Ian Bogost first claims that video games cannot be “interactive film(s)” due to how the video game medium itself lacks the ability to use cinematic editing. He explains that what makes film unique as an art form is the ability to edit, or link seemingly unrelated images or clips together to form something that extends the scope of what those components can do by themselves. Video games however cannot fully utilize these techniques as there has to be a continuous sequence of what the player does from a gameplay point of view. I.e. it is impossible for a creator to edit the sequence of a player’s actions. Bogost also puts an emphasis on how the virtual camera that exists within the medium can be compared to the cameras used for film, claiming yet that the medium cannot maximize the same utility due to this lack of editing. Heavy Rain is the video game he uses as an example to support this argument as it was heavily advertised and referred by as an “interactive film”. While there are “jump cuts” in this game’s story Bogost explains that these cuts only correspond with changes in location, not changes in the player’s relationship to the spaces, actions, or themes of the narrative.
Outside of editing, Bogost explains that Heavy Rain is still an interactive narrative. How when compared to film, is similar in that each sequence of the game moves forward the story. Bogost explains that this could be a reason why video games that are heavily narrative based are being described as “interactive film(s)”. With this Bogost moves to his main claim that the video game medium should instead focus what he describes as prolonging. He starts with how the gameplay of Heavy Rain can create a distinct emotional contact to the audience that film doesn’t focus on due to editing techniques. In one of the “chase scenes” of the game where a boy gets separated from the protagonist, the players experience what Bogust claims as the “slow panic of confusion” that would relate to parents who have lost a child in a similar manner. He would continue with how film would use a bunch of quick cuts to achieve a similar sense of panic, but the interactiveness at the game gives that slower pace due to the time it takes for the players to continue the action. He then gives the example of a sequence where the protagonist stares at his child. The player has to continue by pressing a button but can choose to at any time. The prolonging of the action can help build the narrative by Bogost’s standards.
“Prolonging” in Heavy Rain along with mise-en-scène, the establishment of a scene in order to push players along the objective of the game, is emphasized as an important foci by Bogost by critiquing how mise-en-scène in film is dependent on editing. He claims that prolonging allows players interact with the scene itself. A game from the same generation of video game that uses this “prolonging” technique is Skyrim. Skyrim without Fast Travel, a gameplay mechanic that skips this important “prolonging” part of the game, invokes the long and tiring journey that Skyrim creates. The story is supposed to be a great adventure, and the prolonging of the players in their quest supports this feeling by creating a lull between events that is more realistic to the real world. A great adventure has a great long journey to accompany it. The video below shows how Skyrim has a whole sequence that carries this feeling and, to extend back to Bogost, this would not have been able to be executed in film as it would’ve been portrayed by many quick cuts.