9 Things Apple TV's Mythic Quest Gets Right About The Games Industry
This sitcom about game development just works.
Video games are a massive part of pop culture, from traditional gaming and mobile games to esports and streamers. So it's surprising that there haven't been more attempts at a high-profile show or movie covering the games industry. Apple TV+'s Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet, out now, is the latest in that sparsely populated tradition, stretching back to Grandma's Boy in 2006, The Wizard in 1989, and a handful more throughout the years. And amazingly, Mythic Quest gets a lot of things right.
It helps that the workplace sitcom is, at this point, a tried-and-true formula. Mythic Quest may not take the mockumentary approach that shows like The Office and Parks and Rec did, but it still owes them a lot. But even more importantly, Mythic Quest is probably the most accurate and honest fictional look into the world of game development that's ever existed in this format, despite the heightened situations and personalities that prevent the show from being 100% accurate to reality.
With that in mind, having watched all nine episodes of Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet (which are now available on Apple TV+), we're going to break down nine things the show accurately portrays about the games industry.
1. TTP (Time To Penis)
This one is covered in the very first episode. Any gamer who's spent time in a game that allows players any sort of creative freedom whatsoever, whether it's building monuments in Minecraft or designing a custom emblem in an online shooter, knows how real it is. If you give players a shovel, they will dig dicks--full stop.
2. The Nazi problem
Mythic Quest doesn't shy away from some of the controversial issues plaguing the games industry, and with it, culture at large. The show's third episode, "Dinner Party," covers the challenge that game developers might face when they find that their fictional world has been invaded by, well, Nazis. Do you ban them all outright, censor their "free speech," or come up with a more elegant solution? Episode 3 is one of the strongest offerings in the show's first season, and it deals with a very real issue with a surprising amount of nuance.
3. The female perspective
Mythic Quest's lead engineer is a woman named Poppy Li, played by Australian actress Charlotte Nicdao, and the show isn't coy about how rare it is in reality to have a woman in that role (the lopsided ratio of men to women in game development jobs is a well-documented fact). Episode 4, The Convention, tackles this head-on when a group of girls visits the studio, only to find that Poppy is off-site at a convention. That leaves executive producer David Brittlesbee (David Hornsby, better known as Rickety Cricket on It's Always Sunny) scrambling to find another woman at the developer--one who's actually happy in her role--for the girls to meet.
4. The influencer-developer relationship
Many gamers look to streamers and other influencers for guidance and entertainment, but Mythic Quest doesn't ignore how fraught the relationship between game developers and game influencers can be. One of the show's recurring characters is "Pootie Shoe" (Elisha Henig), a young streamer who has outsized influence over Mythic Quest's fans. The developers often refer to Pootie as "a real piece of s***," but they're also completely at the streamer's mercy when it comes to how players see their game. And although Pootie himself starts out as a caricature, his character gets a lot of depth over the course of the season.
5. The unholy union of "art" and "commerce"
More than ever, video games are an unholy union of art and commerce, especially now that "games as a service" have taken center stage. Yes, video games are creative endeavors with real artistic value--but they're also often designed with psychological tricks like the Skinner Box (essentially a complex carrot-on-a-stick model) at their core, using every dirty trick in the book to keep players (and their wallets) engaged.
Throughout Mythic Quest's first nine episodes, this inherent conflict comes up again and again, particularly in the clashes between the creative side (Poppy and Rob McElhenney's character, Ian Grimm), and Danny Pudi's Brad, the studio's head of monetization.
6. Gaming references
Mythic Quest doesn't cram a ton of gaming reference into each roughly half-hour episode, but when it does bring something up, it's usually effective. For example, there's a Red Dead joke about halfway through the season that had us in stitches. The show also occasionally drops references to gaming sites like Polygon and Kotaku, but usually in a way that seems natural.
Crucially, it doesn't shy away from industry lingo and jargon--although it occasionally does over-explain things in a way that experienced gamers may find annoying. And hilariously, the show sometimes uses clips of real Ubisoft games like Assassin's Creed and For Honor during scene transitions (Ubisoft helped produce the show).
7. Gaming's past
Mythic Quest also does a good job digging into gaming's past. Episode 5, "A Dark Quiet Death," is a masterpiece all its own. The episode heads back in time to gaming's earlier days and tells the story of two developers who are completely separate from the main characters, and start to finish, it's full of loving references to the days of yore, from a shop proprietor blowing in a SNES cartridge to a passionate description of the surprising darkness at the core of the 1993 Sega Genesis game Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
8. The big egos involved
Anyone who's watched an E3 press conference or the annual Game Awards knows that the game industry is filled with big egos and explosive personalities. Really, all you have to do is follow the game industry headlines every week to see developers and studio executives feuding with each other and with players, talking out of turn about things they shouldn't discuss, and generally being boneheaded in public. With Rob McElhenney's Ian Grimm acting as both Mythic Quest's creative director and the studio's egotistical figurehead, the show fairly portrays the drama that can happen when a personality that big clashes with fans, other developers, and more.
9. A heightened office dynamic
People who work in the game industry will generally tell you that on a day-to-day basis, it's often like any other job: You work 9-5 (or longer), put your time in, try to relax on the weekends, and deal with the same workplace issues anyone else does. That said, it's also a reality that people who work in the game industry are often more passionate about their jobs than those in less creative industries, and that comes through perfectly in Mythic Quest's first season.
Yes, many of the pickles these characters find themselves in would never happen in reality (or at least, there would be much more dire consequences if, say, a game's head of monetization turned every item in the microtransaction store free to prove a point). And many of their conversations are abjectly inappropriate for any workplace (the studio's HR rep has her work cut out for her). But there's something truthful at the show's core, and it makes the whole season extremely enjoyable.
Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet is streaming now on Apple TV+.
Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company