Whilst there was slight unease created by the conflict between Brooker’s inherent cynicism and obvious personal passion for gaming, never before has a TV show so confidently and successfully confronted the negative stereotypes of gaming.
Brooker clearly aimed to appeal to both the core gamer and those with little or no knowledge of the industry – a very tough balancing act. Yet he succeeded with pleasing style, tackling quite heavy-going issues such as locked content and video game violence whilst at the same time providing novices with an unpatronising introduction to the industry.
It was also a breath of fresh air to see recognisable guests speak of gaming in unsensational and educated terms. Dara O’Brien’s lamenting of ‘locked content’ was a particular delight, focusing on the fact that his inability to pass the Berserker battle in Gears of War effectively prevented him from accessing the game’s later content – despite the fact he had bought the right to play that when he purchased the game.
Some critics felt that Brooker perhaps spent too long focusing on the violence in games, and in particular GTA IV, whilst maybe not giving enough attention to gaming’s other strengths. However, these people miss Brooker’s point – lots of games are violent. But so are many films, books and TV shows. Only if there is a consequence to game violence can it be deemed a specific problem. And, as we all know, concrete evidence on this is very hard to come by.
There’s also been some heady praise from the UK media, with The Guardian’s Chris Moran stating: “The most refreshing aspect of the whole show was the way it tackled the subject without anyone involved being too defensive or overly enthusiastic. It presents games as they are – something that huge numbers of people play in a huge number of different ways.
“For the first time on television, games seemed, well ... normal.
“For me, Gameswipe is the first TV treatment of gaming to be really convincing for a broad adult audience. Funny, thoughtful, critical and passionate, it feels like the games programme the medium deserves but also needs.”
Though arguably Gameswipe’s biggest achievement was winning over gaming’s most vicious cynic. If Gary Cutlack praises you then you know you’ve achieved something quite remarkable. Or just sent him some silly pictures of Sonic the Hedgehog.
If you enjoyed the program and would like to see another episode, or even a dedicated series, the best thing you can do is let the BBC know. You can do that here.