In this episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel “HM” Goodwin tackle the game show. Are the best game shows about the contestants, the games or the sheer spectacle? Is there still life in the format? Does this have anything to do with videogames?


01:30 “I’m going to use American examples because I am an American.” (“Shit.”)

03:50 “That’s not the answer, you idiot!”

06:50 “There is no game show without the viewer, so you have to be involved in some way.”

08:30 “They’re really interested in people who get really wrong answers as opposed to the right ones.”

12:10 “You’re not playing along – so why is that interesting to watch?”

17:00 “I remember being bewildered by Shooting Stars, it made no sense to me.”

27:10 “It’s all about getting rid of people instead of watching people succeed, which I think is really problematic.”

29:30 “On the whole, I think the game is less important than the people playing it.”

35:50 “It was so tense. So many kids were killed on that show.”

38:10 “The best physical game shows… remind us of what it’s like to be kids.”

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And psychological play is on display in Golden Balls:

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6 thoughts on “Counterweight 5: Audience Frustration

  1. Yes, that show is really called “Golden Balls”.


    One thing we could have discussed but didn’t: do types of game shows correspond to audience segmentation in any way? Do people only watch certain genres of game show and avoid others? What kind of relationship do people have with game shows anyway?

  2. I had lots of other thoughts after we finished the podcast, about the role of game shows and their place in the home – television that binds family and friend together. (Of course, some people watch alone and tweet into hashtag streams. Is that different?)

    And we really didn’t look closely into a connection to videogames because I think there’s a lot of overlap here. Game shows are primarily designed to be spectator sports and come with all the baggage that entails, whereas your typical videogame is usually more concerned with engaging a single player. More J.S. Joust than Half-Life.

    Anyway, we made this podcast for Pippin Barr and I’ll guess we have to wait until he listens to it. He might have some thoughts. You never know.

    Eric – you clearly don’t think game shows are “junk” disposable mainstream culture, yet they’re often painted as such. There’s some analogue to games in there too. Not all games have to be art?

  3. No, not all games have to be art, thank god. Most games aren’t art. And that’s okay! They’re better in some respects. Have you ever BEEN to a museum? They have PAINTINGS! Just hanging on the WALL! They’re not 3D or nothin’. And each one has a little plaque that you’re supposed to READ! I’m so tired of hand-holding tutorials.

  4. Funnily enough, if you had revealed that this was all a criticism of let’s play, I would’ve believed you.

    But learning about Golden Balls was great. Thanks for the balls, Eric.

  5. @Beam – As far as I’m aware no one has really looked at the link between videogames and the game show format. Then again, neither did Eric and I. Well, it seemed like a good idea on paper!

    Also, on Golden Balls – that’s my hefty addition to the podcast, not Eric’s. You should be thanking my balls. Or something in that department.

  6. @HM:
    I wouldn’t believe it without Eric’s confirmation in the comments. Let’s compromise:

    Eric, thanks for confirming Joel’s balls.

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