Lord of the Rings: A History in Video Games


The ‘Lord of the Rings’ is one of the most iconic franchises of all time. People rightfully associate the story with J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic writing as well as the epic films directed by Peter Jackson. Now, it is finally time to celebrate what ‘Lord of the Rings’ has brought to the world of video games. With the release of ‘Shadow of War’ coming soon, produced by Monolith Productions, Middle Earth is ripe to be looked back upon.

Tolkien is notably one of the most profound fantasy authors of all time. It is very clear that he essentially pioneered the entire genre that exists within the ‘Dungeons ^ Dragon’s moniker. Tolkien was also well known for being entirely picky with his license and how his stories in Middle Earth were adapted. This led Tolkien to be very choosey early on when the Tolkien Estate still had complete control. Because of this, the first game brought to life was called ‘The Hobbit’ and it was a text-based adventure developed by the team at Beam Software. Eventually, developer Jennell Jaquays of Dragongirl Studios got the chance to take on the famous IP. She released a D&D inspired ‘Lord of the Rings Vol 1’ game in 1990. The title switched to a full RPG format and brought about relative positivity from critics and gamers alike.

When Peter Jackson got a hold of the franchise in the early ’00s the gaming world of Middle Earth had completely come to a stall. In fact, this was merely the calm before the storm. Sierra Entertainment went about developing a ‘Hobbit’ title for the Xbox to latch onto the buzz that Jackson’s films were going to bring. The ‘Hobbit’ game did not have a film license and as such tried to stick more to the literary story rather than what Jackson was doing with the films. The game received notable pushback from Christopher Tolkien, the son of J.R.R. Tolkien himself. Tolkien would even go on to pen a scathing letter relating to Jackson’s upcoming adaptation of the stories into film format.

Still, pop culture would win out as Jackson’s films would go on to rewrite what it meant to approach fantasy filmmaking. The subsequent licensed films would score amazing reviews and gaming based in Middle Earth would reach a critical high. Now we’re enjoying the spin-off projects in the ‘Shadows of War’ world.


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