Game of Thrones is great. It’s hard to argue with this statement. Whether its the TV show or the book or both that have grabbed a hold of you, chances are you want more. So why not a video game? How many times have you been staring at the screen or pages wishing you were there and a part of this fantastical world? Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, has proved that a franchise incarnated in books (be it comic books) and born again in television can also be a hit as a game. So why is it Game of Thrones games seem to always be terrible. First there was the PC strategy “A Game of Thrones: Genesis” followed by Action RPG “Game of Thrones” and next is the upcoming Social Network game “Game of Thrones: Ascent” and I know you shouldn’t dismiss something before it even comes out but this just seems like the wrong direction to take.
What would it take to finally get that golden Game Of Thrones title that fulfills on all fronts and finally satisfy that need to be involved in that world?
Maybe I’m alone on this. With Atlus’ Game of Thrones title only bringing in around 160,000 sales globally, it could easily be interpreted that there is not enough demand for any A Song of Ice and Fire game. Perhaps the masses are satisfied with the books and show and do not want a game to interfere with that narrative. However I do not believe this is true. If a game can stand on its own merits without relying on ties to other mediums, such as television for a player to understand the backstory, that game can be both great and successful. With the ever growing acclaim for the HBO show and the rediscovery of George R.R. Martin’s novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, I am certain that if a poignant Game of Thrones video game were to be released, it would generate the demand it needs. So why hasn’t one already been created?
The game cannot undermine the show or books, has to be relevant without parroting what you already know and has to be able to stand on its own. That’s a tough collection of demands for a developer to comply with and for a publisher to invest in. Also, everything else produced on A Song of Ice and Fire is so amazing already, how do you add to that without taking away from it? There are a lot of challenges to overcome and factors to consider if a developer is to do the a franchise justice.
Arguably one of the most difficult decisions to make while conceptualising a Game of Thrones video game is the genre. A Song of Ice and Fire’s lore is so rich and dense, pretty much any genre fits but what genre fits best? That’s a trivial question because everybody has different tastes, so the real question is, what is the Game of Thrones game you want? Do you want to play out your own characters narrative personally or do you want to rule the seven kingdoms and command your armies? Listed below are the options that are, in my personal opinion, most befitting the role. I would greatly appreciate it if in the comments you could select the choice that you want the most or if I have left out what you desire, tell me your alternative.
1. Role-Playing Game: e.g, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
2. Role-Playing Game: e.g, the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
3. Computer Strategy Game: e.g, a Total War style game
4. Massively Multiplayer Online RPG: e.g, Guild Wars 2
5. Real-Time Strategy: e.g, Age of Empires 2: Age of Kings
6. Graphic Adventure: The Walking Dead Game
7. Other Alternative: give your genre that you would like to see and an example of a game from that genre if one already exists.
Another challenge with A Song of Ice and Fire game is that the narrative already told is so powerful and complex, it connects with the reader or audience on a personal level. The characters matter to you. So do you want to actively play as those characters and risk severing that bond or follow a parallel plot to the story already laid out. Another alternative is, of couse, Prequels! Everybody loves prequels. Who doesn’t want to play as Robert Baratheon facing off against Rhaegar Targaryen on the Trident or playing as Rhaegar himself and rewriting fantasy history. The point is there are so many options within options that they might drown out the game. How could you possibly please everyone? My goal with this article is to discover if there is in fact on overwhelmingly popular choice and if there is which is it.
So the next list to choose from is the narrative you desire:
1. Play as a pre-existing main character and follow out their story in the current setting
2. play as a pre-existing main character and rewrite their story with choices you make
3. play as a new hero that enters the world in its current setting
4. Play as a new hero in a completely different region of the world
5. Play in the past as a pre-existing character you read and here stories about (e.g. Aegon the Conqueror)
6. Play as a house (e.g. Stark) and control the future of your legacy through politics and war.
7. Other Alternatives.
Finally it would be interesting to speculate which development team would be best suited for the task. Of course it would depend heavily on the selected genre of the game but it could be fun to throw around some ideas:
1. Creative Assembly: developers of the Total War series
2. Telltale Games: developers of the Walking Dead Game
3. Bethesda Game Studios: developers of the Elder Scrolls Series and Fallout 3
4. Gearbox Software: developers of the Borderlands series
5. BioWare: developers of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series
6. Blizzard Entertainment: developers of the Warcraft series and World of Warcraft
7. Other Ideas.
One final suggestion, and bare with me on this, is Atlus. Now I know they failed completely with their last Game of Thrones endeavour, however it’s worth noting that Atlus did not develop the game, they published it while outsourcing the development to Cyanide. Also they were not the only publishers of the game, so Focus Home Interactive share some of the responsibility.
Atlus has a great track record with fantasy RPG’s, including the Souls, Persona and Disgaea series. It’s also worth pointing out that failing at a Game of a Thrones game might make them perfect for succeeding at a one, since they know exactly how not to do it now.
I want this game to happen. I love the books and The HBO series, which is objectively the greatest thing on TV right now and I cannot wait for Season 4. The only thing missing is a top tier video game. I want it. I just hope I’m not alone.