Building A Better Gaming Network
Every so often, I am reminded that G4TV exists. Generally aside from its e3 coverage, I avoid the network like a plague. Mostly because, it really doesn’t focus on the game’s industry. If you glance at the channel’s schedule, you’ll notice that X-Play and Attack of the Show are the only two shows on the network’s lineup that caters to the game industry. The rest of it is padded out by reruns of Cops, Ninja Warrior and Cheaters.
But today, I got to thinking, it can’t be easy to create a channel dedicated entirely to video games. We run a weekly podcast on this site, and often times find there’s little to talk about because of the general hype life for a product. Then I began to wonder, does a gaming network only need to focus on new news? We see plenty of sites that keeps their fans invested with various other ways of covering the industry. So I wanted to present some ways to build a better gaming channel.
The Current Events
First, foremost, and most importantly, this will not be a 24-hour block. Yes, the network will run for 24 hours, but not all of it would be new content. Even ESPN spends most of the morning repeating SportsCenter ad nauseum, and frankly it makes sense there isn’t always new news to discuss. Ideally, I would like to aim for a general 12-14 hour scheduling block and you can repeat a lot of the content throughout the day/night.
With that said, the network needs a premier show much like SportsCenter on ESPN, and I think this would focus mostly on news and general industry happenings. Unlike G4’s current marquee show, X-Play, this wouldn’t try and fit in news, previews and reviews in a 30 minute show. That’s just too much in too little a time. Instead, this will be 30 minute-hour long show that focuses on news, new trailers and industry interviews. The shorter time, would give you the ability to kind of spread out the news throughout the week if it is a bit unbalanced. The trailer talk allows you to show the latest games, and then offer a breakdown of the title. Maybe some beats that gamers may have missed. Its nothing you don’t already see on IGN and GameTrailers, but it works.
The next group of shows would have equal importance on the network, and would be two distinct shows. While I think a combination preview/review show could work, I again think it would kind of water down one or both elements on the show. The first show would be a preview show that would be very much a rip-off of the GiantBomb’s QuickLook. To me, the QuickLook is a better gauge of a game than any review really. I think seeing the game being played in real-time with real reactions gives you a great idea of what to expect from a game. The format would be a bit more refined of course since QuickLook’s vary in times and what they show most of the time.
The review show would also kind of be like a QuickLook, but with a lot less footage. Instead, it would be like the old 1Up Show, where they would have the editors in a more casual setting discussing the game. I think the back and forth between editors helped because everyone has different tastes, and it helps expand on thoughts or problems one person may not notice. I would also avoid footage because I loathe how much GameTrailers reviews spoil of a game.
Finally, a show that’s dedicated to the world of achievements, trophies, cheats, tips and all that fun jazz. This would be like a 30 minute show that offers the best tips in new releases. Whether its how best to achieve a platinum or perhaps some easter egg in the hottest game on the market.
Roughly, we have about 2 1/2 hours of programming in the book now. This covers the bare essentials for gaming with news, previews and reviews all given their own dedicated shows. Now we have to stretch out this programming to a full day of stuff aside from repeats.
First order of business of course would be to go into gaming’s vault. No one says it only has to focus on the industry’s current happenings. There has been nearly 30 years to draw on. A retro-game show that focuses on old consoles, strategies, tips,secrets and what have you will be a great addition to the network. You can even schedule special episodes around the release of major titles. Like imagine if they had a “History of Zelda” episode around the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Or this fall, Resident Evil 6 is releasing, and there’s more than enough material to cover that franchise up until this point. This show would run for about an hour, there’s enough content that it will always fill the time slot.
Second, would be to dig into the vault of video game media that has already been done. Granted, the quality may be extremely questionable but we’ve had cartoon and live action series of Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pac-Man, Sonic, Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and so much more. Combined, you’ll have weeks of shows and could run them 5-days in an hour or two show block. Take them out of rotation after they finish their initial run, and it never gets TOO old. You can also schedule new programming, I mean there was just an announcement of a Pac-Man series in 2013.
We’ve added another 2-3 hours of programming to our network and are now up to roughly 4 1/2 -5 1/2 hours of programming. Nearly, half-way there!
Now we move into more original content, which will again focus on the industry but in different manners. The first, would be a show dedicated to interviews/post-mortems with developers on their games. I’ve always found this features interesting in game magazines because there is a lot of work that goes into games, and we don’t often see it because of how closed off the industry can be. This would offer them a chance to talk candidly about their project, maybe share some prototypes and of course helps gives a game some post release hype.
Next, may be a harder show to schedule on a daily basis, perhaps it could be weekly. But would gather some of the greatest minds in the industry for various panels/discussions on the state of the industry. Could be a simple discussion on the Fall release schedule or a much wider scope like the purpose of narrative in games. We see stuff like this pop up from time to time at D.I.C.E or GDC, but that’s like once or twice a year. And generally, it is held by a single person not necessarily a panel with differing opinions.
Moving on, would be a show akin to Man vs Food or Dirty Jobs. There are a LOT of positions in the gaming industry, Tester, programmer, coder, artist, PR rep, etc. This would offer up a behind the scenes look at these positions, and would do it on a global level. Have you ever wondered if there’s a difference in the development of games in Japan vs North America or North America vs Europe? This would be the show that helps you get a better understanding of that.
The sights and sounds of the video game industry is one area I think we tend to neglect. That’s why I would propose a 30 minute show that looks at the creation of artÂ assetsÂ (Characters, environments, weapons, clothing) in gaming as well as the musical side of things. A rare behind the scene looks at the entire process.
Lastly, and I know a lot of gamers aren’t keen on this part of the industry, but a show related to sales. The big movers and shakers of the industry. It has to be covered or should be covered in some fashion.
This sector is harder to give a time-frame to. I don’t see the developersÂ round tableÂ as a daily show, but could be done weekly. But, I also think the time would vary depending on the topic at hand and how many guests you get. We could always try and turn it into a bonus round, where you record like a 2-3 hour long discussion and chop it up into 30-minute daily episodes for a week. Anyhow, this block would add roughly 3 1/2 -4 1/2 hours of programming to the network. Bringing us to about 8-9 hours of content.
The Gaming Community
The last block of programming would focus less on the industry and more on the people who make the industry what it is, the gamers of the world.
The first program on this block would be a return of a personal favorite growing up, Nick Arcade. While arcades themselves aren’t that popular anymore, there are still a ton of games that offer leaderboards and top score rankings. It would also be a great showcase for a lot of indie titles and games features on XBLA, PSN, WiiWare, eShop and Steam. And its the show that keeps on giving really, since you can do it in several formats. Like having the same game featured throughout the week, and then having all the winners compete in a new game on Friday or something. Anyhow, this would be a 30 minute show.
The second set of shows are two different ideas, but are closely linked together. It would be a show that focused on gaming culture. Gaming clubs across the country, coverage of events like launches orÂ tournamentsÂ sponsored by company. Even how gamers react in convention settings like PAX Prime and East. The second would focus on the competitive aspect of gaming. I say these are closely linked because this is part of gaming culture, and in some ways its very own culture. We’ve seen examples of this before, most recently with Capcom’s Cross Assault, but even before that SpikeTV had a Madden Challenge reality show that ran for like a season or two. The shows can go beyond just showing the competition though. Get a behind the scenes looked at how these things are established. How fighting game tiers are developed and how rules are established and the like. Both shows would be 30-minutes or so.
Next up, would be a show about gaming outside of gaming. In 30 years, gaming has expanded a lot. It isn’t uncommon to see a franchise get a movie, an animated series, a book, a comic series, a line of action figures, blankets, and the list goes on. This show would just examine things like that. Want to find out if the Mass Effect novels and comics are worth investing into? Hear from the fans of the series, and see what they think. You’ve never seen the Super Mario Converse sneakers, well get your first peek at them on this show! Another 30 minute show.
The final show is going to be a tough sell, but it has a novel premise. Of all the entertainment industries out there, gaming is the one that is perhaps most driven by technology. The internet isn’t just a way to play games though, it gives gamers a soap box to discuss news and games as they see fit. This would be a show dedicated to that, a 30-minute daily news show that would have live feedback and communication from the gaming audience. They could provide it via tweets, in-show chats or e-mails. The Achilles Heel of the programming would of course be the quality of participants, which can vary wildly on the internet.
This block of programming adds another 2 1/2 hours to the network. Bringing our total up to 10 1/2 -11 1/2 hours of content. Sadly, just shy of my intended 12-14 hours goal.
And The Rest…
There is still two areas to cover, but this wouldn’t be a daily show at all. Video game movies. We know em, most of hate em, but they do exist. There are more than a dozen movies based off video game properties ranging from Super Mario Bros to Resident Evil to Doom. These would probably be slotted into the network like every Friday night. Enough that it would be on about half a year rotation without it becoming the same movies airing week after week.
And if you really wanted to push it, could also include movies that have video game counterparts, which isn’t the same, but most of them tend to be good.
The second, I didn’t want to include because 1)Not the biggest fan, 2)Not really sure HOW to adapt it into a TV format, but that’s Let’s Play. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, its basically when a gamer plays through a game while providing commentary. The idea is novel, but it takes special type of someone to make the entire thing interesting, and how many people want to watch someone else play a game? So I’m sure there’s an audience for it, and if someone could find a way to make it television-presentable wouldn’t be opposed to it.
Anyhow, I’ve laid out my rough scheduling as you can see just a bit short, but that’s where you come in. What type of programming would you like to see on a dedicated game channel? What didn’t we cover? Feel free to leave a comment on this article with your own suggestions for improving my Gaming Network.
You know, one show you forgot that would be essential for gaming history: Starcade. If you don’t know it, feel free to ask, I watched practically that entire run when it used to air on G4 in reruns back in the olden days of the network.