‘You do not talk about Fight Club’ – especially Fight Club the game because it was awful. You may not remember much about the adaptation of the iconic novel and film but it didn’t get much right. It basically put all the clever social commentary into a box and set it on fire; deciding instead to use the ‘fight’ part of the club to underpin everything in the game culminating in a bad fighting game. You can watch the trailer here – but why would you want to?
Things in games have changed since 2004 – we are living in far more blurred world. Sports games have dialogue options, GTA has yoga, and many games seemingly defy clear genres. The climate of games being the way it is, I think there is room for Fight Club to be remade in the way that it was supposed to be. I know what you’re thinking ‘Jon you’re insane!’ Am I? AM I!? Here are three reasons why I’m not that insane – and one for why I might be.
Revolution and dystopia are so hot right now…
Much like the introduction of quantum mechanics into videogames, the motifs of revolution and dystopia have become incredibly popular in the last couple of years – consider Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Dishonored, Homefront: The Revolution (bad example), Bioshock Infinite, Far Cry 3, Just Cause 3 and the list goes on.
What made Fight Club such a special story was how it emphasised the dystopian aspects of everyday society: work, consumerism and property all become components of an apathetic and numbing lifestyle; of which only the reality of physical trauma could purge. Soon Tyler Durden decides that Project Mayhem is society’s only ‘reset button’ and creates an anarchistic militia to bring his vision into reality.
These two avenues of dystopia and revolution could lead to an incredibly immersive in-game universe; with the GTA series demonstrating how you can have a well layered virtual world whilst creating an effective satire that permeates all of said world. Of course, with an idea like that of Fight Club; I would only trust a developer like Rockstar or Bethesda to do it in an effective fashion.
A Fight Club game does have promise
What the Fight Club game got wrong was… well everything – but mostly it failed because it was pretty much only a fighting game. The source material is far more layered and could be interpreted in a manner that could allow for numerous genres to interconnect within the narrative of a new game.
With this being said; I would suggest that any reimagined version of Fight Club should stay away from face to face events with characters from source material. The great thing about the original story was that Fight Clubs began popping up throughout the American landscape without either the Narrator or Tyler realising. One of these branches would be the optimal choice for a new game rather than sitting through awkward re-enactments of scenes from the film.
If this were the case; the gameplay could incorporate tropes from the detective genre as the player gathers rumours about Fight Club and attempts to gain admission. Obviously there would have to be fighting mechanics involved – though if you consider the source material; you don’t read about men who have any distinguishing fighting style, rather they just clumsily kick the shit out of each other. For the reader and viewer, it is the violence that is more important than the actual fighting and so this should be transferred to any reimagining of the game.
When it comes to participating in Project Mayhem; I believe that the GTA heist system sets an excellent precedent for how players can plan and execute large scale projects. The range of missions would range and take planning, with destruction of corporate art, destroying chain-shops and ‘starting a fight with someone’ all leading up to the climax of both novel and film: the attempted decimation of collected debt for all people. This section of gameplay could incorporate certain Action RPG mechanics with skill trees, crafting both guerrilla style weaponry and crafting sections of your base, and perhaps some kind of promotion format in which the player works up the ranks of a specific branch of Fight Club.
‘Fight Club’ allows for a moral compass
The Mass Effect series has the renegade system, the Fallout series has sarcasm and karma, even FIFA ‘17 has the new ‘fiery’ and ‘cool’ system for its Journey mode. Such a system would work very naturally for a new Fight Club game, again – consider the source material. The Narrator goes through such a moralistic journey himself; whilst you could argue that he simply becomes afraid of the world that his (SPOILER) alter-ego Tyler Durden seeks to realise – there is an aspect of morality regardless. This could be the foundation of a similar dialogue tree for the player; in which they could advocate or begin to go against the ideals of Project Mayhem. Of course any mechanic such as this would need equal levels of reward and sanction to make each decision meaningful and worthwhile – and such a balance is extremely difficult to achieve even with the best of developers creating such a game.
Is Fight Club still relevant?
This is the only thing to worry me. The film and novel were absolute hits; they seemed to reflect the social atmosphere of the late ‘90s in a manner that is difficult to achieve in such an effective style. However; part of the charm of Fight Club was that it encapsulated so much of a specific time – would that transfer over to the present day in a similarly effective fashion?
Well… I think it could for two reasons. Firstly, consider the success of Firewatch this year – one of the main reasons being the ‘80s setting, similar success went to GTA Vice City and San Andreas – a huge part of what people remember about them is the setting. If treated in a subtle manner, a Fight Club game could deliver a similar sense of nostalgia to many gamers. Though, as many of you who have stayed around this long may be thinking – nothing has really changed. This is true to an extent, much of the commentary made by Palahniuk’s novel is not only still relevant, you could argue that it has become ever more applicable to contemporary society.
If this isn’t enough of a reason for you, then perhaps the fact that Fight Club 2 has been in circulation since May last year will sway you a little more. The graphic novel continues the misadventures of Tyler Durden as he works to embed himself back within the Narrator’s life. If there was ever any revived interest in a Fight Club game, then developers would have a wealth of source material to interpret and recreate.
What do you think? Would you like to play a Fight Club game made again? Do you think such a game could ever work successfully? Why not leave a comment and follow me on Twitter @jreetun – I promise to keep you updated on the crunchiness of my toast each and every day.