Sunday, 5 February 2023

Six Games That Deserve The Prestige TV Treatment

The success of HBO's adaptation of The Last of Us has got me thinking; what other videogames that are near and dear to my heart would be ripe for a prestige TV adaptation? 

Red Dead Redemption 

Westerns are so in vogue right now; just ask Taylor Sheridan. From contemporary shows Yellowstone, The English, and Outer Range, to classics like Bonanza and The Lone Ranger, the small screen is no stranger to the Old West. 

Which tells me that Red Dead Redemption, both the original and its confusingly-titled prequel Red Dead Redemption II, would be right at home on prestige TV.

With two terrific protagonists in John Marston and Arthur Morgan, and a combined story that spans years, there's so much scope here to chart not just the doomed Van der Linde gang, but also the downfall of the Wild Wild West. 

So much of Red Dead Redemption feels cinematic already – from the arid streets of Armadillo to the lush trees and snowy peaks north of Strawberry – that it doesn't feel like you'd have to change much in order for a TV adaptation to succeed. 

Mass Effect

The Mass Effect universe is so vast and packed to the rafters with lore, that an adaptation could only work when afforded the time and space (pun intended) to move that creatives find on prestige TV – think Game of Thrones in space.

A sprawling sci-fi epic akin to Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica, Mass Effect has all the ingredients of a blockbuster space opera series that keeps people coming back for more; a strong protagonist, a loveable ragtag bunch of misfits who cohabit a ship, exotic alien races, mysterious alien worlds, a shadowy cabal of villains lurking in the dark corners of dark spaces. What's not to love?

Across three games and a spin-off, BioWare shaped a story filled with memorable characters who are interesting enough to carry an episode; much like Lost, I can see episodes of a Mass Effect TV show taking the time to focus in on the likes of Liara T'Soni, Thane Krios, Garrus Vakarian and Miranda Lawson. 

Starting small with a tight, ticking clock story in the first season, this show would build towards a bombastic battle at the end, as the Reapers arrive at start, well, reaping. 

According to this article on The Verge from November 2021, Amazon has been looking to adapt Mass Effect for TV for a while – so fingers crossed that it comes to past, with the budget and ambition that they reserved for The Rings of Power


Still in science-fiction land, PlayStation exclusive title Horizon: Zero Dawn and its sequel Forbidden West would make for an excellent far future, post-apocalypse TV series – again, if afforded the budget to render those luscious tribal villages, overgrown jungles and forests, dark and cavernous 'cauldrons', and snarling, gnarly techno dinosaurs. 

And according to this IGN article from June last year, a Horizon series is currently percolating over at Netflix – albeit, one that is set a millennia before the game. 

God of War

I've just finished God of War: Ragnarok, so it's still fresh in my mind – but I could absolutely see this becoming a compelling and action-packed TV series about a father, a son and their struggles and strife with Asgardian gods. Much like other PlayStation titles like The Last of Us or Uncharted, so much of God of War's appeal comes from its cinematic qualities – the voice acting, the immaculate cutscenes, the motion capture and the splashy action sequences. 

The good news is, it sounds like Amazon agrees – announcing that they're in the early stages of a God of War adaptation late last year


Post-apocalyptic wastelands are a dime a dozen on TV; from The Walking Dead and The 100 to Station Eleven, Into the Badlands and The Leftovers, there's always something that brings about the end of the world, whether it's a virus, zombies, aliens or people just straight up vanishing. 

In the world of Fallout, that thing is nuclear weapons – a lot of them. And a TV series, much like the games, would follow those who are left to pick up the pieces, as they exit their sealed vaults and venture back out into the desolate wasteland. 

I can see this as both an ongoing narrative, like The Walking Dead, or a series of episodic or anthology stories that offer little snapshots of what life is like in this retro future, where everything still looks and sounds like the 1950s. 

And lo and behold, Amazon are in the frame once again – apparently a Fallout show is already in production (!), exec produced by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy of Westworld fame, starring the likes of Walton Goggins and Ella Purnell. And it's set to air this year!

Grand Theft Auto

Okay, this one is probably a bit of a stretch – what makes Grand Theft Auto such a riot, is the player's ability to pretty much go anywhere and wreak as much havoc as they wish. 

A TV show could only hope to evoke the vibe and the tone of Grand Theft Auto, rather than capture its often demented and delirious gameplay centred on playing cat and mouse with the cops.

Instead, this could be a crime caper that pulls from some of the shows that Grand Theft Auto itself has parodied and homaged so liberally over the years; like The Sopranos or Miami Vice. And a multi-protagonist narrative, like the one employed in Grand Theft Auto V, would really fill out the world and provide a plethora of perspectives.

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