Five Bad Ideas for Video Games Based on Shakespeare’s Plays

Stratford Festival

The Stratford Festival is working with The University of Waterloo (my alma mater!) to develop some video games to complement their production of Romeo and Juliet.

I’m very curious to see how this would work. What would the gameplay be given that the storyline is fixed? Can the player change the outcome of the play? And will the game help with attendance to the show?

Here are five very bad ideas I came up with for games based on Shakespeare’s plays.


The goal of the game is to never take action no matter how good the opportunity. Your score decreases anytime you take any sort of action.

The Comedy of Errors

This one’s tough because you’re playing against your own twin. Every time you do something good, your twin gets the credit. Every time your twin does something bad, you get the blame.


The game is called Out Damned Spot! You play the role of a laundry worker in Inverness castle. The spots just never seem to come out!

A Winter’s Tale

A chase game based on Shakespeare’s most famous stage direction: “Exit, pursued by a bear.” You play Antigonus. The only goal of the game is to not let the bear catch you.

Pericles or Cymbeline?

This is an internet-based gambling game. A copy of each play is placed side-by-side in a library watched by a 24/7 webcam. You wager money on which book will be taken off the shelf first.

Your turn… what’s the worst idea you can come up with for a Shakespeare video game?

About the author

Craig Mason


  • Romeo & Juliet

    The goal of the game is to earn enough money to buy poison from the apothecary to kill yourself. You can also use other methods but you will keep coming back as a zombie until you reach your ultimate goal.

    If they use that idea, I get 25% of the profits. :)

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream- Whac-a-mole style.

    The Mechanicals keep popping up on the screen. You try to get the Ass Head on Bottom. You lose points every time you transform the wrong mechanical.

    At a higher level the Lovers complicate the scene by slapping the head out of your hands as they run confused in the dark.

    (Love your pursued by a bear idea!)

  • Merchant of Venice, If you’re a Jew, you lose, just like in the play. Poor Shylock, he just couldn’t win!

  • Merchant of Venice, The Trial, it’s multiple choice, you can be either a Christian or you can be Shylock. You can either make the same choices as your character did, or you can make different ones.