The New York Times reports that CBS will broadcast footage from the World Series of Video Games on 7/29/07 at noon. There are, of course, other cable channels that cover games, but they're decidedly niche. And as frequent game reporter Seth Schiesel notes, it'll be a first to have some guy channel surfing for a golf match suddenly come upon Guitar Hero II and WoW on the tube. With the shrinking impact of any one TV outlet, I don't know if this qualifies as a watershed moment, but it's still a major network covering gaming (and an MMO, to boot), so it sounds like at least a minor milestone.
I'll be watching just to hear the announcers explain to America why a mage would iceblock (because ice mages are irresponsible aggro-pullers on boss fights).
Comments on Item of note: CBS to broadcast game play:
I can see it now:
Al: "Wait, what's he doing? Why did he do that?"
Bob: "That's an iceblock, Al. A lot of mages use it."
Al: "A mage? Is that his position, like fullback?"
Dmitri, on color commentary: "A mage is his class, like his job. And he iceblocked himself because ice mages are irresponsible aggro-pullers on boss fights."
Al: "You're... you're not from around here are you?"
Bob: "Right you are, Al! And now we move on to the Guitar Hero finals to see who sets up the most blistering licks on those biiiig plastic buttons!"
Posted Jul 28, 2007 1:19:16 PM | link
About as exciting as watching the rock paper sicssors competition, or watching some people woof down hot dogs, i.e. too much channel time and not enough content to fill it up.
Posted Jul 28, 2007 2:28:49 PM | link
GameZombie.tv (a site I work on) took a trip to the WSVG a few weeks ago. If anybody is interested in seeing some footage of the event, it is posted here: http://www.gamezombie.tv/?page_id=215
Posted Jul 28, 2007 3:20:19 PM | link
I think they're showing arena matches on the show, so no aggro involved in any discussions :)
I agree with both of the first two posters. I believe 4 different games are going to be covered during a 1 hour show. So in 42 minutes of broadcast time, with some overhead fluff packed in, each game will get less than 10 minutes.
That leaves no time at all to see or understand anything. If there is anything worth seeing or understanding.
I think in the television food chain, a show like this is one rung above an infomercial. In fact, it may *be* a paid slot by WSVG.
Posted Jul 28, 2007 6:06:40 PM | link
The games picked are interesting choices... The article says that CBS didn't want any violent games but Guitar Hero and Final Fight are not what I would choose. However, with the format I suppose it makes sense 4 minutes for a guitar hero competition -- complete with air guitar antics -- and a boxing game -- which people should already be familiar with and also comes in commercial friendly rounds.
I don't think it will make much impact, though. Arm wrestling, darts, and sumo didn't exactly take off back when Wide World of Sports used to show them every once in a while, so why should pro gaming?
Posted Jul 28, 2007 9:12:01 PM | link
I am surprised this hasn't happened sooner in the United States. Live-action video is extremely expensive to produce and distribute, and many programs have a difficult time attracting enough eyeballs to charge premium advertising rates. By comparison, the production overhead for televised gaming competitions can be low. There is a large potential audience of existing players, and many opportunities for advertisers and marketers.
As the NYT article noted, this has been tried before on cable. I've seen some of the earlier efforts, and I believe several reasons they haven't taken hold include audience fragmentation and the dominance of syndicated, prerecorded programming on most cable channels. The CBS project is different -- live competitions backed by a large national broadcaster can deliver a much larger audience. Frankly, it seems more exciting than the usual Sunday afternoon fare during the summer -- NASCAR and golf.
Of course, the CBS format may be dull (I unfortunately missed the broadcast earlier today, did anyone see it?). Some people won't enjoy video games as a spectator sport. There will be debates over what types of games should be televised. There will be a lot of experimentation with formats and gameplay. But I really think this is indeed a watershed moment, and we can expect more programming of this sort in the years to come. Stay tuned ...
Posted Jul 29, 2007 6:06:51 PM | link
Bah, I forgot to watch. Really wanted to heard the (probably horrible) announcing. =/ Anyone know if they're going to do a rerun at some point?
Posted Jul 30, 2007 11:34:07 AM | link
OK, I watched about 10 minutes of this, starting in the middle. I was prepared to be a booster, but it left me totally cold. I wasn't able to get any sense of strategy or drama. It didn't help that I didn't know what game they were playing, but the screen was so full of HUD clutter, I don't know how much that mattered.
My 21-year old son had two comments:
1. It would be much more fun to watch people play Halo on a split screen, so you get the 1st person view from each.
2. Robot Wars was a LOT more exciting.
Posted Jul 30, 2007 6:01:05 PM | link
Did anyone ever watch the Magic: the Gathering championships when they were (briefly) on ESPN? I think MtG and video games might suffer from the audience being unfamiliar with the action. Even though the MtG coverage had very knowledgeable commentators, someone unfamiliar with the game would be totally lost. Robot Wars, Battlebots, Robotica, and all of those shows succeeded -- I think -- because the rules were very straightforward: many robots enter, one robot leaves. While Guitar Hero might be very impressive to a non-gamer, it's also possible that viewers see it as just a sweaty guy banging on a plastic toy and getting "points". However, I do agree with Ian that the WSVG is more exciting to watch than golf or NASCAR.
Posted Jul 30, 2007 6:20:34 PM | link
the continuing challenges of securing adequate revenues to sustain the production of the WSVG's large scale events and television programming, in a very crowded field of competitive gaming leagues, has prompted us to re-evaluate our direction as an organization.Production and advertising issues aside, I still don't think they have the format right, or the right games. This /. commenter had a more blunt take: It sucked:
Unfortunately, the decision is to cancel the remainder of the WSVG season, as we shift our focus solely to growing our online advertising network of websites, which currently reach seven million users each month.
This should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone. The WSVG was insultingly dumbed-down and content-free ("Wow! Was that an ice block?!?"). I'm a semi-serious WoW player, and my friends and I all found their arena coverage to be completely devoid of any meaningful content. I realize that their aim was to attract a wider range of viewers, but "normal people" don't give a rat's ass about competitive videogaming (and probably never will in the US), and people who do care would probably prefer coverage and analysis from people who have actually played the games before.
Just look at the judging methodology for the Guitar Hero competition: ten points each for style, technical correctness and difficulty, each determined by a single judge. Two of the three judges were D-list celebrities who had probably never even played Guitar Hero. The extensive statistics provided by the game after each song were completely ignored in the decision process. The whole thing was structured much more like an episode of Nickelodeon GUTS than a serious competition designed to determine the best player.
The 2:1 commercial-to-programming ratio couldn't have helped, either.
In short, the whole thing was a commercially oversaturated, content-starved mess; I'd like back the hour of my life that I spent watching it, and no one will be the least bit sad to see it go.
Posted Sep 13, 2007 4:41:04 PM | link