The Top 7... Movie genres games should try next

Westerns are just the beginning

3. Exorcism

The genre: Exorcism movies are pretty easy to find at the shop: The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism. For those who've never ended up in this cul-de-sac of unimaginatively named exercises in paralyzing terror, exorcism movies concern the attempted salvation of some poor soul who's fallen afoul of infernal forces and become a dwelling place for demons, a cage for every unclean spirit, etc., etc. What ensues is invariably as scary as Condemned, System Shock 2 and Dead Space, combined.

Above: Shining Force 2's exorcism scene. Mortal terror it ain't

Why hasn't it been done? Unless the movie pulls an Exorcist: The Beginning and puts globe-trotting ahead of the actual demon-vanquishing, exorcism pics invariably boil down to a dude in a small room, receiving a sickening torrent of profanity from a screaming youngster. But the ritual's usually limited to set-pieces in games like Shining Force 2, Shadow Hearts and the Gothic series, because being violently berated by hysterical children is something we can already get from Xbox Live.

Above: The children are our future (unfortunately)

Should happen because: For a medium so fixated on good-vs-evil, games have more than their share of lamentably milquetoast antagonists. It's hard to feign interest in half-assed manifestations of malevolence like the Chimera, Necromorphs or Final Fantasy's Mutant Robot Deity of the Week. Exorcism movies force us into an intimate confrontation with evil, something only a few games (Clive Barker's Jericho, Eternal Darkness) have even attempted to emulate. And the stuck-in-a-room thing? Check out the exorcisms in comics like Hellblazer and The Invisibles to see how imaginatively a clever designer could get around that one.

2. Vigilante

The genre: The vigilante subgenre of action movies – from Straw Dogs to Death Wish to Clint Eastwood's recent Gran Torino – tends to have an admirably no-nonsense plot: A peace-loving regular schmoe, pushed to breaking point by hoodlums, grudgingly takes up arms, initiating a bloodbath so overbearing as to embarrass State of Emergency (further). The typical vigilante movie has more violence than every Rockstar game combined, and politics so gleefully reactionary that Glenn Beck would probably tap them on the shoulder and ask if they were going a bit far.

Above: A vigilante movie without the character development

Why hasn't it been done? Oh, plenty of games take place during the end of vigilante stories. Double Dragon, Final Fight and Far Cry are all about ordinary guys who get pushed too far and go apeshit on a huge cast of thinly characterized stereotypes, and for the most part, it works fine. But the stuff leading up to that – following our guy as he's shat on by an endless host of ne'er-do-wells and fails to fight back – is a harder trick to pull off, and games haven't really tried.

Above: Ubisoft's military twist on a vigilante plot, shortly before going to contrived, sci-fi pot

Should happen because: If there's one way in which videogame stories still need work, it's the realm of character development. Most games' heroes start out as ass-kicking men of action and end up as ass-kicking men of action with a couple of new scars (I'm generalizing, but not as much as I'd like to be). The day a game's able to depict not just standard-issue ultra-violence, but the things leading up to it, while – and this is somewhat important – not being the most boring thing ever inflicted on people by other people, is the day videogame scriptwriters can stop hiding in the bathroom at writers' conventions.

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