Listen, I love movies. I also love television. They’re fantastic mediums that provide the world with a seemingly endless supply of great entertainment. But the real potential is in the world of video games. The world of truly interactive entertainment.
The main difference between these three mediums is the fact that video games haven’t been around quite as long. They have immense room to grow, even as the way we experience games continues to shift toward the smart phone in contrast to the blockbuster console.
That said, too many websites and smart discussions decide to talk about how “cool” it would be for so-and-so video game to become a movie. And I get that. I’ve talked before about how great it would be to see more of the Mass Effect universe on the big screen (though it would likely fail if it centered around Commander Shepard).
But for whatever reason, people default to a supposed need for making a movie out of something we already enjoy as gamers. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? I think so. Here are a few of the best examples I can think of (for now):
[Note: I’m excluding the topic of licensed games from this discussion. No one likes them. We already know why. Let’s just not talk about it.]
The idea of translating the Christopher Nolan “dream-within-a-dream” universe seems like a natural step forward for an indicate, complex plot that almost demands user interaction.
Exotic locations that are tied to one narrative structure without feeling forced? Check. Varied combat that is put on its head by gravity-bending mechanics related to other plot points within the story? Got it. Compelling characters working together via a heist mode that is both unexplored and familiar at the same time? Hey, Grand Theft Auto 5 already showed us how to do it.
I’m not a gaming insider by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m completely unaware if someone out there is already working to make this happen. If so, then they have my support.
5. Avatar: The Last Airbender
Yes, ATLA already has a trilogy of video games based on the popular TV series. They were nothing special, to be clear, and I think it would be a waste of time and money to retread that story, or even the sequel series, Legend of Korra.
No, the real potential lies in Wan, who is the first Avatar. Revealed in a special two-part event during Book 2 of LOK, Wan’s story is one that takes place in a world that is reminiscent of Miyazaki (intentionally), and his journey to becoming the first Avatar completely lends itself to the structure of storytelling we see in gaming. Wan learns each of the elements by traveling the Spirit World and grows stronger as he realizes his destiny. Perfect.
Of course, that’s just one rabbit hole for a game developer to go down. Thanks to ATLA’s attention to world-building and beautiful combat (a weird combination of words, but totally accurate), crafting a video game that is both creative and fun to play would be a cakewalk if taken seriously.
I’m not even sure why this infamous cult-classic hasn’t already been transformed into a video game, but here we are. I suspect that the idea has been tossed around quite a bit already in the right board rooms.
Many would agree that this Joss Whedon-built space western has the depth and real estate to give gamers a fun tour of what lies beyond Alliance Control. Sadly, I doubt it would work to bring back the original cast for a continuation of the short-lived TV Show and its subsequent movie, but a good team of writers could easily breathe new life into the franchise through video games.
3. Game of Thrones
Can I just say it? We’re sick of Lord of the Rings as the go-to franchise for medieval mayhem (OK, that’s an exaggeration). One world we’ve yet to see play out in video games is the 7 Kingdoms of Westeros.
[Note: there’s a licensed Game of Thrones already. And it sucks. We want the real deal.]
Of course, there are two options. You could either develop an open world game a la Skyrim that tells a brand-new story within George R.R. Martin’s carefully crafted world of dragons and others, or you could do what the show has done – but with more faithfulness to the source material.
If you’re unaware, the HBO series known as “Game of Thrones” (which is based on the series of novels by Martin called A Song of Ice and Fire) is only loosely based on its source material. It makes for great television, but the expanded possibilities of side quests and drawn out storytelling could bring the world of Westeros into a full picture of what it’s meant to be.
2. Pacific Rim
This is another movie on this list that has already had the video game treatment attempted. And again. It sucked.
But a Pacific Rim video game that was conceived and executed from the ground up? One that was built to be a self-contained world with blockbuster graphics? That could definitely work, and it would be a great way to tell the story of the first battles between the Kaijus and the Jaegers. A story that was only briefly explained in expository dialogue.
Also, giant robots.
1. The Mask of Zorro
I’m not putting this as #1 because it is objectively the best idea on this list (truthfully, I didn’t order these by which would be “best”).
No, I’m putting this as #1 because I am a well-known fanboy of anything “Zorro.” And yes, The Mask of Zorro is my favorite film of all time. Judge away.
But I believe a video game centering around the Fox would make for some great entertainment, regardless of my bias. Assassin’s Creed has already shown us how impactful and thrilling it can be to sword-fight our way through fully realized historical settings.
Though Zorro the character isn’t based on real history, careful attention to the setting (California, or Spain if the game would be based on the novels, instead) and rich echelon of characters that made the film great would translate beautifully to interactive storytelling.
Plus, with two new Zorro films planned to release in the coming years, the Zorro hype is about to reach its hype. Take notes game developers!
Honorable mentions (because opinions)
- Bladerunner – bringing this up is basically required.
- District 9 – but with more of what we saw in the third act.
- Almost Human – overblown TV show, but great candidate for gaming.
- Elysium – see District 9.
- In Time – I can’t be the only person who liked this movie.
- Hunger Games – prequel anyone?
- Peter Pan – Neverland deserves the open-world treatment.
Yes, I know I didn’t get to the wealth of other examples. If you think of any ideas, sound off in the comments!
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