The show: Feted by the media as the best TV show ever made (because it’s the best TV show ever made), The Wire is a five-year-long urban epic that started out with police in Baltimore in the US wiretapping
a major crime boss and became a far-reaching look at politicians’ complicity in crime and the ultimately doomed nature of ‘the war on drugs’.
The game: ‘It’s all in the game,’ says stick-up man Omar Little. And he’s not wrong: as head of the Major Crimes Unit, the player must send undercover detectives out to canvass areas, install wiretaps, tail suspects, interrogate criminals and convince junkies to work as informants. As they follow the money trails, they see how it gets funnelled from dealers up to politicians, then back down to schools and blue-collar workers. The player has a 20 per cent chance of actually putting the kingpin away before internal politics shut the case down. If the kingpin is locked away, another one appears to take his place. This process repeats forever. The game never ends.
The show: EastEnders is one of Britain’s longest-lasting soaps, and has now clocked in almost 25 years of footage of unattractive British people having heated arguments in rainy London. The ultra-realistic storylines have covered topics such as spousal abuse, gangsters, divorce, gangsters, bullying, gangsters, AIDs, gangsters, gangsters and gangsters.
The game: This massively multiplayer online RPG sees players taking control of their very own ugly Cockney in a huge digital simulation of EastEnders’ famous borough of Walford. By selling flowers in the market, changing the barrels at the local pub and having loud verbal confrontations with other characters, players gain experience points that they can spend on statistics such as ‘thuggishness’, ‘shouting ability’ and ‘closeness of eyes’. Eventually, they get the chance to play their own gangster storyline, which includes a badly directed, low-speed car chase and an argument in a high-rise car park.
The show: Fame-hungry, dignity-deprived pop-star wannabes who couldn’t make it onto Pop Idol (or its counterpart, American Idol) because they were too old or wanted to sing in groups get their chance to humiliate themselves in front of a baying crowd.
The game: Unlike pop-karaoke games such as Sing It, Lips and Rock Band, The X-Factor goes through the full auditioning process. The game begins with the player standing in a queue of hopefuls for three hours (real time) before being given the chance to audition to a bored panel of non-celebrity judges. If they are exceptionally good or bad, they go through to be humiliated on the actual show. Competition winners play a career mode where they take part in increasingly desperate PR stunts to keep their fame levels up. Merely average players enter a virtual living room where they watch other players online and cry into their digital chips.
The O’Reilly Factor
The show: US political pitbull host Bill O’Reilly (below) upholds Fox News’s ‘Fair and balanced’ motto by repeatedly attacking Democrat and liberal targets, venerating Republican politicians and refusing to listen to anybody who disagrees with him.
The game: Using the console’s microphone, players must literally shout down any and all opposition from their virtual Democrat guest. The mic is incapable of detecting individual words, so the player must focus on volume rather than content, though this actually makes the game more realistic. Players bellow over any and all opposition, while changing subjects at set points using the console buttons. Rather than ‘lives’, players who lose the game have the opportunity to cut the opponent’s mic and dismiss them.
The show: Doctors fall in love, out of love and over love; get married, get divorced, get over it; have arguments, affairs and angina. Occasionally they operate on someone.
The game: We were going to joke about a game in which the player spends 90 per cent of their time arguing with their colleagues and angsting about bad relationships, and 10 per cent actually performing operations. Then we discovered that there actually is a Grey’s Anatomy game for the Wii in which the player must complete minigames to ‘set priorities’, ‘distance themselves’, ‘build resolve’ and ‘find comfort’ before they can wield a scalpel. Plotlines include Alex deciding whether to follow Lexie or Ava, and Derek and Meredith’s continuing relationship. No, honestly.
Murder She Wrote is planned for release in 2010.