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Has video killed the terrestrial star?

With terrestrial having proved an impossible nut to crack for traditional games TV, the Internet video revolution offers a new hope for the medium.

After several valiant but flawed attempts at games programming, terrestrial might have pulled up the drawbridge. But shows like videoGaiden, backed by the Internet media revolution, show there's more than one way into the castle.

As the editor of Eurogamer TV, veteran games journalist and editor Johnny Minkley is at the vanguard of what many see as a revolution in video coverage of games - no longer tied to TV schedules or the whim of TV executives, he and other content creators are now serving shows directly to their audience, on demand.

In a follow-up to the article written by videoGaiden co-creator Robert Florence for Gamesindustry.biz, Minkley explains why the Internet is changing the rules for videogames television - and explores the key challenges this brave new medium faces.

Video games programming on terrestrial TV has, in the main, been overwhelmingly, over-zealously awful for years. The whys and wherefores are well documented by Consolevania and videoGaiden co-creator Robert Florence in his article - and he's been there, tried it and been given the free XXXL t-shirt. As he succinctly observes, the games industry had its shot and blew it.

That Florence is, nevertheless, writing from the considerable vantage point of having a second series of videoGaiden commissioned by BBC Scotland illustrates the unbreakable, elemental truth that the right show can and will work.

But videoGaiden would not exist were it not for the success of Consolevania, Florence and co's original games TV concept that built a cult following via the Internet - which highlights a wider truth that the rules of the game have now changed. What it tells us is, the struggle would-be games broadcasters have had in recent years in convincing, let's be honest, understandably conservative major networks to embrace games programming is no longer the proverbial dead end it once was.

Moreover, shows which have attempted to crack the mainstream of late (Bits, Thumb Bandits), regardless of merit, have been united not just in their ultimate failure, but in an inability to find a 'place' in the schedules. But in today's on-demand, broadband-powered world, the seismic, irreversible shift in the way media is consumed means this obstacle has been smashed down for good .

The Internet music revolution has fundamentally changed the way people experience audio content. The video revolution is happening now, fuelled not just by the rapid spread of high-speed broadband access, but also by consumers who, now able to access music however, whenever and wherever they want, not unreasonably expect the same from TV.

Technology like TiVo was part of the first wave effecting this change. The Internet is now pioneering the content revolution. And, crucially, consumers are no longer in thrall to inflexible broadcast schedules - TV must fit around their hectic lives, not the other way around. How many of you reading this article who are fans of Lost, I wonder, are now happy to wait for the months-after-the-US updates on regular Channel 4? And how many of you instead venture down the download route, pre-ordering the box set online to assuage any pangs of guilt?

The relatively low cost of entry and democratisation of video-based media provided by the likes of Google Video and YouTube, for instance, means practically anyone can now cobble together their own entertainment spectacular. And anyone pretty much already does, as the numerous examples remorselessly satirised on games site UK Resistance testify.

Indeed, there was no clearer sign that video is the fresh-faced, flavour-of-the-month, honeymooning medium of the moment than the seething mass of fansite 'CEO's at this year's E3 - a large proportion of whom had arrived fully camcordered and dangerous.

This proliferation of video content and choice is unquestionably a good thing, of course; but it creates the same paradox as that which emerged from the explosive growth of online journalism, both 'professional' and 'civilian' - a greater need than ever for intelligent, thought-provoking, hard-hitting or just downright entertaining specialist content that sifts through the mountains of information, picks out what is important and explains to its audience why it matters to them. The essence of any form of good journalism, in fact.

Gaming is already well served by a large body of passionate, intelligent writers both in print and online. But it is, after all, a visual medium. And with technology now up to speed, on-demand video content represents a massive opportunity to complement, enrich, entertain and deepen consumer understanding and appreciation of the industry to the obvious benefit of all. This is where our very own Eurogamer TV comes in.

Freed from the bonds of traditional scheduling, today's savvy consumer wants his media fix available 24/7 at the touch of a button, be it via laptop, iPod, PSP, mobile or, yes, even the humble TV. Sites like Eurogamer TV have been created to feed this hunger, but in a compelling, professional manner.

With Eurogamer.net recently recording an ABCE certified readership of over 1.2 million unique users, Eurogamer TV has a ready-made and enormous potential audience of enthusiasts and delivers all of its programming, on-demand, absolutely free of charge. Gone are the days when stumbling into a gap on Sky channel 792 are the measure of success for the games industry.

Meanwhile, as shows like Consolevania and videoGaiden are now showing, the right content and the right format, even on a shoe-string, coupled with the added benefit of Arctic Monkeys-style 'Net momentum, can still have a persuasive effect on those who hold the keys to the terrestrial kingdom and therefore greater mainstream acceptance, without requiring the need to resort to self-defeating compromise. Or Iain Lee.

Eurogamer TV is part of Eurogamer Network Ltd, encompasing commercial websites Eurogamer.net, Eurogamer.de and Eurogamer.tv, together with industry trade sites Gamesindustry.biz and Mobileindustry.biz.

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GamesIndustry International


GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.