Feature Article

How Console Wars Directors Will Turn Nintendo Vs. Sega Battle Into A TV Show

The directors of Console Wars are turning the fight between Nintendo and Sega into a limited series on CBS All Access.

If you're a child of the '80s or '90s, chances are you know about the video game console wars. Before the era of PlayStations and Xboxes, many of that era grew up as either Nintendo kids or Sega kids. Of course, the war between the two video game companies went far deeper than playground squabbles about whether Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis had the superior Aladdin game--t was Sega, by the way.

There was also a battle in the boardrooms of Nintendo and Sega, as the companies battled for video game console supremacy, which takes center stage in the new CBS All Access documentary Console Wars, from directors Blake J. Harris and Jonah Tulis. Harris also wrote a novel of the same name, which was released back in 2014. What many might now know, though, is that the documentary doesn't exist because of the book. Instead, they were developed simultaneously, along with another medium they want to use to tell this story.

"Blake came to me and said, 'I found this cool story. I don't know what it is yet.' He's like, 'I think it's a book,'" Tulis told GameSpot. At the time, the two were screenwriting and film producing partners, which gave Tulis the idea that, given how visual a medium video games are, this could make for an interesting documentary.

"You have all this great media and you want to be placed in this time capsule of the '90s, which is sort of the biggest thing we try to do with this was turning this into a time capsule," he explained.

Then, Harris realized they could also approach the story from a narrative angle, much like The Social Network. At that point, the duo met with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to see if they'd like to executive produce the documentary. Instead of that, Rogen and Goldberg offered to write the forward of the book, finance the documentary, and help them make their video game version of The Social Network, which was going to be produced with Columbia Pictures. Instead, the project will now be a limited series on the CBS All Access streaming service.

How will the series differ from the documentary, though? "It becomes much more of a character piece. I think you really want to get into the characters even deeper and deeper and deeper in a series like that," Tulis said. "And, you know, you have the best actors in the world able to handle it and take these characters who need another level." Thus far, no casting has been announced, but the documentary is full of interesting characters.

Chief among them is Tom Kalinske, the former CEO of Sega of America. He helped launch the Sega Genesis, coming to the company after working for Mattel over a decade. "Tom Kalinske, he's a huge part of the documentary--you might say the main character--but we've really just scratched the surface there. We don't really get into how things ended at Mattel not in a way that he wanted and sort of [how] Sega was his one last chance to do something great."

Likewise, Harris hopes to put more of a spotlight on Ellen Beth van Buskirk, the former marketing services manager at Sega of America. "[She's] probably my favorite character in the documentary. You don't really get into it, [but] there's a lot about what it was like to be a woman working at all, let alone in the game industry," he said. "And these are the kinds of things that, we tried to hint at and try to get at in small ways. But in an episodic format, you can really get more much more into the motivations and what's driving these people."

Hopefully, focusing more on the characters in a limited series format means viewers will get to see the head of Nintendo legitimately wanting to get into a street fight with the head of Sega--an event that's covered in the documentary.

The Console Wars documentary is streaming now on CBS All Access.

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Chris E. Hayner

Chris E. Hayner is a GameSpot Entertainment Editor and loves most movies, but especially Jaws and Paddington 2.

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