Dara Ó Briain‘s new video game show Go 8 Bit loaded up for the first time on Dave on Monday night. It also fell decidedly flat.
For years, gaming enthusiasts have patiently awaited a television show that catered to their needs – as successful crossovers on the small screen have been rare.
Notable exceptions include 90s gaming staple Gamesmaster, and Cybernet, but such pop culture hits have been few and far between.
Go 8 Bit suggested it might change that, billing itself as a humourous, easy-to-watch show with celebrity guests.
The premise is simple: two pairs of gamers (a celebrity and a ‘gaming expert’) play through various video games, sometimes with added challenges to make things more interesting.
But if that sounds just like your average panel show with some video games tacked on – that’s because it is.
The celebrity choices of David James and Susan Calman for the first episode, despite a clear love for the hobby, felt slightly underwhelming.
The comedy was often awkward too, often ribbing on the stereotypical image of gamers as isolated geeks. “I was very lonely”, quipped Calman to much laughter, after revealing her university years revolved around a PlayStation.
And most of the games featured (Tetris, ZX Spectrum classic Chuckie Egg and Tekken) were not likely to excite gaming fans looking for insight into the next big thing.
A walking contradiction?
The kind of games that suit the logistics of the TV format – short, non-narrative titles that are easy to jump into for a few minutes of fun – don’t tend to create exciting television moments.
Tetris hardly makes for gripping viewing, does it?
Star Wars: Battlefront took centre stage in the ‘Modern Hit’ round, but without the sprawling, 40-player battles of the main game.
Instead, viewers were treated to a slow-paced one-on-one fight between a virtual Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Throughout the show, the studio audience seemed to be having as much fun as the participants at least, gasping with shock at misplaced Tetris blocks.
The show was actually first dreamed up at the Edinburgh Fringe; but this indicates that it’s probably a lot of fun to catch live, and simply doesn’t translate via broadcast.
Other places to go
The prominence of Let’s Play videos and game review content on YouTube means that those with the desire to watch other people play or comment on games are already well served online.
Gamers are never too far from their next fix.
Go 8 Bit aims to bring a casual, mainstream spin on gaming to television screens. As it is, the games here are just replacing challenges that would exist on any other panel show, and they feel completely superfluous as a result.
Go 8 Bit is on Monday nights at 10pm on Dave. Watch the first episode On Demand