George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a world practically tailor made for a video game. It is immense, vast, dark, violent, and full of richly realized characters all in alliance and/or conflict with each other. With the success of the HBO series Game of Thrones, it should come as no surprise that a few games have been made to capitalize on this recent rise in popularity. Unfortunately, all efforts so far have lead to subpar results. As of this writing, two major titles have been released, both by French based developer Cyanide. Game of Thrones: Genesis is a real-time strategy game taking place over 1,000 years of the history of Westeros, and allows you to take control of various major houses for control of the iron throne. Earlier this year, Cyanide released an RPG simply titled Game of Thrones, which is actually a prequel to the book series, and tells the story of Night’s Watchman Mors Westford and fire priest Alester Sarwyck as the both get tangled in a royal conspiracy.
On paper, both of these titles had great potential, which only makes the disappointment all the more painful. I must confess, I have not actually played Genesis, but from what I’ve seen and heard, the general consensus is that it has a solid foundation dampened by poor gameplay and storytelling mechanics. This is too bad, as the prospect of a Game of Thrones RTS that takes into account both the battles and the political machinations that fuels them is exciting. Same goes for the RPG released this year. While telling a genuinely compelling story that sheds some light on the events leading up to the first book, it too is dampened by boring gameplay, outdated graphics, linear level design, and inconsistent voice acting. These design flaws negatively affect any enjoyment one gets from the story, so much to the point that I have yet to actually finish it, despite my love of the world and characters.
Upon further reflection on these disappointments, my mind eventually turned to the future. There will be more video games based on this franchise; there is no doubt about it. The popularity and potential are there, and it would be foolish for publishers and developers to miss the opportunities available. In fact, a browser-based MMORPG titled Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms is currently being developed by Bigpoint Games and Artpant, and should be released next year. While this again has potential, I can safely say that this is not the A Song of Ice and Fire (from this point ASoIaF for brevity’s sake) video game that I want. When looking at the attempts made so far, it becomes ever so clear why a great video game adaptation hasn’t been made yet. The blueprint to a perfect ASoIaF game is there; it just has to get made. Here are five ways how to do that.
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This article was first posted on September 21, 2012