David Gaider, Narrative Designer, is one of BioWare’s early veterans. He is best known as the franchise’s lead writer Dragon time before leaving the studio in 2016. The Canadian responded to the fact that Amazon will adapt Mass effect in television series. As a reminder, Netflix announced earlier this year that it was in development even a series about the studio’s other major franchise, Dragon time.
On his Twitter account, Gaider explained a number of concerns he has about a possible adaptation of the two licenses into a television series. The question of the protagonist is one of his concerns. In fact, the two video game franchises allow the gamer to make personalized modifications and adjustments to their hero or heroine. He goes even further and points out that none of the main characters are necessarily suitable for the television audience:
[Mass Effect et Dragon Age] have a custom protagonist. This means that the series has to decide whether the protagonist is a man or a woman. Boom, right off the bat, you’ve just alienated a whole chunk of the built-in fan base who got their hopes up.
These protagonists are designed as a white slate that the player fills in with his decisions. This does not work with passive media. So the protagonist suddenly has his own personality … and his own * story *. It’s going to be strange.
Gaider points out that much of the plot unfolds through the companions the main character meets in the games. With this in mind, he claims that future showrunners could inadvertently frustrate a large part of their audience by simply choosing which characters are given more or less important roles on the screen:
Think of these companions. Think how much the fan base is connected to them. Now remember that it is impossible for a story to encompass them all equally. Think howling of anger when Companion X is relegated to a cameo … or not even there.
Having a TV series instead of a movie offers more accompaniment options, of course, but think about your own gaming experience – only a handful of these have meaningful presence in a single game. This has to be the case for this story in order to maintain consistency. A couple of companions, a romance.
While Gaider wishes the best of luck to future showrunners, his comments raise sensible questions that any potential showrunner should think carefully about before moving either franchise forward.
Is it possible for the ME and DA series to stay true to the game’s DNA without being rigorous?