Surprisingly, the first time I heard that CBS was going to air video games as “sports” was last night when I read Zonk’s post on games.slashdot. I figured it would be a shame for me to miss them, seeing how this would make some excellent blog material. Something to really rag on! Spike TV’s Video Game Awards all over again! I couldn’t wait to begin the snark.
The snark never came! I must say, I was actually impressed with how CBS presented the show and handled the overall production. Everything that Spike did wrong (garish music and sets, celebs that mailed in their appearances, backhanded jabs at gamers)? CBS did it right — it was about the games and the gamers. They took the high road. It wasn’t about making fun of the hobby we love or mocking the “geek lifestyle.” It seemed like they recognized it for what it was — video games are something people get a lot of joy out of. Even the people hosting the shows weren’t completely clueless.
Of course, everything wasn’t perfect. When they did the Fight Night 3 competition, they interviewed one of the participants in between rounds, which came off as really lame. Every once and a while a backhanded comment would slip, but for the most part they seemed to be taking things seriously.
One of the biggest complaints people use when they hear about televising video games is, “I like to play video games, I don’t want to watch them on TV.” I may be in the minority here, but I’ve always enjoyed watching others play games. This goes way back to the days I’d go over my friends house to “play” the old D&D SSI games like Pool of Radiance. I put “play” in quotes, because it mostly consisted of him playing and me watching. I really enjoyed that and still do, even now. That may explain why I enjoyed more than others might.
While I don’t think televising video games will ever reach the level of any type of sports broadcast (even “Xtreme Sports”), it’s a step in the right direction. It was fun to see people compete in games that weren’t First Person Shooters. The World of Warcraft 3v3 match was interesting, especially since I haven’t played WoW myself. Overall I give it a thumbs up.
Did you happen to watch it? I’d love hear what others thought of it.