Is anyone looking forward to playing in Desperate Housewives, the upcoming PC game based on ABC's catty, sudsy Sunday-night "drama"? Apart from having Bree exploring the, um, interesting dialogue trees after sloshing back another magnum of sauvignon blanc, there's little to recommend it, and most gamers wouldn't come near this mainstream cash-grabber with a 10-foot controller cord.
Desperate Housewives has been developed by Liquid Entertainment, the respected developer of Dragonshard, and it's reportedly a Sims-like effort in which you play as a new housewife. Unfortunately, tie-in games like these have a history of sucking only slightly less hard than the current price of regular unleaded. For every 24 and CSI: Miami, games that manage to mesh their license into something genuinely compelling, there's an Alias and Survivor, horribly conceived and executed games that make a mockery of their source material. (I recognize that in the latter case, that's not exactly hard.)
Clearly, there's an audience for these things, though. I say it's time to start milking some of these untapped licenses the right way. Herewith, a few hypotherical slam-dunks.
Grey's Anatomy: Forget the medicine: As the newest intern at Seattle Grace, it's your mission to hook up with as many medical interns in as many spacious linen closets as possible. In a deft cost-saving move, scrap the cutting-edge soundtrack featuring weepy pop in favor of Ellen Pompeo's droning, melodramatic reading of The Rules of Attraction.
Deadwood: Series cancellation shouldn't have to mean this series fades from pop-culture consciousness. (After all, the actors are probably sitting on their couches, chomping beef jerky and cursing those bastards from Entourage.) Just swipe the Gatlings-'n'-dynamite game play from Neversoft's Gun, then award health, ammo, and reputation bonuses for creative use of profanity. Genius and redemption.
America's Got Talent: As a first-person shooter. Box-office gold, baby.
Nanny 911: Pedantic parenting advice sim? Nah. Simply roll up obnoxious toddlers and their irresponsible, publicity-seeking parents into a gigantic Katamari. Then have the King of All Cosmos dump it in South Dakota.
ER: Build a bustling Chicago emergency room and keep it going. Forever.
Boston Legal: No, check that. Instead, make a game called "Shatner" and pack it with levels based on all the incarnations of America's most self-obsessed, self-referential actor: Star Trek, T.J. Hooker and, of course, David E. Kelly's grandstanding legal drama. Armed with phasers, guns, and huge cigars, your task is to stop Shatner at all costs. (Note: The basic concept is also transferable to America's Next Top Model, Oprah, and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List.)
Ugly Betty: I have no idea if ABC's upcoming drama about a duckling in the world of high fashion will have legs or not. What it does have is one of the best titles of any show on the fall season. It doesn't even matter what kind of game it becomes — shooter, sim, real-time strategy — the marketing potential is huge.
The Sopranos: Oh, wait. THQ is already doing this one. Hey, everyone else has ripped off Grand Theft Auto. Why not HBO?
Aaron Conklin thinks that, sometimes, the best thing about playing videogames is that it means you're not watching television.