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Top 8 TV Shows About Video Games – Bandersnatch, Nick Arcade, More

July 9, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk TV Show *about* Video Games. What I mean by this topic are shows that have video games as a main topic but aren’t about any one specific video game. That’ll be saved for next week. Let’s begin:

#8: Nick Arcade

If you try to look back on it now, Nick Arcade is fairly goofy. The sets scream pure early 90s and the CGI of Mikey walking around was done on Amiga computers. Still, I imagine every kid wanted to be on this show when they were growing up since it was more about home video games than arcade games (like Starcade). Also, there were some interesting versions of games made for this show like Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I know they tried to do a Kickstarter for some spiritual sequel but it didn’t do well at all.

#7: Pure Pwnage

Pure Pwnage has had quite an interesting journey over its life. It went from a web series to a TV series to an eventual movie. Of the 3, I’m partial to the web series the most, as I kind of look the slightly more amateur look over the TV show/movie. The basic gist of the show is it’s a mockumentary where the camera is controlled by “Kyle” as he follows his brother Jeremy around, while Jeremy is a huge gamer, to the detriment of everything else. There were other characters like FPS Doug, Tyrel, October, Tagi, etc. A lot of gamers do dislike the show because it, humorously, portrays them badly, but it just shows they don’t have a sense of humor about themselves.

#6: Game Over

This is a pretty long pull, considering how short the show lasted. This was a UPN CGI show for like 5 or 6 episodes that featured video game archetype characters being a family. The dad was a (bad) race car driver, the mom was basically Lara Croft, the daughter was a goth volleyball teammate, and so on. It’s very much a sitcom type of show, just with these video game genre characters in the roles. It’s kind of a mix of Dinosaurs and Drawn Together or Wreck-It Ralph. It was semi-decent for the time but very broad.

#5: Drawn Together

I mentioned it above, so here it is: Drawn Together. There were two video-game type of characters in this show, Ling-Ling (psychotic Pikachu) and Xander, a clear spoof on Link, who is gay. This show had the benefit of being animated, compared to CGI, so it was probably cheaper than Game Over. Also, it had the whole reality TV backdrop, so the storylines were a lot crazier and out there compared to most shows. The show lasted about 3 years but I think the first year was the best because it just had more parody elements going on and wasn’t quite as mean-spirited as the other two seasons.

#4: Gameswipe

This is a bit of a stretch, but Charlie Brooker rules, so I give it a pass. This was an hour long (with commercials) one-off special where Charlie Brooker breaks down games impact on the world, media interpretation on gaming, some history on certain games then reviews the best game of 2009: 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. If you like Brooker’s other work, Black Mirror, A Touch of Cloth or his other “Wipe” programs (News, Screen, etc.) this is more of the same, but you can tell he has more of an interest in gaming here, which makes sense given that he wrote for a PC gaming magazine in the mid-90s. He’s too busy to make more of these episodes, which is a shame, since he is the perfect host for this stuff.

#3: The Electric Playground

This is the only somewhat respectable program I can remember from G4, which makes sense because G4 didn’t make it. The Electric Playground is/was a daily show that talked about video games, technology, and various other geek stuff, notably movies. The show is made in Canada, hosted by Victor Lucas, and has had people like Tommy Tallarico, Jade Raymond and Geoff Keighley as co-hosts in the past or as contributors. If you do remember it from G4, you probably remember the “Reviews on the Run” spin-off that featured Lucas and Tallarico reviewing games while filming in Vancouver. This show is a tad cheesy in spots, but isn’t nearly as bad as other shows that try (and fail) to cater to the “gamer” demographic.

#2: Black Mirror

Another Charlie Brooker show, you can really see the video game influence in some of the episodes he has wrote. There are 23 episodes of the show, broken down into various series (seasons for Americans), specials, and a movie. Of the 23, 4 are explicitly about video games: Playtest, USS Callister, Bandersnatch and Striking Vipers. A few other episodes have strong video game-like elements like San Junipero or Hang the DJ, basically being involved in a simulation, but it isn’t quite as explicit as the other episodes. Black Mirror is always great but I have a special place for the more video game-centric episodes they’ve done.

#1: ReBoot

ReBoot is the obvious and only choice for the top spot. One of the whole premises of the show is that Bob, Dot and Enzo enter game cubes (sadly not GameCubes) where the “User” (a person in reality) sends them to Mainframe to play them. This has the unfortunate consequence of killing everyone in the game cube if the player wins, but we’ll gloss over that. Initially, the show had somewhat generic game ideas like a F1 racing game, fantasy game, prison guard game. Later in the show though, they started really parodying games/movies at the time, with an Evil Dead-like game, a Pokemon clone, and a Mad Max type of game. ReBoot is a show that still holds up incredibly well. Sadly, it’s legacy has been tainted by that “ReBoot: The Guardian Code” crap.

For comments, list your favorite TV shows about video games and why.

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Top 8 TV Shows Based on Video Games

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison