Why games matter to H’wood

Goodman chats about the convergence of vidgames & film

While many in Hollywood are still figuring out what to make of videogames, Adam Goodman is one of a younger generation of execs with a social affinity.

The head of production at DreamWorks has been playing vidgames since he was a kid. At night, when he’s not reading a script, he can often be found on online service Xbox Live.

Goodman spoke to Daily Variety about how games matter to anyone who cares about the film biz.

Variety: Does “convergence” mean something real to you? If so, how do you see movies and games “converging?”

Goodman: I think kids growing up nowadays will have as distinctive experiences with videogames as we had with TV shows. They are seminal in their upbringing because they spend just as much time getting to know the characters. They will ultimately be just as iconic and important.

The fact that you see us remaking all these TV shows from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s is convergence in that sense. I’ve sat in pitches where people say a character is kind of like Lara Croft instead of saying Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens.” The character references are starting to converge.

Variety: There haven’t been many successful or high-quality movies based on games. Do you think there’s a particular reason? Do you think successful games necessarily should be made into movies?

Goodman: Those first-person shooter games are not character rich. My only experience with (“Half Life” protagonist) Gordon Freeman (is) he’s the hand that holds my gun. I don’t know who he is.

In a movie like “Mortal Kombat” or “Lara Croft,” you are watching the characters and experiencing them. I understand why “Resident Evil” worked, because you see those characters. I’m very curious about “Doom” because I only know the world, not the characters.

Variety: How does knowledge and awareness of the games industry help you as a film exec?

Goodman: As an executive, you have to keep up because half the filmmakers are into it. Knowing about video-games gives you a vocabulary to speak to people that is just as essential today as being well-read.

It used to be that every once in a while you play a game that has an interesting cut scene, but the music or acting suck. Now cut scenes are incredible and the camera work and music and acting are as stunning as any film.

But also what’s starting to happen is those cut scenes are becoming part of the game. What we call “set pieces” in movies are now starting to become part of the gaming experience. In “Call of Duty,” I’m most impressed that you can be walking down a path and all of a sudden there’s a scripted event, but instead of cutting where you watch, you become part of it.

Variety: Are the businesses of film and games starting to blur together? And should they?

Goodman: What I do think is that the videogame business is in the same place today where the movie business was in the old studio system days. Vidgame creators are mostly under contract and have yet to realize their own ideas are paramount and will be the most valued in town.

It’s only a matter of time before the guys at CAA, William Morris and ICM get in there to rep all of that talent. I think there will be the equivalent of first-dollar gross deals in the game business.

The biggest difference is that their industry isn’t as centralized as ours.