My five dream TV-to-game adaptations

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More games based on TV shows, please

Video game adaptations are more popular than ever, especially when it comes to the games-to-TV/film side of things — just look at the endless conversations surrounding HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us. Last year I wrote a list of my dream TV shows based on game franchises, and now that some of those are actually coming true, I thought it was high time to flip things around the other way and bring about even more manifestation.

Although they had a heyday in the early-to-mid 2000s in the form of licensed shovelware, TV-to-game adaptations are few and far between as of late — but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some awesome IPs that would make for some killer adaptations into video games. Here’s a short list of some of my current favorite TV shows that would absolutely dominate as interactive content.

Breaking Bad as a GTA-style open-world game

Image via Netflix

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan himself stated that he wants a GTA-style open-world game inspired by the show and I for one am inclined to agree with him. I really think that if we all demand this enough times, we can finally get someone to cave and just make the damn thing already. I can imagine that there’s a good deal of crossover between fans of the GTA series and Breaking Bad already, so the demographic is already there.

It’s already a blast to see Walter and Jesse running around Albuquerque and beyond acting as some of the toughest drug lords around, so the desire to play as them be the tough drug lords ourselves is the next natural progression. I can already see it now — driving around town in the RV, busting up anyone who gets in my way, a mini-game to cook my very own inventory, and unlocking a secret achievement for throwing a pizza on the roof of Walter’s house. There’s certainly not a lack of great source material to pull from over the show’s five-season run; it pulls off something most shows can’t by staying consistently excellent all the way through.

Succession as a Disco Elysium-style RPG

Image via HBO

Succession is one of those shows that’s in its own league in its medium, similar to Disco Elysium’s status in games. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

The point-and-click genre is already predisposed to take on murder mysteries really well, but I think a Disco Elysium-style text-heavy RPG that centers on corporate intrigue and espionage would be blow-your-socks-off incredible. Much like Disco Elysium, Succession also feels like an epic, Shakespearean tale that deals with themes of morality and how your choices define you.

Whether players would take on the role of one of the show’s main cast, or some lackey who’s trying to work their way up through the fictional Waystar Royco company, there could be all kinds of avenues for different choices and story paths. Not to mention, you could do some really fun stuff with different stats that are specifically beneficial to have in the corporate world.

Ultimately, Succession is a show that has huge stakes and a ton of tension in every episode, and yet it consists of nothing more than people standing in a room and talking. That kind of whip-smart, slow-build writing is absolutely perfect for a text-heavy game in the style of something like Disco Elysium.

Survivor as a social deduction game

Image via CBS

Survivor is a show I used to binge on the regular with my family after dinner, and I recently got back into it after sitting my friend down to show them all of my favorite seasons. Not only is Survivor stellar reality TV, but it’s also just a great game – it involves social dynamics as a main mechanic, has a 23-year history of evolving gameplay meta, and always throws in new twists and advantages to force players to shake things up.

Then we look back to games, and social deduction games like Among Us have dominated for the past few years. There’s technically already a Survivor video game that came out in 2001, but we’ve clearly come a long way since then. Take the social deduction part of Among Us, take the “physical challenge” aspects of Fall Guys, throw all of your closest friends into a lobby, and you’d have one of the best Friday nights of your life — even players who get voted out early could have a blast in their own chat channel as members of the Jury. Tell me I’m wrong.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend as a dating sim

Image via Netflix

This is probably the most out-there entry on this list, but I had to include it because Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of my absolute favorite shows of all time. There comes a point in the later seasons where the show’s protagonist Rebecca is faced with choosing between three love interests, which is rife with dating sim potential if you ask me.

The show is also a musical (you probably recognize some of the songs that became memes, even if you’ve never seen the show in your life), so some rhythm games would slot nicely into this whole affair as you navigate Rebecca’s love life. What’s more, she’s also a lawyer, so if the hypothetical developers really wanted to get fancy with it, they could also throw in some Phoenix Wright-esque court cases to solve.

The show also has a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek tone, which is absolutely something I’d love to see more of in games. I sometimes feel like this industry takes itself way too seriously, which an IP like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend would actively defy. Plus, the show handles tough topics like mental health issues better than most out there, and I think it would be productive to move some more of that conversation to the games space as well.

Barry as a narrative-heavy stealth shooter

Image via HBO

Another one of the best shows that’s airing right now, Barry has set new standards in this age of television again and again. One of its biggest strengths is the ever-growing contrast between his personal life and his “job,” which I think would make for some compelling gameplay. On one side, you could have some more relaxed sections that focus more on talking with the side characters, making friends, going to acting class, and so on. Then of course there’s the assassin side, where Barry goes on missions with stealth and shooting mechanics. 

There’s tons to pull from between the show’s tight character work and bombastic action scenes, so I have faith that a video game version of Barry would be a fun, fresh take on the IP. Genre-bending games are also having their heyday right now, and if the vision I have in my head of the entire look of feel of the game-changing between the two sides of Barry’s personality came to life, it could make a name as a truly unique piece of interactive storytelling.

Noelle Warner

Features Editor

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