As well as writing some mighty fine emails each week it seems that I also now have a blog to fill. Whether this blog will be a weekly venture I’m not yet sure but what I can say is that it will contain more of the irreverent and irregular opinions you have come to hear on my increasingly frequent slot on the IGN UK Podcast. For my first blog I thought I would start with a statement which, in all honesty, is quite obvious. Video game adaptations suck.
If you’re reading this then games and films are a big part of your life and you know the true horrors that come with watching a merging of the two. Think back to the Super Mario Bros movie, to Street Fighter, to Doom and the huge pile of crap Uwe Boll left behind. When films like Prince of Persia, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and last year’s Need for Speed are the best adaptations, you know the genre is in trouble. That’s why I say don’t turn them into films, turn them into television shows.
The next phase of movie adaptations is incoming with the like of Assassins creed, Splinter cell and The last of us. I have to admit I’m quite excited to see these films especially with the acting talent involved, Michael Fassbender in AC and Tom Hardy in SC, but I know that the end result will most probably be disappointing. The plot will be compressed into a convoluted 2 hours filled with generic action set pieces and characters. To help prove my point let’s look at Game of Thrones as an example.
Adaptations of novels have been produced ever since the early days of the motion picture but when movie studios asked George R R Martin for the film rights to his huge ‘A song of ice and fire’ book series he declined. However when David Benioff and Dan Weiss asked him whether he would be interested in his books becoming a television series on HBO he decided that would be the best platform in which to adapt the story of the books hence the creation of Game of Thrones. Martin knew that the narrative of the books would be butchered if they were adapted into films with huge plot points and characters having to be ignored. Imagine each 10 hour season of Game of Thrones cut down into two hours; it would be a much inferior product.
Video games are the same in that respect with long campaigns that would much better suited to television. I’m not talking long 22 episode seasons either, the 8-10 episode miniseries has truly taken off in recent years with Fargo, True Detective and Game of Thrones. Let’s look at some examples.
Imagine an adult version of Doctor Who with assassins and you’ve got the Assassins Creed television show. The episodes could be book ended with the present day scenes while the majority of the episodes will take place in the past. The mini-series would offer greater character development than a film ever could and would give the audience time to wrap their heads round the increasingly convoluted and complex plot. The show could play out like the games with a certain time period each season or even with one episode in renaissance Rome and the next in colonial America. Yes, the show would need a large budget but Game of Thrones , I promise it will be the last time I mention it, is an expensive show to produce and because of it has become a worldwide phenomena.
A Grand Theft Auto show would be like a more action heavy version of The Sopranos; Splinter Cell a modern version of 24 without the real-time gimmick. However the game which desperately needs to be a television mini-series rather than a film is Naughty Dog’s masterpiece The last of us. In no way can I see the emotional journey of Joel and Ellie from the game’s campaign being condensed into a film successfully even if Neil Druckmann is the screenwriter. The show would give the story room to breathe and yet it doesn’t even need to be 8-10 episodes long. Four hour long episodes would be perfect, allowing the show to follow the same four act structure of the game (summer/fall/winter/spring).
Despite its many failed attempts the video game adaptation looks like it’s here to stay. I hope someone manages to break the trend and make a good film version of a game but to me it seems like television is the most viable option. Tell me if you agree or disagree with my opinion in the comments and follow me on Twitter @kylebrrtt.
I leave you now with the wise words of the prince himself:”Kyle Barratt isn’t messing about anymore” – Luke Karmali IGN UK Podcast 281