Game v. Movie v. Novel

By: Lynne M.

I have been very impressed by how much LoTRO resembles both its relative book and movie. It feels great to be running around in this now seemingly real storybook world that I’ve read about and have seen portrayed in movies. I feel special, like I’ve been granted access to this world of illusions, and it’s my new playground.

The story, so far, in the game seems fairly accurate as to what I remember from the book. The only thing that to me doesn’t really relate are the side quests, i.e. killing so many animals for their pelts and destroying poisonous rose bushes. I’m not sure if those were put in to be entertaining or just a tedious task to earn a bit more silver and upgraded items.

I like the variations in graphics as we move from one version of the story to the next. The movie, obviously, has vivid, life-like images that beautifully and accurately portray the story in a well put together manner. The game’s graphics aren’t amazing, but they suffice and serve their purpose. I like the different races’ character portrayals a lot. Now that I am reading the novel for the second time and having played the game and watched the movie, I find that my mental images of Middle Earth have changed in a way that blends both the game’s graphics and the movie’s images.

The action in the game so far seems a bit different from that in the movie in and book. As I mentioned earlier, the side quests like killing animals make me feel like I’m just playing another MMORPG rather than a game based on an epic story. I hope as I progress in the game that the story-line will be more clearly related to the novel and movie so that I can “immerse” (note: useage of one of our class’s favorite words) myself in the tale.

Immersion Buffet!

By Justin C.

Hello! Let me just begin this blog by saying that I am absolutely thrilled to have discovered yet another time sink. Lord of the Rings Online has been a blast so far. I am discovering new characters and places every time I delve into the gamesphere. It brings me back to my Star Wars Galaxies days. But I digress…

The point of this blog entry is to discuss the story development and other aspects of Lord of The Rings by comparing the narrative over two different mediums: motion picture and video game. The two mediums have very different approaches towards telling a story. The video game offers better immersion. You are a character in the story. You control the events. You choose where to go, what to do, and who to be. Whereas a movie offers a more linear path. You are watching someone else enact the story. I find this much less connecting, much less personal. When I was finished watching the first movie, all I wanted to do was scurry back to my dorm and log back on to Daggaroth so that I could feel like I was back in that world.

The Lord of The Rings movie does a fantastic job of telling the story. Yet, that is just it. It just tells the story. It leaves you wanting more. When you stop watching the movie, it is over, nothing can be changed about it. Whereas when I log off of Daggaroth and run to class, he is still there. The world is still there, still moving, and still changing.

The game lets you find the story on your own. It directs you, but does not push you to find your way. You can choose to learn as much about the lore as you want, or as little. This, to me, offers a much richer experience. The movie, however, does not let you control the story. This takes away so much immersion. Yes, the aesthetics of the movie may be better, but in the game you are planted in an open environment. You are acting with other characters, building a repetoire, and becoming part of the story.

The movie leaves me wanting more, but the game satisfies my desire. I am allowed to create my own story and learn other stories all whilst actually enacting and taking part in Tolkien’s vision. Tokien’s story becomes my story. The game lets me tell the story. It lets me decide what happens. It is an immersion buffet all for my taking.

My Cello Feels Neglected…

By: Justin G.

It’s very difficult to find a good balance between playing LOTRO and practicing the cello.  Still working on that.

I have thus far immensely enjoyed comparing LOTRO to the Lord of the Rings movie.  We are all familiar with the story of LotR; those who have not read the books have at least seen the movie or heard some kind of plot summary.  But I have found it very interesting to compare the LOTRO experience (it hasn’t been very much so far, but I feel that I have some idea of what it’s like) with the Lord of the Rings movie experience.

One of the things I (being a music geek) loved about the movie was, of course, hearing all of the different themes to accompany characters, places, stories, actions, almost everything.  One of my favorite things was how the makers had the music drop out completely during the enormous battle scenes; that was a really interesting effect.  Now it is true that the laptop I am using to play LOTRO is extremely loud, but I have not really noticed any compelling music thus far.  It is not a feature that would make or break the game for me, but I do hope to encounter more music in playing this game.

No matter how much I love the music, the way in which the story is developed is far more important.  The movie opens with hushed, passionate narration over dramatic images introducing secondary characters and background plot information.  It is a wonderful cinematic effect, but I must say it would absolutely not translate into a good game experience (for me, at least).  The game, on the other hand, has almost none of that.  After the player creates an avatar, that character (and therefore the player) is thrown right into action.  The backstory is, of course, not quite as important to a gamer as it is to a movie-goer.  All the player knows is that he/she is trying to defeat a mysterious evil group called the Blackwolds. It’s very interesting for me to look at the differences between the storytelling of the two media; the game is, of course, completely interactive and therefore has the ability to give the player elements of the story as that player progresses.  The movie, however, must heave a truckload of backstory and miscellaneous information and introduction onto the viewer within the span of about ten minutes at the beginning.  Of course, the filmmakers somehow do this flawlessly.

In playing this game, I have also noticed something about myself.  I (would like to) think that I am becoming a more “mature” gamer rather than one of those “grinders.”  I have been paying attention to all the missions and stories, not just rushing through in an attempt to get to the highest level in the shortest amount of time possible.  Comparing the game to the book and movie has, for me, reinforced the value of the fiction in games, even console games like The Legend of Zelda and Resident Evil 4 (even though LOTRO probably will have a better story).  And as an added benefit of knowing the story of these games, I am becoming a better gamer (I think).

The movie or the game: that is the question.

by: Uhyeok Bang on September 5

“In the land of the Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a Master ring to control all others. And into this ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One Ring to rule them all.“ With this line starts the famous interpretation of the even more famous novel The Lord of the Rings. The nominee for six academy awards, The Lord of the Rings movies introduce us to the intricate world of Middle Earth, its history and its people.


The One Ring, an artifact that carries all the might of the Dark Lord Sauron himself, lures people and controls their minds to get back to his master. However, the ring was found by a little hobbit, Bilbo, and was later recognized by a wizard, Gandalf the Grey. As the film goes on, the Fellowship of the Ring forms to destroy the Ring in the flaming magma of Mount Doom. Here begins the battle over the mighty ring. The film illustrates with a fancy style furious battles with great armies, people’s struggles over their identities (Boromir, who wanted the Ring for the glory of the Gondor, and Gollum, who was so obsessed with the ring that he lost self-identity), beautiful landscapes of Middle Earth and the culture of its people who occupy the land. However, the film lacks the participation of the viewers, as it shows the imaginations and understandings of the director based on the novel, and doesn’t provide a place for our own fantasies.


The LOTRO game has good graphics and a beautiful game space too. The storyline also remains almost the same as in the film, however, the crucial difference between the film and the game is that the LOTRO game is based on our thoughts and actions, and serves only as an environment where we put our own ways and create our own stories. The simple process of creating a character gives a great pleasure, as you create your own self; you can be a strong but short dwarf, a beautiful elf with long ears, or a representative of other races. When you have created your own self, you can travel along the same road like the main heroes of the novel did, completing entertaining quests, interacting with NPCs and players, and even creating your own fellowships (or kinships).


Both the LOTR movie and the LOTRO game have their own characteristics that make each of them special. In the 20th Century people enjoyed reading the masterpiece of one of the genius minds of that time, J. R. R. Tolkien, but for us, who live in the 21st Century, watching the movie and playing the game may be one of the best options available to enjoy the great story and to satisfy your fantasy.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

By: Amir Aschner


            When a discussion about the movie and the game of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) comes up everyone always tries to compare the two and decide which one is better; better at narrating a story or better at immersing the audience in the fictional world of Middle Earth or better at any number of other aspects. I am of a different mind: Why can’t we all just get along? Neither media is better than the other but rather each has its distinctive pros and cons.


First let’s examine the movie: In Tolkien’s LOTR series he created a vast and detailed world for the reader to enter. Most of the audience for the movies already knew the plot for the books and had an expectation of what would occur in the movie. However, regardless of what they knew or expected to happen, the movies were in effect just a visual portrayal of what someone else imagined the LOTR’s tale to be like; that someone being the director. In that sense there was far more rigidity in the movie than any other media (ie book, game). We, as the audience, had no say in what happened, but rather we were ‘along for the ride’ so to speak as the director and actors took us through the story/plot. Getting this real-life sensory (visual and auditory) portrayal is both positive and negative. Positively, it gives us a greater sense of ‘real’ than if we just imagined what was occurring. A movie entails seeing actual people interact, being in actual environments (whether they be real places or CG backdrops is irrelevant) and hearing actual sounds. While these are nice and, more often than not, add to the experience of the stories development they can have the negative effect of taking away from our imagination and creative input to the story. For example, if you read the LOTRs books you may imagine a scene differently than what the movie forces you to see and if the difference is substantial it can detract from the enjoyment and even remove you from your immersion in the story all together.


Now let’s contrast what is said above about movies with LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online). Game play excels where the movies lack. Although every game is by definition “fiction and rules” (Juuls), LOTRO is the same fictional Middle Earth of the movies and books but with fewer rules. By that I mean that the audience, or in this case the player, has far more control over the outcomes and the stories progression. Yes, you can only do what the rules of the game allow you to do but they allow you to have a huge say in what actions are taken. Loosely, you follow the plot of the ‘One Ring’ and the actions in the world of Tolkien’s Middle Earth but with far more available options and paths. For instance, as a character I don’t have to follow the path Frodo took to Mordor nor go join the battle for Helms Deep. Rather, I can walk from town to town leisurely or go hang out with other LOTRO players or if I choose do exactly as I previously mentioned. There is no agenda one has to follow. On the other hand, whereas in a movie perceives a real world the game is far less stimulating. Not to the point where one will not be immersed in the fictional reality but the graphics are not a life-like simulation, the sounds are limited to what the game can produce, and the action is limited to what the game allows the characters to emote – run, swim, fight, etc.

            So to sum up: The movie puts you in the passenger seat of a reality and the game give you control of fiction. However, do not get the wrong impression about what I mean by that. I am neither challenging nor proving the superiority of movies over games or vice versa, but rather, qualifying both as useful tools. They simply do different things. And is different really so bad? Honestly, why can’t we all just get along?

Game Perspective and Immersion

by: Sam F

Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) creates a cave version of Tolkien’s “Middle Earth” alluded to by Mackenzie Wark in Gamer Theory 2.0 and displayed in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Critics to this belief could perhaps argue that both movie and game are idealist worlds of fantasy, as Middle Earth creates a realm beyond the human and racial limitations of our earthly scope. While Middle Earth does possess elements beyond our world, LOTRO the game creates an unrestricted domain with which to absorb aspects of its world. Peter Jackson’s representation of this world similarly portrays Middle Earth, but through a director’s eyes. The mise en scène is limited to the rectangle on which the film is being viewed. The dialogue is taken from a series of shots such as a master shot, which is the entire scene from one wide shot incorporating both actors. Another possibility is a series of “mid-shots,” which split the dialogue into individual pieces with specific characters, which includes dialogue shots over the listener’s shoulder while focusing on the speaker In a game like LOTRO, the viewpoints are infinite. This medium offers a panorama of angles with which to observe the characters.  Differing points of view offer a more vast visual experience for the movie, while the player guides his character on a personal adventure to his or her desired destination within the world.  

            The movie also differs from the game, as it is a broader plot experience. The game focuses on the player’s particular character whereas the movie focuses on various protagonists. The implication of “fellowship” in the title of Jackson’s film reveals on screen a story observing a group of protagonists. An observer may become attached to a particular character’s agon and feel they are lead protagonist, but the fellowship is not about the struggles of one character. The game, on the contrary, provides an interactive experience with other characters, but the sole purpose of the game is to develop a single protagonist.  Character attachment in LOTRO creates a more immersive experience than perhaps the movie, as one is able to blaze the trails of Middle Earth during a more individualistic adventure.  

The Segregation of Role-Playing

By: Derek S. on 9/05/08

Men, Dwarfs, Goblins, Elves, Orcs, Hobbits… These are all examples of different types of characters in the LOTR saga. From the books to the movies to the games. They all make an appearance in some fashion and they all have a major role to play.

These characters shape the world of LOTR and give it a solid definition. All the races interact with each other differently. Men are not trusted by any race due to the weakness Isildur demonstrated when he had the chance to destroy the ring. Elves and Dwarfs are polar opposites of each other which causes them not to trust the other race. None of the other races know what to think about the Hobbits due to the fact that almost no one knows anything about Hobbits.

Different Races are specialized for different tasks. This is most evident in the MMORPG: LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online). Men have the choice of being champions, guardians, hunters. Men can be whatever they want to. Dwarfs, on the other hand, are restricted to only the champion, guardian, hunter, and minstrel classes. Hobbits are limited to being hunters, burglars, minstrels, and guardians. Elves finish in a close second to men, only having two classes less than men. Those two missing classes are burglar and captain. These classes fit closely into the stereotypes the movies and books fit the different races into. Hobbits are small and more like stealth and support characters. Elves are the lore-masters, focused mainly on spells and incantations. Dwarfs, while they are indeed stout and hard-hitting, tend not to be capable of the same type of fighting expertise as men. The way these races are portrayed in the movies and the books correlates directly with what these characters are capable of in the game.