Show Discussion: GamesMaster

By | November 20, 2021

Sundays 7pm E4’s Youtube channel,
Repeated Wednesday 10pm on E4

And so the speculation can finally come to an end and we can find out if the idea was worthwhile. What’s the point of rebooting GamesMaster? The kids are all getting their gaming content from Youtube anyway and they seem perfectly happy with that. And most won’t even be old enough to remember the original anyway so who is it trying to appeal to?

However for those of us who DO remember the original, as information on the show dripped out it seemed to be ticking all the right boxes. Acerbic Scottish comic host? Check. Industrial location of set? Check. Iconic personality who almost certainly doesn’t understand what he’s saying as GamesMaster? Check. Golden joysticks? Check.

So this is a weird one, we’re so used to reboots of iconic shows not passing the “why do I want to watch a worse version of something that already exists” test that to have a show that feels on the face of it like a natural continuation of something that’s not been on for twenty-five years is unsettling. I’m still not quite sure how well it’ll do, but it probably ought to have the 34-49 demo all sewn up.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

24 thoughts on “Show Discussion: GamesMaster

  1. RandomZombie

    Well that was a fun watch!

    – Challenges were easy to follow and explained well
    – Nice to see Big Boy Barry there.
    – We finally have a gameshow with players flung into an abyss if they lose.
    All in all great show, will watch again!

  2. Brig Bother Post author

    This was pretty good! Definitely gets the tone and feel about right (even if, to be frank, it’s not as funny as the original). Frankie’s a great commentator, not sure what the point of Tyler is really, and the point of asking the audience even less.

    The features were probably the weakest part, not sure Educating Grado really hit anything, Colleagues probably ought to have been a bit longer – it’s a funny game, show more funny situation! The review felt very out of place, like a watered down segment from Consolevania, either give it the full treatment or don’t bother I think.

    The challenges worked well in the main, the Splatoon one was probably the biggest bust in terms of followability (bless Rab for asking questions for the viewer he already knows the answer to) but did at least give us a Big Boy Barry cameo. Big bonus points for the fairly banging challenge soundtrack. The Abyss is quite a fun fillip, like Take the Tower, although having them on a lift and then not using a lift prop is A Choice.

    Fingers crossed for Dave The Games Animal Perry to make a cameo at some point.

  3. Chris M. Dickson

    We’ve got a problem here. Five hours in, eight thousand views on YouTube and three comments on this review. Now maybe everyone’s watching it actually on e4 or 4oD, but that’s a sign that this may have been a revival that people didn’t actually want, which is what Brig has been saying for some time.

    Which is a shame, as I thought it was very good. Tonally it felt authentic, a good tribute to the original, though it didn’t have the smutty twinkle in the eye. (Could a sponsored show do that? Possibly. Is there any need to do that when you can find not just a smutty twinkle but as much, or as little, actual smut as you want? Probably not.) If they haven’t digitally altered Sir Trev’s voice to sound just a bit like Sir Pat’s, they could have fooled me. I liked both the presentation and the representation, too, and I liked how old the audience was in comparison to how old it used to be – truly a show that recognises the passage of time. (Does anyone use joysticks any more? Looks like even the term joypad is outdated. Farewell, Golden Joystick; welcome, Diamond Controller.) With generations having grown up on games, I quite liked the reversal of having Little Lad Larry as a gimmicky house player. Even the Meta Quest plug feature was quite tasteful with its slight self-deprecation.

    On the downside, the Abyss was a bit cheap, the Grado segment was a miss even knowing who Grado is, and this would probably have worked better as two half-hours than as one hour. But this could have been awful and it absolutely wasn’t, so thank you very much to everyone involved for making an old man feel old… in a good way.

    1. steve

      Maybe but ill add I didn’t even no it was going up on youtube before hand until came here so to judge it properly need to see how numbers are on E4

    2. Brig Bother Post author

      Probably worth adding that it was a busy night last night in terms of big telly, but 13k half a day later feels a bit limp. This said, surprised the Gaming Press hasn’t splashed it yet.

  4. Karen

    I thought Educating Grado was extremely funny, but I like Grado already so. Basically agree with what’s already been said, the tone and pace were basically perfect. Pitching the Gamesmaster more as a villain didn’t hit me right early but I warmed to it as the abyss came in, and I felt the effect of it was exactly as naff as it needed to be.

    And I’m not going to sweat the Youtube numbers. The thumbnail is bad and makes it look like a preview clip, and I don’t think they’ve promoted it beyond a thrown away line at the end of the trailer.

  5. Brig Bother Post author

    100k on E4, Youtube up to 70k.

    Genuinely no idea what counts as good under the circumstances. But 100k wouldn’t put it in the E4 top 50.

  6. Michal S. Collins

    I enjoyed it for the most part, but the advertising has been dire – I only knew it was happening due to this website. It strikes me that 90s GamesMaster was designed for a younger audience (my memories are of it being on during the morning at the weekend) and the wean seems the most natural audience for this type of show. So its on at 10pm on a school night and has more adult games like the Call of Duty shoot ’em up. It didn’t seem to know what audience it was targeting, which leaves me with the impression its target 30-40 year old Dads who remember watching the original show as kids. Which is me, for sure, but I’m not a demographic which produces a recommission – just ask The Answer Trap.

    Between the terrible advertising, the lack of viewers, the hostility actual gamers I know have to it (something to do with Twitch stream loyalty), and the lack of an overall focus all suggest a show which wont last long.

  7. Brig Bother Post author

    Episode 2! Thought the feature content was funnier (can you play Bouncing Bum Bums anywhere?), enjoyed the old GamesMaster contestant putting his old GGJ on the line to win another (even if whilst I agree that Cuphead isn’t nearly as fun as its graphic style suggests, the frogs are an early boss that even *I* can do, and I find Cuphead no fun to play at all).

    Still confused by Ty’s role – I thought he’d get to do some commentary or something, as it stands Grado is getting more screen time and he’s just as regular bit-part. Seems a pity for him really.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      (Just expanding with stuff I wrote on Discord:)

      Episode 2 of GamesMaster up to 5.5k views which is… 40% of what episode 1 had at the time. Any number of reasons why this might be the case of course – it’s not episode one for a start, so there’s not so much excitement watching it day and date. Even so, I can’t just magic up an audience for it, they’re just not great numbers. On the plus side, I got a Whatsapp from my best mate yesterday saying “OMG they’re rebooting GamesMaster!” and I had to tell him that actually it was already on and pretty good, so clearly the advertising’s missing the potential audience.

  8. Karen

    The show seems to be barely getting any advertising, even to the standard E4 audience. This episode was definitely weaker, the Deathloop challenge was made to be more complicated than it needed to be, the robot fighting game was hard to follow and didn’t look that impressive, the features felt 5 years out of place especially going with a tired “Visual novels aren’t real games” joke. Speedrunners isn’t as good a spectator game as it thinks it is, and as mentioned the Cuphead challenge was easier than they were selling it as.

    I thought it was weird that they had no footage of the returning challenger to show, or didn’t think that it would be a good idea to at least show him getting the original joystick.

    1. Karen

      Not too surprising at this point, the show in the second episode felt incredibly dated and out of touch with modern videogaming. Plus it’s started ramping up the thing seemingly all Channel 4 reboots have to do and constantly point out to the viewer how the show is bad and they shouldn’t be watching. Endless jokes about being a nostalgia cash grab for men in their 40s, joking about the joysticks being cheap rubbish etc. I wanted to be hopeful after the second episode but at this point I can’t see why any young people would watch it when it’s so obviously shown its hand as a show made by The Olds.

      I think if it’d held the 170k combined it got last week it might’ve scraped a second chance but losing nearly half its audience in a week is almost certainly death. No matter how much people seem to want to go on about how E4 totally believe in it being a social media first show, ignoring that its not even ranking among their most popular videos on there either. Interesting though that the 2 segments they’ve broken out into their own videos, the Oculus advert from episode 1 and Kids design a videogame bit from episode 2 both have more views than the actual full episodes.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        I do think gaming has big difficulties transferring to TV in 2021. I certainly think that the 3D-isation of everything and one-player-to-a-console makes things a lot more difficult to parse – unless you know the games in question it’s difficult to know what you should be watching out for – compare and contrast to the 1990s where couch multiplayer was in and all the relevant information had to fit on one screen regardless – the average person can look at Bomberman and quickly go “OK, I get it and I understand why X is a good strategy” and you’re just not going to get the same understanding with Robot Mech Shoot 9.

        I also think that the “wow” factor of modern gaming isn’t there any more. Everything looks great, so the excitement of watching new tech on telly isn’t there. It’s a shame arcades aren’t so much of a thing these days with their unusual physical control methods as they were a pretty easy and fun fallback in lieu of other ideas.

        I think you’re a bit harsh on the features – the armour one was quite a hackneyed idea yes but it was mainly an excuse for some physical comedy throwing fruits at Grado which was quite funny. Ditto “what if kids actually made a game” – missing a trick on not making that obviously downloadable.

        The show’s main issue, as foreshadowed months in advance, is who is the show *for*? I enjoy it as an extension of the original series (I don’t think the throwaway gags are nearly as gregarious as they were on The Crystal Maze, this does seem to have been made with genuine sincerity), I think it *feels* right, although you’d very easily argue that in celebrating the sort of streamers Dominik Diamond would probably give short-shrift to if it was the 90s it’s “nicer” but it is not necessarily “more entertaining”. I think the script for Sassy GamesMaster is quite funny in the main. Why’s it on at 10pm? The show is way less edgy (read: smutty) than it was in the 1990s. In fact given it’s clearly been made with an eye for the old audience why is it even on E4 at all?

        It’s an interesting thing. I’d like it to be doing better, but I can’t magic up the audience for it, and there was always the issue that the kids were perfectly happy getting their gaming output from Youtube and Twitch. I do prefer it to Go 8 Bit though.

  9. Brig Bother Post author

    Absolutely worth noting, the first episode of GamesMaster did (relatively) extremely well in +7, more than doubling the audience to 228k – way better than the situation suggested.

    But be aware, second episode down by 30%-40% in currently measureable metrics, so we’ll have to wait until next Monday to find out if it was just new show excitement or not.

  10. Danny Kerner

    Now the question is does E4 see that as a success or a one and done mini series


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