“Arcane” Might be the BIG Exception
By Stevan Crary
Some of the most fabulous flops of all time were video game adaptations. It isn’t even controversial to say that video game movies are naturally terrible. The big exception with a capital B, Netflix’s “Arcane,” is purely brilliant.
This is a highly recommended weekend watch. The art style is beautiful, the characters are fun to watch, and the social perspectives are enlightening.
This nine-part series based on the game “League of Legends” was successful at not being lukewarm because the original creators were directly involved in the process of creating the show. They were very passionate about portraying the characters in an emotionally gripping way.
“I think we were interested in the two perspectives on like the political situation between Piltover and Zaun (two sides of a city that were tied in political strife). I think it’s a good way to show that it’s so easy to be very influential by the perspective that you have and lack an understanding of what it’s actually like on the other side,” said creator Christian Linke on Netflix’s behind the scenes. 
“I think it was really important to us to show that there are merits and flaws to both sides. No one should come off as a stock villain. Everyone should feel that the troubles they’re facing are complicated, you know, and don’t have easy answers or easy outs,” added Alex Yee, the co-creator. 
Showing different perspectives from the various characters is sadly not standard within the movie world, let alone a video game series. In most cases, projects like these belly flop like whales for several reasons that the “Arcane” creators avoided with athletic ease.
“The most obvious reason for why video game adaptations don’t work is the nature of the two mediums. While video games are an interactive medium where players have more or less control over how the story unfolds, films are a more passive experience,” wrote Marco Giuliani for the prestigious Raindance film festival. He continued his critique, saying, “since video games are already interactive films, why would anybody spend their money on a watered-down, two-hour-long version when the real thing is a vastly, objectively superior experience?” 
Marco brought up an essential point about why there are significant waves from flops. Video games have “film” qualities where the player is experiencing a personal story arch for themselves while playing. These personal connections with various characters could make cinematic representations feel watery.
“Arcane” avoided this dilemma by showing the unseen personal perspectives of loved characters. The show, in turn, feels less of a summary and more of a journey of discovery.
With that said, this show has something for everyone. Even if you haven’t played “League of Legends,” it is highly recommended to give it a watch. You won’t regret it.
- Stream Wars. (2021). Making Of Arcane – Best of Behind The Scenes [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rAbZUZCnL8
- Guiliani, M. (2019, July 16). Why many video game films are bad. Raindance. https://raindance.org/why-many-video-game-films-are-bad/