PBS Digital Studios has produced a lot of fun, stimulating channels, but its best and most popular series has been the PBS Idea Channel, a deft blend of whimsical Internet memes and intense, well-argued Internet philosophy. For its latest offering, PBS is doubling down on that combination of Internet culture and scholarly analysis with Game/Show, which waxes theoretical about video games.
As with Idea Channel, the first Game/Show episode begins with a question: “When archaeologists dig up our bones 400 years from now, which video game characters do you think they’ll find?” It’s not a terribly pressing question, and we won’t be around to learn the answer, but that doesn’t stop host Jamin Warren from launching into a detailed argument revolving the “first mover advantage” and the “monomyth,” which sound like RPG skills but are actually theoretical concepts.
No matter how easy C.G.P. Grey makes it seem, it is very hard to create content that is both intellectual and entertaining, so Game/Show deserves credit for pulling off that double nearly as well as Idea Channel. That being said, Warren’s arguments are occasionally quite flimsy (seriously, he can’t find any examples of the monomyth in modern pop gaming?) and, as several commenters have noted, the characters who flash across the screen sometimes don’t match Warren’s identifications.
This is not to say Warren isn’t an expert; his writing on Kill Screen Daily proves his knowledge of video games. To reach its potential, Game/Show will need to ask more pertinent questions and make use of its creative team’s big brains, all while keeping the likable Idea Channel style alive.