When Halo 4 gets released on Nov. 6, 2012, it will bring with it episodic content almost televisual in nature. In order to build shared experiences that players will talk about around the water cooler, the game’s developer 343 Industries will be delivering free weekly mini-missions which tell side-stories to the main mission, all via Xbox Live.
While this isn’t a television show based on the Halo series, it borrows much from the idea of mixing the two media. This works the other way too, and there have already been TV shows based on games. Unfortunately most of them sucked. However, there are several video games from the current generation of consoles that would make great TV shows.
The Game: L.A. Noire is a sandbox game from Rockstar that was released in 2011 for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. It’s a crime drama that is heavily influenced by the film noir genre. You play a war hero-turned detective in the LAPD in 1947, investigating cases by poring over crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, and interrogating suspects.
The TV Show: A TV show based on L.A. Noire would be a period drama set in the 1940s following different characters in the LAPD in a post-war United States. It would have traces of Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, and have both weekly storylines and season-long story arcs. It would be atmospheric and very stylish, but bloody with it.
The Game: All three Uncharted games are action-adventures from Naughty Dog, the first game in the series having been released in 2007. These are exclusive to the Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita. You play Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter and all-round badass who explores tropical locales while fending off various villains and ne’er-do-wells.
The TV Show: An Uncharted movie is already rumored to be on the way, but it could work on television as well. A TV show based on Uncharted would be an old-skool affair with a continuing storyline and cliffhangers every week. The death quota in the games would have to be clawed back a little, but there would be romance, intrigue, and an Indiana Jones epicness to it all.
The Game: Alan Wake is a third-person psychological horror from Remedy Entertainment that notoriously took five years to make. This is a Microsoft exclusive only released on Xbox 360 and PC. You play the titular Alan Wake, a novelist who investigates his wife’s disappearance on vacation. The game is split into six episodes, almost like a television show.
The TV Show: Alan Wake was created to mimic a television show, so it would be a natural fit for the medium. A TV show based on Alan Wake would be an intense drama with flashbacks and twists around ever corner. It would be dark and broody, and play out like a Stephen King book would if adapted for television. Just better in every conceivable way.
The Game: Heavy Rain is a psychological thriller from Quantic Dream that is close to being an interactive movie. This is another PS3 exclusive, as is Quantic’s next game Beyond: Two Souls, unveiled at E3 2012. You play four different characters who each have a role in trying to stop a serial killer. There are multiple endings based on how the player does throughout the game.
The TV Show: Heavy Rain already feels like a movie/television show, so it wouldn’t be a huge leap to turn it into an actual TV show. This would be a classy affair with no more than 13 episodes in a series. With four protagonists whose lives all intertwine, each week could concentrate on an individual’s storyline, with the final episode pulling all the strings together in a satisfying conclusion. Like Lost but with a satisfying conclusion.
The Game: Assassin’s Creed is a series of games developed and published by Ubisoft. These are action-stealth games based in different times throughout history. You play Desmond Miles, a bartender from the present-day, but control his ancestors as he sees through their eyes hundreds of years in the past.
The TV Show: Assassin’s Creed could make for an awesome television show, but I doubt any network would have the resources to pull it off. The budget would have to be huge for either of two scenarios: season-long arcs set in specific time periods of history; a shift in time each and every week in a nod to Quantum Leap or Sliders. Both would be fantastic.
On The Other Hand…
In order to fully explore this issue it’s fitting to consider the games that would make terrible TV shows. Unfortunately these are much more likely to get the medium-hopping treatment, as they’re mainstream and will appeal to millions. I am of course talking about mobile games such as Angry Birds and Draw Something, both of which are rumored to have television shows in the works. They may be fun games but aren’t they a little shallow to support TV shows?
That’s my list but I’m guessing you’ll have your own thoughts on the subject matter. Do you think the games I have mentioned would indeed make for great TV shows? Which game do you think could survive the move intact? Do you think games should stay as games and TV shows should be original? Let us know in the comments section below. You may also be interested in reading about the best video game movie adaptations of all time.