The new animated series, Arcane, has hit Netflix’s Top 10 list in 83 countries across the world since its release earlier this month.
It follows the fates of sisters Vi and Jinx, who find themselves on opposing sides of a war.
But these two aren’t new characters – they’re straight out of one of the most popular video games on the planet, League of Legends.
The show’s creators say the game’s passionate fans have helped Arcane succeed where other game-to-screen projects have failed.
Co-creators Alex Lee and Christian Linke, who also work on the game, say they shared an “ambitious dream” of turning League of Legends into a TV series to go “deep into these characters’ stories”.
But gaming’s relationship with Hollywood is well-documented – and pretty messy.
Aside from successful children’s cartoons like Pokemon, shows for adults that are based on games have struggled to cut through.
In the last decade attempts like Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, Street Fighters Assassins Fist and Dragon Age: Redemption have been released online but didn’t make a lasting impression.
Alex says Riot took a “leap of faith” in letting Arcane be made, especially because of these other failures.
Arcane gets deeper into the motivations of Vi and Jinx to “understand what makes them people beyond what makes them warriors”.
“We’ve always loved these characters,” Alex says.
“The audience always had these questions, what happened between them? They’re rival sisters in our game, but how did they end up like this?”
But Christian says the show steers away from too much “fan service” so that even if viewers haven’t played the game, they can still enjoy the storyline.
So how has Arcane managed to reach – and appeal to – mainstream entertainment audiences when so many other game-inspired stories have failed?
“For a long time, it was a little bit like Hollywood was looking through the window from the outside and going – there’s something special going on in there, but we need to figure out what it is,” Christian says.
It’s the shared passion for League, plus a deep, authoritative understanding of its in-game universe, that Alex and Christian think helps Arcane so successfully buck the trend.
“Now we’re getting to this point where video games have matured enough, where people like ourselves – people who come from the studio and the game – grew up with it and are now senior enough to try something as ambitious as this.”