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MAZE THEORY // Adapting Doctor Who and Peaky Blinders Into Games

Russ Harding and Ian Hambleton from Maze Theory deliver an inspiring video session about adapting popular IPs like Doctor Who into games

What happens when you take an extremely popular intellectual property and create a game with all the fan-fave elements – and pressure – that come with it? How can you make a video game based on known IPs work for both existing and new audiences alike? Maze Theory is a London, UK-based studio famous for adapting franchises like Doctor Who and Peaky Blinders into top video games.

What video games can do that TV and film cannot

At the online conference Beyond Games #1 (May 2021), Russ Harding and Ian Hambleton from Maze Theory talk about how they were able to expand the worlds of popular IPs such as Doctor Who and Peaky Blinders into video games. They discuss the many ways video games can immerse gamers with more interactivity – something that film and TV simply cannot do. 

In this video, Harding and Hambleton share how bringing known IPs to video games can increase player engagement by staying true to the IP’s theme and tone. Wish fulfilment is the key here – players can experience a face-to-face encounter with their favourite characters in video games. They’re also at the centre of the narrative itself, as they role-play and explore the worlds they’ve always known and loved in a brand new way.

Creative freedom and fidelity to the source at the same time

Maze Theory also touches upon various challenges that developers need to face when planning games with known IPs. You’ll first have to find the right contacts and build strong relationships with them. You’ll also have to deal with all kinds of stakeholders, from showrunners and writers to music licensors and PR. More importantly, you need to show your passion for the IP, and that it’ll be in good hands in your care.

How do you balance creating something new and staying faithful to the source? How do you build on the emotional aspects of a franchise and translate those into the game? Towards the end of this video session, the people from Maze Theory answer a few hand-picked questions from the audience to cap off the talk. 

This half-hour session is ideal for anyone who’s always been curious about building on an existing franchise in game development. Harding and Hambleton’s talk is also a great watch for VR fans or anyone who’s eager to learn about how to increase player engagement in a game. 

Written By

Catherine plays video games for a living, reads comics for inspiration, and writes because she’s in love with words. Her Young Adult fantasy novel, Of Myths And Men, has been published by Penguin Random House SEA and is her love letter to gamer geeks, mythological creatures, aliens, and epic quests to save the world. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. Check out her books at, or follow her on FB/IG/Twitter at @thenoobwife.

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