Skyrim And BioShock Infinite Inspired Some Story Elements Within HBO’s Westworld Series


Westworld co-creator and showrunner Jonathan Nolan has shed some light on how Skyrim, BioShock Infinite and even Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption had a bearing on the story of HBO’s newfound drama series.

Chatting to Vice (via IGN), Nolan stated that although Michael Crichton’s cult original served as the basis for the sci-fi show, its influences span much further, even tapping into modern media such as role-playing games. It was here that the creator commented on the genre’s ability to establish a world in which “mortality is variable,” and where the protagonist’s actions don’t always have an immediate and tangible affect on the outcome of the story.

This player agency, which can also be found in many BioWare games such as Mass Effect, presented both Nolan and his creative partner Lisa Joy with food for thought. Essentially, both wanted Westworld to feel like a surreal place, yes, but also one steeped in history, so that viewers could think that it’s existed long before they started to tune in – and will continue to do so even after they’ve finished.

Per Vice:

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 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.

Westworld, buoyed by a record-breaking premiere that saw 3.3. million people tune in to the stellar pilot episode, continues on Sunday with the arrival of “The Chestnut.”