All throughout my life I’ve been somewhat of an avid gamer. Whether it be spending quarters at the arcade or playing battlefront on PS2, video games always offered an incredibly immersive experience. Comics also provide this immersion, but traditionally use still images and description instead of sound and animation. In addition to this shared expression, comics and video games also share a very similar fan base. As a result, many comic books have been created from the universes of games, and many stories from video games have been expanded upon in comics. The ultimate question is whether these two forms of art can compliment each other and if so, does the product improve upon the original idea. Below I will provide several examples of comics inspired by video games and video games inspired by comics.
I’ll begin with good examples of how comics and video games have influenced each other. Many a gamer can recall playing a spiderman game in their lifetime. I can remember the first one I ever played was Spider-Man 2 for the PS2. I can remember that the game aligned very closely with the comics but also the movie which came out around the same time. Swinging through New York City, fighting super villains on walls and ceilings, controlling one of my favorite heroes was an extremely entertaining experience. The story was well paced and the visuals for that time were pretty impressive. Another classic comic book video game that I played was The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. The Hulk was another one of my favorite heroes and smashing through anything and everything was a lot of fun. Having the power of the strongest hero in all of the Marvel Universe provided hours of entertainment. The game’s story was slow at times but the boss fights were tedious to keep me coming back for more Of course it would be impossible not to mention the Batman Arkham series which has become incredibly popular in recent years. Those games offer an immersive experience unlike any other. Batman of course is a very relatable hero due to his lack of powers but also remarkably intelligent for the common man. Being able to approach situations, with a whole toolbelt of items at your disposal really allows you to control the character of batman. And of course the story lines to those games have always kept me hooked.
There are also certain situations where comics or video games have been unable to present a product which adds anything to their source material. Watchmen: The End Is Nigh, is a good example of a video game which serves no true purpose. Set before the events of Watchmen, the game explores the crime fighting team of Night Owl and Rorschach as they take down the kingpin Underboss. The game offered some interesting dialogue and a somewhat interesting story, but the gameplay was incredibly boring as fight scenes and villains all seemed repetitive. Another example of a poorly made game drawing its source material from comics is the game The Darkness. In the Darkness, Jackie the son of a mob boss is killed and returned to life with the ability to summon demons to control and command. The story line from the comics is very original and blends mob culture with that of true evil. However, the game itself had terrible visuals and a story which was incohesive and boring. It even spawned a sequel which had a comparatively better story but still strayed away from the overall dark nature of the comics.
Overall comics and video games share a creative universe all there own. They offer us compelling stories along with meaningful imagery. However, there doesn’t need to be a video game for every comic, and neither does a comic have to be made for every video game. Ken Levine, the creator of Bioshock, describes perfectly why the two art forms do not always work together. If the time wasn’t there to put together a Bioshock comic, then the overall product would take away something from the original work. This relationship works best when the original creators of either art form are involved in recreating the same story in a different medium. Take the comic, Fallout New Vegas: All Roads, which game with the collector’s edition of Fallout New Vegas. All roads provides a short but interesting narrative which really sets up the rest of the story played out in the game. This connection is prominent and realistic because of the involvement of Bethesda studios the makers of the Fallout series. They went out of their way to ensure that the story was simple, offered some foreshadowing, but most importantly, that it worked with the game. In the future more companies should consider this pitfall instead of producing products solely to draw money from a well established audience.
Header Image: Darrow, Geof (colors), and Peter Doherty (pencil). Fallout New Vegas: All Roads (Cover). Digital image. The Fallout Wiki. N.p., 16 Nov. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.