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It’s game on for ‘Mythic Quest’: Apple TV+ comedy series set inside a video-game studio

Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY
·4 min read
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A video game development studio is about to launch an eagerly anticipated expansion to its popular role-playing game.

This is hardly a typical premise you’d expect out of a TV show, yet it’s precisely what you’ll find in "Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet," a new streaming comedy series on Apple TV Plus.

All nine half-hour episodes of the first season debuted Friday.

Co-created by Rob McElhenney, Megan Ganz and Charlie Day (of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame), "Mythic Quest" might best be described as "The Office" meets gamer culture – both in the way it’s shot (often with documentary-style camera pushes) and in the hilarious contrast between disparate personalities under pressure to deliver another hit.

The formula works, mostly because of the cast’s obvious chemistry, but also the smart writing, clever direction and faithful peek behind the scenes at a game studio today.

“It’s was really important to us to get it right and to make it feel as authentic as possible,” said McElhenney, in a telephone interview with USA TODAY.

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Now streaming on Apple TV+, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is a live-action comedy series that follows a video game development studio, as they face the challenges of running a popular online game.
Now streaming on Apple TV+, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is a live-action comedy series that follows a video game development studio, as they face the challenges of running a popular online game.

"Mythic Quest" delves into familiar struggles within a game studio, such as balancing creativity with monetization, the pressure to ship a bug-free game on time, and the love-hate relationship with the media. With the latter, the team calls an impudent 14-year-old influencer, with millions of viewers on his channel, an expletive-punctuated version of "little brat," yet the company celebrates wildly when he positively reviews the new content.

“But we also wanted to delve into real issues facing the gaming industry – like gender disparity, toxicity, and labor-related challenges – and reflect these accurately, which means not pandering to the audience,” adds McElhenney.

Along with serving as co-creator and executive producer, McElhenney also has a leading role in this Apple Originals series, portraying an egotistical creative director, Ian, whose name is pronounced “eye-ann” and not “eee-ann.”

Real-life video game publisher Ubisoft was also instrumental in conceiving, producing and consulting for this television series.

“To ensure the show was authentic, we took Rob (McElhenney) on a trip up to Ubisoft Montreal to spend time in the studio, so he can see what kind of people and jobs were there,” said Danielle Kreinik, Director at Ubisoft Film & Television and executive producer on "Mythic Quest." “We were in the writer’s room and on-set every single day, bringing in special guests from Ubisoft and other game studios – all to help give insight into this world.”

“Yes, it’s a comedy, but also grounded in fact,” adds Kreinik, in a telephone interview.

Ubisoft also created the graphics for the show’s fictional online game.

Real-world video game publisher Ubisoft helped conceive and producer the new show, which brings authenticity to the narrative, plus they worked on the fictitious game’s graphics.
Real-world video game publisher Ubisoft helped conceive and producer the new show, which brings authenticity to the narrative, plus they worked on the fictitious game’s graphics.

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As for making the series relatable even to non-gamers, co-creator and executive producer Ganz said in a phone interview they staffed the writer’s room with half gamers and half non-gamers to “make it a more universal workplace comedy.” “Anyone should be able to watch the show and recognize their own workplace in it, whether it’s a boss with too much ego or being stuck at the office with people who aren’t your cup of tea.”

“If we did our job right, you’ll care about these people and why they’re together,” adds Ganz, who cites 1998’s "The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time" as her gaming “first love.”

On breaking stereotypes of a typical video developer, McElhenney says the industry is “made up of all kinds of diverse people, cultures, genders, and ages,” and so it was important for the show to reflect that – hence the diversity in casting. While fictional, the company behind "Mythic Quest" has people of color, powerful women, and a senior citizen (played by the Golden Globe-winning F. Murray Abraham).

“What’s exciting is that we’ve never seen this kind of world on TV before,” says Kreinik. “It’s all about collaboration, super talented people, all with one goal: to make a great game.” “We believe "Mythic Quest" gets it right. It’s a love letter to the community.”

On Jan. 19, Apple announced "Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet" was picked up for a second season.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at www.marcsaltzman.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Apple TV+: Video game studio is set for 'Mythic Quest' comedy series