So, as pretty much anyone can tell you, what works in one medium does not always work in another. But usually you can create something close, right? Take a simple gunfight. In a movie, it’s the action itself which entertains us. We know how the scene ends before it even begins, but how it gets there entertains us. Guns! Explosions! Men screaming and falling off ledges! Glass shatters, sharks swim to the top tanks and grab the villain’s foot! The hero who hasn’t been on camera in a full minute shows up to save the day! Of course the heroes win, but we enjoyed watching it. In a book, a gunfight is a more blunt affair: less spectacle, because every tiny bit of spectacle takes an entire paragraph or even page to set up and follow through with, and you really don’t have that much space if you want to keep the action flowing. So it’s bang bang, shooting over walls, and the excitement comes from not knowing how the scene will end. In other words, suspense v. spectacle.
Well, here’s another translation problem. Car chases. Or vehicle sections in general. They work in movies because you can have the spectacle (crashes! Hubcabs rolling away! Fruit stands! Burning rubber!). They work in books because you have the suspense (Where is this chase going? What will happen next? Was that car behind our hero a second enemy car or just a passerby? Oh no, they’re going to the docks, will one of them end up in the water? Will it be the hero?). But in games, be they video games or tabletop games… they’re the most boring thing, because they’re just raw mechanics. So the question is, can we define these problems, and can we overcome them?
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