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How to Get Video Game Adaptations Right

With more adaptations on the way, we can only hope they get it right.

May 26, 2019

By: Max Cannon

Last week, the team over at PlayStation confirmed their plans to make their own content through their own studio appropriately named PlayStation Productions. Video game adaptations have been a long standing dream of the industry with far more failtures than successes. But with video games looking more popular than ever and big franchises like Assassin's Creed and Detective Pikachu giving a glimmer of hope for these movies, what do they have to do to get things right?

Detective Pikachu wasn't perfect but it was a step in the right direction.Detective Pikachu wasn't perfect but it was a step in the right direction.Courtesy of Warner Bros. Studio

Know Your Audience

The term "know your audience" isn't exclusive to the world of video games, this should be true of anything created, but video game-movies have a history of completely disregarding what made the originals so beloved. This doesn't mean merely ripping sound effects and quotes from the source material but capturing the atmosphere and translating it into film. However, these movies can't just be made for gamers, they need to take what gamers loved and re-imagine that feeling into a new language that a greater audience can comprehend.

Sonic The Hedgehog - Official Trailer

 

The language of video games, while easily understandable to gamers, doesn't automatically make sense to people who don't consider themselves gamers. So that feeling you have while climbing to the top of a mountain in Breath of the Wild can't simply be ignored in the look and feel of a show. Condensing the dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay from a single title into a couple of hours isn't easy but they need to be treated as importantly by the creators as they are by the fans of the games. 

The MCU paved the way for respecting source material in an all-audiences adaptation.The MCU paved the way for respecting source material in an all-audiences adaptation.

Choose Wisely

If the games are simply retold as they are, then why even adapt them? These stories need to offer something that you can't get from the games. So the stories chosen to bring to the big screen as equally as important as how you tell them. For example, something like Uncharted is already praised for being insanely cinematic and boasts several difficulties and accessibility modes so you'll likely be missing an opportunity to take a crack at something that isn't as accessible to non-gamers. 

The choice to make a Halo TV show rather than a movie feels right for the franchise.The choice to make a Halo TV show rather than a movie feels right for the franchise.

Specifically referring to PlayStation Productions, there are opportunites for both film and TV. Deciding what medium best suits the project will be an important step for these creators. Netflix may the smart move by choosing to adapt The Witcher into a TV show -- which originally started out as a book series. That's perfect for a game that can take nearly 200 hours to finish but something like Ratchet and Clank could be crammed into something a bit more feature length.

There are a lot of different paths these creators could go down. And while we'll definitely be tuning in to see whatever they create, it's important to think about the content we enjoy from the perpsective of those making it. Now fingers croseed that they think about it as intently as we do.

Share Your Thoughts!

What suggestions do you have for the teams behind these adaptations? What games would you like to see as films? Share your thoughts below!