I was arguing with a good friend of mine about the continued rumours of a game based on the Twilight saga.
Now, I’ll accept here that I am no fan of Twilight – I know, as a hardened reader of fantasy fiction and a man with a penchant for RPGs, that Twilight isn’t aimed expressly at the likes of me who prefer a bit of meat on a plots bones. Nor would I have anything inherently AGAINST a game based on Twilight – in a world where licences are wheeled out for anything and everything, what would be the harm in a Twilight game? Done right, it may even be a great thing.
But we veered off course, and started talking about fantasy cliches in videogames. My friend knows personally, I have a BIG thing for werewolves – if there is one mythological creature I want so desperately to believe in, it is the werewolf. It’s been a fascination since I was about seven, and I have read most novels and seen more movies based on the subject than should be healthy.
But in a snarky comment, my friend was like, “Come on, you can’t do much with the werewolf. Otherwise, there would be more games based on them!”
Which got me thinking – why aren’t there more games based on werewolves? In my curiosity, I decided – like anyone – to turn to Wikipedia in my search for games that contain werewolves.
And I don’t really understand why. We have in the past few decades humanised most science fiction and fantasy species – from aliens to vampires, ogres, trolls, imps, fairies and cyborgs. In literature, werewolves have also been sympathetically updated in many cases – in movies too, although werewolves are generally continued to be wheeled out more often than not as the villain of the piece.
In this modern era of video gaming, where we can do so much with animation and the quality of writing, it strikes me as a little odd that we can continue to be impressed by mutants, vampires and zombies, but the werewolf is still a relative afterthought. Even in Skyrim, the werewolf transformation was hardly an essential aspect to the game, and once infected, you never even needed to shapeshift – the whole perk of it was immunity to diseases, and that was all.
And I for one feel, as a fan of werewolf fiction, that it is perhaps a damning and shameful state of affairs that such a deep well of inspiration can be so continuously neglected. When we complain about ideas being done to death, so few people can name anything in the industry that hasn’t been wheeled out over the last few years as a star of the show – except, here we have one. A subject, the material, the long-forgotten creature that inspires both fear and intrigue, and has been a constant source of scary stories and witch hunts for at least a thousand years – the werewolf myth can be traced as far back as the ancient Greeks, who knew a thing or two about storytelling (have you read some of their fables? I mean, their gods are like a soap opera! Modern retellings there would also be fabulous!).
I for one am a bit tired of aliens – this generation has had a big thing for science fiction, and there isn’t much left for me to admire in another big-boobied alien race wanting to breed with humans. Ahem. I’m also a bit tired of vampires – again, we always seem to find vampires human and romantic and somehow redeemable. Bram Stoker has a LOT to answer for!
And likewise – and I can’t quite believe I am about to say this so brace yourselves – I’m starting to get a bit bored of zombies.
Zombies are cannon fodder, they are a scenario, not the content. For most zombie games, or infection-based games, they serve as the scare, the fodder, the time-wasting annoyance between scenes of a more human and interesting nature. Zombies are a vehicle for storytelling, and to be frank, there isn’t much shock value left in them. We’re kind of all spent in our care for their fate. And the alarming regularity they appear in games has all but made them a bit of a cliche, a bit too “normal”.
I am not, however, bored of good werewolf stories because they’re not common enough to have reached saturation yet. Good werewolf movies are hard to come by and, as I discovered, werewolf games are by and large non-existent, with a tiny clutch in the millions of games in the past few decades daring to tackle it.
And as I sit here, glancing at my TV to see a trailer for Grimm – and another werewolf sub-plot that gets all of two seconds of screen time – I have to ask myself, isn’t it time the gaming industry embraced this myth as much as it seems to have embraced everything else? What exactly is so hard about making a good werewolf game? I’m sure we can relate and sympathise with a character afflicted with the curse; enjoy scenes of such a character tackling his curse and embracing it in times of need. In a fantasy scenario, it could end up another quest for redemption; freeing oneself of a terrible deed done in the throes of one night of careless planning. In a modern setting, you could make it a blend of stealth and action; a world discovering werewolves exist, and humans being terrified of such a revelation do their best to wipe out any last trace of the subspecies as survivors do their best to cling on and hope that they are not found out.
Come on games industry. I want a decent werewolf game! And I’m willing to pay a £50 entrance fee as well. For all the subjects and ideas the industry comes up with, it’s perhaps a little shocking that when you google for a werewolf game, you end up with a page of those free link-feeding minigames that have no real content above dragging in hits for the site in question.
It’s depressing. I love werewolves. And I’m wondering why the industry hasn’t tried more often to use this subject matter, when there’s so much that can be done with it. When your best examples are a few short scenes in Elder Scrolls games and the old Atari classic Shadow of the Beast, there’s something very deeply wrong going on…
If anyone out there knows of the reasons why the industry doesn’t use it, feel free to give me a quick message about it.
I’d love to understand why there are so few proper werewolf games out there…