Last night, the British Broadcasting Corporation aired Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe, a humorous (and informative!) look at the history and present of the video game, presented in the style of the broadcaster's Newswipe and Screenwipe. And it was quite good.
The 50 minute one-off program was part obligatory primer, explaining genre types like platformer, shoot 'em up and MMORPG, as well as giving ample screen time to retro titillating fare like Beat 'Em And Eat 'Em. But Gameswipe offered thoughtful insight into topics like the mainstream coverage of games, bad writing in games, and a brilliant guest editorial from comedian Dara O'Briain.
While the show succeeding in touching on mainstream paranoia about games, in a refreshing, non-self pitying way, it seemed to spend a bit too much time on overly violent fare. The amount of airtime given to games like Manhunt 2, Grand Theft Auto, 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand and, curiously, the new Wolfenstein seemed an odd choice.
The show hurried past more interesting games like Braid and Portal, ignoring some more important, more innovative entries in certain genres seemingly in favour of giving Wolfenstein more screentime. Mentions of less "important" niche games like Konami's self-parodying Parodius, the famously Engrish-ized Zero Wing and NEC's gaseous platformer Kato-chan and Ken-chan were cute, but the glossing over of games like StarCraft, Half-Life and others felt like holes.
But I'm nitpicking. The show was entertaining—far superior to the typical video game coverage on broadcast television—and worth watching, if you can access the BBC's iPlayer service. Me, I had to watch it on YouTube, which I'd recommend doing so sooner than later.