Fans of Game of Thrones have been excited recently as rumors of a potential large, freeroaming video game set in Westeros have begun cropping up. An image purported to be from Target claims to show a stock item that’s described as a Game of Thrones video game, made by Bethesda, the studio behind Skyrim, Fallout, and the new Prey game.
Alas, this is not something that’s actually happening. A spokesperson for Target has stated that this is not actually a real product that’s coming soon to stores, so no dice. We won’t be living the Game of Thrones dream for real any time soon.
You know what? Good.
It’s a good thing that we won’t be getting the Game of Thrones equivalent of a Skyrim game. As appealing as this might sound, it’s not actually something that would work in practice.
Skyrim and Game of Thrones ostensibly look and feel very similar – they’re big, sprawling fantasy worlds filled with interesting characters and pages and pages of lore and backstory that hold the attention of fans for weeks and months at a time.
In their operation, however, these two stories are almost polar opposites.
In Game of Thrones, the drama and excitement comes from the interactions of a relatively small group of characters, spread out over a wide area, with long quiet lulls in the action as major players travel between key destinations – this is why the most recent season received so much flak for speeding up the pace by cutting out travel times to get to the big setpiece moments.
Meanwhile, Skyrim is all about the journey. The big, important political feuds and major story events are so unimportant that players are completely free to ignore them entirely, instead forging their own path through the underbrush, looting caves and dungeons, rescuing peasants, and getting their hands dirty with all the inconsequential stuff that Game of Thrones happily skips over to get to the next major character death.
A Bethesda game set in the Game of Thrones universe would be almost indistinguishable from Skyrim, except that it would feature less magic, and would focus on all the stuff that the television show goes out of its way to ignore.
It’s better, then, that Bethesda continue to make games set in their own fictional universes – especially now, as Skyrim is six years old and we’re all eager for another instalment (Elder Scrolls Online doesn’t count).
Meanwhile, there is one game studio in operation right now that would be perfectly suited to make a Game of Thrones game. Picture this: instead of a long, rambling adventure as a street level adventurer, we could have a Game of Thrones video game all about a select group of well-written characters and their interactions, where your allies and enemies remember your political decisions, and your choices have a genuine impact on the development of the story.
Sound good? The studio that makes that kind of game is Telltale, and hey look, they’ve already made a Game of Thrones game.
So let’s not mourn the loss of a potential Skyrim-Game of Thrones mashup. It wouldn’t work very well to begin with, and what we have instead is a much better fit for the world of Westeros as a whole.