To be very clear from the start, I never watched Good Game before Hex came in as a host, not for any reason other than the fact that I didn’t actually know the show existed; when I first stumbled upon it Hex was already a host. For that reason I have no opinion on the whole Junglist issue. From research, I do know that it happened, but to be honest I don’t really have an opinion on it.
Good Game is a game review show, made by the ABC. I can’t remember why on earth I ever started watching it, but something must have hit that little part of me that wishes I was a gamer.
Bajo and Hex are hilarious to watch, they have so many funny moments. You can tell they know their shit, too, they’ve been around the block when it comes to games and they use terminology without it sounding super lame and out of place. At the same time, they make it easy for non-gamers, or people who wish they were gamers (ie: me) to understand. Bits and pieces feel really awkward though, and I know they put in awkward moments for comedic effect sometimes, but I find that these don’t always have the comedic effect that they’re probably going for, and end up going full circle just being plain awkward.
The main thing that really grinds my gears about this show is that the rubber chicken rating system, which is a out of 10 score given to every game reviewed, is severely broken. A few months back, they did dedicate a section of the show to trying to explain the way they rate games, but it just turned out to be a terrible failure.
Sure, it was hilarious and was interesting in that they explained how they review the games, but the problem remained that there is absoutely no consistency between the scores they hand out. Nearly everything gets a score between 7 and 9, and it barely ever feels like the the score they give is right or even comparable to other games they’ve reviewed. If I remember correctly, they somewhat acknowledged that their rating system doesn’t completely work, so the question is why have it at all? In theory, the rating would sum up how good they thought the game was at the end of the review, but I would argue that it would be better if they ended reviews with a short summary of the good, the bad, and who would/wouldn’t get something out of playing it – which they sort of already do, but if they took out saying number they gave a game, they’d have a few precious extra seconds in which to expand that summary.
Otherwise, the reviews are quite good. You can really tell that they’ve taken all of the footage themselves, it’s not one-sided stock footage from the developing company. The hosts really play the games themselves and it shows, but you know that you’re getting a real opinion from someone who played the game and know exactly how it handles and how annoying all those bugs are, not two people reading straight from some sort of rigid script.
Being on a non-commercial network helps too, if any commercial network tried to do a similar format, sure, it may be more popular (hell, it’s hidden away on ABC2, so I’d be betting it wouldn’t be hard) but there would be the slimmest chance of me ever being able to say a good word about it, because once the game companies start paying sponsorship, you’d be seeing a lot of 10/10′s and a whole lot of kiss-ass. In my head a commercial version of the show would be way too polished and just wouldn’t feel right.
Being a clearly small-budget show on ABC2 means that they have a relatively small fan base so interation with fans is a big part of the production of the show. They have forums that are actually used by fans and the production team, and Bajo and Hex constantly interact over twitter and facebook. They do social networking well, is what I’m saying, which is something that simply wouldn’t work for a big production.
One last thing that used to annoy me (and hasn’t really happened as of late but I’m going to mention it anyway) is that they sometimes have mentioned things that “will be on next weeks show” and then haven’t had them on the next episode, or said that something will be on next week for like 100 weeks in a row. I understand that there could have been delays or there wasn’t enough time to fit a report segment in, but if you can’t guarantee that you’re actually going to put something into the next weeks show, don’t say that you’re going to. I probably wouldn’t be too bothered by it here or there, because I probably wouldn’t even realise, but for a while it was getting very noticeable because it seemed like a lot of things were getting pushed back.
All in all, Good Game is a good show. Sure, I could find about a thousand ways to improve it, but it’s small size and down-to-earth-ness is all part of it’s charm, if it got any bigger, and glossier with a good ABC1 timeslot and cold hard celebrity hosts, it would just be unrelatable, and I probably wouldn’t even bother with it anymore. It’s got it’s niche and it should stick to it, but for gods sake get rid of the rating system!
I’m giving it 7.5 out of 10
Good Game airs on Tuesdays at 8:30 on ABC2