My five dream game-to-TV adaptations

A Big Daddy and Little Sister need from BioShock

What I would give to binge through these shows…

After the success of the Netflix adaptation of The Witcher, and the upcoming productions of Last of Us and Cuphead shows, it seems that TV studios are looking more and more to the interactive medium for inspiration. Any attempts to make games work as movies seem to have failed, so it’s only natural that they’re pivoting to a different medium. When a game’s runtime usually clocks in at a few dozen hours, a season of TV makes way more sense when it comes to developing a story.

All this talk about the adaptations on the horizon got me thinking about what other games I would want to see new interpretations of, because for some reason this is something I think about a lot. So here’s my list of my five dream game-to-TV adaptations, and if any studios are reading this, give me a call, I have plenty of ideas.

5. The Legend of Zelda

Zelda crying in the rain in Breath of the Wild[Image Source: VG247]

Alright, before I get a bunch of annoyed comments, I know that TLOZ was already adapted into a cheesy cartoon in the ’80s. It has indeed graced us with some legendary memes, but for the sake of argument, I’m going to pretend for a second that it doesn’t exist.

One of the things I love most about the Zelda series is its core mythology. The idea of Link, Zelda, and Ganon being tied by destiny and constantly reincarnated in an eternal battle of good and evil is really compelling, and almost romantic in a classical storytelling kind of way.

Obviously with the games, it’s much more about the gameplay than the in-depth character work you’d see on a TV show, but that’s exactly why this franchise is a perfect candidate. The story bits were sparse in Breath of the Wild, but I thought Zelda’s storyline was heartbreaking, and had a surprising amount of depth, so we know the potential is there to do some intensive character work.

Plus, I think it would be really cool to have it be an anthology series, with each season bringing a new version of the story, world, and characters to mirror each game’s new take on the mythology. They could even go between live-action and different styles of animation, if they really wanted to go crazy with it.

4. Mass Effect

A Reaper taking off in Mass Effect[Image Source: Windows Central]

To my knowledge, there haven’t been any games with branching storylines that have been directly adapted to television, and that’s for good reason. When players can choose whatever path they want, it might be disappointing to realize the writers went the exact opposite direction. That’s why when I pitch a hypothetical Mass Effect show, I imagine it as being more along the lines of the Clone Wars animated series.

Mass Effect is certainly loved for its characters, but its world feels like a personality all its own. Rather than trying to fit Shepard into one storyline that would please everyone, I think it would make sense to create a whole new cast of characters, throw them in, and see what happens. Of course, little nods to the franchise’s main cast and events would be a no-brainer. In terms of tone, I would also love to see something like Firefly, but set in the world of Asari, Turians, and Krogans, just to name a few.

Give me a claustrophobic spaceship psychological thriller bottle episode on the new characters’ equivalent of the Normandy! Give me scenes of tense intergalactic politics! Give me giant space battles that would make George Lucas shed a single tear! This stuff practically writes itself.

3. Animal Crossing

A village celebrating outside of Nook's Cranny in Animal Crossing: New Horizons
[Image Source: VentureBeat]

Okay, I know this one is a bit of a departure from the rest of the games on this list, but just hear me out. How cute would it be to have an animated Animal Crossing kids’ show? For me this works great because it’s already in a fun, colorful setting, which is always a good place to start with children’s programming. Then we have these characters that are well-loved and have distinct personalities, but we don’t have any existing storylines with them, at least in a traditional sense.

That would really open the door for the hypothetical writers of this show to build out the villagers and their relationships with each other, and I can already imagine what kinds of fun antics they would get up to. I know for a fact that any and all fans of the series would watch this, not just kids, and the world could always use more wholesome content. Make it happen, executives.

2. BioShock

A fallen Happy New Year sign in BioShock
[Image Source: Digital Trends]

BioShock‘s story is one of the most iconic when it comes to narrative games, so I think doing a 1:1 adaptation of that would be an injustice. However, I think there’s a lot of potential in the idea of getting a deeper look at Rapture before that fateful New Year’s night. So much work went into the backstory of the underwater city, especially considering its ties to the philosophical system of objectivism, so there would be a ton of material to work with.

I can imagine a season about the founding and building of the city, following Andrew Ryan as he works to get his way by any means necessary, and the workers who are being exploited for his gain. Then the rise of the city, but also the rise of the use of ADAM, and then the slow spiral that leads to the inevitable fall of Rapture. If it’s a real hit, they could even spin off into the world of BioShock Infinite, because Columbia is just as compelling. Honestly, just writing about this hurts because I want to see it so bad.

1. Disco Elysium

A hanging body in Disco Elysium[Image Source: PC Mag]

This is one of my favorite games of all time, and considering how rich and complex Disco Elysium is, it would be a tall order to do it well. It’s another one of those games on this list that has such a distinct experience, especially because of its unique RPG system. While it would be a shame to lose the interactivity that makes this game what it is, the world, characters, and tone are so strong, I would be intrigued to see someone take on the task of adapting it.

With shows like True Detective being so incredibly popular, I could totally see a Disco Elysium show putting a new spin on the broken-down-alcoholic cop trope. They could get really creative with the different voices in Harry’s head too, using different voice-over and visual effects. Plus I just really love Kim, so seeing him acted out in live-action would be awesome.

There are a ton of different ways the hypothetical showrunner could take it, but to me, just taking the dark yet humorous tone and style of the game and really cranking it up to 11 is what would really make it a success. It couldn’t look or feel like anything else on TV, because it certainly stands out on its own when it comes to the game.

Alright, that’s my list! What are your favorite games that you’d want to see as a television series? What’s your dream cast for that series? Are you looking forward to the upcoming game adaptations? Let us know.

About The Author
Noelle Warner
After a few years of working in game development, Noelle joined the Destructoid team in 2021. She particularly loves interactive storytelling and cuddling with her cats!
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