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Griptonite extends storytelling with book-based video games

While it's not uncommon for film and TV properties to make the leap to the video game world, publishing IPs also possess a wealth of digital potential worth exploring. Just ask Kirkland, Washington-based Griptonite Games.
June 8, 2010

While it’s not uncommon for film and TV properties to make the leap to the video game world, publishing IPs also possess a wealth of digital potential worth exploring. Just ask Kirkland, Washington-based Griptonite Games.

Lately, the 10-year-old studio has been working with book licenses beyond those translated to film that then make the move into video games, like the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings franchises, for example. To that end, Griptonite recently teamed up with game publisher THQ to develop titles based on New York Times bestselling author James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club and, for the younger set, his The Dangerous Days of Daniel X for the Nintendo DS.

‘There’s more creative leeway with a book,’ notes studio head JC Connors. ‘You don’t have imagery from the movie or a previous game, so our artists absolutely love it. For Daniel X, we got to invent what some of the characters and locations looked like,’ he says. ‘Patterson was even open to expanding the fiction in ways that movie studios haven’t traditionally been comfortable with,’ adds Connors.

For instance, Connors and his team sent Daniel X into space and created a sci-fi environment complete with an alien complex – a plot point that hadn’t been pursued in any of Patterson’s books. With notes and suggestions from the author made during the process, Griptonite created a whole new setting and villain, even exploring the villain’s history, but all the while staying true to Daniel X’s character.

The process was similar for Griptonite’s Where The Wild Things Are title, for which the company collaborated quite closely with the author Maurice Sendak and the film’s director Spike Jonze to achieve the ‘little bit creepy, but weird vibe’ of the game. ‘[Jonze and Sendak] wanted to make sure everything was grounded in the idea of leaving childhood behind, but taking parts of it with you. They worked with us on the plot, some of the dialogue and the overall feel.’

And the Wild Things game wasn’t just a retelling of the story that players already know. Connors says this particular title diverged more from its source material than other projects he’s tackled. In the game, the island of the Wild Things is under attack, so Max and the creatures must build a bridge to the moon to escape. ‘For a long time, we were encouraged to follow the movie or book’s plot in lockstep,’ he states. ‘I think now there’s been a lot more creative freedom allowed and encouraged, and we love that.’

At press time, Griptonite was wrapping up work for titles based on Iron Man 2 and Shrek Forever After, and Connors was keen on exploring the possibilities for Microsoft’s controller-free Project Natal.

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