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Why we need a GOOD Game of Thrones video game

We examine the possibilities of adapting the acclaimed book and TV series into a next-gen video game.

The HBO series Game of Thrones has been consistently gaining popularity since the first episode, "Winter is Coming," aired in 2011. Since then, it has been adapted into board games and video games. However, these games have felt very lackluster compared to the potential that they have.

So what could it look like? 

Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice and Fire for us book readers) contains a fantastic universe that has a unique history, complex characters, and highly detailed lore. These factors make for an excellent foundation for a video game set in a medieval/fantasy setting, especially for an RPG. With all of the different houses, there is potential for multiple factions that a player could choose to pledge their allegiance to, or perhaps they could play as a character from one of those houses.

You could play as Jaime Lannister, the greatest swordsman in Westeros, or perhaps start out as a lowly Samwell Tarly and train yourself to be a formidable fighter. If you prefer to talk your way through things, however, you could develop the silver tongue of Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, and plot your way against those who have wronged you.

Jon Snow fighting a white walker during the events of Hardhome, an event that could surely make for a fantastic scenario or level in a video game.

Aren't there already GoT games? 

There have been a few notable examples of Game of Thrones video game adaptations, but they all felt like they were missing something. The first attempt at a good GOT game was Game of Thrones: Genesis by Cyanide Studios, which was a real-time strategy game. The game was a clunky mess that had a few neat ideas, but they were for nothing as the game was still a clunky mess that did not fully immerse you in the world of Westeros. Al It had a largely negative reception from GOT fans and RTS fans alike.

Cyanide Studios made another, more successful attempt the following year when they released Game of Thrones: The Role-playing Game. The game featured original characters in existing factions that each had their own stories that existed in the same continuum as the first book, and it allowed the player to affect how people interacted with the characters based on the choices they made. Despite these positive steps forward, the combat was unsatisfying, the writing was too rough, and the facial animations looked like they were straight out of the original Fable. Overall, this game was simply too small. To make a truly great open-world Game of Thrones game would take a developer with the caliber of Bethesda or Obsidian Entertainment.

Tywin Lannister as depicted in Game of Thrones

Telltale Games has an ongoing video game series for Game of Thrones that has been very well-received, being noted for its story and phenomenal writing, as is the case with most Telltale Games. However, often Telltale Games feel like the player is just watching a cutscene with choices that often do not have enough of an impact on how the game unfolds.

Having a good story is one of the most vital parts to creating a great RPG, but if story is all you have, why not just read the books or watch the show? The game operates like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and it leaves much to be desired in terms of gameplay.

 Mira Forrester and Tyrion Lannister in Telltale's Game of Thrones

The most well-made adaptations of Game of Thrones are not even proper games. Crusader Kings II has an A Song of Ice and Fire mod that allows the player to control significant and minor characters from the series as well as change the events of history. Players can plot against their enemies and do battle with them to gain more control and influence over Westeros and Essos. Another great mod is the "A Clash of Kings" mod of Mount & Blade: Warband. This mod allows the player to assume the role of a character in Westeros during the events of the second book, A Clash of Kings, otherwise known as season 2 of Game of Thrones. The mod plays almost exactly like Mount & Blade, featuring a large open world and massive battles, only in the world of Westeros. Players can build their own warband and either choose to swear allegiance to one of the many houses, or they may elect to conquer the kingdom on their own.

Don't even try to deny that you'd love to do this in a game

These mods are great and all, and you can kill a lot of time with them while you are waiting for your next Game of Thrones fix (finish the book, George, please). However, what we need to make a truly great Game of Thrones game is for a large game developer with the resources to do it to make an open-world RPG that takes combat realism into account. The possibilities are endless with a world as rich as A Song of Ice and Fire, and this is not limited to events that occurred in the show. 

Imagine playing as a Targaryen during the events of the Dance of the Dragons, crushing Blackfyre rebels beneath the might of your dragons or being one of King Stannis Baratheon's foot soldiers during the battle at Blackwater Bay. The lore is rich with history, characters, and lore that - with the right developer behind it - has the potential to serve as foundation for one of the greatest RPG's ever made. 

Published Aug. 14th 2015

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