First Look: Jack of All Games

I came across something interesting today. The pilot for the concept show “Jack of All Games”, which stars Jamal Nickens, a gamer who has previously participated in two different TV shows where video games were front and center. The show needs some sanding down but I have to say I like the concept and this does has potential.

In JAG, four players compete against Jamal in games selected by the four contestants. In other words, you have not only bring it in your own game(s), you need to hold your own in the games the other players choose as well.

Unlike a certain popular video gaming show we all know, there are no crazy physical challenges and no alliances. All there is a simple points system to show where the players stand.

Just in case you are not blown away by the phenomenal gameplay, you have some very lively commentary with lines such as, “Brooke, you suck!” And of course you have Jamal’s signature trash talk, which is hard not to be amused by.

Now for the flaws. I think it was a mistake to describe the scoring and payouts so late into the show. It should have been announced at the start of the show, or no later than the second game. Also, hearing Jamal doing color commentary while seeing him play is quite awkward. Jamal’s commentary should have been saved for when Jamal is not playing.

I know this is just the pilot but JAG is has one hell of a concept that could explode in the right hands.  You heard it here first.

One response to “First Look: Jack of All Games

  1. As the main pre-production producer, you have legitimate points. Originally, I, Brian, aka Beast was supposed to be the host, but one contestant dropped out last minute. So I had to fill in last minute. By the way, I didn’t bring my favorite games, thinking I’d be host, I had to pick from Jamal’s games, and Jamal doesn’t have a Colecovision which would have been a few selections and I had 5 minutes to think of my games. That’s why I got a zero in my own game.

    Normally, I’d offer commentary on the games with Jeremy (the voice in the background, also in charge of production and post-production). Jamal probably would not comment from the studio on others’ game performances unless all players had the opportunity to watch everyone’s games, especially if it’s 1-player and you don’t know what opponents do.

    As for the explanation, I made 2 pilots made without Jeremy. The first time Jeremy was a contestant. The second time, Jamal scheduled a game without Jeremy, and I had to fill production and post-in as an emergency. I had it more of a game-show style where every episode we explain the rules at the beginning of the game. The few people who saw it, mostly sponsors, thought my version was terrible in terms of camerawork. But for those who were able to stick by and watch it, I had the game-show-as-a-story medium done right in terms of human drama and competition. Just poor camerawork made it look unwatchable. Finally, my editing of Jamal’s video was good enough to help Jamal win a spot on Life to the Power of X. And Jeremy said my version is good if you want a typical Youtube production that can fetch $50 a sponsor. But Jamal’s, Jeremy’s, and (when Jeremy convinced me he could do better) my expectations were higher.

    Now for some things you wouldn’t know by watching the Jeremy-involved production on YouTube. First contestants are told before they appear they bring 5 to 25 games of their choice. The more they bring, the more they win if they beat Jamal in either the main game or the bonus round. But the more games they have to be good at.

    Another thing you don’t know is that Jamal, unlike the American Gladiators which are house contestants who are just a yardstick to compare the contenders’ performance, or Ben Stein, the house contestant who has most of the questions in the categories in his favor, Jamal does not propose ANY of the games being played. He has to deal with whatever comes down the pike, and vote like that’s his only say. Yes, he is handicapping himself, so you have a decent chance of beating him. That’s his price to pay for being the everyday contestant, plus his ego wants it that way: to overcome harder challenges.

    One thing about the human drama I got better than Jeremy was showing the voting. Originally, the contestants and Jamal would be filmed and asked why they vote on the games they voted on. We’d show the top and bottom games they pick, and their reasons for picking them. Also we’d gauge their expectations quickly in a 5 second sound bite each, and a post game reaction show from each contestant.

    Contestants are encouraged to mix up their games, because if they pick all Xbox 360 FPS’s and you’re in the lead with you in catch-up distance, if someone other than Taylor’s game was last, (and the 3 other contestants aren’t FPS regular teammates who knew each other before hand,and weren’t conspiring against Jamal,) the other 2 would have picked the game that was least like Taylor’s games if he didn’t offer a variety in his games.

    Without disgracing myself by showing the good-for-a-90’s-public-access-show quality program, I’d to hear what you think about my comments, which agree mostly with yours.

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