Machinima and “This Spartan Life”

This Spartan Life is a form of machinima. It is produced and directed by Chris Burke. I have never heard of machinima before, and so after watching an episode, I decided to do a little research. I stumbled upon an interview by Chaos Control way back in 1994. I know it is a twenty year old interview, but it gave me more insight into what this “talk show” was about and where it all started. Here is the link to the interview if you care to take a look:

I found out that This Spartan Life started as a mock TV show but focused on an interview idea. Chris found the Xbox live system to be interesting, because of how it connects players from remote parts of the globe. He decided to use Halo as his game choice, because he was familiar with it and because of the variety of maps and extended options for exploring.

He speaks about the biggest limitations in machinima art, which is to break the illusion of emotionless characters. He tries to mimic real life and people as much as possible. He prefers to produce comedy machinima because the avatars in Halo wear helmets, obscuring their faces, which makes it hard to relate emotion to face. I noticed while watching an episode that the camera angle will adjust and shift around, and that the characters will slightly move if imitating hand motions and natural ticks. It is cleverly created and developed.

I find the idea of machinima to be so interesting. It’s a twist on a let’s play in my opinion. I like the fact that everyone has to work together and “behave” to get the work done. It is stricter than a let’s play in the sense that it is planned out and carefully produced; there is no room for error. It’s an art, and requires a lot of skill (directing, editing, recording, script writing, music etc). Chris defined machinima to be “movement created in real time by a performer who is part puppeteers and part actor”. It’s also a more creative way of getting a point across by reaching out to people through a different form of media. It’s an effective way to get people to listen, as you are encouraging them to pay attention. It’s more entertaining, and not as boring as watching the news, its visually appealing, there are many gestures, visual narratives, different identities etc.

This opened a new door of entertainment for me, and I will definitely tune in and explore other segments.


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