On January 31st, it was officially announced that Australia’s longest running video game TV show, ABC’s Good Game, was cancelled. Their show targeted at younger viewers, Good Game: Spawn Point, will be continuing with Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell and new host Angharad “Rad” Yeo. Meanwhile, Kotaku is confirming that exiting Good Game hosts Nich “Nichboy” Richardson and Stephanie “Hex” Bendixsen will be starting a new video game related show on Channel 7, and hopefully this new show is just as good as Good Game was.
While I had largely stopped watching Good Game, I was a big fan of their internet content, namely Good Game Pocket, and it’s sad that a mainstream video game show that ran for 10 years is ending. While Spawn Point will continue under a new brand and format, due to its channel it just can’t approach gaming like Good Game and Pocket could. So here’s four paragraphs of me lamenting the show’s loss; a show that made gaming just that little bit more mainstream in Australia, embraced its status as an Australian show, and approached gaming with maturity.
Good Game provided mainstream audiences with easy access to video game culture. And its expansion with Good Game Pocket, which birthed an amazing community, showed that it was adaptable to modern trends while remaining accessible. Good Game was a gaming show that was truly made by gamers for gamers, but was still able to bring average people into the medium and subculture. There were reviews and previews, but there were also history pieces, and segments that delved into issues such as hacking. Good Game was approachable, but didn’t talk down to you. It was fun, but still credible. It embraced gamer culture without wallowing in it. Good Game, like its catchphrase said, was a game by gamers for gamers — but it accepted everyone.
Beyond just being a good gaming show, Good Game was a good Australian gaming show. It promoted Australian video game development, something that is already difficult and often overlooked. But Good Game showcased these games and their creators anyway. Good Game approached gaming as Australians and gave us insight into Australian gaming issues and history, while also just representing Australian developers and promoting software development in Australia. Good game was unique in how it embraced being an Australian video games show.
But what made Good Game truly standout was its maturity. Good Game treated gaming as an adult hobby when it was still seen as childish. With video games as prominent as they are, being the biggest entertainment industry in the world, it’s important that there was a show that brought a degree of credibility to the hobby, at least for Australians. While Spawn Point will undoubtedly continue to entertain and help bring people into gaming, its channel and target demographic severely limit what it can do and how it presents gaming. It was never a replacement for Good Game — and indeed it never could be; it was a companion piece. Good Game approached gaming with an adult mindset. It discussed relevant issues such as gender representation, LGBTQI representation, industry trends and even foreign politics. Spawn Point can’t do this, because Spawn Point‘s entire reason for existing is to be targeted at children (there’s even a hilariously cringe-worthy robot!). But Good Game could and did. In a world where SVU demonises gamer culture, that’s important. Good Game helped elevate gaming just that little bit by saying, “hey, it’s not “just a game”.”
The cancellation of Good Game was short-sighted. Gaming is one of, if not the biggest entertainment industry in the world. And Good Game approached gamer culture with an adult mindset and exposed others to it. I hope the new gaming show by Nich and Hex does everything Good Game did and more. Because the audience for a mature gaming show is there. And if you build a show relevant to them, if you build a show that doesn’t talk down to them, if you build a show that discusses relevant issues and is allowed to do so, they will come. Up until now, they’ve had a little show called Good Game. Let’s hope whatever follows can stack up.