Brands should be inspired by modern video-game tv adaptions

Avid gamer and Serviceplan Group Middle East’s Helmi Abdalhadi offers some tips for brands

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.

Advertisers love gaming audiences; they consistently exclaim at their 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. You are role-playing and actively participating in the story unfolding before your eyes. Most of us consume visual and/or audio content while half-staring at our phones or finishing a chore. This is impossible while gaming.

Stories and lore in video games are not always high quality. But when they are, they are incredibly moving due to your engagement in the progress of the story. As a result, successful gaming titles are frequently picked up for TV or movie adaptations.

They have been historically…. lacklustre. Networks and show runners have consistently disregarded the source material – a frustrating move that does not resonate well for non gamers either, with book adaptations usually feeling flatter than their original material.

During the past few years, we’ve seen video-game adaptations turn a corner, introducing fans to new mediums to enjoy their favourite content – a lesson I believe brands can learn, especially from an industry competing 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 favourite Henry Cavill (a gamer and fan of the 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 sentiments. 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.

A show that has not walked that line is Arcane – an animated series based on Riot Games’ League of Legends. Even as a gamer myself, I still had some hesitation in choosing to spend time consuming this series over other content or even gaming.

Riot, the developer and publisher of the IP that Arcane originates from, put immense care and effort with writing, storytelling and animation to bring Arcane to life. It is a sublime show, 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 per cent positive audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

It has blown away its objective of attracting audiences to the brand it comes from. However, the show that truly inspired this comparison to brands and genuine gaming connections is currently filming its second season. I first played The Last of Us in 2013.

While only the first season has been released at the time of writing, gamers and non-gamers alike have marveled at this adaptation’s excellence. The Last of Us has so far achieved a perfect balance of staying 1:1 with the game cinematography, dialogue and writing while also straying away from the game to build an even more compelling world.

The lesson here for me is clear, and it is one we have been preaching for almost three years now at House of Gaming. Gaming audiences are massive, and entering their world as a brand can be unknown and scary. Stay true to the world of gaming as you embrace it but be genuine with your own take on it – a take that is also authentic to your brand values and personality.

We can take inspiration from Craig Mazin (who also created Chernobyl – my favourite all time show) and his take on improving a masterpiece such as The Last of Us.

By Helmi Abdalhadi, House of Gaming Manager at Serviceplan Group Middle East