There are shows about gamers, more or less. But a few weeks ago when I posted this video that showed a potential video game store reality show, I got to thinking about what kind of shows could be made with video gamers as the target audience. Already we have a review show like X-Play which is uh…nice, I guess. I respect Adam Sessler (who is no longer on the show, or so I’ve heard), but I lost my respect for X-Play a long time ago. Code Monkeys was an 8-bit animated comedy that I could never get into. It seemed like it was just based around making video game references, but everyone knows that a reference isn’t a joke. I think occasionally they say something like “we need to finish this game”, but then hair brain plot happens. Let’s see, Cartoon Network has a live-action show called Level Up, which in case the “live-action show” on “Cartoon Network” didn’t tip you off, it doesn’t look good and the commercials never seem to indicate that it’s anything different than a show with video games in them.
When a show or movie actually wants to be about gamers or video games and addresses gaming culture in a serious and respectful manner, the results tend to be entertaining. For example, Video Game High School does just that and the result is pretty awesome. It didn’t tell a story that revolved around video games but about the people who play them. It had game related jokes and references which is what made something more appealing to a gamer like me as opposed to the same story that was told about baseball or something else. It also discussed certain topics in games that couldn’t be applied so much to other things. The show felt like it had an understanding of gaming culture and still told a good story without having to compromise anything, instead of just shoehorning gaming into it’s plot and looking a lot like universities that tell you could get paid to play video games.
So what would I want to see in a video game related TV show?
Indie Game: The Show
If you haven’t seen Indie Game: The Movie, stop, get it, watch it, then come back. Done? Okay. Wasn’t there a lot of drama there? Wouldn’t it be awesome to see a show about a bunch of indie game developers working on making the next big thing? There are so many shows on about how a bunch of people from different backgrounds and different life styles have to get together and make something as a team. Gaming has become so mainstream that there are about as many different types of gamers as their are genres of games. I can already see a hot shot fighting or FPS kind of guy as a designer, a methodical RTS programmer, rhythm game musician (though that might be stereotyping), and a retro game artist. How will those misfits ever create a game together?
On the other hand, a show like this can be taken very seriously as well. Like Indie Game: The Movie, there can be backstabbing, deadlines, problems on a corporate levels, life or death situations, and all that stuff people don’t normally associate with gaming or game development. I think it would be a challenge, especially for any production crew that aren’t fully staffed by gamers, but I think in a few years, when everyone is a gamer in one way or another, we’re going to see a show like these.
There use to be a show on Nickelodeon (a long, long time ago), called Nick Arcade where kids competed in trivia questions and old-school (then current-school) games. Now, I enjoy watching a show called Hell’s Kitchen, in which chefs compete against each other (with all the drama one would expect from a competition reality show) in order to become the head chef at a five-star restaurant. Now what we combined the two?
Of course, only a completely irresponsible person would ever let someone who was good at playing video games someone who is important in the development of video games if they don’t have the right credentials. Afterall, to make a game requires knowledge in computer science and the arts, and just because someone is good at playing a shooting game doesn’t mean they would be any good at making one or being in charge of anything. I guess you could make them a tester, but a big competition for what is essentially an entry level position, not much of a dream come true huh?
Well maybe fame is just enough. I don’t know how it is now for professional video gamers, but back in like the 80′s, video games were the hottest thing around. Kids were treated like rock stars and video game competitions were broadcasted on television. So what I’m thinking is a show where there are two teams, and they play in big team games like Battlefield and work their way down to one on one games like fighting games and RTS games. Like Hell’s Kitchen, at the beginning the losing team would have to vote someone off so weakest links will go off easily (or might stay on to due to some plan backfiring) and once the teams are small enough, they are fused into one team and start either going head to head or maybe against gaming professionals. The winner would be given fame, maybe fortune, maybe he would have some input on a sponsoring game company’s next big project but you gotta admit, that would be pretty cool to come out on top as the king of games!
A Western .Hack
.Hack//Sign is probably the first TV show I ever watched that took video gaming seriously (scratch that, the only TV show). A lot of cultural issues still being discussed today were brought up in .Hack//Sign such as the nature of a digital identity, how game societies should treat themselves, how relationships can bloom through a digital landscape, and even the question of life and the A.I. But even if we ignore all that, on the surface .Hack//Sign was a show about a bunch of people playing an MMO. Some went into reasons why they were playing it (escapism, freedom, seeking a purpose) but it took place entirely in the game.
I would not mind in the slightest a show that just depicted the average gamer. Maybe a group of online friends who play a bunch of different games together (possibly depicted like VGHS did, with the actors acting as their avatars) but otherwise never have contact with each other. They could each have their own plotlines and issues and each episode can revolve around just one of the characters at a time. I think in the wrong hands, a show like this could be really, really boring, especially to those who don’t play video games. But if done right, if done in a way that makes the gamer relatable to the audience while treating gaming culture seriously, then I believe a show like that can be a success.
Well, those are all the ideas for TV video game shows that I can think. I do hope that one day, something like these can be actually made because it will show a bit more of that mainstream acceptance of video games that would be so nice to hear about. Until then though, we can always look forward to web series being made by gamers and for gamers.