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Video Games Should Be Adapted For Television, Not Film

In the coming years, we’re going to be seeing film adaptations of video games such as Hitman, Warcraft, Deus Ex, Assassin’s Creed and even Angry Birds. With major comic book properties wearing thin as Marvel and Warner Bros. wage all out war against each other, other major studios are now looking at video games as the next untapped resource for feature film adaptations. While the tradition of turning video games into movies can be traced all the way back to 1993 with Super Mario Bros., the same can’t be said for television. Even with the ramp up in the realm of feature films, television has yet to truly tap into the gaming culture for the next great live-action series, and that’s a shame considering that television, like novels, may be a better suited medium for adapting games to screen.

Game of Thrones, The Vampire Diaries, Under The Dome, Hannibal, Dexter, Rizzoli & Isles, The Last Ship– these are just a fraction of the successful television series based on novels that can be named without doing any major research. While television success ultimately comes down to the capability of the team behind the scenes, it’s hard to deny that most of these titles wouldn’t work as well on the big screen. Perhaps the biggest reason why is because a television series, especially in the case of one’s based on a series of books and not a single entry, has the capability to explore the lives of its characters over time, rather than cramming everything into a single shot.

We often find ourselves asking why so many video game-licensed movies don’t work, and while the reasons are robust, perhaps one of the major flaws is that like novels, the story adaptations need time to gestate and grow. How can anyone truly be expected to turn a game that requires 60 or more hours of dedication into a two hour film? How is that even fair to anyone involved in the process? If the big reason why people love video games so much is because they get to explore the world that’s been crafted for them at will, how can a film ever match that experience and not feel reductive and inferior? A television series, however, operates with a much different and more appropriate set of storytelling rules.


One of the great things that makes television stand out as a storytelling medium is its allowance for exploration. In 60-100 episodes, the audience is given a chance to analyze worlds (as they did with the likes of Battlestar Galactica, and do with the likes of Game of Thrones) and explore lives (as they did with the likes of Dexter, and do with the likes of Hannibal). This built-in need to explore multiple arcs and themes over dozens of episodes makes television the perfect natural companion for a medium like video games, which demands much of the same structure type to make something unique.

We’ve already seen glimmers of hope in the form of animation with properties like Sonic and Pokémon, but why has there been no jump into the live-action realm with video game-based television? The closest we’ve come so far is the Halo series from Steven Spielberg and Microsoft, which is currently hanging in question with Xbox’s television initiative being nixed. After all this time, things continue to feel as if Hollywood’s more hell-bent on making video games workable for film, when it should be finding ways to make the medium adaptable to television.

As we continue to get live-action web-series for properties such as Mortal Kombat (the MK series did also have a show called Mortal Kombat Conquest that wasn’t bad and was cancelled too soon), perfectly viable titles including Half-Life, Fallout, L.A. Noire, Sleeping Dogs and Diablo continue to sit in obscurity– at least from the perspective of television networks and production studios that have the power to turn these properties into something great. If video games really are the next untapped adaptation resource, television needs to jump on the bandwagon before the feature film market gobbles everything alive. Video game TV: Hollywood, make it happen.

What video games would you like to see turned into television series? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. Dennis says:

    GTA. Put that crime drama comedy on HBO

  2. Michael says:

    Fallout, Mass Effect and Alan Wake would all be amazing. Spec Ops the Line would be great also.

  3. Mugen Kage says:

    Metal Gear Franchise

  4. Jon Potter says:

    Red Dead Redemption for sure
    Think about it, there is so much that could be done in a TV Series, more so than a movie.
    If it’s a movie, or a set of them, it would move too fast to make as big an emotional impact, nor cram in the side-stories and characters that made RDR so interesting.The good part of RDR is that it takes its time to tell an awesome story
    Side note: Having ‘Far Away’ (the song playing when you enter Mexico) by Jose Gonzalez as a theme song would be bloody awesome

    • Jon Potter says:

      If anyone out there is actually interested in making a TV show bout RDR, i got several suggestions

  5. Ben Langhorne says:

    A Bioshock series set in Rapture before the fall could be a really good show.

  6. adris says:

    World of Warcraft. With how vast the game is, it would make an excellent TV series. 

  7. Kabel Lefto says:

    I always thought Alan Wake would make a killer show since they did that mini series on YouTube and it was great

  8. Ang says:

    Resident evil

  9. Eric says:

    Yes def a fallout show!

  10. Fredward says:

    The Witcher Series. Though that’s kind of cheating since they’re based on books 😛

  11. Hutch says:

    Deus Ex.

  12. Moslim says:

    The last of us it would kick the shit out of TWD (even though I’m a fan) oh and Uncharted, but with a western tone! (“Cough” firefly “Cough” Nathan Fillion) 

  13. Jaxfritz says:

    MASS EFFECT.  Need I say more?

  14. “Remember Me,” didn’t have very good game-play but it had a compelling story and a brilliant world built around it. It could be one heck of a good show…just don’t put it on Fox.

  15. Hank says:

    Duke Nukem!!!!!!!!!

  16. Aaron B Vick says:

    Defian….oh wait….

  17. Olli Niemi says:

    I would love to see Alan Wake as a TV-series. It’s basically already a TV-series, just as a videogame. It has the episode structure to make a great mini series. It would be really CGI heavy, but nowadays, that wouldn’t be a big problem. That needs to happen!

  18. Drtyrabbit says:

    Fallout, Dragon Age, Warcraft or Starcraft. They would all make amazing movies. Thing is, they would need a huge budget to do well so a TV show would not be ideal, unless of course HBO stepped up to the plate.

  19. LMR says:

    I would actually like to see a televised TV series of Fallout to be honest. 

  20. x com would be fantastic

  21. Derek Read says:

    Skip the live action, there’s no need for real people here. Having real humans on screen just complicates things and wastes time and money on sets, big crews, locations, lighting and recording equipment. With video games the artwork is already there, just reuse it (maybe beef it up a little since you don’t have to render in real time) and concentrate on a really good storyline.

  22. Edward says:

    Well if you want a Red Dead Redemption show just watch Hell On Wheels

  23. Tom Hennessy says:

    StarCraft. You could get deeper character development and the battles would kill any reason to leave my apartment. 

  24. boB says:

    Tetris: The Series, by Joss Whedon.

  25. Mike says:

    If you want a Fallout tv show, try Fallout:Nuka break on youtube! It’s an incredibly well made fan created show endorsed by the creators of fallout! Not an adaptation per se but a seperate story set in the fallout ‘verse.

  26. Eddy Rolls says:

    Final Fantasy

  27. Ledouchee says:

    Borderlands would make a great show

  28. TheMerMal says:

    Left 4 Dead! 

  29. Buttscarlton says:

    Fallout because I absolutely adore the series (not just 3 and new vegas I actually playe 1 and 2) and we haven’t had any good nuclear holocaust movies/shows since The Road (Yes I know it was a book first) and Defiance (sort of) so it would be great to see someone like Guillermo and some of the writer that worked on the game from bethesda and bam GOOD ASS SHOW!!

  30. Jesse says:

    Gears of War or Titanfall 

  31. Aaron says:

    Fallout done by HBO.

  32. katmars77 says:

    I think Bioshock or Metal Gear Solid would both make excellent series if done right. 

  33. Chris says:

    The inFamous series would be amazing!

  34. Amused says:

    Silent Hill… do it right and it would be amazing as a long-running TV series.

  35. Cal says:

    “Mass Effect” would make an EPIC TV series.