Wham Blam!!! thank you m'am

GamePlay's hyperactive new computer games TV show is set to launch on Sky One next month

Not satisfied with running gaming servers, an editorial website and an online store, GamePlay are branching out into TV with "Blam!!!", set for a 13 week run on leading satellite channel Sky One starting on November 4th. Presented by the leather-clad Julia Reed of "Robot Wars" infamy, and produced by a team of "experienced gamers using their wealth of gaming knowledge to guarantee viewers accurate information", the show will air on Saturday lunchtimes at 12.30pm and Sunday mornings at 10.30am. A bit early to catch the real hardcore gamers, who will no doubt mostly still be in bed at that time of day after all-night fragging sessions...

The show was launched at a party at GamePlay's offices in central London last night, with copious amounts of free beer to lubricate the guests, and having seen the first episode we're .. rather disappointed actually. The show comes across as a thinly veiled advert for GamePlay's online store, with some competitions, reviews, interviews and lifestyle features throw into the mix. In fact, the end credits actually included a brief message confirming that "Blam!!!" has indeed been classified as an advert rather than a TV show - never a good sign! Overall it looks like something of a mix of old-school Channel 4 series "GamesMaster" and the shopping channel QVC, with almost constant messages across the top and bottom of the screen prompting viewers to buy the featured games over the telephone, or through GamePlay's online and interactive TV stores. While it's nice to see computer games getting more coverage on the television here in Europe, we're not entirely convinced that this is a step forward, and the whole thing looked rather tacky. The fact that the people who produce the show are trying to sell you the games that they are reviewing doesn't make its content particularly credible either.

There were some nice features though, including a look behind the scenes at "Driver 2", and the weekly gaming competitions which are meant to be the heart of the show. Contestants from England, France, Germany and Sweden were all huddled around a TV in the wasteland at the back of the run-down Battersea power station for some reason, battling it out for a place in the grand finals in January. The first show featured everything from motor racing to beat 'em up games, with fairly entertaining highlights from all of the matches, accompanied by a voice-over commentary to explain what was going on. Pro-gaming this was not, but it was certainly enjoyable enough to watch. Sadly things just kept sinking into advertorial territory every few minutes though, which is a real shame because the series did have potential. Oh well, maybe next time guys...

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