Saturday, 19 January 2013

Why VGHS Season 2 is very important to the future of Television

Video Game High School, a webseries produced by the Rocket Jump team, Freddie Wong, Brandon Laastch, Will Campos, Brian Firenzi and Matt Arnold for the freddiew YouTube channel, is perhaps one of the most significant undertakings in television history since Jerry Seinfeld sat down and said, "I'm gonna write a show about myself... and nothing... but something..."And I'm not just talk about how it's influenced myself or others, which I'll be the first to admit it has; I'm talking about how it's important to the landscape of film and television in general. 

See around about twenty years ago the internet was created and amongst all the hamsterdances, nyan cats and generous helping of free porn, arose the online television series, also known as the webseries. The webseries was a game changer, before then in order to have your work seen by more than ten people at a film festival, you had to get a whole slew of people to agree to all kinds of crap to get your work published by a major studio or television network. They would control your fate until the day you died and you wouldn't even take the majority of the profits, they would... by far. Hollywood was a place where a lot of people came together to try and create good things and got beat down by a system that sent people home in metaphorical body bags (not literal, Hollywood has never been involved in any murderous activity or scandalous activity what-so-ever and no-one has a gun to my head at the moment.) With the advent of the internet you could put your films and serials online for people to watch, made mainstream by the advent of YouTube in 2005.

Things like The Guild and LonelyGirl15 were independent shows, published by the creators, often with the help and funding of the fans. There was the Angry Video Game Nerd by James Rolfe, Annoying Orange, Legend of Neil, Fallout: Nuka Break, Mortal Kombat: Legacy, The Nostalgia Critic and now Video Game High School. But what makes VGHS special? Why is Season 2 specifically such a game-changer?

The answer is simple. More and more people are watching things online; Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, it's all changing and VGHS is changing with it. Unlike the first season which revolved around 9 episodes each with a short 10-ish minute runtime as webseries tend to have, first to cater to the short attention span of the internet crowd and second because that's just the way YouTube was set up back in the old days. My own webseries MY LIFE AS A VIDEO GAME is set to have 10 episodes of that length divided up into 3 episode blocks that'd make up a half hour episode of television in total. Freddie Wong and Co. are going further than I am, further than anyone has ever really gone before. They're going to create a series that is essentially a television show, on the web. Six Full TV length episodes of around a half hour in length, not designed to cater to the YouTube crowd anymore, not for people with a short attention span in the same way previous series have been.

Why is this important you ask? What is the difference between my style, and what VGHS is doing? Freddie and VGHS is doing something incredibly important by forcing the viewer to sit by his laptop, or use the YouTube app on his TV, Console, Roku or AppleTV box, and watch a true television series on the web. They could quite easily break up these six episodes into three each totaling at around 18 episodes to make more money from ad revenue and see it run for longer. But no, the VGHS team sees the future and sees the potential of the web-based series. This is huge people, make no mistake about it. The great thing about the web was that it wasn't run by people out to make money and this team are proving that once again by sacrificing monetary gain to have a quality series that proves to the world that a television series can exist on the web and the web alone.

I don't doubt they'll reach their target on Kickstarter but people, get in on this action while you can and help make history. VGHS Season 2 is important to the landscape of television, it will prove that a television series can be sustainable on the web. Six episodes might not seem like a lot but remember outside the US, many shows run for much shorter times. The Inbetweeners, a classic British comedy show only ran for six half hour episodes a year. I can't wait to see what's in store for Season 2 and I can't wait to see how this all pans out. Freddie, Brandon and the rest, if you're reading this, I salute the ever-loving fuck out of you all; make the web proud! - Check it out MOFOS!