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Old 07-28-2011, 10:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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When TV Doesn't Hate Video Games

(Courtesy Flickr user Ben Dodson)
Ty Shughart's recent feature, 'Why Television Hates Video Games', has been stewing in the vat of my brain juices since I read it a week and a half ago. It was a great feature. It was funny, spot on, and that Johnny Arcade video was worth the non-price of admission alone. If you haven't read it yet, stop reading this and go check it out. What I have to say is going to be a lot less thoughtful or hilarious.

I'm not going to waste anyone's time picking apart Shughart's argument, because I think his is a valuable perspective, but I've had some tv-comments-on-video-games moments in the past week that tell a different story. The first came when my wife flipped the channel to Mad About You. Now, for the record, I'm not a big fan of Mad About You. I didn't watch it when I was a kid—more of a Cheers guy—, so I don't get the same sense of nostalgia my wife gets when she sees Paul Reiser bumbling around in an ill-fitting suit or Helen Hunt being condescending. But it's not as offensively stupid as, say, Ice Loves Coco, so I oblige the sporadic episode. After all, I've got a 3DS in my mitts and a farm to run.

(Courtesy Flickr user hellocatfood)
So I was glancing between the tv and my 3DS, and I noticed Paul Reiser playing a Fat Boy. Helen Hunt was beside him on the bed reading a magazine, and a hilarious argument broke out—sorry, I don't remember the details. Of course, I figured at some point Helent Hunt was going to attack Paul Reiser's maturity or intellect because he was sitting over there, on his side of the bed, playing a video game. But she didn't. Neither said a thing about the Fat Boy. And that, to me, was truly amazing.

It was just accepted within the scene that Paul Reiser winds down after a long day of Paul Reisering by busting out his Gameboy. By not commenting on it, the creators put handheld gaming on the same plane as reading a magazine before bed (baby steps, people; baby steps). Now, it's possible Nintendo paid for a little product placement, but it's also possible one of the show's writers was trying to subtly legitimize bedtime gaming—fine, not likely, but possible. There's no way to know for sure, at least not without me violating my code of laziness, but, no matter the reason, the effect was potent. This was an episode of a hugely popular 90s sitcom, and it portrayed adult gaming as normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

A few nights later, my wife and I turned on the latest episode of Breaking Bad—in my opinion, the best show currently on television and a contender for the best of all time. (I promise I won't spoil anything significant.) Jesse's old pals Badger and Skinny Pete were at his place snorting coke when Badger and Skinny Pete launched into a Clerks-esque debate about which zombies are scarier and/or more authentic, the subdued, slower moving zombies from Call of Duty: Black Ops' zombie mode, or the frenetic infected from Left 4 Dead.

(Courtesy Flickr user Fanboy30)
The beauty of this scene, though, isn't that two characters from a fantastic tv series are discussing the finer points of video game zombies. It's that Jesse is completely unable to engage. He needs their voice, their volume, to silence his own thoughts, but he can't focus on what they're saying. Really, Badger and Skinny Pete could've been talking about anything. They could've been talking about Entourage. They could've been talking about Weeds. Hell, they could've been talking about Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. But they weren't. They were talking about video games, and that was important.

Shortly after Breaking Bad, my wife and I needed a pallet cleanser. Breaking Bad is a phenomenal program, but it's heavy. We washed it down with a rerun of Tosh.0. Tosh played a video that began with a man pouring gasoline all over a garbage can and parts of the surrounding driveway. The garbage can was positioned in front of a basketball hoop, and a crowd gathered along the lawn. The man lit the gasoline on fire, and a guy popped out of the garbage can with a basketball, ready to dunk. But, of course, this being Tosh.0, what really happened was the stunt went horribly wrong and the guy in the garbage can caught on fire. Tosh quipped, 'That's just what happens when you score three unanswered baskets.' No direct reference to NBA Jam necessary. It was just assumed you'd get the joke, and I imagine most of his viewers did.

So while we undoubtedly wade through a television landscape littered with the remnants of an aging, game-hating generation, there is hope yet for video game legitimacy. If the question is no longer when will tv begin accepting the concept of adult gaming (at least as early as the mid-90s), can we try to answer the all-important question of what, exactly, was in Paul Resier's Gameboy? The world wants to know.



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Old 07-28-2011, 03:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: When TV Doesn't Hate Video Games

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Tosh played a video that began with a man pouring gasoline all over a garbage can and parts of the surrounding driveway. The garbage can was positioned in front of a basketball hoop, and a crowd gathered along the lawn. The man lit the gasoline on fire, and a guy popped out of the garbage can with a basketball, ready to dunk. But, of course, this being Tosh.0, what really happened was the stunt went horribly wrong and the guy in the garbage can caught on fire. Tosh quipped, 'That's just what happens when you score three unanswered baskets.' No direct reference to NBA Jam necessary. It was just assumed you'd get the joke, and I imagine most of his viewers did.
Tosh is awesome. He consistently delivers great references like this and they always land.
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Old 07-28-2011, 04:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: When TV Doesn't Hate Video Games

to counter this, I think I should mention a certain scene in the show Dexter... where the main character is playing halo 3.... on a PC.



....With space invader sounds


....and claimed to want to level up....





Otherwise, I think gaming has become more integrated with mainstream media.

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  You need to post more and stop going away for long periods of time. I lol daily now.
  
  What Dudebro said.
  
  Aha! So it was Hogan's Heroes that began the facepalm!

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Old 07-28-2011, 05:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: When TV Doesn't Hate Video Games

Reminds me of the wheelchair kid in that one Jackie Chan movie. He was playing his old fat gameboy with stupid fake sounds and no game in the system. It was cringe worthy.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: When TV Doesn't Hate Video Games

Weird.
I wanted to +1 Blue but it said I cannot add to the reputation twice - when clearly I have not added to the reputation of this particular post yet.
Anyhow I was going to say:

Aha! So it was Hogan's Heroes that originated the facepalm!
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