My G4

This afternoon, my friend (and loyal VGO reader) Michael Fan asked me a good question. In light of my recent posts about the G4 video game network, “what would you do if you were programming director for a videogame network?”

I spent most of my metro ride home thinking about it, and here’s what I came up with:

Reviews

First off, I’d start with my favorite show on G4 — X-Play — and stretch it to an hour. The half hour format is pretty stifling when it comes to quantity and depth of reviews. I would cut out most of the annoying “welcome back” and “wasn’t that a great review” segues to allow more time to focus on the games. Other than that, I would keep the same general personality and style of the X-Play crew, because I feel it adds a lot to what could otherwise be a pretty dry ratings show.

Icons

The other show worth saving on the network would get a bit more of the overhaul. First off, I would split the idea into two separate documentary shows, one focusing on the industry, the other focusing on the players. The game industry half would be much like the few episodes of the show I’ve seen, covering industry companies, personalities, and history in a quick and interesting format. The gamer-half would focus on real-life game players (by this I mean not the celebrity bling-master regularly featured on Players) doing what they do: playing games. Casual to hardcore, in groups and alone, at events or at home, whatever. The core mission would be to show that there is no “gaming lifestyle” and that the term gamer is not as narrow as its connotation (look for more on this from me in the near future). Both these shows could easily fill an hour for 26 episodes a season.

Game Shows

I’ve seen about half an episode of Arena, and I swear if I never see it again it will be too soon. A good video game game show would focus more on the games and the competition and less on the carefully crafted “personalities” that Arena seems to want to stick on its host and players. Regular gamers (perhaps teams, drawn from an application pool open to the public) would compete in both online and split-screen multiplayer games in a quick-paced multi-round format that forces them through a variety of different genres in one episode — Round 1: Doom 2; Round 2: Gran Turismo; Round 3: Dance Dance Revolution. If I really had my way, the final round would always be Super Mario Bros. 3 in homage to the greatest video game movie ever, The Wizard, but I could live without it. A videogame trivia show might be neat, too.

Journalist’s Roundtable

This half-hour, weekly or bi-weekly show would be somewhat of a cross between The McLaughlin Group, Slate’s Summary judgment, and Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources, if that makes any sense. A group of four-or-so industry journalists (both mainstream and specialists) sit down in a roundtable format to discuss the games and issues of the past week. A strong-willed moderator keeps everything from turning into a Crossfire style screaming match. This show might only appeal to me, but it’s my network, dangit!

Indie

“The independent games show” would showcase the games that don’t have million-dollar ad budgets or teams of 100 people working on them. Any quirky, original, new games created by individuals or small developers would have their spotlight here. Budget or unrecognized titles that fly under the media radar would be fair game too. This could run the gamut from PC shareware titles, web-based flash or Java games, and odd or amusing console releases, even classic games.

The Essential

Much like Turner Classic Movies series of the same name, this series of thirty minute pieces would focus on the “essential” games — games that a panel of gaming experts (journalists, analysts, regular gamers, and perhaps people from other fields) think every video game player should experience. The show would talk to this panel, the game’s developers and others about what makes the game so special, complete with plenty of footage and historical context. Hmm… maybe this should be an hour…

News

I never got to see Pulse, but the show’s description on the G4 page sounds good on the surface. So let’s go with that. The news show would “deliver the information that gamers want to hear from personalities they want to hear from… [and] will present the most important headlines in a fast-paced, exciting manner that cuts through the marketing fluff.” If a video game news show can fit truly fit that description, I’m there. I think a 50-50 mix of news briefs and features would make for a good half-hour or hour-long weekly program.

Gear

A hardware review show. Pretty straightforward. A half-hour weekly.

I have a few more ideas scribbled down (a music show, a humor show, life in the game industry, previews, etc.) but they don’t seem as good now that I’m not on a train. This is a pretty good start, anyway. What would you want to see if you ran a video game network? Use the comments link below.

11 thoughts on “My G4

  1. My dream version of G4 would also definitely include Andrew Phelps’ < HREF="http://www.blogger.com/r?http%3A%2F%2Fwww.corante.com%2Fgotgame%2Farchives%2Fwhere_is_my_news.php">great idea<> for a regular news program about current events in persistant worlds.

    I don’t even play any MMORPGs myself, and I’m sure I’d be glued to that.

  2. Nicely put together and well thought out. I’m impressed by what you think the network should be more like. Too bad we don’t have people like you in charge of making the decisions.

    Tony @ smashbot.net

  3. Most of my ideas are based on other shows, so sue me:

    “Pimp My Rig”
    Based off of MTV’s Pimp My Ride, this show is dedicated to modding. Each half-hour show will consist of our dedicated modders (Yoshi from Screen Savers maybe?) modding some ordinary object into a kick-ass gaming rig. It would be really fun to see how they do modding as well as what crazy objects they mod.

    “Pardon the Lag”
    Akin to Kyle’s Journalist’s Roundtable (sorta like the Sports Reporters), this show will consist of two dynamic personalities to argue about games, gamer culture, and media. 30 minute shows with guests and lots of arguing and much faster pace. Since unlike the sports world, news in the gaming world is much slower, this show could just be wrapped into another show or only bi-weekly or weekly. Could even be combined with the Journalist’s Roundtable.

    “Making a Game”
    A reality show involving two competing teams and a game designer consultant to create the best game. To limit the costs as well as the time period needed, the teams need to create a mod of an established game (like Counter-Strike was to Half-Life). At the end of the show, the best team would get a short contract to join a video game developer. (and work unpaid overtime)

    I think along with X-Play and Icons, we should probably keep Cinematech (very cheap) and Filter (also very cheap). These are fairly harmless shows which should occupy filler timeslots and did I mention they were extremely cheap? Finally, “Behind the Scenes”, the behind the scenes view of the making of upcoming big name video games should probably continue since many people will be interested in that.

    Well, that’s all for now.

    Sincerely,
    Michael Fan

  4. Wow, your ideas sound so much better than anything that’s on G4 now.

    I like X-Play and the Icons episode on Mega Man I caught was pretty interesting. Oh, and G4TV.com can be mildly amusing if the topic is good. But the rest, bleh.

    Someone already best me to it, but I was going to say that your game journalists roundtable is exactly like ESPN’s The Sports Reporters. And I love The Sports Reporters.

    And for the record, the hosts of X-Play are not actors.

    John @ GamingTarget.com

  5. Hey Kyle, I’ve loved your blog and thoughts for a long time, but Wizard?? Ya sure? That movie was way to corny and dramatic for me. To each his own. Also, since you said that you haven’t seen Pulse, here’s my take; it is a pretty well designed show that definitely gives out some great info and live footage of places and events, but the hosts seem a little bland. Otherwise, I really do like your ideas. The only problem is that some casual gamers will think the network is too boring. Only “hardcore” gamers will want to watch game journalists discuss Pac-Man versus Space Invaders.

    Sorry for the double post, but I felt it would be better to place it into the right topic here. Also wanted to add some things.

  6. The sad thing is I get G4 and don’t even have it on my favorites list because even X-Play I rarely find the need to watch.

    Anyway, if you want to fill up time, you could have a movie slot for either movies about games in a way (The Wizard) or have movies based on games (as crappy as they mostly are.) Heck, even the Street Fighter movie is probably more interesting than half the shows on G4.

  7. Your ideas sound pretty good. Except I don’t think those at the network would agree. Who exactly is their target audience? The few shows I’ve seen were so bad to the point that I had to turn the chanle and never went back! In truth, your programing ideas seem like something I might watch. Maybe someone will see your ideas and pass them onto the head honchos at G4.

  8. I think that G4 tries too hard to manufacture their own content. Well, they try too hard to fill their entire day with it. I’ve wondered why G4 doesn’t license stuff that already exists.

    You mentioned The Wizard. Why don’t they play some of that campy game movie and show crap late at night? How about the 80 billion hilarious video game spinoff cartoons? Not that people want to watch more than an episode or two of the Pole Position cartoon in their lifetime, but considering the amount of that stuff that has been generated over the last 20 years they could probably put together an amusing, highly shuffled, 2 hour block at ~10-11pm weeknights. It seems to me that G4 tries far too hard to manufacture their own content.

    How about TV shows like Spaced? I don’t know. This is all surely secondary stuff to the point of this post, but I’ve always sort of assumed that if someone who is actually competent showed up to change the G4 programming it would resemble your list (good call on the journalist roundtable, that would be a show I’d watch), but there is a lot of weird stuff with a vague cult status that I think could have a home pretty nicely on G4, if only late at night.

    What we really need though, clearly, is a show examining how hot female video game characters are, rating how likely it is that they will have sex with you.

  9. Love the idea of a VG round table show. I’ve been thinking about how to create such a show for a while – not that I have either the credentials, credibility, or profile to get any type of show off the ground. I can even think of a half dozen people who’d make a great rotating pool of commentators. Maybe I’ll pitch it to local cable and hope that I can get people to show up. 😉

    Such a show would never be flashy enough for G4 in its current incarnation. And a lot of it, I think, has to do with your recent observation on how the specialist press seems to have an obsession with maintaining the “gamers as subspecies” profile that the ESA’s data doesn’t support.

    BTW, love the blog.

  10. As sad as this sound, I absolutely do not want to see any more videogame “journalists” on TV. Not even on G4. Half of these guys look extremely weird, and the other half isn’t exactly “freakin’ cool” either. Oh, and one of them is Zoe Flower, who has made a career out of having boobies while being able to phrase almost an entire coherent thought on the videogame industry without switching to something entirely unrelated. But my god isn’t she perky or what?

    So please get these people off camera and back in front of a computer screen, because they are not actors, they are not public personalities, and they don’t have to be.

    And that’s exactly why X-Play is entertaining. It goes the other route, with actors and scripts. It so much better this way.

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