Console Wars May Be First Video Game Movie That Doesn't Suck!

Console Wars by Blake. J. Harris

Even the best video game movie comes with the qualifier that it’s good “for a video game movie.” Adapting video games into movies has confounded Hollywood for some two decades. Perhaps the solution isn’t to adapt the game itself, but to tell the story of video games themselves. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have optioned the rights to Blake J. Harris’s new book Console Wars, which tells the story of Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske and how he made Sonic the Hedgehog a household name and briefly dethroned Nintendo as the king of video games.

“Did I write the book thinking it would make a good movie?” Harris said. “Hell yeah! What initially attracted me to this story was the incredible cast of characters, and how each of them possessed such a majestic treasure chest of anecdotes. I quickly realized that beyond the staggering pop-cultural impact made by both Sega and Nintendo during this time, this was actually a very personal story filled with Davids and Goliaths, innovators and imitators, and the inevitable drama that comes from trying to be the best at anything. That’s why I decided to write the story as narrative non-fiction, because I believed that to truly understand and appreciate what made this battle so staggering, it was important for readers to be feel like they were right there in the room with our heroes (and villains). So my goal, in a sense, was to write each chapter as if it were a scene (or scenes) in a literary movie. I think this stylistic decision played a big role in Sony Pictures Entertainment’s decision to option the film rights to Console Wars in late 2012 after the project was brought to them by Scott Rudin, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.”

Harris met Rogen and Goldberg through his literary manager, Julian Rosenberg. Console Wars was only a proposal at the time. “After a couple hours we seemed to agree on two things: 1) The battle between Sega and Nintendo shaped each of our childhoods 2) It was shocking that for an industry as dominantly successful as videogames, there had yet to be a film set in that real-life world.”

With Hollywood superstars interested, Harris just had to sell the book. Reading Console Wars proved to be as compelling as losing hours to your favorite video game, so it should work for a movie too.

“I think the creative and financial success of recent films like The Social Network and Moneyball has shown that, if done correctly, there is a major appetite for character-driven, behind-the-scenes business thrillers. ‘If done correctly’ is the key to that sentence, and that’s why I couldn’t be happier to have Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg attached to write and direct the adaptation. They truly are master storytellers, and I have no doubt they’ll be able to build a universally appealing story around this larger-than-life characters. Although there were certainly many times when I would have rather been playing videogames than reading or writing about them, what constantly kept me interested in the story was the unique opportunity to lift up the curtain and see what led to myself, or my friends, playing those games. For me, it was often surreal to see how discussions on a beach, on in boardrooms, between people I’d never heard of before, so greatly influenced the formative years of my life.”

Console Wars is available now, and while we wait for the movie version, Harris himself is working on a documentary to illustrate the story of Console Wars further. “[It will be] an exciting and compelling documentary that will simultaneously allow viewers to relive this wonderful era, while also seeing the battle between Sega and Nintendo from all sorts of new angles. The archival footage that my co-director, Jonah Tulis, and I have been able to uncover continues to blow us away, and we’re simply honored that we were able to get interviews with all the major players we wanted to include, and give viewers the opportunity to hear the story directly from the warriors themselves.”

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