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Sneaking Around Adaptation

Squint closely. You’ll see we’re looking at Sniperboy’s crotch.

It isn’t often that a board game lets me play a video game as “research.” Not that I usually need the excuse. Please, would somebody design Deus Ex: The Board Game. I’m already reinstalling it.

The first clue to David Thompson and Roger Tankersley’s Sniper Elite is that subtitle. You don’t put “The Board Game” on your game unless you’re adapting some other source material. In this case, I knew the material well: Sniper Elite, a video game franchise that’s sophisticated enough to have multiple entries, but trashy enough to have a zombie army spinoff and a slow-mo cam that X-rays enemy bodies while your bullets penetrate and shatter their brains, lungs, and testicles. Don’t fret. They’re Nazis.

Never mind that the principal violence is done to the player’s soul. I’ve now spent twenty-five hours playing Sniper Elite 5, which translates to perhaps twenty minutes of kill-cams in aggregate. My life is not richer for having viewed these snippets, although I’d be lying if I didn’t confess my professional satisfaction for every combination ghost kill / sound mask / eyeball shot that left some Wehrmacht draftee puddling into the grass and his companions none the wiser.

But before we get into Sniper Elite, and what The Board Game does to adapt it, we first need to talk about adaptation itself.

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