Nowadays, it seems like there are as many video game-based movie blockbusters as there are original movies being released, whereas it used to be that every blockbuster movie came with a video game. Literature has always been a major influence in cinema, and yet its exploits that have come from video games or have been made into video games are seldom raved about. Here, we’ll be examining the trends of video games being adapted into film and literature, as well as the trends of movies and literature being made into video games.
Video game adaptations bigger than ever
Videos games, be they PC, console, arcade, or mobile, have re-risen in popularity as bases for movies. In the past, the video game adaptation genre was frowned upon, with Doom (2005) being one of the go-to examples of a bad adaptation. However, the likes of Alone in the Dark (2005), Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997), and House of the Dead (2003) manage to go down as the worst critically, according to Gamespot. These films haven’t managed to discourage more modern movie writers, though, as the enhanced special effects and bigger budgets have been seen as a way to revitalize the seemingly doomed genre. Over the last few years, The Angry Birds Movie (2016), Rampage (2018), and Tomb Raider (2018) have all proven to be acceptable big screen adaptations of mobile, arcade, and console video games. Tomb Raider, in particular, was enjoyed by fans because it took a similar stance to the new video game series with a darker approach. However, it’s opening at theatres was less than half of that of Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).
The world of literature has also, much more subtly, experienced some joy in video game adaptations. The best novel adaptations of video games appeal to game fans and tend to come from ones that boast a strong and diverse story themselves. For example, John Shirley’s BioShock: Rapture is the prequel to the phenomenal video game BioShock and rated as one of the best books of this adaptation genre by Barnes and Noble. As BioShock is set in such a thought-provoking arena, it makes sense that a book explaining its creation in depth would do well. Halo: The Fall of Reach is also considered to be a great novel adaptation of a video game, but many subsequent novels in the 13-book series have struggled to earn such acclaim among readers.
Movie and literature video games taking a smaller form
It used to be that almost every blockbuster film received a video game release. One of the finest examples is The Lord of the Rings series of games. The extraordinary films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic novels – which will soon have an Amazon series – received video games to immerse fans in the events of the movie. Many other films not deemed to be major titles also received video game releases, such as King Arthur (2006). This form of game has all but died off now. New Statesman sees the fall of this genre as the result of game developers being pushed to work within the timeframe of cinema – which is much shorter than video game developers are used to – which resulted in many low-quality games. But, that’s not to say that movies don’t get their video game releases anymore; they just rarely materialize on AAA console games.
As they’re smaller and quicker to make, mobile and online casino games are how many films provide their fans with another way to experience the movie. The blockbuster hit Jurassic World rebooted series is a good example of this. The original series, Jurassic Park, came with many game adaptations based directly on the films and the universe that they’re set. But for the reboots, the dinosaur movie franchise started its new game series with a Jurassic World one, and then released the mobile game Jurassic World Live in a similar vein to the ever-popular Pokémon Go. Jurassic World is, however, one of the few major movies to have a console game as well, with Jurassic World Evolution. The only game provider that continually releases a movie tie-in game is Lego. Lego release a huge range of games from Marvel to Jurassic World is their own image. While they are enjoyable and conveniently-timed games, they don’t provide gamers with the same movie feel that official movie games used to on console and now do at online casinos and through mobile games.
Although not as raved about as book adaptations that make it to the big screen, books adapted into video games have produced many great experiences. One of the finest examples is The Witcher series. Written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher novel series is based on a monster hunter who uses supernatural abilities. The video game allows for players to have many choices in The Witcher world to shape the protagonist. Metro 2033, famed for its thrilling storyline and post-apocalyptic setting, is a direct adaptation of Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same name. It’s difficult to name a video game that’s inherently disliked or deemed to be very bad that’s based on a novel because, by using good novels, video games tend to have a captivating story that’s brought to life through a new medium.
It seems as though literature and video gaming, although not as provocatively advertised, do subtly and consistently go hand-in-hand to either give fans more stories from the video game’s universe or bring a new way of experiencing an incredible story. As movies are also a visual medium, they have struggled in the past to gain the same level of acclaim as their video game counterparts, while video games have had to adapt to smaller screens to offer movie fans a relevant experience.