VideoGaiden – the return of video gaming’s greatest TV show

Shieldinch seems like a regular Glasgow suburb, albeit an upscale one. An art-deco Italian cafe nestles most of the attractive tenement houses, with a Subway station and a conventional boozer mere paces away. However, these days, the streets are eerily abandoned, and no longer just due to the heavy rain – it’s due to the fact Shieldinch doesn’t simply exist.

This is certainly the exterior set of BBC Scotland’s soap opera River Metropolis, a mini model of Glasgow positioned in Dumbarton, 20 miles far from the City. Whilst the lengthy-running soap is on a manufacturing wreck, Shieldinch has been invaded with the aid of guerrilla movie-makers: Robert “Rab” Florence, Ryan Macleod and a 3-guy digital camera team. Sporting garish hats and intentionally radiating the hyperactive electricity of youngsters’s Tv presenters, Florence and Macleod are capering out of doors the Oyster Cafe, turning in a chunk to digicam at a remarkably high extent Media Focus.

The pair are capturing the extraordinarily belated fourth season of VideoGaiden, the cult BBC video gameshow that in the beginning wrapped up in 2008. At the same time as the likes of GamesMaster and Awful Influence! Introduced gaming way of life to the mainstream in the Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s, VideoGaiden changed into their extra anarchic counterpoint, blending comedy sketches and critiques with satirical jibes on the industry and its vanities – regularly to coruscating impact.

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The VideoGaiden team on the set of River Metropolis. Picture: Graeme Distinctive feature
After finishing their outside shots in the icy drizzle, the group hustle into one of the tenements that, in conventional film-set style, is an unsettlingly bare wood shell. While the following shot is being set up, and with their breath visible earlier than them, Florence and Macleod contemplate their go back. Although it seemed not going for several years, with lifestyle’s cutting-edge mania for reboots – from The X-Files to a Baywatch film to the countless remastering of conventional video games – there’s all of sudden no reason why VideoGaiden couldn’t come again. However, why did they think it need to?

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“For the reason that ultimate time, the entirety has modified in phrases of how video games are protected,” says Florence. “So, I assume it’s quite interesting for two old guys to be doing it. It’s exceptional to nevertheless love games However be capable of take a look at them a piece differently.” Macleod concurs. “It makes us sound like vintage bores, But we have seen a lot of these items earlier than,” he says.

Within the eight years in view that collection three, Florence has maintained his reputation as a prolific comedy author and performer with BBC sketch show Burnistoun, as well as staging wrestling promotions and his own intermittent stay gaming occasions. Macleod has been working backstage in Tv and video manufacturing Even as launching his own resourceful gaming collection, Chuckie Dregs. Not like maximum troupes who reform, the two – now in their past due 30s – definitely appearance in higher form than thy did 8 years ago, after they have been commando-rolling around BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay headquarters wearing black fight vests and Frank Spencer berets. They openly admit to being healthier and happier.

It changed into in 2004 that Florence and Macleod stuck the attention of the BBC after creating their very own internet-primarily based homebrew gaming display, Consolevania. No matter its DIY nature, the collection was humorous, bold and featured an enviably eclectic soundtrack. In spirit, it felt like a part of that continuum of offbeat United kingdom video games coverage that stretches returned to irreverent print mags which include Your Sinclair and Teletext’s gaming godhead Mr Biffo – But it was additionally a prescient ancestor of the DIY approach fostered on YouTube. “Consolevania was almost pre-internet,” says Florence, recalling sending out the primary episode to lovers on CDs, like a fanzine. Whilst Consolevania morphed into VideoGaiden, performing on BBC Scotland and on-line, it remained chaotic, self-conscious and, crucially, funny.

An assessment of Guitar Hero changed into intercut with a shot-for-shot remake of a scene from 1980s cult traditional Highlander. The nagging hassle of being over-weighted down with equipment within the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion become converted into an ongoing farce of throwing boots on to roofs. A liked Christmas special featured appearances from GamesMaster’s Dominik Diamond and past due musical absurdist Frank Sidebottom. Cult Scottish comic Limmy popped up as airhead blowhard “Zack Eastwood”. The general tone was mischievous, though the assessment segments could be intensely private, even confessional.

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Considered from a distance of virtually a decade, VideoGaiden appears ahead of its time, something you could imagine doping up on cult US comedy channel Grownup Swim among screenings of Too Many Chefs. “I assume the principle Influence on us back then became 4Later,” says Florence. “That become again Whilst Channel 4 made interesting television tube. Even the no longer-excellent stuff became interesting, The Word and things like that.” He mentions Channel four’s Ny Cable, the overdue-night Laurie Pike-hosted show off of new York public-access Television, an avalanche of oddball Wayne’s International-fashion weirdness. “Everybody ought to make a Tv show, and that they had been doing something they desired,” says Florence. “There has been no shape, no policies. That was inspiring.”

If VideoGaiden become an outlier eight years in the past, it’d additionally experience a touch out of step in 2016, a time Whilst game enthusiasts can dodge traditional mediators by way of tuning in to stay Twitch streams. While no Tv channel appears that interested in launching a mass-marketplace games show, the vacuum has been crammed – possibly overfilled – by means of gaming video content online. “All of us’s setting out so much stuff now,” says Macleod. “Gaming web sites that do video are having to churn out steady content. For us, it’s a real luxury to know not need to try this. I think we’ve a piece extra time to put some idea and consideration into what we’re doing.”

Do they do an awful lot Twitch viewing themselves? “Strictly Dark Souls best,” says Macleod. “For a few purposes, looking humans play Darkish Souls is charming.”

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Neither are eager at the slick, hyper-caffeinated style that seems to dominate gaming films. “We’re making a factor of creating a laugh of that sort of stuff,” says Florence. “The quick slicing and slamming sound consequences, that commonplace grammar of how to gift video games …” Macleod shakes his head. “I don’t even know wherein that comes from, that manner of speakme approximately games,” he says. “There’s just this experience of ‘something you do, don’t take it significantly.’”

After all of sudden pronouncing series four on New Year’s Eve, Florence and Macleod were Periscoping early production meetings and deliberately misspelling “one of a kind” of their social-media hype campaign. Six chew-length shows will seem online weekly before a “right” half-hour Television programme appears on BBC Scotland and iPlayer in April. A preview screening of the first episode at the Glasgow film Festival drew an enthusiastic response from an admittedly partisan crowd. As well as reflecting what it’s want to develop up immersed in games, VideoGaiden season 4 additionally appears to be a surprisingly considerate and from time to time bleak meditation on ageing. One assessment segment, untangling the mysteries of Jonathan Blow’s The Witness through the medium of a kettle jug in a draughty warehouse, echoes the profundity and self-seriousness of an early David Blaine phantasm, an impression bolstered via an unscripted But weirdly Matrix-like cameo by means of a cat.

The capturing time table is excessive However there’s no shortage of ambition. A brand new boardgames section has been filmed in uninterrupted takes, stimulated by means of the Oscar-winner Birdman. Graham Russell, VideoGaiden’s veteran director and producer, enthuses about the new opportunities for visible outcomes. And the pair’s scripts are whatever But boilerplate – in the fiction of the show, duplicate versions of Florence and Macleod are trapped inside a form of gaming purgatory, cursed to without end view their exchange lives While being tortured through the vengeful spirits of games beyond. It’s one million miles faraway from gaming Television of antique.

What also makes series 4 of VideoGaiden a fascinating proposition is the reality that it isn’t just the resumption of a professional dating, However also a personal one. Florence and Macleod had any such main fall out on the give up of the remaining collection that, to all intents and purposes, they haven’t spoken or maybe been inside the identical room for the beyond 8 years.

“Simply When we did the remaining collection, I don’t think either folks had been mentally in a terrific location,” says Florence. Macleod has the same opinion. “I used to be inebriated,” he says. Florence butts in: “And I used to be crazy.” They both chortle, a bit nervously. “I suppose we’re each in a much higher place, and that’s interested in itself,” says Florence. “We’ve no longer definitely sat down and had major talks about something, we’ve just long past returned to paintings and it has clicked. However, if people have questions on that, I’d inform them to observe the show. Due to the fact we do tackle that inside the first episode.” looking from in the back of a boom as they run lines and cavort in front of the camera, it’s clean that the gnarly chemistry continues to be there: Florence is an active ball of panto braggadocio At the same time as Macleod channels the dazed spirit of Stan Laurel.

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VideoGaiden is really shooting to a good price range, However running underneath the purview of the BBC does afford some blessings above and past gatecrashing the River Metropolis set. “The coolest thing is that we sincerely don’t want to be first-rate,” says Florence. “There’s no actual stress to get visitors or subscribers. The show is getting made, it’s going out and that’s it. We don’t ought to worry about it.”

It also relieves them of the tyranny of the discharge schedule. “We don’t need to waste our time; we simply want to speak approximately the stuff we adore,” says Macleod. Florence consents: “It’s really a relief that we received’t want to try to consider funny stuff to say approximately Assassin’s Creed.”

In an ocean of gaming content material, it’s only a comfort to welcome something a little exceptional. At the latest VideoGaiden outline assembly, There has been a dialogue approximately whether to spotlight Rainbow Six: Siege or the ultra-modern instalment of excessive strategy RPG collection Nobunaga’s Ambition. “Considered one of them could be forgotten in some months and Certainly one of them no one’s speaking approximately,” says Florence. On the quit of the assembly, the choice was unanimous: they would ask visitors for their thoughts on Siege However VideoGaiden itself would go massive on Ambition. No longer for the primary time.