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That said, the video game platform offers opportunities for filmmakers eager to add interactivity to their vision, he says.

Audiences often feel detached while watching a documentary even if the material on screen is powerfully rendered. That’s rarely the case within a video game scenario.

“We can get immersed in a video game character. Our fate is their fate,” he says. He points to the online game Darfur is Dying (www.darfurisdying.com) as one example of socially conscious gaming.

Video games tied to documentary features might coax consumers into learning more about the subject even if they never step foot inside a movie house, he says.

The game-film connection may mean more ways to send a message, but smaller studios also see the combination as a way to market movies at a lower cost point.

Zac Brandenberg, CEO of Meteor Games, says his company has heard from smaller film studios curious about video game options.

“There’s the potential to gain awareness for their movie by creating some sort of entertaining game that might grow in a viral fashion,” Mr. Brandenberg says.

The cost to launch social media-based games “is much more nominal than you´d expect,” Mr. Brandenberg says. “Large-scale video game efforts take years to develop and cost millions,” he adds. “Whereas social games, those playable on Facebook and other social networks, can be produced with a lot less capital.”

Rob Weiner, Associate Humanities Librarian Texas Tech University and pop culture guru, says programs like the New Media Fund are simply a sign of the times.

“All of these medias are converging — and have been for a longtime now,” Mr. Weiner says. “It is oftentimes hard to distinguish where one begins and one ends.”