Video Games Inspire Student's Lauded Film

Eric Meder/The Daily Pennsylvanian
Michael Highland, an Engineering sophomore, screened his movie 'As Real as Your Life' at the Ivy Film Festival at Brown last weekend.
Engineering sophomore traveled to Brown to screen movie about psychology of gaming
By ko im April 20, 2005
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Last year, Michael Highland was playing about 10 hours of video games in an average day.
Little did the Engineering sophomore know that his addiction would be the topic of one of the more popular films at the Ivy Film Festival, held this past weekend at Brown University.
"It was a product of circumstance and how I was feeling at the moment -- the psychological effect of video games," Highland said.
Titled "As Real as Your Life," Highland's multimedia 10-minute film is a personal story about how playing video games becomes a surrogate existence. For example, when hearing helicopters in the Philadelphia area, Highland said he will react defensively like the animated character in the video game Grand Theft Auto.
"My heart rate went up when I see the helicopter -- similar to the adrenaline response in the game," he said.
The New Jersey native said he was involved in high school performances and developed an eye for photography while making a documentary about go-cart racing during his senior year.
High school friend and Brown sophomore Justin Revelle saw the documentary and noticed a more creative spirit in "As Real as Your Life."
"He's always just been adept with computer and film imaging -- I like how he incorporated the media into the film," Revelle said.
Highland chose Penn over Yale because he was more interested in graphics than in architecture. Now he is studying digital media design.
The film, which is the final product of one of his classes, took over 400 hours to make.
Highland devoted so much time to the project that he said he ended up failing his math course last semester, but also said he has no regrets about putting the majority of his time and effort into creating the film.
"My academic adviser said the film was worth it," Highland said.
"As Real as Your Life" won the grand prize at Penn's second annual College Houses' Student Film Festival early this year. Although Highland did not receive any awards at his first Ivy Film Festival showing

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