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1:54 PM on 02.22.2010 // James Andrews
The Tester, for real? Like really? ...

So I saw the preview episode and the 1st episode and I have some comments to make. 1. Watching this show makes me uncomfortable. 2. Am I alone in wondering if I am doing something skeezy by simply downloading this? 3. I'd love to see the numerical data on the trees they killed in legal documents and release forms that the contestants had to sign before filming could begin. 4. And the overall feeling I am getting from this entire project, and of course mirroring the title of the post, is a big "Are you people serious?"

First let me say that I have NOT been a consumer of 'reality tv' as it is constituted on broadcast media since "The Real World" season 2 (that is a long time ago, kids), nor have I even paid a cable company for the privilege of having it beamed into my house for nearly 10 years. Between raising my son and playing games, there is no time for it or whatever else is on cable these days. Between DVDs,Hulu and getting my football games over the airwaves I am fine. Secondly, I am not a fan of most of what SCEA has done in the past as far as marketing goes. It's been disjointed, unsettling and above all confusing right up until the "It Does Everything" campaign, which is wonderful. The "Playstation 9" spot was another highlight. All that said it seems that things are on the up and up and then comes along "The Tester".

Now if you been following this you'll know by now that it's basically "Survivor" plus video games and the prize is a job as a SCEA QA monkey and $5000. Now I am not a man who is going to turn up his nose at a chance to win $5000. I mean, that's class money. Nor would I shirk an all expenses paid junket to some sort of nerd playground with a bunch of other like minded folks. Whether a week or two weeks I think it would have been worth the trip, not to mention the dubious benefits of Internet fame. Where all of this caves in however is the job. The job is grueling, detail intensive, repetitive and above all boring. Simply put it turns playing games into a job and is the slayer of carpal tunnels everywhere. Most software concerns don't even spring for an office or health-insurance, making it instead a part-time at-home gig. And the most amazing thing I noticed by watching the firstep was that many of the 'gamers' involved were wearing clothes that basically told you that they already had BETTER PAYING JOBS. ??? I mean... come on, people. Unless this particular magical tester position pays more than the requisite $12 bucks an hour, I just... I... *facepalm*

That aside this reality show isn't even a reality show, it's an advertisement. And advertisement for a brand, not even a single game or console. Are contestants allowed to have a negative opinion? Let say Cyrus is in a one on one challenge with Luge, and they have to kill five trolls as fast as possible in SCEA's new world-ender "God of War 3". Great, now seeing as Cyrus' favorite game is "Magical Drop 3" (whaaaaaaa?) he may be waiting for bubbles to burst or for chibi anime girls to yell at him. Luge, seeming as one well suited to wanton destruction, starts tearing the faces off of trolls in record time. Cyrus' starts bitching about the controls, like all gamers do, or about the fact that he's not into the kind of game, or... well about anything. What if he doesn't like all the gore? What if wishes aloud that Kratos was actually a scantily clothed fairy or angel of some sort? All of this ends up on the editor's recycle bin. I don't see how SCEA can allow these people to speak freely about their gaming experiences. On the other hand I don't see how they aren't coaching them into making positive statements. Wouldn't that make the most sense? In a way aren't they taking what is already a travesty of a television genre and turning it out, making the tawdry almost unseemly? Or am I thinking about this too much?

Lastly this show is supposed to be about gamers, that is, us. People like you and me who play videogames are contestants, and from what I have seen so far, it does not cast us in a very nice light. If you subtract the 'preview' episode, where Hal Sparks dismantles the varied out of control video submissions they had to choose from and actually made it funny, if a little sad, the actual show just seems sad. Here are people in our consumer demographic drooling over wall mounted PS3 systems, speaking with urgent sincerity about how they want, no, NEED to win this contest to get their foot in the door of the industry. There's crying, backstabbing, trickery and oh so sure to be fits of nerd rage coming in the future... and all for a really crappy job. It seems these folks have lost their grip on reality. Just watching their mouths open and close, speaking in reverence for the quest, for the chance to get closer to whatever it is that is "Playstation", makes me ashamed. That is the feeling that makes you uncomfortable when you are watching this in case you were wondering.

Oh me? I'm rooting for Big D.
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