Former Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider says a Dragon Age TV series is 'a terrible idea,' and he's not very keen on Mass Effect either

Dragon Age: Inquisition art
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

The recent success of TV shows inspired by games—Fallout, Cyberpunk, Halo, Castlevania—has prompted plenty of conversation about what other games might make for good television translations. Former Dragon Age lead writer David Gaider is one of the many people with thoughts on the matter, but even more interesting than which games he thinks would make for good television are the ones he believes would not.

"I imagine everyone would expect me to say Dragon Age, but that'd be a terrible idea," Gaider said on Twitter. "I want to see a David Lynch-style (on acid) Disco Elysium. Or maybe Banishers."

(Image credit: David Gaider (Twitter))

Gaider knows a thing or two about storytelling. He served as the lead writer on the Dragon Age games from Origin through Inquisition, has multiple Dragon Age-based novels to his name, and has design credits on Baldur's Gate 2, Neverwinter Nights, KOTOR, and Anthem. More recently he served as creative director on Stray Gods, a "genuinely thrilling, occasionally heartbreaking tale that shines a new light on well-known Greek gods." 

Before anyone suggests that this might be a case of sour grapes, Gaider explained his position more clearly in a reply tweet. "You take away the interactive element and you're left with a pretty stock standard fantasy story," he said. "It would take a pretty deep dive to distill the elements of each that make them unique and interesting. Not impossible, but it would take more than a rote adaptation."

For the same reason, he thinks a series based on Baldur's Gate would also be a bad idea, saying he has a hard time imagining it as "something we haven't already seen, multiple times." That also holds true for Mass Effect (and Halo, apparently): "Much like Dragon Age or BG3, I have a hard time picturing a Mass Effect show that does anything we haven't already seen a dozen times. The Halo TV show, for instance, could just as easily have been Mass Effect."

I haven't seen the Halo TV show so I can't comment on that particular point, but generally speaking I think it's a fair position to take. Successfully adapting a game series requires determining, and then distilling, what makes it special—otherwise you're just making a generic whatever. Which isn't to say such a project wouldn't be successful, only that what makes them unique as games wouldn't necessarily carry over easily: Getting back to Dragon Age, for instance, Gaider tweeted that he'd happily write a show based on the games, "but I can tell you right now that a party-based fantasy trope-filled romp a la Honour Among Thieves would not be my first choice. Or second. Or even third."

In case you forgot (most people probably did) Netflix did in fact produce a Dragon Age show in 2022, just not a live action one. The animated Dragon Age: Absolution, "a missable spinoff that crams its cast into a too tight clock," is perhaps some evidence that Gaider is right.

Banishers, on the other hand, has "such a focused story, with so many individual elements which would totally shine in a show format," while Disco Elysium has a "trippy narrative to be explored," he said, "with a 'hero' we don't see that often. Maybe with the sides of his personality as actual characters. There's lots of unique elements to draw from, even with the interactive element put aside." 

Aside from those, Gaider jokingly (I think) suggested that Animal Crossing would make must-see TV as a "tense political thriller," and he also had an idea for a modern-day update of Wolfenstein: "Set it in modern times and all the Nazis are Nazis who insist they're not ~actual~ Nazis and accusing the main character of being woke. It'd be great." 

I think that might be pretty great indeed—and I know just the guy:

(Image credit: harrythewilson (Twitter))
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.