Why “Orange is the New Black” Should Be a Video Game
I just finished binge watching season 5 of Orange is the New Black. Season 4 left us with a major cliffhanger as Dayanara Diaz held a loaded gun to a much-hated prison guard while the rest of the woman chanted for her to kill him. I couldn’t wait to power through the whole season like I have done the last 4 years. The show started with the birth of a prison riot at the minimum security Litchfield privatized correctional facility and ended with yet another explosive cliffhanger and most of the woman being scattered to the four corners of the correctional uncaring machine. I can’t believe I have to wait another year to see what happens next. Even more, I can’t believe that a very uneventful biography of Piper turned into such a deep moving Emmy award winning series. Even more, this series could be a role model of what immersive video games could be.
First, we care about each and every one of the characters. We have actors that look like very interesting character types with rich backstories of how they came to be incarcerated. We also delve into the lives of those who work for the prison industrial complex. We peek into the lives of those who care about these inmates and we get lots of humor interspersed with action and drama. The writing is top notch as well, both witty yet realistic. I feel like a voyeur with a spycam watching reality TV, not an audience member watching actors perform from a script.
The characters on both sides of the law are portrayed so richly and sympathetically, that there really are no clear-cut villains or heroes. In fact, two characters have a metaphysical crisis in the middle of the riot where they ask themselves if they truly are the good guys. Having decided that they might not be, they decide to do something to help their fellow inmates. In fact, many of the characters not only switch power roles during the riot, but they are faced with moral choices and decisions that weigh heavy on them.
Could you imagine this show as a video game? Just the RPG element of talking to different NPC and playable characters would keep me engaged for hours. Finding and trading hidden contraband, getting shots, tossed in the Shu, forming alliances with other prisoners or secret liaisons with prison guards, hiding in secret areas of the prison, and counting my days for release or being king of the hill would keep me occupied for hours on end. Grand Theft Auto, move over, you have nothing over Orange is the New Black.
In all seriousness, television is having a major renaissance: Vikings, Black Sails, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, The 100, Westworld, Grimm, and Once Upon a Time and many other appointment TV shows I loved this past year. What kept me coming to them was the fact that they took their time to create unique characters that I loved and worlds I wanted to inhabit. They brought me into fantasy worlds, into outer space, into a prison, in a dystopian zombie plague, a virtual reality western wasteland, and back into the throes of history. I wanted to stay in these worlds again and again. They polished their stories and adventures and delivered what they promised and more. The current video game industry could learn a lot from Orange is the New Black and these other epic television series. I give Orange is the New Black Season 5 a perfect 10 out of 10. Thanks Netflix.
– Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief, Phoenix Genesis
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