Preview: The Tester, season two

Apparently the first season of Sony’s PlayStation Network-only reality show, The Tester, was popular enough to warrant a follow up. Tomorrow, the second season of the show — which has contestants vying for the top prize of being a quality assurance tester for Sony — makes its premiere on PSN.   

Sony was nice enough to give me a sneak peek at the upcoming season, but was tricky enough to remove the last few minutes so as I wouldn’t know which two of the 12 contestants get the boot first.   

Who should we be rooting for? Is it the girl gamer who dressed up like Kratos? The basement-dwelling guy with the samurai swords? The guy who couldn’t identify the game Heavy Rain even after being shown the game’s box art which prominently featured both the words “heavy†and “rain� Keep reading as I preview the first episode of The Tester season 2, and help you make up your mind ahead of time. 

Apparently the first season of Sony’s PlayStation Network-only reality show, The Tester, was popular enough to warrant a follow up. Tomorrow, the second season of the show — which has contestants vying for the top prize of being a quality assurance tester for Sony — makes its premiere on PSN.   

Sony was nice enough to give me a sneak peek at the upcoming season, but was tricky enough to remove the last few minutes so as I wouldn’t know which two of the 12 contestants get the boot first.   

Who should we be rooting for? Is it the girl gamer who dressed up like Kratos? The basement-dwelling guy with the samurai swords? The guy who couldn’t identify the game Heavy Rain even after being shown the game’s box art which prominently featured both the words “heavy” and “rain”? Keep reading as I preview the first episode of The Tester season 2, and help you make up your mind ahead of time. {{page_break}}  

First the bad news, and I don’t like to crush dreams, but let’s get it out of the way right here: judge Hal Sparks isn’t back for seconds. Sparks, best known for winning VH1’s Celebracadabra, claims he’s going on some nationwide stand-up comedy tour. That’s a tough field to get into, that stand up comedy, so I wish him the best of luck; if things get tough, Hal, just start pulling coins out of people’s ears or set a heckler on fire with a fireball.   

With that said, Hal does kicks off the season by introducing us to the 12 contestants that make up the second season of The Tester. Basically, this means they cut to clips of the audition tapes and then Hal makes fun of them.  

Your contestants: 

  • Mo Chocolate: This excitable curly-haired young man sings his name. Yeah, that’s about all you need to know here.
  • TrippleThreat: An otherwise pretty blonde girl who wears enough make-up to make Ziggy Stardust blush, TrippleThreat’s favorite game is God of War III. She even goes as far as saying that the game’s protagonist, Kratos, is her “hero.” The editors of the show then cut to her dressed in full Kratos garb (make up and all), running around the woods. I suddenly think maybe the Ziggy Stardust look is the sweet spot for TrippleThreat. 
  • Big Fazeek: His name sounds like “big physique” because he’s big. Not fat, although I’m sure adding a copy of Mel B’s new Move fitness game to his daily gaming routine couldn’t hurt. It would probably end up getting lost in his collection — Big Fazeek says he has spent over one million dollars on gaming. “I don’t even have a girlfriend,” he says. “I don’t even have a social life. All I do is play videogames. That’s all I do.” He later laments that his competition is “so young.”
  • Ches-Ka: She’s out to prove that girl gamers are to be taken seriously. She’s representing the female gaming population, she says. There are five female gamers on this season of The Tester; I hope there’s hair-pulling. 
  • Samurai: Straight off the bat, this guy admits he lives in a basement, presumably that of his parents. But he quickly adds “I’m actually more cooler than the average basement dweller,” before the show cuts to footage of him swinging a samurai sword around… in his basement. 
  • War Princess: Poor War Princess. Seems like a nice enough girl, but even her rambling rant about how she enjoys talking trash couldn’t help me from forgetting nearly everything about her. She wears glasses, I think. Maybe she’s blonde? I don’t know.
  • Max1m: If I you had to pick a “life winner,” this guy is it — pure frat boy with a hyper-ego. “I’ve got more games than KB Toy Stores,” he says. Heads up, bro, KB Toys filed for bankruptcy in 2008. 
  • Fantasygirl: Dressed up like Tifa once, and did that “bomb” thing that Tifa does. Yeah, I don’t know either. 
  • Gaymer: Shockingly, Gaymer is homosexual. I didn’t see that coming. He doesn’t say anything about how he’s representing gays who play games, though. Instead, he goes on about how Uncharted’s Nathan Drake is his favorite character because “that guy is really hot.” Who can disagree? I’m not gay and I’d hit that. He later brings a “Blades of Chaos” prop to their first challenged; the judges stare at him uneasily.
  • Boo: “I got two Gold Chocobos, I went all the way across the river and I got ‘Knights of the Round’! What you’ve never heard of ‘Knights of the Round’?! That’s funny, because it’s the best move in the game!” Why are you yelling at me?
  • Scooter: He says he’s at trophy level 16, and admits to padding his level with trophies from the Hannah Montana: The Movie game. He jokingly brags about it, but I don’t see what the fuss is; that game was awesome. 
  • 8-Bit Mickey: The “People’s Choice,” 8-Bit Mickey was chosen as a contestant by way of Internet voting. He appealed to voters by posting a video of himself in his underwear, including a close-up of his crotch. Didn’t need that, really, but you’ve got to hand it to him for having absolutely no shame. His look can best be described as Booger from Revenge of the Nerds if Ninja Theory was doing a reboot of the 80s classic. 

With the introductions out of the way, the cast gets ushered into their home and they love it. It’s decorated with PlayStation crap, there are 3D televisions mounted on walls, and each contestant is given a bag of swag that Sony had left over from PAX Prime and gamescom. The wannabe testers are in heaven.

They start to mingle, drinking beers I can’t identify because the producers have covered them with black tape, and you start to see how things are going to pan out. Max1m calls himself the “Alpha male” and makes a bunch of loud, frat boy hooting noises; Gaymer thinks he’s a douche. Samurai tries to crush 8-Bit Mickey’s bones under the guise of a hug, and then reveals he’s a voice actor before doing a pretty decent Kratos impression. Big Fazeek complains that everyone is too young, they don’t deserve this, and reiterates that he’s spent one million dollars on videogames and doesn’t leave his house.   

Soon, they’re ushered into the “Testing Lab,” a dingy warehouse where the show’s judges stand waiting to do what they do best — stand in judgement of these nuts. Brent Gocke, Senior Release Manager of Quality Insurance is back for another season, and Hal Sparks is replaced by America’s Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry. Each show will have a guest judge, and God of War III director Stig Assmussen is in the house for the opening ceremonies. TrippleThreat nearly passes out when she sees him, and the editors cut cut between her flipping out in slow motion and Stig smiling uncomfortably.   

We’re told over and over again that Curry is a big gamer herself, as she winks at the contestants. As Curry speaks, they cut between her and the women contestants, as if to form some kind of “girl gamer” kinship. At one point, we see a shot of Samurai, who is nonplussed, as if to say “I have stared at hours of Nariko wielding her heavenly sword; bring me a real woman.” Mo Chocolate, on the other hand, is star-struck, and he later mumbles something about the guy from The Brady Bunch being lucky.   

Curry then answers the question on everyone’s mind.   

“If you guys ever wondered what a model does when she retires and hangs up her stilettos,” Curry says, “[it’s] veg out in front of the television and play her PS3.”   

The show’s host, Meredith Molinari, drops the bomb: two contestants will go home this episode. The winner of today’s challenge — identifying Sony-related images as they’re revealed piece-by-piece — will also win a God of War III Ultimate Edition signed by Stig. Big Fazeek, who has one million dollars worth of games comments that he doesn’t need it because he has already has one million dollars worth of games.   

Who takes top honors this episode? Who gets sent home? We’ll have to tune in together, when the first episode hits PSN tomorrow, November 2. I don’t have any inside information, but my guess is that it won’t be Max1m, who couldn’t identify the game Heavy Rain after shown box art that said “Heavy Rain” on it.   

Yup, it’s gonna be that kind of season. 

Nick Chester