It used to be that the process of creating an animated film, even digitally, required long hours of labour using specialised and expensive software. Then moviemakers cottoned on to the potential of the image-generating engines that exist inside animated computer games such as Quake. Some games, especially Quake 3, allow the user access to the underlying code to customise scenes or create new ones. It didn’t take long for audio-visual experts to spot their potential for creating entirely new animated sequences. Films so made have been around for several years, but the technique, and the results, have begun to attract mainstream interest only recently. Machinima is usually said to be a blend of machine plus cinema; the large number of Web sites in German that feature it suggest the term may have been coined in that language.
Making digital movies is now as easy as playing PC games — literally. A rising technique called machinima (machine and cinema) uses software from common computer games to make animated films, and upstart directors are flocking to the Web to learn it.
Entertainment Weekly, June 2001
Machinima movies, which range from short comedies to science-fiction epics, are produced entirely on computers, eliminating the need to buy costly equipment, rent spectacular locations or hire glamorous actors. The films are then distributed free over the Internet.
New York Times, July 2002