has been investing heavily in bringing in all sorts of new original programming.

New original programming – Machinima.com you say? As Paul Rossi of The Economist Group said to me as he studied my business card:

“What is machinima exactly?”

And he looked at me in full knowledge that I wasn’t a 15 year old boy. It is a good question - the audience for machinima.com is a  highly targeted segment of the population that is predominantly male and 14 – 30. Their programming reflects this, whether in their popular real life platform zombie webseries named “Bite  Me” or the animated “Seven Brothers” by John Woo which is done not in screen capture, but in motion comics.  Machinima.com is for that coveted section of the population, and their programming reflects this demograhic. Happy Hour delivers funny films from the many game engines for some fun stuff.

There one finds shows discussing new games, there are live feeds from event like Deathhack Summer 2012 and E3 where the latest games are demoed before crowds. There are countless videos posted of frag-fests, or first person shooter games and some videos created on game engine platforms, but certainly not all.  There is no surprise given the enthusiasm of game culture that YouTubes biggest entertainment destination outside of the music companies’ is  a game channel for gamers, featuring games, with videos about games, and trailers galore.  The audience size is just so huge that sponsors such as Warner Bros have committed millions in support of this channel as well; they want their trailers seen on here. Inside Gaming is the machinima.com newsletter which offers a lot of information on this space hitting the web and what this entails.  Lollypop Chainsaw might not be your idea of a good time, but it is for a specific segment of the population.

Machinima as a genre, means a lot more though. Ars Technica recently broke the story that Valve's Source engine will make its big-screen debut in a movie called Deep, set in the post-apocalyptic landscape of World War III, where the remainder of mankind huddles in abandoned ship hulls and struggles to survive Variety reported. $18.7 million is a huge budget for a game engine film. Trust me on this one, we make a lot of them at PookyMedia, including a recent Public Service Announcement notable for being filmed entirely on a game engine platform.

Machinima as a genre, is also called real – time animation because everything you see on the screen while watching machinima has been captured as it occurs. The fact that a game engine can allow you to craft story, with nuance, drama and humor, means that those who have a sure handle on this craft will be called upon increasingly for much lower budget, very targeted & higher concept film making.  The New Media Film festival had a machinima category this year, and there are Film Festivals devoted to this new genre like the Machinima-Expo taking place in November

We are culivating and investing in new digital frontiers which have become part of our daily lives. Finding ourselves impacted by a new focus isn’t scary or strange when we use the philosophy of what works. Fun is usually amongst life’s true rewards, and what people want to be a part of. I guess that’s why it’s called “Fun & Games.”




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