The prospect of the existence of extraterrestrial life has always intrigued and fascinated humans. But in the 1970s and 80s, two films sparked a fascination in a more macabre sense. And no, the two films weren’t E.T. or Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The 1979 film Alien, and the 1987 film Predator and their subsequent sequels ended up providing material for one of the biggest gaming franchises in existence. The two films spawned two AVP (Alien vs Predator) films and several novels, 20-odd comic book stories, 2x card games and fifteen video games.
The franchise didn’t end there. The younger millennial generation who has never even heard of the original films, let alone watched them, have bought into the story of the battle of two of the most horrifying creatures to inhabit Earth and space. Even the gaming companies have realised the power of a franchise like AVP – building games using theme themes to illustrate their offerings.
How it all began – with two groundbreaking films
So what were films all about and why did they create such a special place in the heads of cinema-goers? The fact that the two very different aliens were eventually involved in their own battle in the wastes of Antarctica only came about because of the success of the comic book stories from Dark Horse Comics, which originally developed the concept of AVP in 1989. There are still plenty of contentious issues around the naming of the franchise – Alien (as in the first film) or Aliens (as in the second), and vs (from the first comic stories) and versus (as used in the late 1990s). None of this really matters any more as the franchise is today more often known by the simplified AVP moniker.
In the original 1979 Alien film, the plot places an alien being in a commercial space vehicle returning to earth, after killing everyone and being apparently defeated in the end. Spoiler alert – the film ends when the heroine (played by Sigourney Weaver in her first lead role) the returns to Earth alone.
The original Predator film comes from a very different premise. Based on Earth, it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leader of an elite special forces team tasked with rescuing hostages from a guerrilla group in Central America. The plot involves them being stalked and picked off one by one by an extra-terrestrial predator. Ultimately, Arnold defeats the Predator.
Both films employed state of the art (at the time) special effects which were just beginning to gain a semblance or genuine reality for film-goers – and make these creature seem more believable than had been seen before. Both films were timed well. The prospect of interstellar space travel was growing at the time of Alien’s release, and the US was involved in military skirmishes in Central America during the making of Predator.
The subsequent sequels were, like all sequels, simply taking advantage of the interest garnered by the original films. The plots changed as did the actors, although Sigourney Weaver resurrected her role as Ellen Ripley four times; she apparently died in the third film but came back as a human/alien clone for the fourth.
How AVP slowly took a hold on gaming
So how did the franchise move to be such a success in the gaming world? The best answer is probably that the timing of the films, and the development of the two franchises, coincided perfectly with a time of innovations in gaming and the rise of the internet.
The comic stories had also filled out parts of the two films’ back stories, and this too made it easier for gamers to grasp the premise of the two combatants. According to the comic story writers, the two films were always connected (of course, in reality, they weren’t). The writer of the stories, Randy Stradley and artist Phil Norwood described how the Predator aliens had used the semi-domesticated Aliens as targets for their young hunters as a way of proving themselves. They would seed the universe with Alien eggs, then go and hunt them for sport.
The first video game was released in 1993 and, by today’s standards, was a simple side-scrolling fighting game between the two protagonists. But, as the technology improved, it spawned a host of more advanced first-person shooter games whereby the player could choose which character to be.
The first AVP film, which had been mooted since 1990 after the success of the comic stories, was eventually released in 2004. According to sci-fi aficionados, it didn’t follow the best plot. However, using a forced version of prehistory similar to Erich von Daniken’s ‘Chariots of the Gods’ book from the 1970s, it went on to become one of the most popular Alien vs Predator plot lines. The success of the film spawned another sequel – Requiem – which was again disliked by many sci-fi purists. By the time the AVP films were launched, however, the gaming industry had fully immersed their customers in the franchise with a series of games – including the Aliens versus Predator sci-fi first-person shooter video game, which was released in 1999. Aliens Versus Predator: Extinction followed in 2003 – and the story took on a life of its own.
Aliens in online gambling
As with any successful format, the AVP franchise has influenced gaming far and wide – including, notably, online gambling operators. As online gambling industry has grown exponentially in recent years, all kinds of gambling brands have got in on the act, building games around the popular AVP franchise.
Take Wink Slots, for example – a successful gambling operator that’s part of 888 Holdings. As well as catering for bingo players, the brand also caters for many other niches, with slots games themed on superheroes, famous bands, and of course aliens. With engaging graphics and hi-tech visuals, they’ve been a key part of the online gambling sector’s growth in recent years. To see this for yourself, head on over to Wink Slots now and check out its range of slots.
AVP is now part of the gaming world whether the players know the history or not. There is no question that franchises have had a huge impact on the gaming world, but it has been largely down to the two films arriving just as comics were seeing a resurgence in interest and the internet with its associated gaming technologies were about to burst onto the scene. The growth of the online gaming and gambling sectors go hand in hand, and so the themes used in one are invariably used in the other.