We’ve been turning TV shows into videogames for as long as videogames have existed. What is Pong but a home version of Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King’s Battle of the Sexes? This particular artform has reached its apotheosis with South Park: The Stick of Truth, a role-playing game written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone that looks almost indistinguishable from the TV show. (Videogame technology has finally reached the point where it can realistically delineate fake cardboard.) Stick of Truth looks, sounds and (in most ways) feels like a playable episode of South Park, for better or for worse. It gives us hope for the future of the TV show videogame adaptation. Here are a few programs we would love to see turned into a game with the same loving care as Stick of Truth.
1. Night Court
The obvious temptation is to turn Night Court into a Phoenix Wright-style legal adventure, where the player takes control of Dan Fielding or Christine Sullivan and argues cases on behalf of the coterie of characters and cut-ups that circulate through New York’s judicial system after dark. Judge Harry Stone is the show’s star, though, and it’d be a missed opportunity to not let players experience first-hand the interior life of the Mel Torme-loving magician-judge. The solution would be a tripartite structure split between courtroom objections, crooner-scored card tricks and the quiet domestic drama of the increasingly distant home life of Mac and Quon Le. It’d be perfect for the Oculus Rift.
2. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom
There have been safari games before, but no-one’s ever shelled out for the premier license in the wildlife market. Marlin Perkins must have been a shrewd businessman—he knew a ham-fisted 2600 adaptation would’ve hurt that brand in the long run. Sadly Perkins is no longer with us, but a state-of-the-art HD Wild Kingdom game could easily feature a virtual Marlin narrating the on-screen actions of a player-controlled virtual Jim Fowler. Imagine Kinectimals, but with the soothing presence of a television legend and master showman. What else are you going to do on a Sunday afternoon? It’d be perfect for the Oculus Rift.
3. Meet the Press
The longest running show in American television history has never had a videogame before. Respawn Entertainment needs to fix that. The geniuses behind the world’s most successful shooters possess the dedication and attention to detail needed to turn the public affairs show into a thrillingly visceral videogame experience. Imagine a scenario where two teams of wonks and flacks try to outflank each other’s political rhetoric on the crumbling set of NBC’s now-flagging institution, struggling to see who can capture David Gregory’s attention the longest. Only the makers of Modern Warfare and Titanfall could do this show justice. It’d be perfect for the Oculus Rift.
4. This Week in Baseball
You’d think there’d be a baseball videogame by now. It just kind of makes sense. It’s already a kind of game. But a game about talking about baseball makes even more sense. TWiB: The Game would finally give all us non-singers a reason to use one of the 20 USB microphones laying around our garage. You’d cut up and edit together the hottest baseball highlights of the week, providing your own “How about that?!” call as needed. You could then share your custom reel with your social media buddies and your smart phone pals and the people that you call your friends and loved ones and co-workers and the like. One major flaw: you can only play it when it’s raining. It’d be perfect for the Virtual Boy.
Men in suits love staring out of the windows of tall buildings, and the men in suits in Suits are no exception. A TV is already kind of like a window, a window into the world of beautiful people, so a Suits game where we play as men in suits staring out of a window as we in sweatpants stare at a TV in our basement while our wife tries to sleep upstairs because she has a real job would be just perfect. It’d be perfect for a K&G Fashion Superstore tie-in.
6. Your Move With Andy Stanley
The goal in the Your Move With Andy Stanley game is to stay awake until the end of Saturday Night Live so you can immediately change the channel and not accidentally wake up halfway through Your Move With Andy Stanley. It’d be a very hard game. It’d also be perfect for the Oculus Rift.
7. / 8. WKRP in Cincinnati / The Wonder Years
These would be two separate games that play almost exactly the same. You’d watch scenes from the shows with the DVD soundtracks, and then have to guess what original song was removed from the scene due to expensive licensing fees. Is that blatant Hendrix knock-off replacing “Fire” or “Purple Haze”? Which Steely Dan song was Dr. Johnny Fever really freaking out to, instead of this generic riff that sounds like the house band at a Vineyard church? Both games would come with a bonus soundtrack CD featuring the best replacement music from all your favorite syndicated reruns. It’d be perfect for awkward family gatherings and convalescent homes.
9. That Metal Show
Yeah I like sick riffs but I’ve never gotten into any of those so-called “music” games because Eddie Trunk had nothing to do with them. I’m sure some of these game maker guys have a Foghat MP3 or two as some kind of hipster joke but how can I trust they won’t slip any computery haircut stuff in between the Tull tracks? I’d need the Truckster’s non-smiling face on the front before I could fully commit to a rock game. It’d be perfect for late-night bong rips with my buddy Rod and his nephew.
I don’t actually want a Girls game or think one would be a good idea. I just like when irrationally angry people yell on the internet about something as mundane as a reasonably funny sitcom. And people get really angry about Girls, which leads to lots of comments and links, which leads to increased internet traffic, which leads to Paste buying a speedboat. The Oculus Rift would be perfect for a speedboat.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games section. He threw away his TV when Andy Rooney died.