The E3 2019 is now behind us. As every year, the different conferences have given us a more or less clear idea of what awaits us in the coming months in the world of video games. Although we can talk at length about the best conference of the fair, I think there is little doubt about which was the most memorable and surprising moment. The appearance of Keanu Reeves at the end of the film trailer of cyberpunk 2077, as well as his arrival on the conference stage Microsoft, has attracted the attention not only of gamers, but also of people outside this industry by blowing up the network. And it could not be otherwise. On the other hand, we are talking about one of the most launched and appreciated actors of recent years, thanks to its renewed rise with the saga of John Wick. And let's face it, even one of the most loved as a human being, because of its renowned kindness, availability and generosity. Not surprisingly, while Reeves was intent on describing the setting of cyberpunk 2077, calling it "breathtaking", a boy could not restrain himself and launched into a genuine and spontaneous "You are breathtaking!", conquering the hearts of all those present, including that of Reeves himself who returned the compliment. Even CD Project Red appreciated this show of affection to the point of offering the boy a Collector's Edition of the game as a gift, refused in favor of a charitable activity.
This wonderful series of events would never have happened if Keanu Reeves had not appeared at the end of that trailer and on the Los Angeles stage. If in its place there had been any other character, and if the release date had been announced by any member of the team CD Project Red, today we would be talking about anything, or maybe nothing. In the videogame industry, cyberpunk 2077 it was already seen by all as one of the most anticipated titles ever, which could be able to revolutionize the concepts of open world and role-playing. But to an external or inexperienced eye, cyberpunk 2077 it was not even remotely known. Instead, it now appears as something to keep under observation, because inside it there is a renowned actor, known by everyone for his mediatic depth and for his artistic acting skills. And here it is its mere presence is sufficient to further elevate the caliber of the title, placing it in the eyes of the cultural mass not only as an entertainment product, but as an artistic product.
And this was also understood by David Cage many years ago, when he wrote in his Beyond: Two Souls two other world-famous actors such as Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe. He understood it Activision, which he inserted into Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare British actor Kit Harington. Hideo Kojima understood that, for his new one Death Stranding he managed to attract around him not only a cast of Hollywood blockbuster actors, but even an Oscar-winning director like Guillermo Del Toro. He understood it Ubisoft, which always spoke about E3 Ghost Recon Breakpoint through the actor Jon Bernthal, present in the game. And always Ubisoft has partnered with the production company of actor and director Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the making of Beyond Good And Evil 2.
In short, Keanu Reeves is just another piece of a puzzle that has been assembled for several years. A puzzle that is having a silent construction of which few have noticed. A puzzle that aims to build a new aura around the videogame medium, legitimizing it in a definitive and incontrovertible way as an art form in all respects. Of course, we daily consumers of this industry's products have consolidated this concept for a long time. But the same thing cannot be said for the mass, for those who see the video game with an external eye, judging it to be a pastime or, at best, a form of entertainment.
In recent years, the video game has been experiencing the same phenomenon that cinema experienced in the mid-twentieth century. In its early years, cinema was regarded as an attractive phenomenon, to the point that we refer to the films of the beginning of the '900 as "Cinema of attractions". With the time of the big studios, it became clear to everyone its economic potential, up to imposing itself as the most profitable business of the century. And it was precisely during the middle of the '900 that auteur cinema began to emerge: films made by people who had not the sole purpose of generating a profit, but of communicating something to the viewer. At that time cinema was recognized not only as a financial product, but also as an artistic product.
Isn't it the same thing that is happening to the video game? At the dawn of a simple entertainment phenomenon, to then channel around it one of the most lucrative markets in the world, until the last few years in which it is beginning to become fully aware of its actual artistic value. A value that has already been partially incorporated into the industry, but which still has to take root outside. And here it is to achieve this goal the help of the elder brother, the cinema, arrives. The medium who followed the same path, which is now recognized and established worldwide. Thanks to the presence of its interpreters, the video game reaches the ears of those who have never picked up a joypad, attracting attention and curiosity. The presence of famous actors attracts the public, and besides being a marketing move, it is an act of cultural elevation of the product. "If an actor like Mads Mikkelsen is present and plays in that game, then it must be something beautiful and interesting". It could be considered a very trivial and simplistic thought, but it is a first step to attract and educate an external public that he would never have even heard of without him Death Stranding. His mere presence is enough to make it clear that if he is there, then he is not a video game like any other, but something more.
I want to clarify a point that I would not like to be misunderstood by those who are reading these lines. The artistic elevation of video games does not only happen if they refer to the committed narrative of the films, imitating it. Just as all cinema is considered art in every genre, so not only in the auteur film but also in the action film, so even the video game is trying to convey this concept. If we analyze the case of Kit Harington and Jon Bernthal, we note that the two have participated in two videogame franchises that do not have as their first objective to convey some profound message, and they are not games that base the core of their being on a narrative component . Similarly, Keanu Reeves participated in an adrenaline-filled saga like that of John Wick, yet no one would ever dare to deny his artistic value as an actor. This because there are different types of art forms, intended for different types of public. I am pleased to see the actors take part in all-round videogame productions, and not only in those more marked by narration as Beyond: Two Souls e Death Stranding. There is already the awareness that the video game is an art as a whole, and not only in a certain type of product.
However, the video game must not fall into the trap of imitation. I believe that trying to emulate cinema is not the right path to follow. Rather, it must try to make it evolve thanks to something that it can never have, namely interactivity. The enthusiasm for the presence of these important figures in our medium is due to the fact of being able to interact with them, creating a greater involvement with respect to that which would give someone not recognizable, someone who does not have a fixed face in the collective imagination. Between going to battle with any soldier and going into battle with the actor of The Punisher there is a certain difference. In addition to this, the infinite possibilities offered by the videogame allow to exploit the stylistic techniques of cinema in completely innovative ways, expanding its potential towards unexplored horizons. Being the protagonists and trying to get control of what we see is something that cinema can never materialize.
Interaction and evolution, not imitation.
These last few years have clearly shown us that the video game wants to establish itself to the general public as an art form in all respects. Collaborations with major players can only help achieve this goal, so I am convinced that we should accept them and encourage them. The benefits they bring are far superior to the damage and help us to become more aware of how this industry is trying to change the external perception towards it. If the 20th century was the century of cinema, I firmly believe that the 21st century will become the century of the video game, if it is able to evolve the concepts, canons and stylistic features of its big brother. The road is traced, all that remains is to follow it.