First person shooters have come a long way since the early days of 3D Monster Maze (1982) and Wolfenstein 3D (1992). As far as gaming goes, we’ve seen a massive expansion of experience, where the shooting elements are now just part of a much wider and deeper engagement with any virtual world. Metroid and Mirror’s Edge have added platforming to the mix, whereas Bio Shock and Mass Effect have supplied all the background stat tinkering that was once the preserve of Japanese RPGs. Films however, and Sci-Fi films specifically, have dragged behind some of the best video games of the past decade.

While the short form of the music video proved to be a better suited platform, a couple of films have attempted to pull off the technical feat of seeing the world through the eyes of the protagonist. Admittedly, these have been little more than experiential sequences within a longer, more customary third-person narrative. Lawn Mower Man (1992) had the benefit of entering a virtual game world where the computer generated graphics were experienced in the first-person by the audience. While the visuals now appear dated, and the film itself wasn’t one of the best scripted, credit has to still be given to Brett Leonard and his team – it was over a decade before Jon Farhat attempted to replicate the experience for Doom (2005).

Jump cut to recent years, and it’s been the internet rather than movie studios that have pushed the boundaries in first-person cinematography. Last year, Realm Pictures created an engaging video/game mash-up in which Chat Roulette participants were encouraged to engage in a Doom-esque first-person survival horror. That said, it’s Ilya Naishuller who has taken this story telling technique to new levels. Originally creating one of those aforementioned music videos for Biting Elbows that had all the hallmarks of an action Sci-Fi narrative, he’s now pushed the envelope to a full length feature with Hardcore Henry. It’s early days critically as the film has only just been released, but respect is definitely due to this opening attempt at unifying the converging milieu of games and film. Who knows what may come out of this inevitable elision, but rest assured we won’t have to wait another decade before seeing the next entry in this emergent media.

Sadly, such immediate visceral highs remain unobtainable for a percentage of the population due to the very simple reason that first-person perspectives can induce nausea. All our best wishes, then, to the clean up crews on Alton Towers’ new Galactica ride – especially after all the recent evidence coming out of the growing virtual reality community.

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