VFX & Gaming: What We Can Learn from Quality Video Game Adaptations

VFX & Gaming: What We Can Learn from Quality Video Game Adaptations

December 13, 2021
Logan Leavitt

Relaxing with your favorite video game adaptation could cure your creative dry spell.

The overlap between VFX and gaming is very evident. Setting aside the very obvious overlap in the work itself (honestly, media is just one big melting pot at this point), it’s very clear that digital artists often find common respite in interactive worlds.

Whether it’s for inspiration, a sense of community, or simply looking for entertainment after a long day of rotoscoping, video games are a great form of entertainment. 

With incredible worlds and all-new IP being injected into modern titles, adaptations have come back with a vengeance. This time, it’s not all corny and straight-to-DVD either. 

With gaming soaring into the modern world as the most valuable entertainment medium (more than all the others combined) budgets have skyrocketed and integrity has been earned. The following titles are sure to get your creative brain locked in, if not to just give you something fun to throw on this weekend. 


We’ll start with the piece of media which spawned the idea for this list. Riot Games has been a giant in the video game industry for over a decade through their flagship title and one of the most popular games ever made, League of Legends. 

Arcane is good; really good. It’s so good that it nearly transcends the concept of “adaptation”. With a solid run as the number one show on all of Netflix, this behemoth of a project put a stake in the ground alongside other animations-for-adults and declared that the western market is ready for the medium. 

Arcane was created in collaboration between Riot and French animation studio Fortiche and the world is talking. The aesthetics of Arcane are far and away from its strongest takeaway. "Painterly" is the only word that comes to mind to accurately describe it.

This comes down to a blend so masterful between CG and hand-painted visuals that the line at which you’d separate the two falls away entirely. Work like Arcane teaches us that with a little ingenuity and a lot of work, your medium never has to get in the way of your vision. 


VGHS isn’t technically an adaptation of a video game, but as an unashamed love letter to the world of gaming and a ground-breaking work by our friends at RocketJump, it deserves a place on this list.

The inspiration afforded to indie filmmakers especially by something like VGHS truly can’t be understated. The filmmakers of the next generation won’t come out of movie theaters, they’ll come out of YouTube. 

On the VFX end, VHGS shows how filmmakers don’t have to shy away from going stylized in favor of hyper-realism. When depicting video games especially, one must consider the line between suspended disbelief and a full copy-paste. A shining example can be found in the VHGS hit effect.

This is a simple, yet impactful effect that makes creative use of stock assets, such as smoke hits, along with in-software approaches like noise and distortions that come together to make the hit effect and others like it so powerful. After all, what we usually see in the show is a depiction of a video game. 

The Witcher

Back to a video game adaptation that feels more like a transcendent work, The Witcher elects to go for the foundational source material itself, utilizing the world, characters, and style of the game (and books) above all else. Though The Witcher may not have been the Game of Thrones that Netflix was looking for, it brought a lot to the table and especially showed how crucial world-building and character accuracy is to adaptation. 

The strength of The Witcher comes from its grit and intensity. From the sharp eyes of Geralt to the screams of a ghoul as it dies by his sword, The Witcher is known for brutality. In this way, the filmmakers have a feeling to follow more than anything else when they look to adapt page and game to screen.

This can be executed in some major ways such as the very setting itself, to much more subtle ways such as the colors of a scene. Is The Witcher a world of blue and pink, for example, or a world of black and grey and crimson? The answer should be obvious and resonant to the viewer.
GIF Credit: Framestore

These adaptations all offer a much different approach to the given source material: full-blown animation, a love letter filled with motifs, and a gritty live-action epic. Through these different approaches, each filmmaker found a unique way to link back to the unique work from which they’re finding inspiration.

For your craft, ask yourself how you can be constantly remixing things and using technology to carry a feeling, idea, or concept from one world to the next. It doesn’t have to be video games, but you should give it a try if you’re keen.

Finally, once you're ready to get to work, you'll need the right assets to work with. ActionVFX Subscription gives you direct access to our entire library of over 5,000+ assets for as low as $14.99 a month.

While you're experimenting, this is the best option to break out of those artistic limitations without breaking the bank. Whether you work on your own or with a studio, we have a subscription plan for you. Click below to see our plan options.


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