Twilight: The Video Game?!?

Special Note: When the subject of Twilight comes up, I typically roll my eyes in disgust and tune out…just like most men. Therefore, in fairness to the material, I’ve enlisted the help of my wife, who has actually read all of these books and has a love/hate relationship with them, to explore the possibility of a Twilight video game in the near future. Her take is below:

Some industry folk are still scratching their heads as to why game developers have not jumped at the opportunity of making gazillions of dollars in high-pitched shrieking revenue with a video-game adaptation of the Twilight saga. Games Investor Consulting analyst Nick Gibson was recently quoted as saying “Given how hot a property it is, Twilight could easily present a seven-figure exploitation opportunity…”

Could it be that video-game developers have way too much artistic integrity to release a title based on the the post-feminist tragedy that is the Twilight phenomenon? Or is it that they do not like seven-figure exploitation opportunities? Yeah OK, it’s definitely not the latter, so why no Twilight game beyond a lame Scene-It? tie-in?

The story of Edward Cullen, the ancient, tortured, and fangless vampire who hopes to escape his vampiric nature by immersing himself in the American system of public education, and Bella Swan, his bland love interest, has captivated millions, á la Harry Potter. Yet, unlike the Potter series, Twilight poses the unique challenge in that it is a lengthy story in which nothing really happens. Stephenie Meyer’s four girthy tomes offer little action, chapter-long conversations, and a body count that is even lower than Bella’s self-esteem.

But did that prevent Summit Entertainment from excreting a mega successful movie collection? So what is the holdup for EA, Activision Blizzard, or Ubisoft? The one universal truth today is that “Twilighters” spend money, whether it be their own or their parents’. And they spend it hard. A Twilight game could mean more consoles flying off shelves in the middle of a sluggish economy, and would also provide an “in” to gaming’s elusive and virtually untapped frontier…the non-gamer female.

Opinion on a Twilight video game is divided worse than Team Jacob vs. Team Edward. While devotees would be happy to see the swirly Twilight font stamped on anything, saga “purists” vehemently oppose the idea of a video game adaptation. Like most Twilight readers, the naysayers seem clueless about video games, almost as much as they seem clueless about vampires themselves. They seem grossly uninformed about how diverse, nuanced, and emotionally charged video games have become in the last couple of years, and fail to take into account the rise of interactive drama video games like Heavy Rain by Quantic Dream for the PlayStation 3. The success and critical acclaim of this title has created a favorable precedent for dramatic thrillers and “dark” romance games like Twilight, which could attract a large audience with a thirst for the next dimension in gameplay.

The touchy-feely dimension.

And why not? Making Twilight a full-on interactive experience would be the ultimate “Twi-hard” dream come true. The heroine of the story, Bella Swan, is the perfect empty vessel in which reader/players (and their romantically dissatisfied mothers) may insert themselves and live out a romance with the dreamy and sparkly Edward Cullen. Imagine an RPG that can provide hours upon hours of Robert Pattinson’s dreamy avatar, pretentious haircut and all… or Taylor Launtner’s glistening shirtless torso? Love FPS (First Person Shooters)? Why not an FPL? First Person Lover. Gamers can experience life in scenic brooding Forks, gamble between my so-called life and immortality, and cripple feminism all day long while trying to figure out the secrets of the mysterious Cullen coven, research the despotic Volturi, or discover the werewolf origins of the Quileute tribe.

Dialogue, relationship drama, contrived teenage angst, and inane moral dilemmas would be the key to the success of the game, while mystery-solving would ideally dominate the format, just to give characters something to do while they discuss and dissect their oh, so many feelings. In other words, action would not necessarily need be the game’s primary focus, although Twilight possesses enough back stories to create an opportunity for bloodshed. Stephenie Meyers just didn’t bother to write any of them out. Slap on quirky emo soundtrack (courtesy of bands like My Chemical Romance) and you have an instant hit.

Not that there are not a few cool things to do in the Twilight world. As Bella, you can climb on Edward Cullen’s back and sprint at dizzying speed through the lush forest.

Taking creative cues from Heavy Rain, imagine being able to press the “O” button to stare longingly at Edward Cullen, while you chew your own hair in that oh-so-endearing way. Press the square button to flirt with Jacob Black while knowing all along that you will never give him any…though you deeply value his friendship. Or play as Edward and do fun things like pressing the L1 button repeatedly to chew through Bella’s amniotic sac during the birth of her half-vampire child (not kidding, that scene actually happens in the final book).  (Jason: I, for one, would enjoy a “Press ‘X’ to Edward” sequence involving a staking, but I’m not the target audience here.)

Scenery is important in the verbose and descriptive Twilight universe, and when it comes to crafting a landscape, Ubisoft’s rendering of Renaissance Venice, as it is so gloriously displayed in Assassin’s Creed II, may cause any Twilighter with half a brain to fantasize about touring the mysterious walled city of Volterra. Sorry BioWare, there will be no opportunity for your moany, awkward, and frankly, uncomfortable-looking brand of virtual sex. Twilight vampires are into abstinence-only education, if you know what I mean.

If the movie adaptations of Twilight teach us anything, it is that you can get away with a lazy and subpar product based upon the Twilight books because the franchise has a rabid fanbase. A video game, however, could actually improve the artistic integrity of the story by offering higher standards in mood, ambiance, writing, and overall aesthetics (Jason: Hey, it could happen. Knights of the Old Republic was certainly better than any of the new Star Wars films). Maybe even manage to captivate a piece of the demographic…permanently.

Of course, the writers will have their work cut out for them as they will be forced to create situations that merit any fighting or physical conflict. The good news is that many Twilight fans are not discriminating when it comes to plot, character development, or even borderline language skills.

Could a legitimate Twilight game succeed on the consoles? And would you welcome your non-gamer girlfriend/spouse to your world with arms wide open or would this be the nightmare equivalent of being forced to watch romantic movies with her?

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