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TV Review: Good Game

by Mark Hadley - Monday, 5 September 2011

Mark Hadley reviews ABC TV's Good GameGood Game / Good Game SP
Rating:  PG / G
Distributor: ABC2
Release Date: Tuesdays, 8:30 PM

I know that there will be a wide variation of opinions on video games amongst my readership. Everyone from the rabid MMORPG fan to the sideline observer who puts that acronym in the same category as a designer drug. But the joy of video games is their ability to test our physical, mental, even spiritual limits by taking us outside of ourselves. And it’s such an expanding industry that parents can be thankful for programs like Good Game.

Now Good Game and its spin-off Good Game Spawn Point are not aimed at the parent. Hosts Steven ‘Bajo’ O'Donnell and Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixsen have players squarely in their sites as they run through a list of the latest releases, cataloguing innovative features and poor performance before they finally end up rating the game out of five rubber chickens. It’s cheeky and full of quirky sideline segments including ‘Name the Game’ (seeing if viewers recognise something from the dusty arcade days) and ‘Backwards Compatible’ (where hosts trace the history of a genre of games from its origins to the present day). My favourite from the current series is ‘Fanboys vs. Haters’ where audience members are invited to contribute to a poll on the merits of a game, and submit video opinions. There’s just enough debate to show that one man’s chalk is another man’s cheese.

The value to parents, though, is the initiation a very short exposure to the series can provide into a world that is consuming much of our children’s time. It’s light-hearted, easy to watch and strangely informative. Parents wondering whether they should submit to the pressure to purchase Red Faction can combine it with Focus on the Family’s Plugged-In site (http://www.pluggedin.com/games) for valuable insights. Past programs have also included sensitive segments on cyber bullying within the gaming community and girls in games. But possibly the best advantage is the provision of another opportunity to connect. Good Game Spawn Point is particularly aimed at G and PG gamers, so it’s something we can watch together. I personally intend on continuing to play games with my boys so long as they let me and the muscles in my thumbs hold out. And I can’t be part of the conversation if I don’t know what they’re talking about.

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