Netflix hit House of Cards and its potential to be adapted into a thrilling video game.
I recently finished the second season of Netflix’s House of Cards and I really enjoyed it. It was brutal, unforgiving, and compelling. It was entertaining to watch the characters make all these sorts of risky decisions and plays. There were moments when I was clenching my fist in suspense hoping that Frank Underwood’s plan won’t backfire on him. I also felt a wave of relief when things ran smoothly. There was a pang of regret when one seemingly insignificant decision led to damning end. By the end of season, I realized that I wanted to experience a game I like this.
Yesterday, one of our writers Alex Aavard wrote about his top ten picks of political video games. It’s true that there are a lot of games that have political undertones or consequences, but I would love to see one that focuses on it primarily. House of Cards as a video game can be as ruthless and graphic as any action game out there. There are opportunities for assassinations and bomb threats if you really want the violence, but the real battle lies in the shaky alliances and calculated deceptions that take place beneath the diplomatic facade.
Now, I already have some developers in mind who can pull this off. Of course, Quantic Dream is on top of my list with Telltale Games coming in second place. In fact, these are my only two choices. Some people would say BioWare, but I don’t think that sticking to only drama is their forte. It’s the same dilemma with Telltale but I believe that they have the capability to work around it. Their games essentially revolve around story and the choices you make. Combat is merely an add-on instead of being one of the key aspects of their games.
So far, Telltale works on IPs with some fantastical or unreal elements to it but to be honest House of Cards isn’t that realistic either. The show possesses this sort of subtle macabre aura. I’m not saying that there’s no violence and deception in politics, but it is exaggerated and heightened to some degree for entertainment purposes. Telltale could definitely use that aura and the show’s dark tone to match their style. I could easily picture the game focusing on a local representative, congressman, or senator who embodies Underwood’s ambitions. It has its own space to tell a story, but is free to touch on the show’s main storyline without making drastic changes.
As for Quantic Dream, well they were always great with realism and grounded dramas even if some games had supernatural elements. I chose them because I love how they could create numerous complex narratives from different choices. They were able to do this because they keep their games contained in one title instead of making sequels. In one ending, you could be a jailed convict for corruption but you have your marriage intact. On the other hand, you could have been the President of the United States. Obviously, there could be several different outcomes based on the many decisions you’ve made.
The choices you make won’t just be limited to the protagonist being in an office talking about economics. Remember that scene where Frank pushes someone to her death? Well, imagine having a few seconds to decide whether to do that or not. What if we are in that position? You could struggle not to fall. I could also see a scenario where you to have “whip” votes and it’s your job to get people on your side. You won’t get everyone that’s for sure because some would only be swayed by bribes or political favors. Would you be willing to do that? It’ll be even more exciting if you don’t know who you have on your side until voting begins. I can feel the suspense just thinking about it.
To tell you the truth, I actually had a hard time making political decisions in Fable III. I promised people certain things to become King, but then I realize that there’s an impending disaster coming so I had to renege on everything or else all those promises will be worth nothing. I shut my Xbox 360 off because I couldn’t fathom the fact that I had to turn back on all my supporters to save everyone. Sure, you could amass lots of money before you become King but you wouldn’t think of it unless you already knew the story. The game might be terrible, but I like how the choices made me face such a moral dilemma.
I really disliked how you can please both parties in BioWare games all the time. It can be done through an extremely high paragon/renegade score or there was perquisite quest. I’m not opposed to this entirely, just not have it as an option all the time. You can’t win all the time. There are situations where you simply lose.
In House of Cards, the second season portrays Frank Underwood with more vulnerabilities this time like when he says that he still has some blind spots. There was a great moment in the season wherein he is being pushed into a corner by Raymond Tusk and the only way to have a fighting chance is to put everyone in the same playing field even if it could backfire on Frank. It was neither the good or the bad choice because it’s the only one available. Choices shouldn’t be as simple as good choice leads to good outcome or vice versa.
I like it when a video game explores the grey area of morality instead of simply black and white. I believe that House of Cards presents an excellent setting where gamers can uncover what they would really be like if they were politicians.
What do you think?