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5 best video game TV shows and where to stream them

Video games and TV shows haven't always made for good bedfellows, but recent hits like The Last of Us and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners have made us think again. Here are our five favourites that you can find on streaming services.

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Apart from some 80s cartoons, video games haven’t really been adapted for TV much over the last few decades. We had some shows about video games, but few based on them.

Then things changed – especially since the rise of streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Now you can’t move without a new game-related, live-action TV series being announced.

So, how do you pick out the best ones to watch. We’ll that’s what we’re here for. As we’ve also done with the best video game movies, here are our five favourite TV series adapted from games.

The Witcher

Available (streaming): Netflix

Soon to enter its third season, the live-action adaptation of The Witcher is actually based on the books by Andrzej Sapkowski rather than the game, but it has many similarities with the characterisations in the RPG series by CD Projekt. Sadly, the excellent Henry Cavill will be leaving the show after season 3, with Australian actor (and brother of Chris) Liam Hemsworth taking on the role of Geralt of Rivia. Hopefully, the transition will be seamless.

The Last of Us

Available (streaming): Max, Sky, Now

Not only one of the best video game TV series of all time, The Last of Us is one of the best shows of the last year full stop. HBO’s adaptation of the Naughty Dog title was crafted mainly by Craig Mazin – the genius behind Chernobyl – and his collaboration with the game’s co-creator Neil Druckmann has lead to an unmissable first season. Stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey are simply superb as Joel and Ellie respectively.

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

Available (streaming): Netflix

The game may have suffered a number of issues at launch in 2020, but the anime series based on it is great. It’s certainly not one for kids, with the Japanese Studio Trigger ensuring that the themes and visual are just as adult as the game itself. CD Projekt Red also recently added some Edgerunners elements into Cyberpunk 2077 itself, which is a nice touch.

Halo

Available (streaming): Paramount+

The Paramount+ exclusive Halo series is an acquired taste, perhaps – not least because it deviates somewhat from the game. However, its take on Master Chief and USNC is an interesting one and, at least, means you won’t just know everything that’s going to transpire. It has been renewed for a second season, so we’ll get to see more of John-117’s journey, although we hope that, by then, Paramount+ will have adopted 4K and surround sound in the UK, as it’s a shame that we’re limited in video and audio quality.

Castlevania

Available (streaming): Netflix

Wonderfully animated and written by one of our favourite comic book creators, Warren Ellis, the Castlevania TV series is a great example of how a gaming classic can be translated for the small screen. There are four seasons available on Netflix now, which ends that particular run. However, a follow-up, Castlevania: Nocturne, is currently in the works.

What about GamesMaster?

Those are our five favourite TV series based video games (there are others that almost made the list, such as the original Mario Bros cartoon), but there are actually a fair few shows about video games that deserve a mention too. Not least because without a couple of them, GamesLifer wouldn’t even exist.

While Channel 4 has recently brought back the most influential of them all, with a second series rumoured, it was the GamesMaster of the 1990s that can be credited with being a fulcrum for gaming entering pop culture and the public conciousness.

Dominik Diamond (who has guested on the GamesLifer Podcast) was the host for series 1 to 2, then 4 to 7, and Rik Henderson (yep, me) was one of the co-commentators, along with (in the latter years), Dave Perry, Kirk Ewing, and Derrick Lynch. The GamesMaster was the late Sir Patrick Moore.

It finished in 1997 but is still fondly remembered by many for putting games onto “prime time” TV, and although there were other shows that appeared around that time and since – Bad Influence, Bits, Games World (the “sister” show to GamesMaster that appeared on Sky One), Thumb Bandits – few have left such a lasting legacy.

It therefore deserves a mention on this list, not least because the idea behind the GamesLifer Podcast was originally to interview the cast and crew of GamesMaster for their memories, anecdotes and to find out what they’re doing now.

It’s changed a bit since then, and we’ve also had the excellent book by Diamond and Jack Templeton, GamesMaster: The Oral History, that more than capably does the same job.


GamesMaster: The Oral History by Dominik Diamond and Jack Templeton

GamesMaster: The Oral History presents Dominik Diamond’s unique take on each season of the best video games show to appear on UK TV. Many other who appeared and worked on it contribute too (including our own Rik Henderson, of course).


However, we thoroughly encourage you to check out episodes of the 90s version of GamesMaster on YouTube. We doubt there’ll be anything quite like it ever again.

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Rik Henderson
Rik Hendersonhttp://gameslifer.com
Rik is a professional journalist with more than 35 years experience across online, magazines and television broadcasting. As well as the creator of GamesLifer, he is the News Editor of T3.com, while his previous work includes stints as editor and group editor on several monthlies and weeklies covering video games and technology. He has also been a series producer on daily and weekly TV shows, and has presented and guested on multiple TV series too, including GamesMaster, Games World, Game Over, Virtual World of Sport, Live TV, Greatest Christmas TV Ads, and The Apprentice.
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