Games borrow a lot of movies, and some films even steal a trick or two from games. While crossing the two over doesn’t always quite work out, the fact is that there are a number of games out there that would do well on the silver screen. And, of course, there are also plenty that, no matter how good they are in the medium of gaming, would never translate accurately to a film.
Let’s take a look as just some of those games that should (and shouldn’t) get their Hollywood debut.
Bioshock is generally considered one of the best games ever made, and a lot of that is to do with its story and in particular, its world. The splicers, the genetic modification and the horrors of ultra-capitalism: There are a multitude of stories to be told in Rapture, and even with the original game, it’s sequel and all the various add-ons and DLCs, it still feels like not all of them have been told. That’s something that a film (or even a series of films) could do for us.
There is one issue that the directors would have to deal with: Jack, the protagonist of the original game, isn’t exactly a chatty character. The player is allowed to fully occupy his space as the protagonist, though despite that I feel like his silence is not as much of a defining quality as that of, say, Gordon Freeman. Giving him a voice doesn’t feel quite as sacrilegious as a result, and following the main plotline of the original game would make an excellent re-imagining for current fans as well as potentially introduce a whole new audience to the wonder that is a well-made narrative-driven game.
This one is a little bit of a cheat on my part – it actually already has a movie. However, being that it is entirely in Russian and getting a little dated now, it feels like it could do with a bit of a reboot. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series is an action-packed, grim world with plenty of source material to work with not only in the games but the books as well. There are plenty of post-apocalyptic movies out there, but none of them quite capture the atmosphere of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. world.
As a result, a movie in this universe would not only be relatively untrod ground for the movie industry itself, but the game has a very nicely defined “hero’s journey”, a very common narrative trope that is also frequently used in books and films as well. So long as they work with a director that can accurately replicate the atmosphere of the game, this could be a fantastic, mature post-apocalyptic game that only features a minimum of zombies and a maximum of mutants.
A few years ago, you might have been hard-pressed to discover anyone who knew of The Witcher, whether it was the game or the original books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Nowadays, however, any gamer who considers themselves a fan of a good plotline, a solid world, and an interesting protagonist should have at least one of The Witcher games in their library.
However, it isn’t just gamers that should be able to appreciate the exploits of Geralt of Rivia. Betrayal, love, action, monsters – what’s not to love? There aren’t too many fantasy genre movies out there that could be styled as being strictly for an adult audience, which means there could be a niche out there that could be filled by a certain white-haired, yellow-eyed mutant that we all know and love.
The Last of Us
You might think this is an odd one to suggest as being a bad bet, as it is an incredibly cinematic game: Surely it would translate extremely well to the big screen? You’d be right, but that is the exact reason why it shouldn’t be.
Any game that gets a movie adaptation should, at its heart, add something new with its new iteration. The Last of Us was full of cutscenes and playable sequences that used cinematic techniques – to create films based on that particular story seems unnecessary when the game already adequately blend the two media together. Not much would be added to the experience, either for gamers or for movie-watchers. Better to leave it to the already-existing product.
The Elder Scrolls
The Elder Scrolls series from Arena to Skyrim has proven to be one of the most popular RPG series ever created, if not one of the best-received games of all time. People love them for all sorts of reasons. You have the people who love to explore or spend hours creating their characters, or read the huge amount of unique lore that is part and parcel of the Elder Scrolls experience.
However, it is these issues that also, unfortunately, make this series utterly unsuitable for an adaptation to films. The whole point of The Elder Scrolls is that you get to make your own hero, explore where you want, when you want, complete the game at your own pace and in your own style. Every Dragonborn, every Nerevarine, every Champion of Cyrodiil has had a fundamentally different experience and had a different impact on the world. To force a movie to give an actual defined storyline to follow would lose a lot of what The Elder Scrolls is actually about. There are some great stories to be told in Tamriel, but they only really work through the medium of the game.
Despite Half-Life being one of the highest-rated narrative-driven games ever made, I can guarantee very little of the experience would translate to films because of one simple reason: Gordon Freeman. From his first iteration back in the late 90’s to the modern sequels, the orange-suited goatee-bearded protagonist has never and really should never be voiced.
He is a defined character in a narrative game, so you wouldn’t have the same issue as The Elder Scrolls player-created protagonists, but it would be extremely disconcerting and even damaging to the game universe if we ended up with a movie adaptation that gave Gordon a defined voice. However, what could work would be something along the same lines as Blue Shift or Opposing Force; a movie set within the Half-Life world would certainly be interesting, though it would have to be careful not to spoil the story that we’ve been waiting on for almost a decade on to see concluded.
What do you think would make a great video game movie? Or perhaps a movie that would make a good video game? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to stay tuned to The Nerd Stash for everything you need for movies, games, and comics!
A serial hobbyist, Jack loves everything from blacksmithing to brewing – and, of course, the occasional video game.