In every creative writing workshop I have participated in, (whether it was during my time in college, or the writing group I belong to in my personal life), a debate that has come up consistently has been about the literary merit of "genre-fiction." Specifically, there always seems to be questions about what exactly divides these types of stories from ones that receive more credit in literary circles, and what allows certain examples to transcend the negative connotation that this label brings with it.

When it comes to film, I have found myself asking a similar question about one of these genres specifically--fantasy. Fantasy, whether it is "high," or "low" fantasy, has a supremely spotty track record on film, and many of the issues that I see at the root of this are similar to those in literature. What makes fantasy such a difficult genre to translate in movies, then, and how does the recent success of Game of Thrones as a TV adaptation play into the future of the genre?

As I see it, the foundation of answering this question goes back to debate from my writing workshops. The biggest issue in any type of genre fiction is too strong of a focus on the strangeness of the world and its characters, at the expense of actual plot and character development. Within the scope and runtime of a film, there simply isn't enough time to establish the world and its backstory in any kind of meaningful way.

This leads to two equally frustrating problems that can arise within these films. On one hand, we see films that spend far too long explaining everything without actually getting to action. On the other hand, we have films that cut out or skip large portions of exposition in order to keep it from dragging down the actual plot beats of the story. Some films even manage to pull both of these off, as we saw with the unfortunate and disjointed failure of Peter Jackson's three-part return to Middle Earth with The Hobbit.

This is why fantasy works so much better in other forms, and why Hollywood will hopefully learn a valuable lesson from the largest pop culture icon in recent years, Game of Thrones. Part of why Game of Thrones works so incredibly well because it, unlike a three-hour film, has time to have a balance between exposition and action. It can unfold its world slowly and intentionally while moving the plot forward.

This pace may not have worked well in older days of TV, where viewers had limited methods available to view a show that requires such in-depth viewing. This is no longer the case, however, with the rise of streaming services and increased ability for viewers to watch shows as they wish. In this way, HBO is a perfect match for Game of Thrones. In fact, because of their approach to streaming their content, they are now not only seen as a leader in creating amazing shows, but for business innovation, as well.

The fact that Peter Jackson couldn't replicate the magic of The Lord of the Rings when making The Hobbit should be all the proof needed to show that maybe the genre just doesn't work on film, at least in any sort of consistent way. In the past, I would have seen this as a disappointment, since the Dungeons & Dragons and The Elder Scrolls series-obsessed side of me is always yearning for more fantasy stories in my life.

Now, however, I'm not as worried. Now, there is such a wide variety of mediums for these stories to be told through, that I am excited to know that we don't have to see epic fantasy stories squandered on film adaptations that fall grossly flat. Instead, I am hopeful that we see more of these stories take the route of Game of Thrones than Eragon.

In the immediate future, however, you won't catch me holding my breath for Warcraft to impress me this summer.