The Hollywood Cycle: Comparing the MMO Industry with the Silver Screen

Updated Mon, Aug 10, 2009 by Cody Bye

For the past century, the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States have been spawned on the sun-parched hills of Hollywood. Whether you enjoy movies, television, or music, almost everything that counts as a real life diversion has emerged from that geographic desert. A hundred years of blood, sweat, and glitter has created an oligarchy of the mega-rich and the uber-famous.

Remarkably, the one entertainment medium that hasn’t jumped under Hollywood’s enormous umbrella (yet!) is the gaming industry. Film (and even some rock star) adaptations certainly exist, but the sticky tentacles of the silver screen haven’t infiltrated the majority of gaming studios. But even without the influence of Hollywood, an amazing number of similarities exist between the history of film and the currently unfolding epic drama of massively multiplayer online gaming.

However, merely pointing out similarities doesn’t really get us anywhere, nor does it make for a gripping article. Due to its relative longevity compared to MMO gaming, it’s entirely possible to make some predictions – based upon the Hollywood model – of where the MMO industry will head in the next several years.

To throw even more gasoline onto the fire, I put the histories and potential predictions in front of five expert panelists – one from Hollywood and three from the MMO industry – and had them debate whether any conclusions could be drawn from Tinsel Town’s history or not. Specifically, you’ll hear from Jumpgate Evolution’s executive producer Hermann Peterscheck, EverQuest II’s senior creative director Rich Waters, and Turbine’s vice president of product development Craig Alexander for the MMO side of things; and Digital Domain’s Oscar-winning Steve Preeg will be representing Hollywood.

Their answers may surprise you. Although several of our past premium articles have held a strong amount of division within them, few articles have seen such a divergent set of viewpoints as what I found with these particular panelists. Even the premium members all seemed to be of different minds, so strap in folks… it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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