Those of who like your gaming world news coverage irreverent, humorous, and post-apocalyptic couldn’t do better than to check out ButtonMashers, the latest gaming news series from the good people of GameZombie.tv.
As anyone on the Internet knows, web forums and blogs are where cutting-edge news breaks, scathing arguments lash back and forth, and hours of potentially productive time simply disappear. ButtonMashers saves you the hours required to stay current on all your video game communities by tracking the big news items of the week and reading the community zeitgeist for a few minutes in each episode. Yes, the hosted series basically consists of reading forum posts out loud on-camera – and don’t worry, it’s much more entertaining than anyone could have imagined. This means that one moment they’ll be covering an industry pro, like Cliff Bleszinski, and the next moment they’ll be reading JoeSchmoe510′s comments like it was all the news that was fit to print. It’s kind of like a mix between Fox News and Maury Povich. With video games.
The show is co-hosted by Chelsey Matrix (the violent one), Keetin Marchi (the too-nice-for-TV one), and Sam Sher (the nerdy one), though I use the word “hosted” rather loosely; the show is just as much improvised banter as it is scripted news, and it’s better for it.
What started 20 months ago as a master thesis project for GameZombie Founder Spencer Striker, has become a full-fledged web tv gaming hub, with it’s flagship series ButtonMashers racking up over 5 million views so far on YouTube and Bebo. The series shoots on campus at Indiana University at Bloomington, which boasts a comfy $1 Million HD studio. We caught up with Striker and BM writer John Quick for a brief interview.
Tubefilter: How do you decide what is “newsworthy”?
Spencer Striker: The show is built on the theory of harvesting community enthusiasm and interactiveness by taking all the news from comments made by power users and peer leaders writing on video game blogs across the web. The fundamental idea: no expert opinion allowed. The goal of the show is to amplify the voice of the little guy–the outspoken, raging, hilarious, mean-spirited, fiercely loyal, fiercely rude fanboys, cyberbullies, and ne’er do wells syndicating their strong opinions across the web. Using aggregators, like Google News, we take the top gaming news stories being talked about on gaming news sites throughout the Internet and then locate individual quotes on the topic from the users of intense communities, such as GoNintendo, Destructoid, GameTrailers, ScrewAttack, and Kotaku. Our goal is to elicit reaction–either positive or negative. We want to get gamers riled up.
John Quick: We judge that by what garners the most and best comments. Talking about things that nobody cares about does little for anyone, so we go for the stories and topics that drive passion and emotion. Things that cause debate within the gamer community.
Tubefilter: How has BM been received by the gaming audience?
Quick: It has been mixed. In some circles we’re famous, and other flat out infamous. But that kind of duality is what you’d expect online. People with the tendency to swing to one extreme or the other are usually the most vocal, so there could be more of a middle ground out there, but I think that most people like us because we feature them and give them topics to discuss.
Tubefilter: What’s in store for future episodes of ButtonMashers?
Striker: The second season of ButtonMashers, currently in production, will introduce Jessica Frasher, aka the FeistyLilAsian, to the show, (known around the web for her exclusive interviews with many of the biggest names in the video game business). She will host a segment called “Dick Moves,” in which she will rage against obnoxious and annoying violations of video game etiquette. Other new segments include hilarious in-character interviews with video game characters and ‘Something You Can’t Do in Real Life’ in which we will depict a member of our staff trying to do something you can do in a video game and inevitably getting hurt. We are also going to be adding YouTube video comments and responses, (rather than just text), as well as creating enhanced motion graphics and sound design.
Quick: We are including more call back references to earlier shows, so that we can create an over arching narrative with our characters making them more three dimensional. We are also including rotating segments, and special reports. It’ll be a whole other show.