When we think about games based on entertainment, it is usually with regard to films or sports. GoldenEye 007, for instance, is arguably the most significant film-based game in history, and entire franchises like FIFA and NBA 2K are built on foundations of real-world sports. Over the years however, there have also been a number of television shows that have produced games of all kinds. None are quite as prominent as the examples just mentioned with regard to films and sports, but there are still some noteworthy titles in the pack.
Here are some we suspect people might enjoy taking another look at.
Game Of Thrones
Game Of Thrones may have ended on a sour note, but it was still –– just about inarguably –– the defining TV show of the 2010s. And as an action/adventure series, it made for more natural inspiration for video games than most TV projects. Several games have come out over the years, from mobile strategy titles to themed slot machines at online casinos. But it was the narrative-driven title developed by Telltale Games that made a lasting impact. As was typical of Telltale in its heyday, this game played out in immersive, episodic fashion.
Players in this game get the chance to play as members of House Forrester –– a house that is not part of the TV series, but is mentioned in George R.R. Martin’s books. From this starting point, the game is essentially about making your way in the rough land of Westeros.
While Game Of Thrones, as mentioned, lends itself naturally to gaming, Friends is not the kind of content that makes you think of video games. Nevertheless, the beloved sitcom actually produced a game fairly recently, and did so in the same casino space in which the aforementioned Game Of Thrones slots have thrived.
Specifically, Friends is the subject of a Slingo game at Cheeky Bingo online. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, Slingo combines aspects of both bingo and slot machines, such that slot spins turn up symbols that, when the player is lucky, contribute to filling in a bingo card. It’s exactly the sort of game that casino developers produce in part because it can be combined with all manner of licensed material. But the Friends game in particular has proven to be a hit. Surfacing not long before 2021’s much-publicized Friends reunion on HBO Max, the game uses familiar imagery and a soundtrack reminiscent of the show’s catchy theme song to attract fans –– and it’s actually a lot of fun to play around with.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Friends is a little bit of an exception as a turn-of-the-century sitcom that has produced its own video game (let alone so many years after the show went off air). But it’s actually not the only live-action show from its era to have earned its own video game. Buffy The Vampire Slayer –– an extremely popular drama that played out over seven seasons beginning in 1997 –– has its own to boast of as well.
In this case the game came out while the show was still on air. Specifically, we’re referring to the 2002 Xbox game (though there was a 2000 Game Boy Color title too). The Xbox one puts the player in control of Buffy as she encounters spooky situations and unexpected challenges, fighting demons and vampires in arcade beat-’em-up fashion. If you were a fan of the show, and you can still find a way to play this game, you’ll have a blast. That said, it’s also worth seeking out if you’re simply a fan of that action beat-’em-up style of gaming.
The Simpsons is probably the most influential and important animated show in history, and perhaps unsurprisingly has produced a handful of games over the years. In fact, there are actually several good ones, including old arcades, modern internet slots, and more. But we’re specifically talking about The Simpsons: Hit & Run –– which was more or less a comedic spin on the Grand Theft Auto games (which is to say it’s a wild, free-for-all action sandbox game that takes place in the world of the show).
Unfortunately, this is at tricky game to get your hands on these days. However, a report on NME last summer indicated that there’s some chance of a reboot (even if The Simpsons co-showrunner Matt Selman says it would be complicated). Here’s hoping!
In some ways a next-generation successor to The Simpsons (even if they’ve run for decades alongside one another), South Park is beginning to establish its own legacy in gaming as well. As with The Simpsons, there are multiple good titles associate with this irreverent, award-winning adult comedy. But it was the release of The Stick Of Truth in 2014 that really kicked things up a notch.
This game comes as close as any other we’ve ever seen to making a TV show playable. It’s a role-playing, narrative adventure in which players act as the New Kid and play through all manner of hilarious, original South Park shenanigans. The game is an incredibly enjoyable experience for fans, and the same is true of its sequel, 2017’s The Fractured But Whole. And with the South Park series ongoing, there’s a chance we’ll continue to see more games like these released every so often.
TV shows may not get much attention for inspiring games. But the titles listed here demonstrate that there are plenty of great examples anyway.