It's recently been confirmed that Ticket to Ride and Warhammer are being converted to TV shows. This got me thinking, are their other games that would work as TV shows? Well, I've brainstormed the idea, and here're my picks.
The Golden Age
I am very aware that we are currently experiencing a Golden Age of TV. There are many great shows vying for our attention. Also, the ubiquitous nature of on-demand viewing means we can binge-watch box sets over a weekend. We’re no longer limited to five channels, as was the case when I was a kid. Shows like Game of Thrones, Line of Duty, Fargo and True Detective have had me utterly hooked. I'm always gasping for more when each series reached their denouement.
Another Golden Age we are also in the midst of is that of my favourite hobby, board gaming. Several clever people are using their great minds to create fun, engaging and even thought-provoking board games. Thankfully, it seems like there is no seeing that bubble burst either. The hobby’s popularity is touching the mainstream with increasing regularity.
Numerous TV shows have had board games based on them. Whether the theme is integral to the game’s design or simply pasted-on is a matter of opinion in some cases. The Walking Dead, Rick and Morty, Firefly, Game of Thrones, Battlestar Galactica, Wacky Races and hundreds (thousands, millions?!) of others have all lent their IP to at least one game.
However, in this article I’m going to look at some of the games in my collection and others I’ve played that currently have no presence on TV and fantasise as to whether their universe, characters and story would translate into a good TV show.
Board Game TV
I’m cognisant that a lot of board games take inspiration from film and TV in their concepts and visual style. Therefore, there might be some board games that would make the transition to TV fairly easily. The one that springs to mind first is Pandemic. This game, where a team of medical experts are jet setting across the world to research and cure diseases, would pique my interest if I saw a trailer for the series on TV. However, I’m sure the budget would need to be huge to effectively do this theme justice!
Another universe that would translate onto the small screen is Elder Sign (from the Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror universe). I imagine this to be a special effects laden paranormal investigation show in the style of The X-Files, but set in 1920's New England. They could really go to town on immersing people in the furtive atmosphere where an ensemble cast of investigators try to thwart cults and strange mysterious creatures. I also imagine a story arc that culminates in a big reveal at the end of each season.
Another game that I bought based largely on its remarkable theme is CMON’s figurine extravaganza, World of SMOG: Rise of Moloch. Indeed, when this game was announced I commented; “They’ve made this game especially for me!” Rise of Moloch is set in a re-imagined Steampunk Victorian London. Necromancers reanimate corpses to provide cheap labour and the cult and agents of the Nemesis seeks to commandeer and re-appropriate this undead workforce as an army to help them raise their beast-like demon god, Moloch. Tasked with stopping them are the Gentlemen of the “Unicorn Club” – loyal followers of Queen Victoria. This includes a menagerie of characters in the style of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, featuring werewolves, ghosts and mechanically enhanced humans. With numerous Gentlemen and Nemesis agents the potential for characterisation is so vast, and the dark, foggy Victorian setting would be so exciting. TV execs, make it happen.
If The Walking Dead is spiritually a TV show for Zombicide fans, then I would love to see a version set in the Middle Ages based on Zombicide: Black Plague. Wouldn’t it be great to see how survivors would cope with an undead apocalypse armed only with swords and bows?!
Scythe is a game about superpowers, set in a re-imagined 1920s Europe. You have fabulous chunky mechs marching across the countryside. However, I would base the TV series far more in the mundane. By this, I mean that I wouldn't focus on the power struggles of the factions. Instead, I would centre the series on the lives of people affected by the tension and war. Perhaps we could have a farming community in Rusviet, or a tavern in Saxony. Maybe the show follows a group of Polonia lads signing up for the army and learning to pilot mechs.
The final board game I’d like to see adapted into a TV Show is Terraforming Mars. Bear with me here! I envisage this as a corporate thriller series set in the near future with plenty of intrigue and corrupt goings on. Mix this with ostentatious special-effects-laden scenes of terraforming in process. With the right writers it could be utterly awesome.
So far, I have concentrated on board games that would make great live action TV series. I’d now like to take a moment to consider some that I feel could work as cartoons.
The Arcadia Quest universe, with its humour and crazy, chibi characters could become a cartoon comedy favourite a-la The Simpsons, Family Guy and King of the Hill, but in a pseudo-Medieval setting. With plenty of heroes and monsters in the game’s universe already there would be no struggle for content.
Raiders of the North Sea is another board game that I’d like to see in animated form – if only because “The Mico” is my favourite board game artist and I’d love to see his Viking creations brought to life in a cartoon.
Moving on, here are some games that would make the transition to TV as comfortably as a fish on land. A series about a Spanish King getting his palace tiled (Azul) would be comparable to awful daytime staples such as DIY SOS. Meanwhile, watching perpetually on-going footage of the Sagrada Familia windows being painstakingly erected would also be a snooze-fest!
Wingspan could be a show about ornithologists that would be an instant channel-flicker for me. While dry Euro games also don’t lend themselves too well to the TV treatment, I imagine Nusfjord, set in a 1950's Norwegian fishing village, to be a Norwegian version of Last of the Summer Wine with seas instead of fields and boats instead of tractors. Viticulture, despite all its plaudits as a game, would be a documentary on the Tuscan wine making process… Zzzzzz… Sorry, I dropped-off for a moment there…
I guess Codenames could be made into a quiz show as when this comes out at my games group it usually develops into a spectator sport. Perhaps “Celebrity Codenames”, hosted by Noel Edmonds is just around the corner…
It would be exciting to see some of these games adapted for the TV screen. However, I still maintain that I'd almost always choose to play a board game over watching TV. Therefore, whether they end up on TV or not, you’ll find me at the gaming table!...