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10 Games That Would Make Great TV Shows

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September 14th, 2013

Those of you getting an Xbox One will be treated to a Halo TV series.   And, if it’s anything like Forward Unto Dawn, it’s going to be good.  Unfortunately, everyone is so intent on adapting video games into movies, when for most video games a TV series would be the next logical step.  So, perhaps if Microsoft’s gamble pays off, we might see more video games make that leap into television.  In the meantime, here are 10 video games that could possibly make that transition seamlessly (WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!):

10)  “The Sims”

The Pitch…  For those who don’t know, The Sims is a sand-box game series that focuses on goals and… simulation; there is no story, just themes.  Okay, there is The Sim Stories series, but I haven’t played them, so I can’t comment on the stories they contain.  In general though, The Sims is plotless… but that hasn’t stopped Two and a Half Men (zing!).  A TV Series based on The Sims could be interesting, if done right.  Imagine, in the near future, there’s a simulation hub similar to The Matrix, except you can connect and disconnect at will.  In this simulation, a forever-alone-guy could meet the woman of his dreams and start the family he always wanted.  He could basically virtualize the perfect life, and what perfect life would be complete without standard sitcom hijinks?  The show could balance nicely between the comedic portions of his “sim” life and the depressing portions of his real life.  And, just maybe, he meets his virtual wife in real life - in the series finale.  Oooooh.

The TV Version Would be Like…Modern Family”, “Dollhouse”

9)  “Dead Island”

The Pitch…  “Who do you voodoo, Bitch?!”  Well, this series for starters, assuming that lyric means to affect with voodoo magic!  Let me back up, the first game was dumb, but entertaining.  It had it issues, but I had a fun time playing it cooperatively.  The second game, however, was nothing but a retread of the first, and acted more like a DLC than something that’s progressing the series.  And neither of them capitalized on the goodwill bought by the first game’s amazing trailer.  It was a deceptive move by Deep Silver, and at worst, false advertising.  Yet, the missing drama could easily be captured in a TV series.  It would act as great competition for AMC’s The Walking Dead, and you can’t beat Hawaii as a filming location.  The premise could be that vacationing couples and families get caught in the middle of a viral outbreak, and must band together to survive until help arrives.  Not only would they have to face the infected, but also the local drug lords.  The broad description allows for a lot of casting possibilities.  But whatever the story is, it should definitely focus on characters not from the game, because I have no interest in seeing Sam B on TV AT ALL!

The TV Version Would be Like…The Walking Dead”, “Last Resort”

8)  “Alan Wake”

The Pitch…  Some people have their issues with Alan Wake (especially American Nightmare), but I thought it was a very taut, psychological horror game, with great controls and spectacular environments.  And while I love the original Alan Wake, it would actually make a better minseries (or limited series) than an ongoing TV series.  You have an everyday protagonist, a quaint setting, a cast of quirky local characters, and a mystery that offers enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.  With a set number of episodes, writers can make the miniseries flow as flawlessly as the game.  Moreover, the game even presents itself like a TV show, with its episodic format, its “previously on Alan Wake” recaps, and how Alan is constantly providing narration and insight into his state of mind.  And the fact his work is coming to life, in addition to his wife’s disappearance, is enough to hook casual viewers.  Stephen King is where it’s at when it comes to book adaptations, and the creation of an Alan Wake minseries would be a nice reference to that.

The TV Version Would be Like…Twin Peaks”, “Castle”, “The Outer Limits”

7)  “Kingdom Hearts”

The Pitch…  I, like many people, are surprised this hasn’t happened already.  Seriously, a traditionally animated version of Kingdom Hearts is a no-brainer.  You have the best of the Disneyverse, including Final Fantasy characters, involved in a battle against dark forces that have invaded their respective worlds.  This is the ultimate Disney crossover, and it has a rabid fanbase of gamers who are salivating at the chance to explain the entire plot to anyone who asks.  The charm of each Disney world is still there, along with notable voice actors reprising their roles, so even people who haven’t played the games will feel comfortable watching it.  It’ll take a lot of negotiating between Disney and Square Enix, but there’s no way they can say no to an obvious moneymaker that raises awareness for both of their brands.  There’s even enough material and human protagonists to create multiple spinoffs from the original show; just imagine the possibilities.  An animated series like this should appeal to everyone: children, teenagers, and adults alike.

The TV Version Would be Like… “House of Mouse”, “Once Upon a Time”

6)  “LittleBigPlanet”

The Pitch…   A surprisingly addictive game in which you can create, and share, imaginative and colorful worlds.  Many adults play this game, and have a great time doing so, but a TV series should be aimed specifically towards children between the ages of 2-5.  Sackboy and Sackgirl can teach children shapes, colors, the names of objects, and much more, with a barebones plot to string everything together.   And while the creators can assign voices to Sackboy and Sackgirl, wouldn’t it be better to get Stephen Fry to come back and narrate each episode?!  Hell yes!  I could listen to that guy read the menu at McDonald’s.  And it actually makes sense to make LittleBigPlanet an educational show, because the geography of the game’s world is inspired by our very own planet, and the locations can be used to teach children about different cultures.  Not only that, but through the Sack duo, children can learn how to express their emotions in ways that aren’t annoying (goodbye terrible twos!).  If this show gets created and it’s not on Nick Jr., I’m done.

The TV Version Would be Like… Lalaloopsy”

5)  “Mass Effect”

The Pitch…  A Mass Effect movie has been in development for a few years now, and If you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably someplace without an internet mass relay (router).  But, the movie’s producer recently said not to expect anything for another five or six years.  A long time away, but hopefully this means they’re taking the time to make sure they do it right.  While a well-made Mass Effect movie sounds enticing, I can’t shake the idea that a TV show would serve the series even better.  There’s a need for a new operatic space TV show, and Mass Effect would fit the bill perfectly.  You have a tough ship captain in Commander Sheppard, a space ship that would act as a great set in the Normandy, an enemy that threatens the entire galaxy in the Reapers, and the prospect of exploring star systems and exotic locations.  There’s also a diverse cast of characters and stories to tell, and a lot of action setpieces to go along with the many diplomatic storylines.  And while the gimmick of choice is gone, you can still show the ripple effect of Commander Sheppard’s decisions in subtle ways throughout the entire run of the series.

The TV Version Would be Like…Babylon 5″, “Battlestar Galactica”

4)  “Skyrim”

The Pitch…  The vast world of Bethesda’s Elder Scroll series, Nirn, is home to many unique locations like Tamriel and Solstheim.  But the location most fitting for an live-action TV series is Skyrim.  You have everything you could possibly want in a TV show in Skyrim: war, political intrigue, sex, racism (no one wants it, but it provides drama), vampire hunting, werewolves, the undead, giants, magic, dragon slaying, etc.  So many stories can be told against the backdrop of the war between the Imperials and the Stormcloaks.  Every episode could provide a new adventure that will captivate the audience.  And the entire world of Skyrim has such a broad appeal that people from all demographics would watch it.  The main character will be the Dragonborn, of course, and we’ll see the world through his or her eyes.  The scope won’t be limited to the Dragonborn, however, as storylines from Jarls, and other key characters can occasionally be the focal point.  But the best thing about this is that showrunners could set an end date for the series when the Dovahkiin unites the land and slays Alduin so the series wouldn’t drag on…  Drag On…  DRAGON; okay, I’ll stop.  There’s definitely a market for mature, medieval fantasy, and since Skyrim has taken a new life in the modding community, why not TV?

The TV Version Would be Like…Game of Thrones”, “Vikings”

3)  “Heavy Rain”

The Pitch…  SHAUUNNNN!  Architect Ethan Mars has his only remaining son kidnapped by a serial killer called the Origami Killer, and he has to follow clues left by the Origami Killer, while going through some f’ed up trials, to save him.  This already has the makings of a great serial killer drama.  However, an oblivious network executive would see Ethan as the main character, knowing full well that shows based on gimmicks don’t last long.  The main character would actually have to be Norman Jayden, with Ethan Mars and his family being relegated to side characters, as Ethan’s story ends with the Origami Killer.  The search for the Origami Killer will last no longer than one season, and that’s it.  The rest the series would follow Norman and his Google glasses.  Because he’s an FBI profiler, his job can take him beyond the Philadelphia stand in city used in Heavy Rain.  Madison Paige would be the female lead who follows Norman like Freddy Lounds does Will Graham.  This means she won’t end up with Ethan, but who cares?  Ethan’s gone after season one, and for the sake of the show, she wouldn’t be able to stay with him.  A Heavy Rain TV show would also go well with the dark serial killer dramas currently flooding TV.

The TV Version Would be Like… The Killing”, “Luther”, “The Fall”

2)  “Uncharted”

The Pitch…  Like Mass Effect, an Uncharted movie has been in development for several years.  Originally David O. Russell was slated to direct it with Mark Wahlberg and Robert DeNiro in talks to play Nathan Drake and Nathan’s dad (why? why not Sully?) respectively.  I would’ve preferred Nathan Fillion, but he failed in his campaign to get cast as Nathan Drake (damn you, Hollywood!).  However, once Russell dropped out, Wahlberg and DeNiro soon followed suit.  The reigns were then passed to Neil Burger, and the last we heard of the movie, a writer had been selected to write the screenplay.  We don’t even have an idea as to who the new Nathan Drake may be.  And by the way development is going, it could be a few more years until we see anything tangible.  But in the meantime, wouldn’t it be great to see the adventures of a young Drake and Sully?  In a TV series, we could spend more time with them than we did in Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception.  Two guys treasure hunting in exotic locations sounds great, and a 13-episode format would suit the series just fine.  Furthermore, the adventure-nature of the show would be a breath of fresh air in the atmosphere of brooding network dramas.

The TV Version Would be Like… The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”, “Da Vinci’s Demons”

1)  “Red Dead Redemption”

The Pitch…  Everyone loves a good Western, and the best Western game since – EVER – is Red Dead Redemption.  So you can’t go wrong adapting it into a TV series.  You can go the traditional route with the gritty and rough original version, or combine genres with Undead Nightmare.  A zombie Western TV show?  Shut up, and take my viewership!  Zombies are all the rave right now, and their inclusion will only strengthen the genre.  Trust me, Undead Nightmare is no Cowboys & Aliens.  And while people in general are growing weary of antiheroes, if a show had to hinge on one, John Marston is the choice that makes the most sense.  John Hillcoat, director of The Proposition and The Road, directed a promotional short film made using in-game graphics.  You can find it on Youtube, and if you haven’t already done so, watch it!  It’s an amazing proof-of-concept film that illustrates if Red Dead Redemption is ever made into a TV show, Hillcoat should be the auteur behind it.

The TV Version Would be Like… Deadwood”, “Hell on Wheels”

Look, I know there’s loads of more video games that would make awesome TV shows.  So, lay them on me in the comments below!

Comments

  • http://piepersav.com/ Pim Piepers

    Great list! Not sure if can add something… Lots of stuff is being done as we speak… But Metal Gear sounds cool to me… Having the generations of Snakes running each season for example…

    • Illusive_Man

      The plot for the entire Metal Series is so intricate and complex that I’m not sure how to structure a TV show based on it. It’ll just have to be its own thing, but I’ll certainly wouldn’t mind seeing one.

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