The right video game needs to be chosen to ensure truly great television. Super Mario Bros., for example, while a great series of games, is lacking in the necessary world-building and storytelling the truly make for great TV. We say this, of course, with apologies to the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. There is a lot to like about the series, but the next Game of Thrones it is not! Another thing to note is that some great game series have already been adapted to television or are in the midst of being adapted, examples of this include Castlevania on Netflix, and the upcoming Halo series on Showtime, so they will not be included on this list.
Keeping this in mind, coming up with video game series that would truly excel on television was not easy. Some games were simply too short. Others were too cinematic to justify being put on TV. Finally, some were just too niche to justify the level of investment needed. With all this being said, let’s get started. These are five picks for the best video games with television potential (presented in no particular order).
The Elder Scrolls
The Witcher is far from the only beloved Fantasy RPG in town. With Game of Thrones finally finished, studios are scrambling to find the next big fantasy series. While many have looked to beloved books, this series deserves a fair shake. While the exploration, character-building and gameplay have all been lauded, one of the best parts of Elder Scrolls is its lore. Under the right set of hands, it could make for some truly special TV. Best of all, they have hundreds of hours of content to pick and choose from.
If that’s not what the showrunners want, the series is no stranger to new narratives in the existing world. The series already has a massive fanbase, and a great TV show can help grow it further. The only question is: is Bethesda willing to budge? Hopefully, enough coaxing from fans can help. That said, surely a nice sack of gold coin could help. Amazon or Netflix should have enough in their reserves.
Moving far away from the world of fantasy, Hitman might be the next spy craze. Hear us out, while two attempts at translating the series to the big screen have failed, there is still massive potential. Starting with the reboot simply-titled Hitman and continuing with Hitman 2, IO Interactive has shaken the series up. Namely, they have structured their games like a television series. Each chapter in the two games tells its own self-contained story, with an ongoing narrative running in the background. Based on this alone, Hitman lends itself well to the villain-of-the-week format found in many TV shows.
Have each episode feature 47 taking down a target and reveal more of the season’s plot episode-by-episode. It would make from gripping TV. Also, the writing team doesn’t have to go it alone. The team at IO Interactive has already done a splendid job writing for the games. With enough coaxing, they could probably help. Better yet, now that they are independent of Square Enix, they have more control over 47 than they had on the two films.
Hollywood and EA have been trying to adapt Bioware’s beloved Sci-Fi property into a movie for years, but should they? Hear us out. While adapting Mass Effect for the big screen will certainly allow them to up the spectacle, it may come at the cost of character development. Part of the appeal of the Mass Effect games is getting to know Shepard and their crew. This is helped by the long length of the games.
With TV, while the effects may not be as fancy, viewers can have more time to meet old and new characters. Honestly, isn’t that part of the fun of the series? Personally, we’d take a bit less action if it means more time with Liara and Joker in live-action. That being said, they can’t cut too many corners. A decent budget will definitely be needed to bring the series to life. Whether that means HBO, Netflix, or somewhere else remains to be seen.
Of the five games on this list, this is certainly the most unconventional. The Portal series has always been lauded for its comedy and intricate puzzles, but why does it deserve a spot on this list? Well, in the words of the great Cave Johnson: “Science isn’t about why, it’s about why not!” In all seriousness, the world of Portal is such a unique and interesting place ripe for exploration. While part of its world is shared with the Half-Life series, it is the setting of Aperture Science and the humor that really sets the series apart. That said, a Portal series could be taken in a number of different directions.
A Portal series could be a Sci-Fi horror anthology, showcasing the fate of other test subjects. It could be an Aperture Science workplace comedy with elements of The Office and Mad Men. It could be a Wheatley and Space Sphere talk show. Honestly, the possibilities are endless. Better yet, fan-films have proven it can be done on a modest budget. This means that even upstart streaming services can cut their teeth on video game shows.
Moving on to the last game on our list, we return to Bethesda Game Studio’s other big franchise. Well, sort-of. For a while, Interplay owned the rights to Fallout as they created the first two games and spin-offs. The potential of Fallout was not lost on them, as they tried to get a movie made. Those plans fell through after Bethesda acquired the rights. However, much like Mass Effect, it may be better suited to TV.
With shows like The Mandalorian and The Walking Dead, more and more genre shows are being made with Neo-Western themes. Fallout is in many regards perfect for a modern Western series. It features a stranger from a faraway land (or should we say deep) riding into town. Whether they save the day or ruin it is up to the player, but the series has always been inspired in part by Westerns. Applying the cowboy show formula to a Fallout show would work great. If the writers need any inspiration, all they have to do is pop in New Vegas and see just how well the world lends itself to TV.
Where do you lie?
Those are our picks, but what are yours? Feel free to share in the comments below, and for the latest in reviews, features, guides and more, be sure to stick around on KeenGamer. Cheers!