What I’m not about to do with this article is try to convince you that one entertainment medium is better than another. That would be about as productive as trying to convince you that that one sport is better or that chocolate ice cream is better than mint. Where you choose to find your entertainment rests upon you. What I would like to do, is make a case for writers who might receive movie deals to consider an option they may have never thought possible.
A lot of really great books like the Harry Potter series get turned into movies, and others like Game of Thrones become sensational television series. While we love these stories because of their attention to great storytelling, we also recognize that these juggernaut franchises are also fueling other industries besides the filmmaking ones.
In previous years, mostly in the 2000s, it was common for a film with a young audience to have a video game tie-in. These had a pretty big range of quality from being groundbreaking like Spider-Man 2, to being ungodly awful like Spider-Man 3. Go look up the funny scene in the beginning.
But we’re entering a new era of entertainment, where the limits of gaming’s potential are reaching new heights. Heights that should be filled with deep lore and amazing experiences. Why should books be made into games? Because they have before, and those games are amazing.
Harry Potter Was Almost A Nintendo Game
Betcha didn’t see that one comin’. Well it’s true. When the rights to J.K. Rowling’s magical wizarding world went up for auction it started a massive bidding war.
Spielberg and Universal wanted to make a Polar Express style film with Haley Joel Osment as the lead. Rowling however demanded that every character be played by British actors and so Spielberg dropped it.
And just like that. Poof! It was gone. No creepy CGI Dumbledore for you.
Just before J.K. Rowling met Steve Kloves, the screenwriter who would pen the movies we’ve come to know and love, Nintendo wanted to make a Harry Potter video game. That’s right. Imagine, your beloved Harry Potter standing on Nintendo’s stage next to Mario and Link from The Legend of Zelda.
The game never got around to being made, and only managed to make it into the early stages of concept art. The British artists hired to create the look and feel of the game wanted an art style that reflected the cover of the books. Nintendo wanted an anime-esque art style. But again, because it clashed with J.K. Rowlings vision, the idea died long before it could come to fruition.
So If Not Harry Potter Then Who?
There has been several books turned into games. The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski for example. These are books in a fantasy world with nuanced storytelling and rich lore.
They take on classic fairytale ideas and flesh them out into great narrative tales of cursed princesses, ferocious monsters, and genocidal kings. I’ll admit, I have only managed to read part way through one of the books, but I found what I read quite brilliant.
The games delve right into the very heart of the experience of playing as Geralt of Revia. A monster hunter who takes up contracts and bounties for gold. The games follow directly after the end of the last book, partially retconning the story in order to continue the adventure. While the games arguably don’t become great until the second title, by the time you’re into the third, you’re finding yourself traveling great distances across vast lands, collecting armor and slaying phantoms and demons with your silver sword. It captures every bit of the story, character and charm of the books and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is regarded as one of gaming’s greatest achievements.
And Many Others
Another of these is Metro: 2033, a post apocalyptic novel set in Russia written by a Russian Author. Dmitry Glukhovsky, the man who created the world of radioactive monstrosities even publicly relished in having people take on a role within his world. He was ecstatic to have more people experience his creation, even if they hadn’t read the books.
It’s next game title is Metro Exodus coming February 2019.
Other games, while not associating themselves directly with the original work, show very much just where their inspiration came from. The Bioshock series is a counter work to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Spec Ops the Line is a tale with the same story structure and elements as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
It’s more than possible to adapt a book into a game, and it’s downright insane to not even consider it.
There is such a huge opportunity for Authors to take advantage of. Not just monetarily, as games pull in more money each year than movies, TV, and books combined, but also because games have the same visual depth that a TV show like Game of Thrones can have, with time to develop characters and subplots like the books.
In an era where streaming is become bigger and bigger, why not give audiences an experience that isn’t just scrolling through Netflix to find their book to movie adaptations? Put faith into a game developer you trust and watch as your audience is thrust into the experience of being in your imagined world, playing your characters.
Did this topic trike a chord with you? Let me know! And tell me what topic you’d like to see.