Another day, another controversy, and on top of that in the final week of the year. In a piece published in The New Yorker, Craig Mazin, producer-author or “showrunner” of the upcoming television version of The Last of Us for HBO, dedicated unflattering words to the video game medium. Indeed, in the piece, titled “Can The Last of Us break the curse of bad video game adaptations,” Mazin made one of the most ignorant and, boy, boomer statements that can be made: “When you play a section, you’re killing people, and when you die you go back to the last checkpoint. All those people come back, and they move the same way. Watching a person die, I think, must be very different from watching pixels die.”

Wow. But before destroying this statement, let’s go in parts. The very name of the article already smells like an anachronism. The so-called curse of video game adaptations was real in the cinema, we even talked about it ourselves years ago. But now, when you have Arcane and you have Cyberpunk Edgerunners, there is no longer talk of curse, but of overcoming masterpieces. The article begins by referring to the horrible Super Mario Bros. with Bob Hoskins, but boy, we are about to release the new Super Mario Bros. movie. Worse still, speaking about this type of tape, Mezin says with a lot of contempt that even Now the good adaptations have only worked “with children’s films” like Detective Pikachu or Sonic the Hedgehog. 

As for Mezin’s main claim, it doesn’t take much thinking to refute it. Mezin seems not to understand the difference between a film and reality: both a film and a screen with pixels are mere simulacrum, artificial images that will never have the emotional charge of a real event. Past a certain threshold of photorealism, a “death” is identical in a film and in a video game. We imagine that the gentleman refers to the emotional attachment we have, but, again, this is built: you can cry for a puppet like Pinocchio, or for a drawing, if the plot and the construction of the character are well done. And this happens in The Last of Us and other video games.

Now, Mezin refers to the death of the antagonists or enemies; again, the cinema is full of examples in which these characters do not matter; Does anyone start crying over the hundreds of deaths in a Rambo movie? It all depends on the genre, the intentions, the function, etc. The cinema is full of action stories that, in fact, go to inspire games like The Last of Us; the same as emotional stories that, again, also inspire video games, and as in the case cited, sometimes coincide. Video games can have various emotional registers, in the same way that in a movie there can be indifferent and significant deaths depending on the point of view.

In short, Mazin is a boomer somewhat disconnected from the present. Now, this is not to imply that he lacks talent, but come on, he uses strong words for someone who directed Superhero Movie , Scary Movie 4 and The Specials .. Now, back to the adaptation, the trailer looks good, and Mazin is working closely with Druckmann so that it is not a disaster. It’s just that, recently, we’ve seen a wave of contempt from writers and directors for the source material they need to adapt. We’ve seen enough examples already: The Witcher, Rings of Power, and many other failed versions that want to reinvent the wheel or stick all sorts of political agendas to old stories instead of creating new ones. Bottom line: hating the source material is the first step to failure these days.

Nevertheless, despite everything, at least Mezin shows ignorance regarding the medium, but at least he seems sincere in his respect for the material. So we still have faith in this adaptation, but Mezin definitely deserves a scolding for perpetuating boomer myths about new media. Finally: why not adapt one of the hundreds of thousands of stories created in literature and theater? Precisely the very existence of a film adaptation shows that millions of people care about the “death of a pixel”, although hey, they are not even pixels anymore, they are polygons. Anyway, we wish you a happy 2023 and we send you a hug from LevelUp. Happy New Year!

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