The Official Game of Game of Thrones: The Game

Fortunately, that isn't actually a real thing. Nor will it ever, if HBO's usual aversion to merchandizing holds out. As the first season of  the adaptation of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire series bows out for some nine months or so, I decided to peruse the grand archives of video gamerology for analogues of that franchise that the great gaming public can entertain themselves with while they wait for season two. This blog post kind of assumes you have some familiarity with either the TV show or the first book (there's no spoilers for the other books, nor do I want to see anything of the like in the comments. Pretty please?)

What I'm looking for specifically in these examples is a deeply layered high fantasy world, where political intrigue and civil wars of succession cause as much consternation and terror to the general populace as the wild monsters, bandits and vaguely supernatural horrors lurking in the periphery of their medieval-esque kingdom. Turns out that sort of thing is a more common staple than one might think.

Dragon Age

It seems obvious now, in retrospect, that the world of Thedas is as heavily influenced by A Song of Ice & Fire as it is the usual granddaddy of fantasy: Tolkien's Middle Earth.

We have a loose coalition of baronies and territories, ruled by "Lords" and "Sers", that band together in only the most dire of cases (such as the semi-regular invasion of legions of boogeymen) and spend the rest of the time squabbling over perceived slights and inane political minutiae. The only constant, reliable defense against the darkness is an increasingly understaffed color-based (gray, not black) brotherhood of overly-serious warriors who swear lifelong vows to protect the rest of the ungrateful kingdom from the very worst that the vast, untamed wilderness has to hide.

Ferelden represents the North of Martin's world of Westeros: A group of dirty, stern canophiles with beards and broadswords and a fatalistic focus on the honor and duty of protecting the land from horrors untold. Orlais, meanwhile, depicts the sort of wealthy, decadent and willfully ignorant "civilized" capital of King's Landing, just as dangerous as the unlawful countryside but in a far more subtle and deceitful manner. Though more French.

Final Fantasy Tactics

FFT is notorious for its byzantine plot of a pair of pretenders for the throne of Ivalice, tangentially related to a massive supernatural conspiracy perpetuated by a clan of long-dead demons that once ruled the world.

Moreso than in any other video game, which generally make their characters into broad archetypes, there are various characters that attempt to hold onto their morals and values at the cost of their honor and public image. Ramza especially, as the protagonist, makes several decisions that at first estranges him from his noble knight heritage and then brands him a heretical traitor and terrorist, all from following his moral compass and protecting his friends. His common-born childhood buddy Delita, however, goes from strength to strength by deftly manipulating events to his advantage, with complete disregard for the hurt he's causing. This sort of "noble hero fails" paradigm was used to great effect in Game of Thrones also, in the downfall of poor Eddard Stark, as well as being a persistent theme throughout. Neither Ivalice nor Westeros is a world where heroes prosper.

Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance

While the other two games I've highlighted allow you to play from a character's perspective in a Game of Thrones type world, Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance is a game that allows you to play as an actual state. Birthright is an obscure, older D&D module set around a massive war of succession for something called the Iron Throne (sound familiar?), with each pretender nation's leader using their ancestral bloodline as proof of their worth to rule. Because this is a fantasy world, these bloodlines actually date back to the time of the Gods, whom wiped themselves out in a massive war against their evil counterpart and passed on all their godly powers to the bravest and most suitable mortal combatants that fought alongside them. The descendents of these god-juiced mortals are the ones fighting between themselves now, with those backing the evil god (similarly boosted, though much more horrifically) becoming the ever-present supernatural threat.

The game itself isn't too great, as it spreads itself too thin with a lackluster first-person RPG "adventure" mode and an interesting-but-underdeveloped war strategy sim, but it's as close as you're going to get to controlling your own faction in a Game of Thrones' overarching civil war, feuding against rivals and demons both.
 
 
So there's your best three bets for getting your virtual Game of Thrones on. Unless.. wait, there actually is a Game of Thrones game? Holy shit, why? 
 
So.. do I just delete this thing then? Which button does that.. this one?
15 Comments
16 Comments
Posted by Mento

Fortunately, that isn't actually a real thing. Nor will it ever, if HBO's usual aversion to merchandizing holds out. As the first season of  the adaptation of George RR Martin's A Song of Ice & Fire series bows out for some nine months or so, I decided to peruse the grand archives of video gamerology for analogues of that franchise that the great gaming public can entertain themselves with while they wait for season two. This blog post kind of assumes you have some familiarity with either the TV show or the first book (there's no spoilers for the other books, nor do I want to see anything of the like in the comments. Pretty please?)

What I'm looking for specifically in these examples is a deeply layered high fantasy world, where political intrigue and civil wars of succession cause as much consternation and terror to the general populace as the wild monsters, bandits and vaguely supernatural horrors lurking in the periphery of their medieval-esque kingdom. Turns out that sort of thing is a more common staple than one might think.

Dragon Age

It seems obvious now, in retrospect, that the world of Thedas is as heavily influenced by A Song of Ice & Fire as it is the usual granddaddy of fantasy: Tolkien's Middle Earth.

We have a loose coalition of baronies and territories, ruled by "Lords" and "Sers", that band together in only the most dire of cases (such as the semi-regular invasion of legions of boogeymen) and spend the rest of the time squabbling over perceived slights and inane political minutiae. The only constant, reliable defense against the darkness is an increasingly understaffed color-based (gray, not black) brotherhood of overly-serious warriors who swear lifelong vows to protect the rest of the ungrateful kingdom from the very worst that the vast, untamed wilderness has to hide.

Ferelden represents the North of Martin's world of Westeros: A group of dirty, stern canophiles with beards and broadswords and a fatalistic focus on the honor and duty of protecting the land from horrors untold. Orlais, meanwhile, depicts the sort of wealthy, decadent and willfully ignorant "civilized" capital of King's Landing, just as dangerous as the unlawful countryside but in a far more subtle and deceitful manner. Though more French.

Final Fantasy Tactics

FFT is notorious for its byzantine plot of a pair of pretenders for the throne of Ivalice, tangentially related to a massive supernatural conspiracy perpetuated by a clan of long-dead demons that once ruled the world.

Moreso than in any other video game, which generally make their characters into broad archetypes, there are various characters that attempt to hold onto their morals and values at the cost of their honor and public image. Ramza especially, as the protagonist, makes several decisions that at first estranges him from his noble knight heritage and then brands him a heretical traitor and terrorist, all from following his moral compass and protecting his friends. His common-born childhood buddy Delita, however, goes from strength to strength by deftly manipulating events to his advantage, with complete disregard for the hurt he's causing. This sort of "noble hero fails" paradigm was used to great effect in Game of Thrones also, in the downfall of poor Eddard Stark, as well as being a persistent theme throughout. Neither Ivalice nor Westeros is a world where heroes prosper.

Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance

While the other two games I've highlighted allow you to play from a character's perspective in a Game of Thrones type world, Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance is a game that allows you to play as an actual state. Birthright is an obscure, older D&D module set around a massive war of succession for something called the Iron Throne (sound familiar?), with each pretender nation's leader using their ancestral bloodline as proof of their worth to rule. Because this is a fantasy world, these bloodlines actually date back to the time of the Gods, whom wiped themselves out in a massive war against their evil counterpart and passed on all their godly powers to the bravest and most suitable mortal combatants that fought alongside them. The descendents of these god-juiced mortals are the ones fighting between themselves now, with those backing the evil god (similarly boosted, though much more horrifically) becoming the ever-present supernatural threat.

The game itself isn't too great, as it spreads itself too thin with a lackluster first-person RPG "adventure" mode and an interesting-but-underdeveloped war strategy sim, but it's as close as you're going to get to controlling your own faction in a Game of Thrones' overarching civil war, feuding against rivals and demons both.
 
 
So there's your best three bets for getting your virtual Game of Thrones on. Unless.. wait, there actually is a Game of Thrones game? Holy shit, why? 
 
So.. do I just delete this thing then? Which button does that.. this one?
Moderator
Posted by TwoOneFive

i just checked out the shows first episode yesterday... 
 
this is all i took away from it: 
 
holy shit heads are flying off everywhere.  
 
okydoky a midget and a bunch of naked hookers... 
this chics naked and this guy is just staring at her tits and telling her shes a woman now... 
now theres a bunch of half naked people dancing annnnnd omg theyre all raping eachother and WTF now theyre cutting heads off again.  
oh that chics getting naked AND starred at again.  
lol the boy is climbing again haha what a rebellll OH WTF he walks in on two people doing it doggy style.  
 
god damnit!

Posted by mylifeforAiur

@TwoOneFive: There's not nearly as much nudity in the subsequent episodes. And Tyrion Lannister is amazing.

Posted by Kikarote

I think the nudity is for get people to watch some episodes, then its all about politics and killing. Haven't watched all of them, but I will, and Tyrion is awesome, his voice is amazing!

Edited by TwoOneFive

im trying to give it a shot. everytime the show showed great potential (especially in the dialogue) i would be like ah come on this is ridiculous 

Posted by ArbitraryWater

It's weird actually. After reading the Song of Ice and Fire series of books (at least, up to this point.) I realized how much Dragon Age desperately wants to be that world with some traditional fantasy still left in, and it's actually lowered my respect for that setting a little. Unfortunatley, they aren't nearly ballsy enough to pull off the grit without it feeling superficial or ancillary, and that's why the underlying world of Dragon Age is some sort of weird Mid Fantasy that isn't fantastic enough to be the Forgotten Realms but not brutal and down to earth enough to be Westeros. Whereas Mass Effect's world thrives on being a pastiche of the best parts of Star Wars and Star Trek, the world of Dragon Age suffers. 
 
And I'd actually like to watch the TV series itself (as it's apparently a pretty faithful rendition and the idea of someone acting out some of the things Tyrion Lannister does makes me kind of gleeful), but I don't have HBO and I have a feeling that I'd probably be far more offended by all the explicit content of that series given to me in audiovisual form than I am when it's delivered as text.

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Posted by Mento
@ArbitraryWater: I feel like that's always going to be the case with video games compared to books. Dragon Age was a little more inspired than most because of its budget and Bioware's pedigree, though still hopelessly derivative as you point out. The Grey Wardens, dog-loving Northerners and a suspiciously familiar amoral if not unlikeable dwarf with a brotherly inferiority complex are all heavily inspired by if not lifted directly from Martin's series, and it probably did the same with other famous fantasy novels I'm unfamiliar with. I can't say whether that speaks to video games as an inferior artform, or it simply has yet to take itself seriously and cribs from what works, but I guess that's for Ebert and his detractors to thrash out.
 
TV show is very explicit. Clearly Game of Thrones was chosen for adaptation for its titillating content, and more scenes of that nature are shoehorned in. That said, it's very well acted, visually presented and follows the book faithfully. HBO doesn't half-ass on their miniseries.
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Posted by ahoodedfigure

Well there are board and card games for Game of Thrones, but I guess my general iffyness with games set in franchised settings is that there's more likely to be creative restriction. Something that channels some of Thrones' uncertainty, ugliness, and efficiency would certainly be welcome. 
 
That's one thing that people don't talk too much about when mentioning why Game of Thrones is interesting. Maybe they don't like it, but it's the one thing above all others that made GoT cool to read (at least, as far as I got). Things happened FAST. People moved quickly, people died quickly, and the book did not linger too long on anything. I can't imagine a AAA game NOT lingering on its assets for an extended period because of all the work that went into room A or character B. Things speed through so quick in the books that I'd expect a game that wouldn't take forever to make might as well be a text adventure, since so many artists would basically feel like their work was wasted otherwise.

Posted by Mento
@ahoodedfigure: I'd imagine an actual Game of Thrones game would focus on character specific episodes, like the books. Something like Forbidden Siren's bizarre timetable arrangement would suit it well, with some characters' scenarios having action-based set-pieces and others (like Tyrion) resorting to their wits and conversational abilities to proceed. But you're right in that I'd rather they leave that whole universe alone than risk watering it down for the sake of a video game.
 
Honestly though, the game currently being produced probably has the right idea to just let players take control of famous historical battles within the series, sort of like a Westeros: Total War. It's certainly a better concept than the usual dreary character action games that come from licenses these days, which is what I was originally anticipating when I wrote this blog.
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Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Mento: The board game also deals with the larger issues, with some character cards with special abilities giving a bit more flavor to each House. If it was more the Dude with the Sword sort of approach it wouldn't be what GoT was even about, so I imagine it's not an easy franchise to market for in traditional terms.
 
Maybe when the series is complete, or lies incomplete for all time, then people will get a perspective on what is essential to the series. It being incomplete could be a serious boon to people who want to see a game out of it, because it'll allow theories of possibilities to turn into open-ended gameplay.
Posted by NoDeath

Sadly, you're wrong about that first part.

Posted by Dylabaloo

Just slap the Game of Thrones universe into Mount and Blade and your done!

Posted by MB

@mylifeforAiur said:

@TwoOneFive: There's not nearly as much nudity in the subsequent episodes. And Tyrion Lannister is amazing.

Peter Dinklage is an amazing, Oscar-caliber actor. He even managed to make Sean Bean look amateurish, who is one of my favorite actors of all time.

It's unfortunate that Dinklage will probably never get the recognition he deserves due to his height.

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Posted by BitterAlmond
Posted by AhmadMetallic

im interested

Posted by falling_fast