Live Theater Crew vs Video Game Dev

Posted: May 26, 2013 in ADVENTURE STORIES!, Ramblings
Tags: , ,

Recently I was in the world’s first amateur production of Phantom of the Opera in Melbourne, Australia. It was put on by Cloc which is made up of ALL volunteers (and some of the best people I’ve ever met).

Now– coming from Video Game development (and trying to explain this to my dev-friends) I couldn’t help but draw similarities between the two. Allow me to visualize this for you:

Both are immersive but in different ways. In theater you are (usually) a voyer… Watching what happens on stage. In video games- you are the protagonist (ignoring the annoying recent fact that many video games are just cutscene after cutscene) and you decide the fate of the story.

Illusions. Video games is (kinda) easy because the illusions are digitally created. You can shoot someone in a video game and see blood (or oil in Germany). In theater- the illusions need to be pieced together out of real objects- making it more like magic.

Acting. Obviously in theater there are a lot of different roles and characters that are portrayed. This is the same in video games- except for the whole linear vs non-linear thing. I would argue that non-linear is more difficult to achieve because of all the unknowns. A decent example is the last game I worked on (Nike+ Kinect Fitness) where “Good job!” had to sound natural after running in place vs doing 2 pushups vs doing 500 pushups. The number of heads/testing/writing that goes into video game voice-over should not be ignored. The actor’s job is then to sound as natural and genuine as possible in certain situations- and then give me a totally different read on the 2nd time. A theater actor’s job is to define perfection and then keep hitting that bar night after night (which is also super difficult!)

Long nights and long hours. Bump in/Bump out for theater is when you move the set/everything from the rehearsal space to the theater and set up. Theater also has rehearsals/dance sessions/etc that could last all night. You keep working until the person/group gets it, until the set piece is done, or until the curtain rises… Living on lollies and red-bull to stay awake/sane. Same with Video games- you work through the problems, sleeping at your desk- living on donuts and red-bull until a producer comes in and says “ok. we need to ship it now”.

SPACE! In theater- it’s about literal space as there is only so much room behind the stage/in the wings to hold set pieces/props/etc. In video games, each department has a budget that they shouldn’t go over (but usually do) so they can all fit on the disc.

“Crunch” (my favorite part, personally)– where you need as many hands/feet/bodies on set/stage/etc as possible. Even for just a moral boost- you need people there to carry things/pick things up, to bring you wires/hammer/grapes. This is where the going gets tough for everyone– and where you meet your best friends.

This is all I could think of at the moment. Comments/suggestions? Anything I’ve missed?




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