Escaping Through Air Vents, Not Just for Movies

I found this great blog by screen writer John August. It’s full of tips and tricks for budding writers, and it’s a fun read. I about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this:

One day, I’d love to win an Oscar. An Emmy. A Tony Award. But if all I accomplished in my screenwriting life were reducing the number of times characters climbed through air vents, I’d consider my work successful.

Mr. August contends that “air ducts are for air” and shouldn’t be used as a magical escape mechanism for characters in otherwise hopeless circumstances.

Now some may argue that people do fit in air vents, but it’s hard to disagree… It’s a silly cliché and it’s used much too often not only in movies but in games, too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve climbed through air vents in games of all kinds. Nonetheless, I don’t like to blindly dismiss concepts either. For example, there are very rare times when even climbing through ducts makes sense: AVP on the Atari Jaguar is a brilliant example. Allowing players as the alien to climb through the ducts added game play that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

It intrigues me how many Hollywood clichés have made their way into video games. I can’t help but wonder how long until video game clichés start regularly making their way into movies. I guess we’ll know the first time a movie opens with an ammo crate and a pork chop on the ground.

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