Arcs, Loops, and WESTWORLD

The negative reception to the recent Assassin’s Creed movie has gotten me thinking about why it’s proven so difficult to adapt videogames into movies, even as movies and television begin to resemble videogames more and more.

And I don’t just mean in terms of CG or action direction, or other things mainly focused around aesthetic. I’ve been noticing that a lot more narrative media is borrowing the narrative mechanics of videogames, and it’s not just limited to stuff like Superhero movies where at least the two share the broader traits of power-fantasy. But even as this confluence seems to be blurring the lines between dramatic-narrative and ludo-narrative, I think it’s important to understand the limits each has to storytelling.

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Borrowed Time is Missing Something Big

Borrowed Time, a short animated film made by some Pixar talent has been making the rounds recently, and people are eating this “bold” and “dark” animated short up for some reason.

And if you like it, fine, more power to you…but it’s really not all that good of a story. It’s emotional, sure, but it’s all surface. And that’s because it’s missing a very basic part of narrative.

Let’s go through the short to see if we can’t notice it:

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Chekhov’s Gun and Worldbuilding

Edit: Another great example of world-building I love that isn’t traditional exposition: the gold coins in John Wick. It’s never explained exactly what the system is, but we’re introduced to the coins when Wick uncovers his gear, and we see them used at the hotel and other places throughout the movie. Even though we’re never told the intricacies of the coin system, the coins are introduced and given a purpose, and just that simple little bit makes the world of John Wick so much more interesting and alive. It’s less about knowing the entirety of the system, and just knowing … Continue reading Chekhov’s Gun and Worldbuilding


This post marks the end of the content I made first for my youtube channel. Every post after this one is made after the creation of this blog. That doesn’t mean the end of videos, just don’t expect as many. I am considering keeping Storytelling 101 as an ongoing video series, because I do like the more casual, conversational tone I think video has, but I might experiment with some written posts in that series from time-to-time. I’ll still be pumping out a lot of the same content: movie and comic reviews and the like, but expect a whole bunch … Continue reading FROM HERE ON OUT! NEW STUFF!