Making a television show about video games is hard.
Making a good television show about video games is close to impossible.
I know this because in my 35 years on this planet I’ve only seen one show do a decent job of representing games culture in any meaningful way.
And that show was Good Game.
I grew up in the UK. When I was younger there were multiple attempts to make video games work on television. They were, with rare exception, utter garbage. Presenters who couldn’t care less, producers who clearly didn’t have the barest clue what video games were or could be. Cheap, recycled, trivial, trash. Everything produced had that blank-eyed veneer of condescension. It was terrible. Almost all of it.
Even as a child I could recognise I was being talked down to. At best patronised, at worst insulted. Networks were exploiting a fad they didn’t understand and they did it without a shred of shame or grace. You watched — as a fan of video games you watched — because you had to. Because this was video games for Christ’s sake and video games were important. They should be on TV. But always — in the back of your mind — “this is not good”. “This is bad”. “This sucks”.
Good Game did not suck.
Good Game absolutely did not suck.
Good Game did the impossible. Good Game straddled the high wire. It reached out to mainstream audiences in the way that terrestrial tv has to, but catered to curmudgeons like us — with our niche pursuits, alienating dialogues and – frankly – our sense of elitism. Good Game didn’t patronise, but refused to exclude. It made the insiders feel smart and outsiders feel welcome. Good Game walked that tight rope and it walked it for ten goddamn years. That is a beautiful thing.
And Good Game was supportive. Of Australian games development, of important issues, of women in games, of journalism, of me personally. I was used to being treated terribly by producers asking me to appear on their terrible current affairs shows. I think it was Today Tonight who referred to me as a ‘Super Nerd’ after storming noisily into Kotaku HQ, demanding everyone in the office move this way or that way to get their shot. Good Game was the precise opposite of that. Always showed Kotaku so much respect. Always wanted to collaborate. Always wanted to help. I hope they know that respect flowed both ways.
Ask anyone, from development, to media, to publishing. Everyone loved Good Game. Everyone respected their work. Everyone was upset to hear it was cancelled. Everyone will miss it. The Australian games industry will miss Good Game and miss it terribly.
There’s a gap there. It’ll be difficult to fill. Such a short-sighted decision on the part of the ABC, cancelling a show like Good Game. A show that spoke to gamers on their terms, brought new people into the fold. A show with a distinct, hard to capture audience. A show with a unique voice, brilliantly produced by a young team of talented, hard-working producers. A show that did the impossible, really.
How do you replace a show like that?
You almost certainly can’t. That’s the sad thing. Good Game is gone, it’s so casually gone and we took it for granted: the rarest thing, a television show about video games that not only didn’t suck but was actually very good indeed.
Thanks to everyone who worked on it, from its inception till the very last episode. Know it will be missed.
Until next time, may all your games be good ones.