Video gaming and TV have never had an easy relationship. The vast majority of programming devoted to the great button-thrashing unwashed has either been filled with rabid posturing by incensed media pundits who wouldn't know a joypad if it was inserted somewhere uncomfortable, or well meaning but utterly cringeworthy attempts to get down wiv the kids, like Bravo's Playr and Gameface, two formats which offer very little beyond showing snippets of games being played by people who, quite frankly, aren't very good at them.
Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe, which aired on BBC4 on Tuesday evening, took a bold step by offering a grown-up look at the past and present of gaming with Brooker's familiar mix of sweary, spittle-flecked invective and compelling intelligence.
For those of you unfamiliar with Brooker's oeuvre, he is a slightly pasty late thirty-something curmudgeon with a massive axe to grind about absolutely everyone and everything. He presents most of his shows from what looks like his own poorly lit living room, addressing the audience directly, more often than not with barely-concealed contempt.
But contempt is OK if it's tempered with self deprecation, as Charlie's opening statement from last night's gamesfest demonstrated:
"Video games... beeping, blooping masturbatory aids for emotionally-crippled social outcasts. Probably male outcasts. Physically repugnant and sexually inexperienced. Probably frightened of the real world. Probably standing right here saying these words. Probably losers like me."
And that set the tone for the whole programme, in which Charlie took a nostalgic trip down Memory Overload Lane from the very beginning of the British Renaissance of gaming where bedroom-bound youngsters started coding games with a distinctively quirky British sense of humour like Manic Miner and Skool Daze.
A quick run-through of the dizzying cornucopia of game genres from platformer to MMORPG provided an idiot's guide for the uninitiated. The difference between this and every other programme about gaming you have ever seen is that Brooker obviously knows his onions. He's not just reading a script written by a 20-year-old researcher, because he talks about each game with the kind of genuine nostalgic affection that can only come from having spent much of his formative years with sore thumbs and bags under his eyes.
Everything is, however, not all rosie in Charlie's gaming garden. He confesses a hatred for the likes of World of Warcraft saying, "I've never really understood the appeal of these MMORPGs myself, but then I hate people enough in the real world without bothering to enter a second made-up universe where I can learn to despise them all over again."
Comedian Dara O'Briain also gets in on the act with a brilliant diatribe about the way in which game developers deny gamers access to the content that they have paid for. He points out that games like Gears of War are so hard that you never get to see most of the stuff included and that it's all so unfair.
The fact that Charlie decries the lack of humour, charm or any form of storytelling in modern games - probably because the people who script such things have given up reading books - will endear him to a lot of older gamers, who hark back to bygone days.
The rest of you will love him for calling Fifty Cent an almighty dick and offering him outside for a fight.
Pure genius. If you missed it catch it now on BBC iPlayer.
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