The genre: It's a real shame this genre has such a 1960s film-wank name, because what with you being such a clever, savvy individual, there are plenty of examples of it that you probably love. Existentialist movies – stuff like The Truman Show, The Last Action Hero, Scream or The Matrix – involve characters struggling with the realization that their world is part of a larger fiction, giving rise to equal amounts of postmodern beard-scratching and self-referential hilarity and japes.
Above: Self-referentiality works best when you can beat it to death with a golf club
Why hasn't it been done? No idea. Comic books about characters who work out that they're living in comic books are a dime a dozen, and it's not like comics and games share 90 percent of the same audience or anything. Games can drop cute hints at self-awareness – plenty of JRPG civilians will teach you how to use a control pad, then wonder how they know themselves. But when the most insightful exploration of games' mind-bending potential is a movie (1999's eXistenZ), there's some catching up to be done.
Above: He who seeks to skewer clichés should take care that he does not become a cliché himself. Pity nobody told that to Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard
Should happen because: It's exactly the right time for it. Just as Singin' in the Rain celebrated movies as the biggest deal of the 20th century, and Watchmen turned comics into something that wasn't embarrassing for adults to read in public, games like No More Heroes and the Matt Hazard franchise mark a welcome growth and playfulness for the medium. Sure, the first Hazard game didn't live up to its premise – but once someone does, it could take gaming to a whole new level of ingenious insight and enjoyability. Here's hoping that title's on the way.
Have some other movie genres you'd like to play? Let us know below.
Jul 5, 2010
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