Winter came last night.
Well, sort of. It's spring across the northern hemisphere, but the winter I speak of is in the land of Westeros, the setting for the new HBO series Game of Thrones, based on the novel by George R. R. Martin. The first of 10 episodes debuted Sunday night, complete with large men with swords, gruesome beheadings, sex, lies, and murder.
Game of Thrones and another popular HBO show, True Blood, prove that the network has the chops to handle the fantasy genre with high production values, solid writing, and respect for the original works. So it got me thinking: Could video-game adaptations work as well as HBO's literary ones?
Obviously, games have a less-than-stellar track record on the silver screen. But live-action serialized TV shows…that just might work. Especially with the power of HBO behind them.
So here are a few games I'd like to see the network take a crack at…as long as Uwe Boll stays far, far away.
These games are actually getting a live-action adaptation of sorts — actress and nerd icon Felicia Day is set to star in a web series called Dragon Age: Redemption — but I'd like to see them get their proper due as a full TV show. The land of Thedas has it all: political intrigue, warring kings, secretive mages, oppressive priests, and a whole lot of action. The variety of possible starting scenarios in Dragon Age: Origins would be perfect for showing different characters and viewpoints before they all join together as Grey Wardens. Also, maybe relationships would finally feel genuine instead of like a minigame.
BioWare's other big series would be far more challenging to pull off on the small screen due to its sci-fi nature. On the other hand, if HBO's cool with the vampires, werewolves, and general insanity of True Blood, then I see no reason why they can't pull off Krogan, Geth, and Reapers. Shows like Battlestar Galactica proved that sci-fi can be relevant and character-driven. I'd love to see more of the political interactions at the Citadel, more of the Illusive Man's machinations, and a Shepard with an actual personality.
Red Dead Redemption
OK, so HBO kind of already did this show when it was called Deadwood. But I'm a sucker for Westerns, and the story of John Marston's journey from outlaw to rancher to family man to hero would make for riveting television. Use the fantastic soundtrack from the game, shoot it in the beautiful desert landscapes of Arizona and Utah, and get an all-star cast (Josh Brolin for Marston, maybe?), and I'd watch it every week. Also: an Undead Nightmare zombie episode.
Yeah, I know the game isn't even out yet. But crime dramas are HBO's specialty, and a period piece starring a hard-boiled detective working to unravel the corruption of 1940s Los Angeles has "must-see TV" written all over it. I'm getting excited just imagining the plot twists, betrayals, and femme fatales a show like this could feature. (Actually, I just really want to play this game. But a TV series would be awesome, too.)
Warren Spector's masterpiece might lose something without its vaunted array of narrative choices, but it's still got all the makings of a killer TV show. Any time you can get the Illuminati, the Triads, the Knights Templar, and Area 51 in the same storyline, you've got my attention. The game's many literary references would make for perfect on-screen Easter eggs, too.