Video Games get a bad rep on most TV shows, either through outdated stereotypes of people who play games, or retelling the same jokes about Pac Man over and over again. According to television, gamers haven’t really moved on from the 1980s. We might get the odd allusion to contemporary games, but the delivery is either dated, borderline offensive, or just incorrect. Now, not all TV shows get games wrong. South Park, for example, can really nail video games for comedic effect. You’ll see Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman wanting to, or actually playing the latest games.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone poke fun at the medium, but it is from two guys who love their games, explaining that games aren’t ‘something [they] can ignore. We’re gamers, and gaming is such a big part of South Park’. South Park shows that you can incorporate video games into conventional television, and why not? The video game industry is bigger than ever. It’s about time video games and those who play them got some proper representation.
Enter: Dara Ó Briain’s Go 8 Bit. Watching this show is like watching a group of mates play games. It’s competitive, hilarious and can get quite tense. Gamers are often depicted as lame nerds who have no lives outside of their games. Go 8 bit is different. Here we see people having a lot of fun with games, claiming bragging rights over their competitors. It captures everything good about games. Other TV shows take note: this is how you represent games, and gamers on television.
Headed by Dara Ó Briain (who loves his games), games expert Ellie Gibson and creators of the show (as well as regular panelists) Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon. This is a group who love games (except maybe Sam, who is the show’s so called gaming muggle), and it really comes across in the show. You all know the panel show format. At least two groups of comedians compete against each other to win points in a kind of quiz show. Go 8 Bit is no different. You have two teams competing against each other, points awarded to the winning team or individual. There are five challenges involving five different games in each episode, and no genre or style of game is more worthwhile than any other.
It’s refreshing to see something that doesn’t hate on particular styles, genres or formats of games, or show any real signs of snobbery towards things like free phone games. On Go 8 Bit, Finger Flick Football is just as noteworthy as Resident Evil 3. A game doesn’t have to be competitive to be on the show, either, as competition can be made out of two people playing the aforementioned Resident Evil 3 at the same time.
The competitive nature of video games set them apart from other forms of entertainment, and Go 8 bit really nails that aspect of games. It’s great fun watching someone claiming to be an expert of a certain game getting their arse handed to them. The pain on the loser’s face is just as real as the smugness on the winner’s. It’s like your multiplayer sessions were filmed and played on TV. It’s hectic, hilarious and great fun to watch.
For fans of video games, Go 8 bit is filled with little behind-the-scenes tales of how games were developed. That is what Ellie Gibson is there for, and boy does she know her stuff: as long as it’s not Street Fighter II Turbo. I thought everyone knew what a Hadouken was? Apparently not. How can they get Hadouken wrong? No. Expert lady. Hadouken is not what Ryu shouts when he is performing his Shoryuken uppercut. And Street Fighter II Turbo is not the direct follow-up to the original Street Fighter, it’s the expanded version of Street Fighter II! Oh well. Rant over. Some of the facts are very interesting to be fair. Of course, it’s all told with an eye to entertain as well as inform. What’s great, too, is seeing games you’ve never heard of.
For example, I’d never heard of Gang Beasts before I watched Go 8 Bit, but now I’m desperate to play it. It looks like it will be hilarious with a group of mates. This might be because watching Go 8 Bit is essentially like watching a group of mates play games. As I said above, Go 8 bit perfectly captures living room multiplayer gaming sessions. Unlike other contemporary TV shows, Go 8 Bit represents games for what they are: joyous pieces of entertainment, especially if played competitively. There’s nothing better than rubbing your mate’s face in it when you beat them in a game. Go 8 Bit is not only a fun panel show, but it provides a really great advertisement for video games, no matter what they are.