Game of Thrones, a Telltale game: what can we expect?

The creators of The Walking Dead game have announced a brand new series: Game of Thrones. Based on the popular book series written by George R. R. Martin, the game will be released in 2014. What can we expect?

Game of Thrones, based on the ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ novels and subsequent HBO series, will be Telltale Games’ big player for 2014. In the wake of the success of the novels and the HBO series, the developers are looking to create another gaming masterpiece. The question is, what will they use to win over the public?

For now, the only information that Telltale has told us is that the plot will be episodic, like much of what they do. After looking at what Telltale’s done in the past, however, we’ve tried to guess some of the possible story lines.

An unpublished episode

The first trailer of the game whets our appetite, but gives little away; Telltale mentions that it will be “an epic new chapter in the saga of Westeros.” This statement doesn’t actually surprise me, because as a rule, Telltale games are based on existing works, like The Walking Dead or Back to the Future, and offer alternative stories to those that we already know.

This phrase can be interpreted in various ways, so I divided the possibilities into four options: a, b, c, and d.

Map of WesterosWill the map of Westeros be re-drawn? (Source: Viewers Guide HBO)

a) Game of Thrones: The background

One thematic possibility for the Game of Thrones game are stories based on previous events that haven’t featured in the novels or television series. Having been mentioned as part of the plot of George R. R. Martin’s series, we’d love to see these develop into big events in their own right.

If given the choice, we’d go for a “historical” series – it would be great to live through the last years of the reign of “Mad King” Aerys II, the last monarch of the Targaryen family. How did he become so paranoid? What led the other houses to plot against him?

'Mad King' Aerys IIA plot surrounding the Mad King could offers lots to the game (Source: Deviantart – Dragonnick741)

Situating the game during this period would mean that we could wield the sword belonging to the Kingslayer himself, Jamie Lannister, at the key moment when the Kingdom of Westeros changed hands. We could also control a young Robert Baratheon or Eddard Stark many years before the dramatic events that condemned them at the beginning of “Game of Thrones”, the first book in the series.

But this period of history is not the only one in the series that Telltale could use as reference. It’s well known that many fans have great affection for the Targaryen family. What if the game were to go a little further into the past, into the era of the glorious reign of the “dragon” family?

The Game of Thrones game has the opportunity to be an excellent vehicle to tell the legendary adventures of the Targaryen family in all their glory while enabling players to ride the huge dragons that were decisive in the wars. Action, palatial intrigue, legendary adventures– it would be interesting to have a game that contains all of these elements.

The reign of the TargaryensWe’d love to go back to the era of the dragons (Source: Devianart – Chadski51)

b)  Once upon a time in Westeros

Telltale Games also has a habit of creating new characters for their games based on the series. They’ve already done it with The Walking Dead, so it’s likely they could do something similar with Game of Thrones.

This style of narration allows for more freedom so that the main plot of Game of Thrones only appears in the background, much like a personal story arc.

For example, how about a story based on the plight of a group of characters in King’s Landing during the events that we know from the books and the series? One of the most well known characters is tyrant king Joffrey Baratheon, so why not take advantage of this fact to narrate a drama of survival? Imagine being the crook of an orphan who has to do everything to survive; if he’s the bastard son of the late King Robert, even better. Perhaps these typical Westeros plots, with their wars and power shifts on the throne, are the ideal basis for these more personal stories.

King's LandingKing’s Landing – a land of adventures? (Source: Deviantart – McNealy)

c) Beyond the Wall

A variation of the parallel story could be that it would develop beyond the Wall, which protects the Night’s Watch and all of Westeros. This would give us plots in which the wildlings, the White Walkers, or even beloved characters like Jon Snow appear.

This plot, for example, would look at the difficulties of a family living beyond the Wall who want to cross it to go to Winterfell in search of the safety and security that they’re sure the masters of the Stark household would offer them.

If Telltale Games opted for such a plot, they’d have the perfect excuse to introduce abundant scenes of intrigue. Making the average player’s blood run cold is something that they know how to do well, as anyone who’s played The Walking Dead will tell you; using similar techniques, like an encounter with the White Walkers, would be certain victory.

The White WalkersThe White Walkers could also appear in Game of Thrones (Source: Deviantart – Redan23)

d) What if…

Another way to avoid compromising the stories written by George R. R. Martin too much is to provide an alternative view of what’s already in the books and series, like an alternate universe in which things went differently.

What if Eddard Stark hadn’t retained his integrity? Would he have kept his head after all? What if the siege of Stannis Baratheon in King’s Landing had ended in victory? What if the Red Wedding hadn’t had such a bloody end?

Alternate universes are very common in comics (just think of Spider-Man and its many revivals). Why not try the same thing in a game as well? Using an alternate universe would let us control the popular characters but reintroduce an element of surprise that’s missing when you already know what happens to them.

What if Stannis Baratheon was King?What would have happened if Stannis had won? (Source: Deviantart – WillHarrisArt)

The most likely scenario

There is nothing more dangerous than a die-hard fan of a book series. Start meddling too much and they’ll set on you like a pack of rabid dogs. Fans of the Game of Thrones series aren’t any different, so Telltale needs to tread carefully. Although they are working on the scripts with George R. R. Martin, option (a) will probably be ruled out because it’s a new interpretation of events that have already been narrated, albeit indirectly, in the books.

For the same reason, option (d) must be ruled out as well, since more than one fan might consider it a crime if things were to be retold in a different way for the purposes of entertainment.

Options (b) and (c) seem the most likely in this hypothesis, since the parallel stories play out in the same universe in which the story is told, but without compromising it.

Why didn’t I also include an option (e), which would be the narration of events in the novels and/or series? Historically, this isn’t Telltale’s usual style, and because the Game of Thrones series hasn’t finished yet, the narrative could become stagnant.

What do you think the Telltale Game of Thrones game will be like?

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