The year is 1992 and I’m a teenage boy who spends way too much time playing videogames on my Commodore Amiga 500 and Super Nintendo. At the time, I didn’t watch much TV; with only 4 channels to view and with numerous games at my disposal, I had little use for the latest episode of Baywatch, no matter how much I adored Erika Eleniak.
But then things changed. British broadcaster Channel 4 hit upon the idea to put gaming on TV in a format familiar to the people playing the games – the magazine show. Each week, the host Dominik Diammond, would present a series of gaming challenges, reviews, tips & cheats and a feature, all in a half-hour episode. To give the show more gravitas they hired the venerable Sir Patrick Moore to act as the titular “Gamesmaster”, a character who was part man, part machine. The show also featured celebrities each week who were often terrible at the games they tried to play.
This new show immediately peaked my interest and I watched every week for the 7 seasons that the show aired, right through to 1998. Years later, I still think of Gamesmaster, and ponder what the show might look like if it were made today. Judging by the first episode (below), probably not much different. Super Mario Bros. 3 would be replaced with New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, the soccer game of choice would now be the latest FIFA iteration and it shouldn’t be too hard to replace Mad Dog McCree with the latest arcade shooter! And of course, Nintendo still dominate with handhelds so the feature about modding the Gameboy is easily transposed to use the 3DS.
For me, Gamesmaster was a classic show, and now I’ve rediscovered it on YouTube, I’ll be re-watching it like the teenager that I once was!