Darkly Developing Dexter

By John Walker on March 5th, 2008 at 10:57 am.

The best programme on television right now? Well, right now would be In Treatment, but more generally, it could be Dexter. The show about everyone’s favourite serial killer (loosely based on the books by Jeff Lindsay) may have its moments of high melodrama and occasionally hyperbolic dialogue, but it has consistently superb acting, writing, and direction, and best of all, it’s so much fun. Constantly challenging your allegiances, as you find yourself screeching at the television, “NO! Don’t get caught by the police!” at the brutal, sociopathic killer, there’s a genuine darkness to it all that makes for great viewing. But could it make for great gaming?

Marc Ecko Entertainment, the videogaming wing of rebellious street artist and antiestablishmentarianist Marc Ecko’s $1.5bn/year business, has announced a deal with Showtime Networks to create a game based on the series. At this point it’s in pre-production, so scant few details will emerge for a while.

The immediate instinct is to think: um, how? Dexter is a blood-spatter forensic scientist by day, and a serial killer murdering those who have escaped justice by the official system by night, and day too. His method for killing is to study the prey, capture them in the location in which their crime took place, then after plastic-sheeting the room to prevent leaving evidence, he chops them up into little bits while they’re still alive. Then it’s over to girlfriend Rita and her kids for pizza. It’s hard to imagine the concept working if you have to click on the, “lay down sheets” button, or spend time in a minigame nipping to Dunkin’ Donuts before surprising Rita at breakfast. However, if someone could create a living-city game, in which you must carry out your job while still stalking your next kill, studying his moves and working out the location for the kill, that could be interesting.

Marc Fernandez, Ecko Entertainment’s VP, thinks so.

“DEXTER is the extremely rare TV show with enough layers of action and tension to translate perfectly into a compelling videogame. Our game designers, writers, and artists are going to give Dexter’s morally complex world the kind of interactivity that gamers will love.”

So with all that said, here’s a picture of my cat Dexter, named for the programme.

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47 Comments »

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  1. Alec Meer says:

    (John doesn’t watch The Wire).

  2. Meat Circus says:

    I have Armanded the wire. I feel much better for having done so.

    TV * Games = NO

  3. Kast says:

    Hmmm… can’t really see this working convincingly. It might actually work as a point-and-click game with less puzzles and more dialogue etc, but the cynic in me says “action platformer” is most likely.

    I really do love the series by the way. :P

  4. John Walker says:

    (John has yet to watch The Wire).

  5. ran93r says:

    Maybe it’s going to suck like the CSI games?

    Will be a shame as Dexter is a pretty good show.

  6. G says:

    Not watching The Wire is a crime against humanity. Now’s the perfect time to start, 59 hours to watch before the finale appears on the internet on monday.

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    The Wire finished last night, didn’t it? So Walker could be right assuming it’s any good.

    So probably not.

    KG

  8. Ging says:

    Dexter is awesome, the game, I suspect, won’t be. I’m also a tad concerned by it being touched by Marc Ecko (even in a remote way), who’s last attempt at a video game was just a bit rubbish.

    My housemate raves about The Wire, I’ve watched the first two episodes – but it’s one of those programs where you have to devote all your attention to it, which I don’t, so I think I may have missed some important bits.

  9. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    I really can’t see this working at all, but I’m intrigued as to how they’ll approach it.

    (John doesn’t watch The Wire).

    Heh, it’s like you read my mind (and the minds of all right thinking peoples, natch). Although it’s not going to be on TV for much longer, and I notice now that the final episode is ready for ‘acquisition’.

  10. John Walker says:

    I still bet it’s not as good as Homicide: Life On The Streets.

  11. Meat Circus says:

    Which is why The Wire, of any programme in recent memory, is needing of as thorough an Armanding as any.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2004/04/12/bachoice12.xml

  12. Mooey Poo says:

    No offense intended, but I hate it when people refer to a film or TV show as having “good direction.” The purpose of the director is to keep all the “direction” as invisible as possible, if you’re aware of the mise en scene it removes the suspension of disbelief and brings you out of whatever drama is on screen. You’d never hear a professional film critic refer to something as having “good direction.”
    /rant over.

  13. Okami says:

    yay! a cat!

  14. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    The Wire finished last night, didn’t it?

    Only on HBO On Demand I believe, so John is hopelessly wrong for another week.

    I still bet it’s not as good as Homicide: Life On The Streets.

    I’ve yet to watch Homicide, as I missed it first time around. But I believe there are some repeated themes between the two courtesy of David Simon (Homicide is based on a book of his and he created The Wire).

  15. Max says:

    This would be basically the best thing ever if they get it right.

    Which they won’t.

    I’d rather just have another series of Dexter already.

  16. simonkaye says:

    Homicide was sort of a prototype for the Wire, which surpasses it in pretty much every respect. Yet to see Dexter, though. But is anything on television actually better than 30 Rock right now?

  17. icabod says:

    Dexter the TV program is/was great. Dexter the Videogame will likely be a poor take on Hitman-style gaming… you have a criminal to bump off, how best to do it?

    As for Marc Ecko – did he do that dolphin game?

  18. jamsarnie says:

    Both series of Dexter have been brilliant; as touched upon by others here, I very much doubt a game would even come close to that quality.

    Roll on series 3…

  19. James says:

    Yay! Another game for the media-at-large to whine about. Not that they needed much of a reason, but the point stands…

    Dexter and The Wire are both on my ‘Whenever Australian TV programming stops sucking, I can watch it’ list, as they both look suburb. I think The Wire even managed two episodes at a 2 AM timeslot before it was canned over here, which is a serious testament to it’s quality.

  20. Alec Meer says:

    Interestingly, The Wire referenced Dexter in its penultimate episode – Dukie’s watching it on TV and laughing. Not sure what the inference was, unless it was “no fucker’s watching us, but this is what the kids want instead.” Or pointing out the similarities to McNulty’s crazy plan, perhaps.

  21. Bob Arctor says:

    Dexter is named /after/ the show. You’ve turned into an American.

  22. John Walker says:

    simonkaye – I find turning the television off produces better programming than 30 Rock. Or, “The Tina Fey Gurns At The Camera Show” as I like to call it. I realise I’m on my own with this.

    Mooey Poo – Having studied film and television at university, I think it’s reasonably possible to recognise good direction. And I’m fairly sure film critics regularly praise directors for their specific work. The idea that good direction is unnoticeable is absolutely untrue.

    Bob – I know it’s an Americanism, but it’s one that I think makes a lot more sense. I’ve officially adopted it into the English language. Please correct your vocabulary.

  23. phuzz says:

    Aww a kitty-cat!

    um, best program on telly? I’ll vote for Skins, if only becuase I can’t see a game being made out of it, oh, and coz it’s good.

  24. Zuffox says:

    Evidently, John Walker has left to see

  25. Zuffox says:

    … Pushing Daisies.

  26. Turin Turambar says:

    The Wire>BSG>Dexter

  27. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    An Americanism that makes more sense is center, for instance. Though centre looks nicer. I don’t get “for” making any more sense. You’re just MAD aren’t you? YOU MENTALIST. I kill you.

    In other news, I watched the first episode of this yesterday. I wasn’t like “OMG”, as I am want to be, but It did intrigue me enough to watch next week’s episode. I already know enough to understand your bafflement over how a game conversion would work though.

    I’ve never even heard of the Wire. Time to wiki it!

  28. Jonathan says:

    Wait! This picture of a cat on the internet doesn’t have a caption. I think thats illegal, like driving a car without a license, or tax fraud.

    I don’t even have tv and I have a very short fuse in regards to cop shows. The exceptions being Columbo and Jonathan Creek because they’re lovely. Still, might get the Wire just because Charlie Brooker say it’s kind of really really good.

  29. Craig says:

    “here’s a picture of my cat” – that appears to be my cat.

  30. Kangarootoo says:

    Oh crap, it was all looking quite interesting until I read this bit.

    “Marc Ecko Entertainment, the videogaming wing of rebellious street artist and antiestablishmentarianist Marc Ecko’s $1.5bn/year business”

    /sigh

  31. Sucram says:

    @ Jonathan

    Wait! This picture of a cat on the internet doesn’t have a caption. I think thats illegal, like driving a car without a license, or tax fraud.

    You mean like:

    i’s cerial killa, i iz stakin u!

    ? because writing something like that would be stupid.

  32. Dracko says:

    Very loosely based on the novels.

    Talk about castrating a truly dark anti-hero. What a terrible, terrible show.

    I fail to see what Marc Ecko could possibly ever bring to the table with such an IP.

    Cat photo is appropriate: They’ll kill anything, they will.

  33. Jonathan says:

    @ Sucram

    i can has vigelaunty justiss?

  34. The Sombrero Kid says:

    that’s a sexy cat!

  35. G says:

    The Wire isn’t really a cop show, its an examination of the failures of a modern American city. It just happens that cops are one of the main lenses it looks through. Sadly the last episode wasn’t on demand (I don’t see why, I demand it) so isn’t out until next week.

    My friends are divided into two groups. Those who think I’m boring for going on about the Wire and those who have watched and admit that I’m right and join me in boring my other friends by talking about it. There are no exceptions.

  36. Aubrey says:

    I was expecting this thread to just be the words “Fuck Marc Ekko and his mispelled* fucking name” over and over and over.

    Instead I find, with equal delight, that people other than me like The Wire very much. RPS readership delivers, one way or another!

    *Did I mispelted “mispelled”?

  37. Kiigan says:

    The Wire is clearly the best thing on telly. But Dexter is definitely up there.

    I’m not confident anyone will put enough care and money to make a good game out of it though, sadly.

  38. Aubrey says:

    The only way The Wire would work as a video game, for me, is if the whole behaviour of baltimore was systemitized, and no matter what your input into the system – no matter how noble or how cynical, the system would machinate in such a way you’d always end up demoted (for work well done), or shot (for cynically exploiting your relationships at every turn, creating “success”, but also enemies).

    That’s the message of The Wire, right? The Wire tv show already describes a self-fucking system. A game of the wire would just be an alternate way to describe that system.

  39. Stick says:

    Assassin’s Creed: Miami? Thief: Darkly Dreaming? Hitman: I Have Urges?

    … I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone’d tackle the game-making of Dexter. Although, I suppose even a glorious failure might be interesting.

  40. Leeks! says:

    As long as it draws a parallel between Dexter’s soul and an empty box of doughnuts like the show did with the stupidest/funniest line I’ve ever heard on television, I’ll be somewhat pleased.

    Seriously, though, I do really like the show, and I hope the game doesn’t ruin that for me.

    Also, I’m definitely with John on the “good direction” front. On one hand, you can have someone like Dan Attias (at least his work on Deadwood), who tries to take himself out of it as much as he can and lets the magnificent acting/set design create aesthetic emotion. On the other, someone like Rob Thomas (on Veronica Mars) very obtrusively injects noir pastiche into–well, everything, but the visuals especially. Both resonate with the writing tonally and stylistically, and are both examples of “good directing.” That said, the phrase isn’t particularly descriptive, so you probably wouldn’t catch a self-respecting film critic using it. Good thing this is a games website, then, or I think we’d have a riot.

  41. John Walker says:

    I’d just like to leap in to my own defense and point out that I wrote, “consistently superb acting, writing, and direction.” Not quite the, “the direction is nice” comment it seems to have become.

    RPS doesn’t seem the right place for a dissection of the direction of the show, really, so I went for short-hand.

    Anyway, why isn’t anyone agreeing with me about In Treatment?

  42. Leeks! says:

    Haven’t had the chance to watch In Treatment, though the right people have been saying the right things. Honestly, I just got into the Wire and Carnivale, and I’m trying to slog through those before I pick up anything new.

  43. chris says:

    If The Wire was a video game, everyone would play Omar.

    Or Marlo.

    ;)

  44. simonkaye says:

    Or Bubbles, in a sneaky minigame.

    We should all just be content that this is clearly the best time to be watching television in the history of television. Similarly, last year was probably the best year in gaming that I can remember.

    Now we just need films to follow suit and all the screen-media will be at an absolute apogee.

  45. malkav11 says:

    I watched the first episode of each of the first and second seasons of Dexter (I’m not quite sure how that happened, really, but that’s what I’ve seen.) I was not impressed enough to watch further. The concept is great, but the concept was great in the books (well, until the third book). The show, on the other hand, has a bunch of annoying characters and a rather dull Dexter. If we could see the cold, inhuman psychopath in Michael Hall’s portrayal of the character, there might be something there. But he seemed to me to be pretty much acting the same character he did on Six Feet Under (except “straight” insofar as his notably sex-uninterested character has an orientation) and relying on the voice over to make the “I’m not really human” point. Which is a bad idea. And yes, there should certainly be times when he’s all smiling normality, since nobody except Doakes and maybe his sister are supposed to be aware there’s anything particularly odd about him. But we should be aware that that’s a facade that he puts on. And I just didn’t see that.

    Still, at least demons haven’t come into things so far.

  46. Sex Vicar says:

    Maybe it’s going to suck like the CSI games?

    Depends what you term as suck. I had a good time with the Telltale games. Though its obvious they are not heading for the traditional gamer audience. The logic puzzles are really obvious and easy and there is no way you can screw up(The only time the game gets grumpy with you is when you use the hint system and Grissom gives you a bollocking for doing so at the end of a case).

    Its fun to kill a few hours with if you are a fan of the show and provides a good amount of “Oh shi-” moments. The second case in 3 Dimensions(A murder at a games tradeshow which is a funny as hell shot at Lucasarts) is really clever as well.

    Though the ultimate CSI Game would be where you get to “be” Horatio Caine. With sunglasses removing action of course.

  47. sherwinpg says:

    i’m a fan of the tv show dexter so after you mentioned this other show….I Uhhhhhhhh checked torrent sites and actually there were full episodes on youtube already but i downloaded the better quality torrent episodes and this is probably my new favourite tv show, it rocksssssss man

    the interactions with the people are pretty awesome

    have you seen the movie The man from earth? I really enjoy these tv shows/movies that are all social interactions and talking amongst people….really great stuff