The Last of Us Showrunner Explains Why Video Game Adaptation Genre Is 'Hopeless'
It’s a marvelous sight, watching the person who just achieved great success in something call it “hopeless,” but this time, we can’t help but agree with Craig Mazin.
Attempts to make live-action movies out of popular video games have been made multiple times throughout the past couple of decades, but most of the time, they had the same result: complete and utter failure.
Not too long ago, those who tried to shoot video game adaptations were largely considered clinically insane.
Sure, there have been a few exceptions (Resident Evil or Tomb Raider, for instance), but the vast majority of others fell flat. While the general public didn’t take video games seriously, gamers were demanding, strict, and borderline impossible to please. There was no market for the genre, and projects kept failing over and over.
But in recent years, some amazing adaptations have been coming out — the ones that became beloved by both gamers and the general public. It was mostly animation like Arcane, Detective Pikachu, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie, but also quite a few decent live-actions… That were all outshone by HBO’s The Last of Us TV series.
The Last of Us show came seemingly out of nowhere and captured millions of people all around the world just to shatter their hearts into pieces. It became a phenomenon, and 24 Primetime Emmy nominations later, it’s safe to say that this series set the new golden standard for video game live-action adaptations in general.
But Craig Mazin, the showrunner of The Last of Us, doesn’t really believe that this genre will ever thrive; in fact, he doesn’t even think that adapting video games is a good idea. While speaking to EW, Mazin called this genre “hopeless.”
“We’re all pretty aware that adapting video games is at best difficult and at worst hopeless. There’s some games you just can’t. They’re just not meant to be adapted, but this one was. It was hard work to do, but I did it with Neil, and the two of us did it out of love,” said the showrunner.
He admits that The Last of Us was unique in this regard thanks to the game itself being more responsive to adaptations as it’s more of an interactive medium.
“I think a lot of other adaptations from the video game genre have started with a company buying the rights to something based on metrics and then calling people and saying, ‘We want you to exploit this IP,’ which is a horrible sentence. That is not how this worked,” Mazin explained.
We see where he’s coming from and honestly, we can’t agree more. The point of a video game is to allow the player to affect what’s happening on the screen, and that’s not what movies do. Unless you pick some linear interactive novel to adapt, you need to get really creative with your approach — otherwise, it’s a failure by default.