Television programs have long inspired role-playing games; we have adapted concepts from TV into games, like arcs, episodes, etc. Books on scriptwriting have been incredibly useful for me when creating adventures. This “season” (and I use the term lightly as it loses its traditional meaning in the face of evolving media) has some outstanding series that inspire me, give me ideas for current and future games and make me want to run all sorts of different games. Let me share what inspired me recently.
Game of Thrones: Duh! This is a no-brainer. I am a fan of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (despite the fact that the series will probably NOT end in his lifetime), so the TV series was great. There is an official RPG for those interested in running a game in Westeros, but even if you don’t there is so much to take from this series. Smart, dark fantasy, its nuances may not be for everybody, but to me the pacing and style alone are worth examining. Season 2 is coming soon, so even if you don’t feel like reading through the books, don’t miss the show.
The Walking Dead: Here is another adaptation, in this case of a top notch comic book series. This is a great take on the zombiepocalypse, more interested on the human aspect than the gore and scares of the undead. I know it’s been called overtly winded and slow on the second season, but I for one love it! There is so much to consider here when running a zombie survival game. If you like the series, pick up the TBP of the comic, unsurprisingly the source material is even better.
American Horror Story: Gory pastiche or brilliant tribute! Definitely not for everybody, some will find it too much, others too tame, but almost every cliché and theme of modern horror TV and films get thrown into this roller-coaster ride of a series. I think most horror games integrate many influences and this program shows how it can be done.
Homeland: This series was a taunt political thriller, it reminded me of The Manchurian Candidate, not because of the plot but because it was a great story. I don’t think I would steal the plot to run as a game, but there are characters, ideas, and plot elements to fuel a modern game.
Alcatraz: This is the newest ones and possibly the one with the most possibility to adapt for a game. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but if you’ve seen any TV, or info online, you probably know it’s about former Alcatraz inmates that disappeared in the 60s and are coming back today; and the people trying to stop them. I love the mysteries and flashbacks, this last aspect probably being the hardest to replicate in a game. But if you really like the series I can conceive playing another team of investigators helping the protagonists track the inmates down. Even if you don’t play a game strictly based on the series, there is a lot to inspire you here. Check it out!
Those are just some of the TV series that inspire me right now? What inspires you? I’d sure like to know…