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Gazette TV: Video Game High School Web Series Review

Created by a team that includes YouTube’s Freddie Wong the Kickstarter funded web series takes present day gaming culture and pours it into a futuristic setting where gaming tournaments have replaced sporting events as the entertainment of the masses and their champions are A-list celebrities and media darlings.

SFX

The setting is extremely well realised; the effects blend effortlessly into the background and provide a sense of place without overwhelming the plot.

The show isn’t afraid to have a bit of fun with it though; a certain hovering tandem bike comes to mind.

Perhaps the most important use of FX is in the realisation of in game environments and again nothing is overplayed. There’s just enough used to maintain the feeling of being inside a virtual environment without undermining the grittiness of the combat.

It allows the viewer to feel involved and prevents them from becoming disengaged from the in-game fate of the characters.

Characters

So far the main character, Brian D, has differed little from the archetypal hero and it remains to be seen whether his character can be developed beyond that of the stereotypical, lovable underdog.

So far the series seems to have focused more on his relationships with other characters, his reactions to events and how he’s adapting to life at VGHS. That doesn’t leave a massive amount of room for character development.

Ki Swan

However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some stellar acting and good character writing going on here.

The character of Ki Swan (played by Ellary Porterfield) stands out in particular. Her deadpan realism and almost complete inability to judge the tone and context of social situations cuts through a lot of the corny dialogue and paper thin cool guy affectations that Brian and Ted try to hide behind.

She’s both the linchpin and the foil in the friendship and somehow manages to stand out while being probably the least developed character of the three so far (though a fair chunk of this is probably attributable to the outstanding acting of Porterfield).

Youtube musician Jimmy Wong plays Ted, the son of his older brother Freddie Wong’s character and best friend to Ki and Brian D.

A lot of the characters development is built upon his relationship with his stereotypically juvenile professional gamer father.

It’s another thing that I really like about this show; it spares no blushes when it comes to the less pleasant side to gaming culture. Something which could be seen as risky when most of your audience are gamers themselves.

Comedy

A large proportition of the comedic factor in the series is derived from the timely use of larger than life side characters and the ways in which they interact with the main trio.

Drift King, the headmaster and various other minor characters are used to provide a comedic base and to give a sense of the various gaming communities that exist within the high school.

What this also does is take a lot of the impetus off of the main characters to be constantly providing humour.

It allows them to be a lot more subtle in the ways that they’re funny and gives them breathing space to develop properly as characters.

^ The Drift King, probably the most hilarious of VGHS’s side characters

Pay Off

What’s best about this series however is that it’s managed to expand beyond a simple parody of gaming culture and become a genuinely good show in its own right.

I think this has a lot to do with the very carefully blended mix of plot and character driven writing in the show. It’s a hard balance to strike if you want to simultaneously reach the widest audience possible and continue to drive forward with a dynamic and changing story arc.

VGHS nails it.

You come for the slightly off the wall humour and the FPS sudden death matches and before you know it you end up genuinely caring about the characters and the story lines. 

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