So I went to see the film Crank: High Voltage at the weekend, and it was entertaining in a ridiculous, OTT kind of way, but it also had the interesting effect of making me think about games.
The term 'Popcorn movie' is relatively new to the medium I believe, and is associated with movies like Crank, Transporter and Shoot em up, films that embrace the kind of stupidity that makes them one thing and one thing only: Fun.
These films do not attempt to do anything other than entertain, giving the viewer brilliant action, comedy, and over the top ridiculousness every couple of minutes, with the rest of the film showing the (probably) absurd storyline. A couple of memorable examples are the way the protagonist of Transporter 2 flips his Audi over to knock a bomb off the underside using a crane, and last bit of Shoot em up where the 'hero' shoots a guy three times in the arm, causing him to shoot his colleague.
The reason Crank got me thinking was because this idea of 'Popcorn Movies' have started to bleed into gaming, especially, it seems, over the course of the last year or so. Titles such as Ninja Blade, Wanted: Weapons of Fate and Mad World offer this same sense of OTT fun and it seems a deeply story and high production values aren't a necessity anymore.
These types of games offer game play that requires very little thought to pull off, and are often very short, say 4-5 hours. What they lack in depth however, they more than make up for in sheer balls out over the top and, more often than not, cinematic action. Ninja Blade's protagonist riding a motorcycle down falling debris and Mad Worlds stylish gore and two such examples of this, and while they raise no bars or set no new standards, they have found a place in many gamers hearts.
And that is the point, they fill a nice little niche in the gaming sector. These games will probably sell quite well, and the developers can have some serious fun creating them, which inevitably will bleed into the final product and produce a better game. The developers know they aren't tying to reset a genre or set the sales charts alight, just that they want to entertain in a way only games can really provide. Sure the movies I have mentioned allow a similar kind of entertainment, but they are passive experiences and the interactive nature of gaming lets you do a lot more and entertain in different ways.
So I here by coin the term 'Popcorn Gaming' to be used to describe such titles, where after beating them you are instantly in a good mood because you know you have been entertained by a title that tries to do nothing else. These games can be as great to watch as to play as well, so get some mates round, hand out the popcorn and get some OTT gaming down your neck!