GameDamage Pilot review
Videogames have never truly found themselves a home on television, save for GamesMaster. Bits and Thumb Bandits came and went, mainly thanks to odd scheduling times, and these days the only mention of any prince from Persia is on Teletext’s GameCentral. Television appears destined to keep videogames out of the mainstream, and so the internet, along with Youtube, is the closest any media can get to stardom. Consolevania, the whacky hardcore show from Scotland, has already proven streaming and downloads can work, as well as on-the-beat reporting in which the majority of the show takes place away from the sofa and the TV. Any programme needs to be expressive, and with that in mind, GameDamage enters the room with Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw (of Zero Punctuation fame) banging a big drum.
The loud introduction is full of eye candy, no doubt down to Croshaw’s experience with Zero Punctuation, and introduces the crew of Yug, Matt and of course, Yahtzee. However it soon becomes apparent that the overwhelming theme of GameDamage will be two Australians and a Brit sitting on a sofa talking about games. Croshaw appears reluctant to help his struggling co-presenters as they bumble through proceedings whilst he maintains his transfixed pose, and all three gaze at the camera with nervous sideward glances as they talk to each other, rather than naturally chatting amongst themselves.
There are some clever quips, however, such as Peter Molyneux to “shut his big fat gob for once” and a jibe at Matt being a girlfriend to one of the three World of Warcraft players to ever successfully woo a female in the real world; Zero Punctuation fans will lap up Yahtzee’s feature on the point and click genre as well as his rants throughout. Jibes continue throughout the programme, though the majority come from Croshaw as his friends appear unwilling to take him on for fear of some sort of retribution. However any humour is lost due to Croshaw’s deadpan style, absence of charisma and the dead animal stuck to his face, never-mind his co-presenters lack of composure and mumbling voices. In fact, it has to be said that Yahtzee’s denounced visual style throughout the studio segments takes what little shine there is away from the programme. Far too grumpy and unemotional, the acclaimed video reviewer often slurs his words and his overall performance is disappointing, once the novelty of seeing the guy you’ve heard slagging off all your favourite games over the last year has frayed.
The show improves during pre-recorded set pieces that take place away from the confines of the studio, with camera time spent outside in the sunshine and amongst crowds and Croshaw using his experience with several visual representations during his feature. Talk of dying yields Ben lying on his back in a deceased pose, and picking items out of a trash can when the topic turns to item collection. These elements help make things feel fresh and exciting, drawing the viewer in and bringing a professional gloss to the broadcast. Each segment is broken up by a short skit involving Solid Snake’s earpiece, the likely tasks of the Duke Nukem Forever production team and Master Chief trying to live a normal life, which serve as nice in-jokes to gamers alike.
There’s no denying GameDamage has potential, especially given the fanbase hauled over from Zero Punctuation, but its presenters need practice in front of the camera. Yahtzee’s wardrobe contents require a makeover; Matt needs composure and a clearer voice; Yug, the better of the three, should be more expressive. Yes, he may look like Richard Simmons but it seems obvious, even from the pilot show, that he holds opinions that cross those of Croshaw, and given that the pink-shirted one can’t seem to move and talk at the same time when on the sofa, a good battle could ensue.
GameDamage should spend time refining its style and getting the chip off of Yahtzee’s shoulder, as well as an auto-cue, before looking for sponsorship and network support. Maybe the team should look at examples such as Top Gear and set themselves challenges, if anything to divert the show from becoming three nerds on a sofa, and propel it to the videogames broadcast that the industry lacks. Despite early reservations and use of many facepalm jpeg’s from yours truly, the trio have to be commended for at least having the gall to appear on film and try something different for a change. Only time will tell if such critique will help steer GameDamage into the limelight.