Earlier this month, HBO premiered the highly-anticipated series Westworld. The show takes place in the not-too-distant future, where a Western-themed amusement park for adults was created to fulfill their greatest fantasies. The park is called Westworld and is entirely populated by synthetic androids named Hosts. In a recent interview with VICE, Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy discussed the various inspirations behind the series, which include some well known video games. According to Nolan, games like Skyrim, BioShock, and Red Dead Redemption were influential in the creation of Westworld.
“A lot of interesting storytelling that’s happening right now is in video games—which literally didn’t exist when Michael Crichton was writing the original film. Now, video games are a bigger industry than film or TV. I’ve never worked in that industry, but we have friends who have, and I was fascinated by the concept of writing a story in which the protagonists’ actions aren’t part of the story. In games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, or the sandbox games that Bioware make, morality is a variable. How do you write a story in which the hero’s moral component exists on a spectrum? That’s a fascinating challenge.
“I’m also fascinated by how non-player-characters in video games have their own lives. In Skyrim, when you walk into a village, you aren’t necessarily the most important person there. The NPCs have lives that happen whether you’re there or not. I was listening to directors’ commentary from Ken Levine about building Bioshock Infinite and the affection that game developers and designers develop for their characters. It’s a qualitatively different relationship than the one screenwriters have with their characters, because video game characters don’t just recite dialogue—they do shit, and the players interact with them. It’s a relationship that I think Crichton anticipated to some degree, but it’s become much more complicated than even he could imagine.” — Jonathon Nolan
Westworld aired its second episode last night, and it’s only getting better from here. What do you think of Westworld so far? Are there any other games that you think Westworld was inspired by? Discuss in the comments below!