Charlie Brooker’s recent How Video Games Changed the World was an intelligent, thought-provoking look at how games have shaped and influenced the world around us, often in ways so subtle we’re barely aware of them. However, it left me with the sense that despite its focus on the medium I love, it wasn’t really for me. I already know games are varied, complex and meaningful. So where’s the program for me? Jeremy Clarkson regularly drones on about V8 engines on BBC 2, Robson Green has a prime time slot for fishing and yet games, a massive and pervasive multimillion-dollar industry, has no mainstream equivalent. I’m a huge fan of Ginx TV, but it’s relegated to a cable channel and is composed largely of oft-reused clips due to budget restraints.
Brooker has often mentioned the difficulty in creating videogame television but I think the solution is simpler than he imagines. Forget that some people don’t know a platformer from a PlayStation and forge ahead making entertaining television. So how would it look? How would an activity that’s often enjoyed alone in a dimly lit room translate to a wider audience?
Let’s not go with too challenging a title, this is a radical idea after all.
Even though we’ve found a TV producer willing to take a punt on Controller let’s not assume they’ll actually know about games. Much as we’d all love to see a show fronted by Ashley and Ashly of HAWP, that probably wouldn’t wash with a TV executive. “What does ‘Would You Kindry’ actually mean?” “Why’s the little one so angry?” “Why does she keep yelling about titties?” Better to go with a nice, safe combination of Charlie Brooker and Lucy James. Naturally the show begins with the pair doing a piece to camera on the latest happenings in the world of games and games development.
That’s not to say the HAWP team doesn’t have its place on Controller. Their regular feature, Sibling Rivalry, brings a 60-second roundup of all the latest U.S. game news, with Ash and Anthony each vying to have their news heard.
Next it’s time for a piece on Oculus Rift, which starts out as a demonstration of the potential power of virtual reality on next-gen consoles and ends as an opportunity for Lucy to giggle at Charlie jiggling his head around like a berk in the headset.
Pewdie Poops is an occasional segment in which devs, celebrities and viewers suggest the scariest parts of the scariest games in an effort to make him scream and poop in fear, because everyone loves to see a terrified Swede fall off his chair in fright, even if they’ve never picked up a controller.
Regular slot Jammie Bodgers brings together a diverse mix of developers and forces them to create a game in an eight-hour game jam. First up we have Jagex character artist Mark teamed with 4J Studio’s Paddy and MoJen of Playfish. Mark steps up to press the Big Red Button of Game Name Generation. A title slides into place in blocky, pixelated letters: Dwarven Florist Ignition. “Can’t wait to see what you come up with,” says Charlie, before swivelling back to camera.
Next we have Susan Calman and Dara O’Briain in conversation about the games that have most amused and entertained them over the years. Dara tells of his Gears of War frustrations, while Susan extols the virtues of Night Trap. Between each segment, there’s a plethora of talking heads drawn from gaming greats, stars of the interwebs and comedians, because, let’s face it, if anyone can make gaming accessible and entertaining, it’s Ed Byrne and Aisha Taylor.
As the titles roll, we get to see our first glimpse of Dwarven Florist Ignition, a blocky dwarf hurriedly putting together bouquets for customers in his subterranean flower shop against a pounding high-energy soundtrack, cut with scenes of Mark, Paddy and MoJen arguing, despairing and generally having a fantastic time putting it all together.
Don’t know about you, but I’d watch the hell out of that.
I tweet mainly about ham, horses and having my arse handed to me in XCOM. If that sounds like the sort of stuff you’re into, follow me at @Notagoth.