Friday, December 23, 2011

Do We Want Ditsy Female Hostesses on Video Game TV?

G4TV has essentially been gamers’ only resort for gaming-related programming for nine years now. As far as I can remember, it flew in the face of the corny and overly enthusiastic direction of GamePro TV and the more game show-emphasis of Nick Arcade that predate me.

Even in the early days of G4TV, the station had a vast array of very compelling content, with the late-night trailer reel of Cinematech, the incredible documentary series Icons, Judgment Day with the charismatic Tommy Tallarico and Victor Lucas, X-Play with its brutally-honest reviewing style, and the very informative, but not-so-in-your-face Screen Savers.

All the programming then looked to gamers with a certain degree of reverence and dignity. It was conceived with the understanding that the viewers are “nerds”, “geeks”, or technology enthusiasts in general, that they have habits that the normal human being does not, and that that difference was acceptable in society.

But perhaps that was not enough. Or, the hardcore gamers that viewed G4TV were not numerous enough to produce numbers that would sustain G4 in its current state. Then by 2006, according to Variety magazine, “G4 is evolving into a lifestyle channel, peppered with videogame culture, as opposed to wall-to-wall games." And this was evident, as this shift coincided with G4’s new logo, as well as a whole host of different non-gaming programs, which personally disappointed me. I can recall turning on G4 time and time again, hoping that I just might tune in at the time when something at least vaguely tech related was being aired.

Perusing can reveal the swath of shows that marred G4 for many. These started out with minor changes, but then G4 must have noticed a spike in ratings, and amped up the emphasis on non-gaming programs. These included meat-head shows like Ninja Warrior and Cops at first, but it all went downhill from there and progressively became more and more meat-headed in nature to include “shows” like The International Sexy Ladies Show, Cheaters, Web Soup, It's Effin' Science, That's Tough, Whacked Out Videos, and Wired for Sex.

The station was clearly pandering for viewers and this was to the detriment of their programming and their audience’s respect. Who are they trying to appeal to? Jocks? Bros? Brojocks? Douchebags? It seems the latter is true anyway.

They tried to appeal to too many personalities at once, that is for certain. Maybe this is the result of “jocks” vastly outnumbering “nerds” in society, and thus, an inevitability of mainstream entertainment culture to wholly engulf niche entertainment culture. Or even “nerds” increasingly using the internet as a resource to view content, whereas “jocks”, or at least their similarly shallow adult selves to continue to prefer entertainment on television. All of this is speculation, however, as I’m grossly generalizing “jock” and “nerd” culture, and ignoring any potential interaction or cross-pollination that may occur.

The internet is an important point though, as it appears television programming is a relic that is no longer revered in as high esteem as internet-driven forms of entertainment. I do not doubt that a considerable portion of G4TV’s viewership was lost due to the internet, which in part explains the channel’s current web presence.

So after all this involved self-discourse, I find myself right where I started with my title, “Do We Want Ditsy Female Hostesses on Video Game TV?” I got the idea for this title from watching Attack of the Show, the more in-your-face successor to the much beloved Screen Savers. With the rolling cast of Maxim models, and otherwise meathead heart-throbs, going in and out of AOTS, do we, or for that matter, did we ever come to watch G4TV as what was supposed to be a video game-centric channel to watch generally unintelligent and completely ignorant “babes” deliver news and issue completely anecdotal reviews on technology?

Let me answer that one for you, probably not. G4TV was popular because it was the only channel available that solely focused on video games and the industry. Now, we as gamers have virtually no where to go should we want to watch video game-related programming, unless we are willing to remain beholden to the station’s limited show spots like X-Play, and AOTS to an extent (although the bro-mentality has leaked into AOTS to an extent as well).

Do Candace Bailey, Sara Underwood, Kristin Adams, Olivia Munn, or Layla Kayleigh really have a passion for games? The prospect of this being true seems doubtful. It appears as if they were brought aboard for no other purpose than for their eye-candy value. This, along with the numerous other decisions like to increase the number and length of commercial breaks lost me as a regular viewer. I don’t see why Sarah Lane and Morgan Webb were not enough, and I doubt that they are the only truly tech-savvy female hosts that aren’t an eyesore to look at.

G4TV, why did you drop so many excellent shows, and add so many horrible ones?! There already exists a place for shows like that, and it’s called Spike TV!

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