By Helmi Abdalhadi, House of Gaming Manager at Serviceplan Group Middle East
I first played ‘The Last of Us’ in 2013. Even though it did not necessarily innovate character development and storytelling in video games, the title was a watershed moment in the video game industry that shows how far these elements – among others – can go.
The Mediaplus team loves gaming; they consistently exclaim at its high engagement rates in both active playing and content consumption. Considering the captivating story elements present in gaming, it’s easy to see why these metrics are very high among gamers. As a gamer, you are role-playing and actively participating in the story before your eyes. Many of us watch television while half on our phones or while finishing chores – this is impossible while gaming.
The necessity of stories and lore in video games to be high quality does not always translate in the end product. However, when it does, it is moving and as a result, frequently picked up for TV or movie adaptations. These adaptations have been, historically… lackluster.
Networks and showrunners have disregarded the source material consistently – a resonating emotion for non-gamers as well, with book adaptations usually feeling flatter than their origin.
During the past few years, we’ve seen video game adaptations turn a corner. Gamers have been introduced to new mediums to enjoy their favorite content by platforms that are now taking it seriously and genuinely – a lesson I believe brands can learn from a fellow industry attempting to reach the same audience. One example of a series that wobbles around fan- acceptance lines is ‘The Witcher.’
The award-winning 'Witcher' games – faithfully developed by Polish developer CD Projekt Red – are based on books of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Fan favorite Henry Cavill (a gamer and fan of source material himself) stars in the Netflix series. The series strayed away from the source material in certain aspects but stayed true to major plot points and fan feelings. Despite decent ratings and reception, Cavill is set to leave the show due to creative differences about how the source material is portrayed – a move that has not gone down well with the audience: fans were not happy that the showrunners were unable to keep Henry Cavill at the helm of ‘The Witcher.’
A show that has not wobbled that line is ‘Arcane.’ Even as a gamer myself, I had little interest in watching the animation based on Riot Games’ ‘League of Legends.’ However, Riot – the developer and publisher of the IP that Arcane comes from – put immense care and effort into writing, storytelling, and animation partners to bring Arcane to life. It is sublime, and as we are discussing how audiences react when projects, or brands, stay genuine to the communities that they are reaching, Arcane still holds 96% positive audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Riot went all out on communication for 'Arcane''s release, including here in Dubai!
The show that truly inspired this comparison to brands and proper execution, however, is still airing its first season. Only four episodes of ‘The Last of Us’ are live at the time of writing, [but] gamers and non-gamers alike have marveled at its excellence. ‘The Last of Us’ has so far achieved a perfect balance of staying 1:1 with the game in regards to cinematography, dialogue, and writing, and also moving away when necessary to build an even more compelling world.
The lesson here for me is clear, and it is one we preach at Serviceplan Group Middle East. As a brand, stay true to the world of gaming as you enter it but be genuine with your personality – add value where you can and gamers will appreciate you. We can take inspiration from Craig Mazin (who also created ‘Chernobyl’ – my favorite all-time show!) and his take on improving a masterpiece such as ’The Last of Us.’