Let's Play - at the movies

#1

Hi everybody,

with this thread I’d like to open a discussion for an idea I had for more than a year now.
Currently I work as a projectionist at a small but rather infamous and pretty cool cinema in Berlin, the Kino Moviemento which is - by the way - the oldest cinema in Germany. As you gather I really like movies, but I also like games. But as I am a dad since a year and a half now AND am trying to complete my master course there’s really not much time left to actually invest some time in seriously playing games. So I decided that I will try to bring two of my favorite things together (no, my son isn’t going to play the games I play…yet).
Watching Let’s Play videos on the Internet has become pretty common nowadays and it actually has grown into a new kind of economy with thousands of people actually making money by playing games and making others watch them play, be it in classic Let’s Play videos on youtube or competitive events like The International. Since I first played videogames, especially when they became 3D, I wanted to sit in a huge movie theatre and see and play games like Resident Evil or Silent Hill on the big screen. Back then I didn’t realize that this probably would have been looking like a soup of muddy pixels. But as technology nowadays is getting more capable by the year and games are getting more detailed, many many games would just look beautiful and amazing on the big screen. Not to mention the sound!
Modern cinemas are usally equipped with big digital cinema projectors like these, with a resolution of up to 4096 x 2160 (4k). You can easily link basically any modern device via HDMI to these machines which makes the installtion of consoles and PCs pretty easy. A few month ago we played a few games on the PS4 in one of our cinemas and it was looking just amazing!

While the format of the cinema may seem a little restricted towards the time frame in which you are able to show something (usally something between two to three hours), I think it usally reflects the time somebody would watch games on youtube or on twitch. With the cinema comes the experience of watching and experiencing games together with you best friends, grabbing a beer and popcorn and - of course - watching on a big screen with an excellent sound system.

So, with this in mind I am planning to show/play games in our cinema and open these events to the public. At first, I think, this won’t happen on a regular basis, just because I have so much stuff to do. But I hope this will develop in a regular in our cinema programm, showing games maybe on a monthly basis. There will be a fee for admission, though I have to check back with my bosses what would be the best way to handle this. There is a lot of stuff to do and to organize (such as legal questions, format, technical issues…) and I will try to document the process here.

So, feel free to discuss this idea. Of course I am SUPER curious if you guys would be interested in such an idea and would be willing to pay for it (just like regularly going to the movies). Be nice to each other as always, everybody has their opinion. Topics that might be discussed are:

  • opinions and feedback on the idea
  • suggestions for games to show/play
  • technical questions and solutions
  • references to similar projects or ideas
  • Ideas of how this could work as a format
  • legal issues
  • whatever else come to your mind relating to the topic

With this I am hoping to establish videogames a little bit more as a work of art and entertainment, just like movies are I think games are still considered to be something that happens in your room alone or maybe with your mates, though there are some strong tendencies to alter that (like the steam machines). Games can tell stories in a way that movies can’t (and vice versa) but these stories are just as great and memorable. Many games are getting more and more cinematic (like MGS always was) so I don’t see why we wouldn’t start giving games a better stage.

In the next post I will post about the first idea I have for a game to show/play.

0 Likes

#2

DOOM at the movies[/size][/size][/size]

As you all know, Doom will release a little bit later this year and I think I am just as excitetd as everybody. This game means a lot of memories to a huge part of the gaming community and many gamers started their “career” with the first Doom back in the day. As id softeware is known for pushing their graphics to the limit with each new game, I think the blood fest of this year’s Doom will just look staggering on the big screen. The first trailers so far were jaw-dropping and I think everybody that liked the old Doom games has their expectations sky-high. [/size]


Doom will release on 13th of May (In Germany at least), which is a friday. So what I am planning to do is conduct a public Let’s Play in our cinema on the day of the release. I guess most of the potential visitors will want to play the game all weekend through when they come home from work on friday. So right now I am thinking of creating a late night event on the night between thursday and friday, around 1 am. This way is has kind of a feeling of some oldschool latenight horrorflick venues while keeping the minors away that wouldn’t be allowed to watch someone play the game (this is a legal issue that I still have to confirm, I think it is a little more complicated than that). [/size]

I am thinking of a classical Let’s Play format: Someone charismatic plays (and maybe comments via microphone, not sure about that, yet), and the audience watches the show. I guess two hours should be enough, so it’s not gonna be soo late and so the game won’t be spoiled to much.

Apart from that I am considering conducting some kind of a feedback questionnaire after the show so I will know if the audience would like to keep watching maybe a week later or if they’d like to see bits of other games on a regular basis.

This is not a confirmed event, yet. I still have to check back with the programm at that season of the year, clarify legal issues, talk to id software for permission. I will keep you updated on the status.

Until then feel free to discuss about what you’d think about watching Doom on the big screen![/size]

0 Likes

#3

Honestly I don’t see how in any way this would be a good idea. The good thing about Let’s Play is accessability, they’re right there on your computer/tablet/phone or whatever and free. With Let’s Play at a cinema suddenly you have to take into account the pay fee, the time the let’s play comes on, whether or not you’re even interested in the game, etc. Suddenly all the good things about being able to stream are lost. I don’t see how you would even get more than ten (hell, hardly five) people to show up for something like this.

0 Likes

#4

@ Jack Freeman[/size]

Thanks for your feedback![/size]
[/size]
Fair point certainly! Stream is and will be a great challenge for cinemas. With netflix advancing with films like “Beats of no nation” cinemas will have to come up with something. Advantages like those you listed are hardly to be offered by cinemas, and I do think, if, someday, movie production companies decide to publish their film through streaming portals alongside with classic screen openings, this could mean the death of cinema as we know it. [/size]

In this context I absolutely see your point and have to agree. On the other hand our cinema is comparativley small in comparison to the bigger chain cinemas. Yet, we have rising visitor numbers each year. That is due to a very diverse programm. We have three screens (a fourth is in construction) and we show something between 10 to 15 diffrent films per day (Big chains like cinemaxx in Germany show something between 20 to 25 films per day while having almost the same amount of screens). Also we have a lot of smaller film festivals (I think currently around 12 or so a year). The themes of these festivals vary a lot so that a very broad spectrum of audiences can be appealed. There’s the Porn Film Festival (by far the most succesful and most fun each year…obviously ;D ), Punk Film Festival, Down Under Australian Film Festival,Spanish Film Fest, Bulgarian Documentary Cinema, Asian Hot Shots, Shebeen Flick Berlin and many more. And then there is more experimental stuff like KinoKabaret, where people get together and are making films within 3 days, all the way from the story board to the final edit. [/size]

Anyway, long story short: Our audience is very diverse, and Berlin is anyway a very diverse city (which is why I love this city). For every need there is an offer. I do understand that showing games in a cinema is somewhat a diffrent direction than the usual cinema program and certainly has to compete with the conveniences of online streaming. But there is little to no risk to at least try it. And fortunately our cinema is in this context a pretty democratic place and my bosses are very open to new ideas. So, I think I will go ahead and try it anyway. [/size]

Your comment left me curious though. Looking from another perspective, can you think of some format, some attraction or some set of things that actually WOULD attract you to go to watch someone play an awesome game at the cinema? Like, I don’t know, let’s imagine you’re a big fan of a certain Let’s Player (I don’t know who’s famous in other countries nowadays) and he or she’d be doing a live Let’s Play at the cinema on the first day of some great game you’ve been really looking forward to. And the cinema is right in your neighbourhood or at least very easy to reach. Would that be something interesting? Very hypothetical, I know. But anyway, I am just trying to imagine what COULD work.
[/size]

0 Likes

#5

Personally I think it’s a great idea. I’d say focus on games with either a great narrative element or fantastic visual and audio design - games that are every bit as much a work of art as the best films.

I would give my left nut to see Homeworld (either Remastered or Deserts of Kharak) played on the big screen.

0 Likes

#6

I think it sounds like a great idea, but I feel the same way as Jack Freeman. It does remove the charm of accessibility and ease of use.

However, I’m over here imagining playing Battelfield 4 or Dishonored or The Division or DooM on a huge ass cinema screen, and it’s got me drooling like a mad dog.

0 Likes

#7

This has actually been taking place for a few years now.
Google ‘movie theater video games’ and you’ll find a lot of stories about your idea.

Here’s a story about a big local event from only 3 weeks ago.

“Cinemark Theatres, iPic Theaters and Super League Gaming are bringing video games to movie theaters as gamers are invited to play one of the world’s most popular games, Minecraft, at four *DFW-area cinemas beginning Feb. 16. Super League, the world’s first and largest in-theater video game league, just announced its four-week season when hundreds will play face-to-face against friends in the theater auditorium and thousands on the world leaderboard, while also watching the action unfold live on the big screen.”

*Dallas-Fort Worth[/size]

AT&T Stadium has even had video games played on their screen. (180 by 72 feet / 55 by 22 m)

0 Likes

#8

Thanks! I feel the same way. Especially the narrative got me thinking about this idea. I came up with it when I watched a Let’s Play of The Last of Us. I watched it always at night when I came home from work, and I think it took me just two or maybe three nights, because the story and the way the guy played was so gripping! I hadn’t played the game before, but it was so fun just watching it all the way through.

I think games that have a strong narrative are particularly interesting for a cinema format. But the big problem is the form in which it would be presented. In order to fully get the story you usually would have to watch the game in full, which - depending on the game - would take something between 10 to 20 hours, sometimes more, sometimes less. So you would have to create a kind of serial event. Until now I couldn’t come up with a reasonable way to pull this off, but I keep thinkig about it. The great thing about The Last of Us is that it has kind of cliffhangers every hour or two. This would help to keep people interested over a longer timespan.

Another idea would be to create an allnighter. Like play from midnight until six in the morning, or the other way around, from midday until nighttime. At the moment I don’t really think this would be a good idea because you’d need hardcore fans to sit a night through. But I’ll be keeping this idea at the back of my head. If you guys have any ideas of how to adequately present narrativley strong games in a cinema, i’d be more than curious to hear them!

I think to start this a game like Doom that is not too heavy on story (if any!) but will be visually stunning and certainly will have great action is a good way to start off.

Though I perfectly understand how precious your nuts are to you, I am pretty happy that we don’t accept these as a currency. Your money will do. :thumbup:
Your suggestions of Homeworld is noted! Personally I haven’t been into the game, yet. But I’ll have a look at it for sure!

Yeah, I really think it’s a matter of experimenting with the idea and see how it turns out.
Yup, These game would look just amazing on a big screen! Definitely gonna try these out!

Thanks for these references, they look interesting! Didn’t know about these. When I told my bosses about the idea they did a research themselves and found that some cinemas in Germany - I think in Munich - are offering to rent out their screen to groups of people in order to play their games. That might work, but isn’t exactly what I’m think about right now. I like the format of a Let’s Play with somebody funny playing and commenting and playing in a way that makes it fun to follow. But I certainly can imagine creating a event with people playing together or against each other. The whole idea is pretty flexible in this sense!

That event at the Cinemark theatres looks interesting, though from the looks of it everybody is just looking at their tablets, but I guess there must have been people in the theatre just watching, too. That reminds me that just around the corner of our cinema is a Meltdown E-Sports Bar, where you can play or just watch games while having a drink. I’ll check them out when I come back, they might be interested in the idea as well. Anybody know these or is visiting one of these on a regular basis?

0 Likes

#9

Hey guys,
just a quick update on DOOM at the movies. Unfortunately I won’t be able to have a Let’s Play at the movies on the day of the release (13th of may) because as we just decided just recently it will be the day on which I will marry :smiley: . So, yeah, I kinda want to attend to that.
But the idea is still fresh and brewing in my head. I will keep you updated, so stay tuned!

0 Likes

#10

Pshhh you don’t really hafta BE there for your wedding. That’s just propaganda told by the government to control your actions.

Congratulations, however.

0 Likes

#11

Let’s Play “Inside” at the movies
[/size]
So, after being busy with with quite some other things in my life (e.g. marrying) I always kept this idea in the back of my head. And I am actually very proud of being able to announce that we will play Playdead’s new masterpiece INSIDE at our cinema!

[/size]

I am actually excited as chicken shit, because the process of starting to organize this went very quick. I heard about a new game by playdead just recently and finally watch a trailer yesterday after having read an extremely positive review. Having played and loved LIMBO I was very curious. So I found out that they are releasing their game today and after having a short conversation with my boss decided to write them an email, explaning what I intend to do. To my absolute surprise they responded within half an hour saying - and I quote - “That sounds like the most awesome thing ever!”.

So now, having Playdead’s full support, it’s just a matter of finding a good date and time and then I will concentrate on advertising this event. I will also playtest the game in one of our theatres in order to make sure for the best visuals and acoustics.

So, yeah, I am very very happy that this is going to happen! I will keep you guys updated and if you happen to be in Berlin some time around July/August, be sure to stop by and watch this amazing looking game on the big screen alongside nice people!

0 Likes

#12

That’s great news, can’t wait to hear how it goes!

0 Likes

#13

^ What he said!

0 Likes

#14

So finally we had the chance to playtest Inside in one of our cinemas.

As I don’t own a XBox One I first had to find one that I could borrow. The game is also available through steam, but a console has some technical advantages when it comes to play in a cinema. First of all, the game is optimized for the XBox One and I wasn’t sure if my PC would me fit at all to play the game as nicely. Secondly, the game pads can already be used without a wire, which comes in very handy as the console itself is set up in the projectionists room and the player (with the game pad) will be in the theatre, and of course, there is a wall between those rooms.

I just could have rented an XBox from a store, but that would have been rather expensive in comparison. So I tried to find somebody through forums and facebook groups who would have fun in participating in the idea. And after a while I found a guy who lives just outside of Berlin but declared that he’d gladly help and bring his Xbox in his car. I was super happy!

So we managed to find some time and playtest the whole thing in our theatre. We met at 9 am and had time until 2pm to test the image and the sound and preferably beat the game once. Setting up the console was dead easy as it was more or less just a matter of jacking it up to the HDMI port. I had initially some worries that the sound would not be good coming through HDMI but that turned out to be not true at all.

We had a little problem connecting the XBox to our wireless LAN network. Apparently it would have been necessary to allocate a fixed (or static) IP-adresse to the XBox through our router, but I did not have the admin access, so that turned our to be a problem. We worked around it by just jacking the console up to a fixed LAN cable. That way the download of the game and everything else worked like a charm.

The game itself is just beautiful. Mysteriously beautiful, I might add. Every frame could be printed out and hung up on a wall. The graphics and the use of color are simple but detailed enough the create a haunting atmosphere. Especially the use of sound and the scarce colors are so cleverly set that it all makes sense. The gameplay is simple but never boring. The checkpoints are very well placed and we were never once frustrated. The puzzles are challenging and clever, but easier than in Limbo. And although the game uses no voice or text whatsoever, the stroy that unfolds is just very…unsettling sometimes. But again, never boring. It all builds up to something quite unexpected, I think.

It took as a little more than three hours to beat the game, including a little break. So now that we know the puzzles and know where to go and what to do, I think it is possible to beat the game within a 2 1/2 hour timeframe. Which is a perfect time for a cinematic experience!

Playing the game in a completely dark cinema was an amazing experience. It seems like the game had been made for such an environment. I am so very much looking forward to this! Now that we tested everything I will find a date and advertise the the event. It is already so much fun to do this, I am very excited as how it is going to turn out.

As for documentation, I will at least take photos. We are discussing filming the event, too. But that might be difficult as not everybody likes to be filmed. We will see, though I think it would be awesome.

I took a little filming test with a rather old digital camera and filmed the trailer on the screen. It turned out to be rather grainy, but it was a test anyway. If anyone’s interested, you can have a look here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hlkp8ia8fvhw0g2/Trailer_Inside_K3.AVI?dl=0

0 Likes

#15

That really sounds awesome and the cinema looks like the perfect place to showcase games like that.

I played S.T.A.L.K.E.R on a projector screen once, it was great too. Maybe it could fit in the cinema too, it’s dark and quite scary :stuck_out_tongue: (Just make sure u get some mods, like oblivion lost).

0 Likes

#16

Let’s Play INSIDE at the movies - 19th August, 21pm[/size]

I am extremely pleased to finally announce a date for our live LET’S PLAY of playdead’s INSIDE. On friday august 19th at 21pm we will start a live Let’s Play in a professionally equipped theatre in front of an live audience.

Together with two colleagues we will play the game until we beat it, which will take approx. 2,5hours. We will not comment our gameplay but rather let the audience comment the images they see, if they want to. In addition to taking pictures of the event we will film it with a GoPro camera and capture preferably the reactions of the audience next to the actual gameplay. This will be uploaded to youtube some time after the show (depending on the amount of editing that needs to be done), so that event can correspond to “regular” Let’s Play videos.


[/size]

Our cinema is located at:

Kino Moviemento
Kottbusser Damm 22
10967 Berlin - Germany

Tickets will soon be available through: http://www.moviemento.de

Please make sure to check out the facebook event.

Here’s the complete link: https://www.facebook.com/events/279332339097739/?active_tab=highlights

I know that very few of you are actually anywhere near Berlin, but of course you are still very much invited! I am loving the discussion on this topic thus far and I am extremely grateful for all the feedback you have been giving! <3

And if all goes well, I am definately planning to continue this as a series. If you can’t come but still would like to show your love just state on fb that you’d be interested in the event. Of course you are very welcome to invite anybody who might be interested.

So now my job will be to advertise this baby wherever it fits. I made quite a list already but if anybody has an idea for a site or a group or an istituiton that would be interested in such a thing, just let me know! [/size]

Other than that I will experiment with the GoPro whenever I can to find the ebst way to film the event.

P.S.: Turns out playdead is having INSIDE’s release party on august 19th. Bit of a shame because I was hoping for some of them to be around (they are in copenhagen, which is not too far away from Berlin). But I take it as a good omen that I chose exactley the date of the release party.

[/size]

Thanks! It’s actually quite a small theatre (67 seats) I the proportion to the screen is just perfect. Also I think the sound in that theatre is the best.

Thanks for the suggestion! I am sure that was pretty scary, would have loved to see that! I haven’t played it yet, but always wanted to. I really loved the scenario of taking an existing place and set the stage for something very unreal there. Chernobyl still seems so out of reality if look at some pictures of it today.

I will have to decide on what kind of games I will continue to show at the movies. The length of a game can be a factor because of the restricted time available to tell a story in a theatrical context. The game genre is a factor too, because some genres might be difficult to watch and follow on a big screen. We hopefully expect some gaming unexperienced audience, mind you.

But playing Inside in a theatre in front of an presumably unexperienced audience will be an experiment. And it will reveal more of what is possible and what not. I am trying to think of ways how to get some feedback of the audience afterwards. Though I am starting to become a little nervous, I am so much looking forward to this, exactly because of you never know what’s gonna happen - which implies: Everything can happen! :smiley: [/size]

[/size]

0 Likes

#17

I would suggest contacting your local newspaper(s) and television stations. I’d also contact Playdead and make them aware of the event taking place the night of the release. Ask them if they have an interest in having a presence there or in making someone available for interviews by the newspaper, TV stations.

0 Likes

#18

Rofl.
(I’m from Berlin myself, lol)
Werde es mir vllt. sogar ansehen, mal schauen! Sieht ganz nett aus, auch wenn ich das Spiel selber schon mehrmals durchgespielt hab.
(“Perhaps I’m gonna check it out. Looks pretty nice, despite having played through the game several times.” just to keep things in English on this forum, haha)

0 Likes

#19

Thanks for the suggestions!
I got some newspapers and magazine on my list and will contact them a soon as I have a press release ready (hopefully tonight).
I am in constant contact with Kalle Henningsson from Playdead. He is the Quality Assurance Manager. They are already aware that the dates are overlapping. He says it would have been unlikely that anybody would have been in Berlin at that date anyway, though they love the idea and would have loved to be there! Some folks from Playdead will be in Cologne for the GamesCom during the same week. But Cologne is almost 600 km away from Berlin (copenhagen is actually a little bit closer!)

As i said, it’s a shame but the 19th is definately the best date for the time being. So, I’ll stick with this one. As I said, I’d take it a a good omen. and apart from that…you never know, maybe some will come afterall. Some folks at Playdead have friends in Berlin, whom they will be telling about the event. So that’s something, I guess :slight_smile:

Dude, I know! It says on your profile. I had a look a couple of weeks ago, because at least half of your nickname sounds German. I’m guessing the other half is Italian?
I actually wrote a PM to you some weeks ago, because I knew you are from Berlin. At the time I was looking for someone who has an Xbox One and who would be willing to lend it in order to play it at our theatre. I don’t know if you read it or if it got lost somehow. Eventually I found a dude from Zossen who was willing to help. And he would drive all the way from Zossen to bring his Xbox. He’s really nice!
Come by, if you can, bring some friends, It’ll be fun! As you have played it, you know how awesome it’ll look like on the big screen. And imagine the sound… If you really do decide to come, give me a shout beforehand so I can reserve some good seats for you.
Anyway, If you like the idea, it’d supercool if you tell your friends or anybody you know who might be intersted in it. It’d be very much appreciated! :thumbup: <3

0 Likes

#20

Hey guys, just to let you know. I just added an english description the the fb event.
Here’s the link again:
https://www.facebook.com/events/279332339097739/

cheers!

0 Likes