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X-Play
New-xplay2008II.png
Current X-Play Logo
Format Video game
Sketch comedy
Starring Adam Sessler (1998–)
Morgan Webb (2003- )
Kristin Adams (2008–)
Blair Herter (2008–)
Kate Botello (1999-2002)
Lauren Fielder (1998–1999)
Country of origin USA
No. of episodes 1,000 (as of February 1, 2010)
Production
Running time approximately 22 minutes (without commercials)
Broadcast
Original channel ZDTV (1998-2001)
TechTV (2001-2004)
G4techTV (2004-2005)
G4 (2005-present)
Original run 1998 – present
External links
Official website

X-Play (previously GameSpot TV and Extended Play) is a TV program about video games, known for its reviews and comedy skits. The program airs on G4 in the United States, G4 Canada in Canada, FUEL TV in Australia, Ego in Israel, GXT in Italy, MTV Россия in Russia and Maxxx in the Philippines.

The show is hosted by Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb, with Blair Herter and Kristin Adams serving as special correspondents/co-hosts. Sessler is the original host of the program; he has co-hosted in the past with Lauren Fielder and Kate Botello.

X-Play began on the ZDTV network in 1998 as GameSpot TV, where Sessler co-hosted with Fielder for the show's first year, then co-hosted with Botello up through 2002 (the producers of ZDTV originally had plans to air a video-game program when the channel launched called Extended Play that would be hosted by Simon Rex [1]; however, when an agreement was reached with the makers of the newly-created GameSpot website, plans for the original show's format were scrapped in favor of a GameSpot-branded program, and Rex was dropped as host).

The show assumed the previously rejected Extended Play moniker in 2001 after ZDTV changed to TechTV and the partnership with Ziff Davis' GameSpot ended. Botello left in early 2002, and Sessler hosted the show by himself up until April 2003, when Webb joined the cast and the show was renamed X-Play.

After the merger of TechTV and G4 in May 2004, X-Play became the only original program from either network to survive intact, and is now one of the highest-rated shows to air on the channel.[2]

Contents

History

GameSpot TV, Extended Play, and X-Play all originated in San Francisco, California. Throughout the course of the show's history, it has gone through numerous changes, in more than just name.

GameSpot TV

In the days of GameSpot TV, the show was filmed on a simple ZDTV studio set consisting of faux-brick walls, randomly positioned TV monitors, and functioning Gauntlet Legends and Rival Schools arcade game cabinets. For the occasional special episode, filming would move off-site to another location, such as the Sony Metreon arcade, and numerous game conventions such as the Classic Gaming Expo and E3. Each episode would start off with Game News, where Sessler or Fielder would give a brief overview of top news stories featured on the GameSpot website. Game reviews were run in a segment known as The Grill (games were graded on GameSpot's official 0.1-10.0 system), Spotlight showcased special content such as interviews with industry leaders, and Game Breakers featured strategy guides and hints for recently released games. New episodes would debut on weekend mornings at 10:00 a.m. EST.

Extended Play

When GameSpot TV converted to Extended Play, the show moved entirely to the Metreon, and took on a very simple style and format. Filming consisted of co-hosts Sessler and Botello and a small single camera crew; the show featured strictly game reviews and game hints, and the 10-point grading system changed to a 5-point system. New episodes debuted once a week at 9:00 p.m. EST. Like GameSpot TV, certain special episodes would be filmed elsewhere. In August 2002, the series became a daily program with a mix of repeats and first-run episodes airing Monday-Friday at 4:00 p.m. EST, with Friday episodes remaining in the 9:00 p.m. timeslot. After the departure of Botello, Sessler continued to host at the Metreon by himself, until the change to X-Play in April 2003.

X-Play San Francisco

When X-Play debuted on April 28, 2003 [3] the show moved back to the TechTV studios from the Metreon, and Morgan Webb came onboard as co-host, leaving her previous hosting duties on TechTV's The Screen Savers and Call for Help. X-Play had a larger scale than that of Extended Play, but it still maintained an extremely simple and spartan style. Filming was done in TechTV's Studio A, home to the sets of Call For Help, Fresh Gear, and TechLive. The filming setup was increased to three cameras; a main floor camera, a Jibcam for high angle shots, and a black-and-white handheld DV camera, which would be cut to suddenly and intermittently throughout episodes.

X-Play's primary set consisted of a single couch, coffee table and television (with working game consoles) positioned in the middle of the large studio floor, but hosts Sessler and Webb would migrate around various areas of the studio, normally not even going to their actual set until the end of the program. Each episode would typically conclude with Sessler and Webb playing one of the consoles on the TV. The show's format consisted primarily of game reviews and previews (with some previews being conducted as live in-studio demos by Morgan and Adam), with an occasional game-related sketch thrown in for comedic value.

The Disembodied Voice was also introduced to the show at this phase in its history. This unseen announcer would begin each episode with an often over-the-top introduction to which the hosts usually responded or commented (these comments varied widely, ranging from total non-sequiturs to Gilbert and Sullivan references to current events, along with viewer-submitted intros taken from the show's web forums).

Unlike its predecessors, X-Play had more of an edge, containing some adult language and more mature (sometimes controversial) subject matter. As a result, it was paired in a programming block with the network's other new show, Unscrewed with Martin Sargent. X-Play originally ran new episodes five nights a week at 11:30 p.m. EST, but it was moved up to 11:00 EST soon after.

Many of the episodes created during this time period now air on the G4 Rewind block of "retro" programming.

X-Play Los Angeles

Comcast purchased TechTV in May 2004 and merged it with its G4 network, necessitating a move for X-Play's base of operations from San Francisco to G4's Santa Monica studios.

The new set designed for the show resembled a lounge - or "rumpus room" - where the hosts could sit around while discussing their latest reviews (during the 400th episode, which originally aired on May 8, 2006, all chairs were removed from the set so that Adam and Morgan had to stand throughout the duration of each episode).

While originally maintaining its late-night time slot, new episodes were eventually moved to 4:00 p.m. EST in the afternoons (usually airing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays) starting on April 10, 2006. This changed to 3:00 p.m. EST on September 5, 2006, before X-Play returned to prime-time on November 6 of the same year, to their current 8:00 p.m. EST timeslot.

On March 4, 2007, it was announced that the G4 Studios in Santa Monica would close on April 15. Production of G4 programs was relocated to the Studios of the E! Television Network situated elsewhere in the Los Angeles area. As a consequence, there were new sets designed for X-Play, and many G4 employees involved in production were laid off.[4]

The E! Building's set was smaller than the Santa Monica studio, thus some aspects of the studio had to be shrunk down. The X-Play logo was retro-fitted to sit above the stage on the right-hand side of the set, with curtains surrounding the entirety of the space to create a sense of intimacy; a large flat-screen monitor was also placed in the background, and several small decorative glass balls were strategically placed around various spots on the floor (Adam and Morgan would often joke of their fear that they would trip over one of these balls and hurt themselves). During video-game analysis and viewer mail segments, Sessler and Webb would sit in orange recliner chairs as they debated over the issue at hand.

X-Play Expands

On January 14, 2008, the G4 network commenced with a complete overhaul to the show's entire format, branding the move as X-Play "jumping to the next level"[5].

Both Adam[6] and Morgan[7] have stated that this new format represents "the type of show that they've always wanted X-Play to be", whereby a strict focus on game reviews was replaced with a broader range of topics relating to the video-game field (including more in-depth gaming news, first looks at game demos, and game cheat-codes/strategies with Kristin Adams twice a week).

The set was once again refurbished to coincide with the change, as the studio now has blue-tinged walls covered with several flat-screen monitors, and a giant orange X-Play logo (also newly redesigned for the relaunch) covering the floor. In addition, G4 took advantage of the new set and show format by expanding X-Play's schedule in order to air new episodes five days a week.

However, economic factors forced G4 to contract X-Play's schedule back down to only three original episodes per week, starting on March 2, 2009; in addition, the show's timeslot was moved out of prime-time to 6:30 p.m. EST (although reruns still air at 8 o'clock) and a number of X-Play staff members were laid off[8].

X-Play XL

In December 2008, the show aired X-Large one-hour episodes every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.[9] According to G4 television president Neil Tiles,[10] this was an experimental change with the possibility of having all episodes run 60 minutes long sometime in the future where new segments were incorporated to see if X-Play could "go deeper than the current half hour show allows." Tiles also stated that the writers will be looking to add "more comedy" back into the program "as requested."

1,000th Episode

On February 1, 2010 X-Play aired its 1,000th episode; to commemorate this television milestone, G4TV featured a 6-hour marathon containing favorite episodes of the series, leading up to the premiere of the actual new episode.

Reviews

The video game reviews on X-Play use a five-point rating scale, based on such factors as graphics, sound, gameplay, and playability (i.e. replay value). On X-Play's original TechTV homepage,[11] the ratings system was broken down in the following way:

  • 1 - Hated it. Do not buy this game. Not even worth the bargain bin. Run from it. Escape!! Escape!!
  • 2 - Alright. These games are fun, with some good points, but nothing special. There's definitely a few specific things holding this game back. Wait until the price comes down or pick it up as [a] renter to check out some of the things it does right.
  • 3 - Good. Fun to play, pretty solid titles, with a few minor flaws. Most games will probably fall into this category. They're the games that if you like the genre, or liked other similar titles, you might consider giving it a good look. Otherwise, you might not be into it.
  • 4 - Very good. Games that are at the top of all our lists, but are missing that strange intangible aura of perfection, and unfortunately that's keeping them from getting in the realm of the almighty five.
  • 5 - Near perfect/perfect. If you're a true player, these games will undoubtedly be in your collection, or at the very least you'll have played them until the cartridges and CDs melted. If a game gets a 5, and you like the genre, you should buy.

In a 2007 episode billed as a "primer on our scoring system",[12] Adam and Morgan further elaborated on their ratings scale:

  • A score of 1 is a game that "has to produce true crappiness, [through] the full cooperation of an entire development team - level designers taking off early to attend their children's soccer games, animators getting so high during their lunchbreak that they can't operate their mouse, and of course money hungry execs who will release anything if they can dupe kids into begging their moms for it."
Example Given: 50 Cent: Bulletproof
  • A score of 2 "is such a difficult score to give, because it requires a game that fundamentally fails, but has a barely redeeming charm which makes it untenable to give a 1; it's that Suddenly Susan cocktail of technical competence floated atop a pile of dreck."
Example Given: Genji: Days of the Blade
  • There are different levels to a score of 3 - "there's the 3 that's a mix of very good and very bad elements (like Blood Will Tell) or 3's that have a great concept that's poorly executed (like Railroads!), and then there's those 3's that are just churned out because they know people will buy them even though there's nothing original in it (like every FIFA game ever)."
Example Given: Sid Meier's Railroads!
  • "There are really two kinds of games that get 4's regularly: these are great games with significant problems (like Dead Rising) and games that are amazing but just aren't suited for everyone (the Warhammer: Dark Crusade expansion or any of the Sims expansions are good examples)."
Example Given: Dead Rising
  • Titles that earn a perfect 5 out of 5 are "those magnificent games which, whatever minor flaws they may have, call out to us and say, 'Buy me, you must buy me' ... "
Example Given: Ōkami

During this episode, the hosts also explained why they use a 5-point ratings system, rather than a 10- or even 100-point scale:

Morgan: Our system is better because it recognizes that scores are broad generalizations.

Adam: For example, a popular web site gave Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire a score of 3.0 out of 10. They gave Torino 2006 a 3.9. What is the difference?

Morgan: Both games suck, all the score is gonna be able to communicate to you is that the game is bad. If you want more nuance on the suckage, you have to actually go and read the review. See, in a 10-point scale, everything under 5 just means 'this game ain't worth buying', so there's no real difference.

Adam: And there's no real nuance to a score difference of two- or three-tenths of a point. Our scores at least give sweeping generalizations for you to use as a guide.

Sketches and segments

Various recurring segments and comedy skits have been used throughout the show's history by the X-Play writers.

Recurring characters

X-Play has amassed a large group of fictional characters that will appear from time to time, often to bring some humor during game reviews.

Interns

X-Play has its own cast of interns (students from local universities who have signed up with G4 to gain valuable work experience in the television production field), who will sometimes appear as characters on the show. When appearing on camera, they are commonly outfitted in a white undershirt with the word INTERN scrawled across the chest in black Sharpie.

Their roles are not relegated to simply being on-screen comic relief, as the interns are accountable for much of the game footage used during reviews/previews. X-Play interns also play a role in other behind-the-scenes work on the show's set; some of the former interns have eventually been hired full-time within the G4 company itself. Examples include Leticia Caparaz (the first intern to be offered a full-time position in 1999 as a Production Assistant and later the program's Web Producer, before leaving the company in June 2004 as a result of the G4/TechTV merger), Jason Frankovitz (he would leave the show in early 2005), Albert Iskander (who has worked as a Production Assistant for G4's Video Game Vixens and G4tv.com), Gene Yraola (now a part of G4's Games Editorial Department, the liaison between the shows and the actual software/hardware companies), Eric Acasio (a production assistant for X-Play) and Emily Mollenkopf (hired as a production assistant on Attack of the Show in 2006).

A near-complete list of interns who have worked on the show follows:

  • From San Francisco, California: Leticia Caparaz, Jason Frankovitz, Scott Humphrey, Chris Ivarson, Matt Ketterer, Desiree Peel, Jana Suverkropp, Kevin Theobald, Blake Yoshiura, and Kevin Yuen.
  • From Los Angeles, California: , Eric Acasio, Russ Brock, Steve Dutzy, Brian Flores, Albert Iskander, Isaac Gelman, Kenny, Megan, Emily Mollenkopf, Geoff Pinkus, Stephan, Alex Villegas, Chuck Wilkerson, Chris Wilson, Gene Yraola, Rob Yeager, and Daniel Powley

The Screaming Intern (played by Robert Manuel), is actually not a true intern, but instead is an editorial coordinator for the show.[13]

Guest appearances

When X-Play was still a part of TechTV, personalities from other shows on the network would often make guest appearances (including Leo Laporte, Yoshi DeHerrera, and Unscrewed's Martin Sargent and Laura Swisher). This continued after the merger with G4, with Attack of the Show! co-host Kevin Pereira and G4tv.com's Tina Wood.

Talent from other shows within the network have also been used in the role of temporary guest co-hosts; Blair Butler, Julie Stoffer, and Kristin Adams have been seen to substitute for both Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb when they were unavailable.

X-Play has also had pseudo-celebrities that are not affiliated with G4 (such as Tony Little, Kato Kaelin, and Rip Taylor) appear on the show.

Hatred

There have been several gaming titles/genres/trends over the years which co-hosts Adam and Morgan have displayed an exaggerated sense of "hatred" towards (often playing up their dislike for the cameras in order to make for humorous television)[14]. These include:

  • Card battle games such as Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • Games based on anime series (particularly Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, and Fullmetal Alchemist)
  • "Ungodly boob physics", where female video-game characters are rendered with impossibly large breasts that bounce and sway unnaturally and independently from the rest of their bodies (this phenomenon is particularly prevalent in Japanese dating simulation games like Sexy Beach 2)
  • Game series which continue to produce titles despite a lack of quality and/or innovation (such as Dynasty Warriors, Mega Man, Sonic the Hedgehog, Leisure Suit Larry, and Tony Hawk)
  • The proliferation of WWII first-person shooter games on the market (during their review of Moscow to Berlin: Red Siege, Morgan remarked "That's it! No more World War II games! According to my contract, I only have to review 75 World War II games per year, and I already hit my quota in March!")
  • Video games based on existing IPs (like current movies or TV shows), since they are usually rushed to the market to cash in on the latest craze and end up being painful to actually play (such as the Charlie's Angels or Da Vinci Code video games)
  • 3D water levels in games, since the show's writers feel that game developers almost never capture the feeling of swimming in an enjoyable manner ("Instead of making us awkwardly pilot our character through zero-gravity space, why don't you just come to our house and punch us in the face? It's exactly the same amount of fun!")
  • Escort missions, where the player is forced to keep an NPC character (who has its own health meter) from dying; this often proves difficult when the NPC's A.I. is so insufficient that they continuously place themselves in harm's way (leaving the player with little or no chance to save them)
  • Barbie Horse Adventures: Wild Horse Rescue (Morgan has often called this the worst game ever made)
  • Jonny Moseley and the ridiculous comments made in his video game Jonny Moseley Mad Trix (including the classic line "What if it snowed in San Francisco?")
  • Dane Cook and his brand of comedy
  • Uwe Boll and his film adaptions of video games
  • Shovelware for the Nintendo Wii, like All Star Cheer Squad and "Crappy Minigame Collection No. 272"
  • Developers who feel the need to take a perfectly acceptable single-player game and tack on a multiplayer mode
  • Sixaxis controls in PS3 games
  • 3D Castlevania games
  • Level grinding in role-playing games

Physical abuse on set

For comedic purposes, the X-Play writers have often portrayed the show as an exceedingly violent working environment; when Adam and/or Morgan aren't being depicted as "putting the interns in harm's way," Morgan often appears to be the one abusing her co-host directly.

This "violent" dynamic has manifested itself in various forms, from simple slaps and punches directed towards Adam (whenever the writers want to make it seem as if he has somehow offended or annoyed Morgan), to more exaggerated actions (like landing several blows upon Adam's person with a baseball bat during X-Play's mockumentary on the history of violence in video games).

Self-humiliation

Adam Sessler uses a self-deprecating form of humor, in which he allows himself to be the object of ridicule and derision. He does this by pointing out several supposed faults within his character, such as a lack of purpose in his life, poor educational/social status, male pattern baldness, bad luck with women, and an unhealthy fudge obsession.

Adam will also engage in physical comedy at the expense of his own dignity: past examples include dressing in women's clothing (like a yellow cheerleader's uniform or the skimpy outfit Morgan wore during her Maxim photo-shoot), stapling himself in the crotch, and hitting himself in the head with a hammer.

Online content

The producers of X-Play have used a number of internet-driven initiatives to engage the show's technologically-saavy audience.

The X-Play Boards

Adam and Morgan have often been the subject of numerous negative comments (including "Morgan's not really a gamer!" and "Sessler doesn't know gaming because he hates Final Fantasy!") through the show's official message board. The vitriol spewed forth on the forums has become so well-documented that the X-Play staff even produced a "music video" dedicated to the message board's denizens entitled On the X-Play Boards (MP3 format).

The song was written and performed by Marque Phahee and the Bling Dongs (in reality X-Play segment producer Mark Fahey playing an acoustic guitar), featuring the X-Play After School Choir (composed of Morgan, Adam and various recurring X-Play characters). It is also supposed to be the lead track from the X-Play: The Musical motion picture soundtrack (even though X-Play eventually created an actual all-musical episode which made no mention of On the X-Play Boards).

Chat

When X-Play was still a part of TechTV, the show would host an online chat every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. EST. After the merger with G4, X-Play's official IRC chat room was re-designed by Philippe Detournay and Raphael Seeqmuller using the PJIRC chat client.

On November 6, 2006 (to coincide with the show's move to prime time[15]), the G4 network integrated X-Play's chat feature into the actual broadcast of each new episode. Using an idea similar to their production of Star Trek 2.0, a window covering the bottom half of the screen would pop up during reviews and display messages typed out by G4 users on X-Play's official web site in "real-time" (with moderation for broadcast standards to avert profanity and other inappropriate responses). The presentation of the X-Play chat function was later redesigned for the show's 2008 reformatting, so that chat messages would display on the left-hand side of the screen during a review.

Twitter

The interactive chat feature was abandoned in late 2009, in order to take advantage of the increasing popularity of the micro-blogging site Twitter. The show's producers now present X-Play viewers with a question relevant to the day's news/reviews via their official Twitter feed, then display the resulting answers during that night's episode through a scrolling ticker on the bottom portion of the screen.

X-Play: The Online Game

X-Play: The Online Game is a short Flash game created by the San Francisco-based company Orange Design (graphics and audio by Sean Talley, programming by Fearghal O'Dea).

The brief intro sequence begins in the fictitious X-Play Labs (which made an appearance on the show during the X-Play X-Plentions skit), where Morgan is about to put the finishing touches on the X-Play online game. An excited Adam asks if the game can have "fudge zombies and stealthy ninjas and drunken pirates and radioactive Dik-diks", then haphazardly presses a large red button which "digitizes physical matter and materializes digital matter"; this causes all of the bad guys from the X-Play video game to escape (much to Morgan's chagrin).

Once the game begins, players can choose from big-headed versions of either Adam (whose main weapon is Slippy the Fish) or Morgan (whose main weapon is her fists), and battle their way through a few continuously repeating levels of action. Controls comprise of the arrow keys for movement, the "A" key to punch, and the "S" key to kick.

The game is no longer available on G4's website, but a mirror site can be found via Orange Design's online company portfolio.

Daily Video Podcast

On November 11, 2005, G4 started offering X-Play segments (reviews, skits, etc.) for free in podcast form via their website and the iTunes store, giving viewers the opportunity to watch segments on-demand with their computers and portable devices. These podcasts have since become available through other podcatcher software (such as the Zune Marketplace) as well.

Adam and Morgan would often direct the viewers to download these podcasts during the broadcast (for comedic purposes, Sessler would demand that X-Play must end up getting more downloads than his "bitter rival" The Dog Whisperer).

X-Play Weekly

On August 14, 2008, a special weekly wrap-up show called X-Play Weekly was made available for download on the Xbox LIVE Video Store,[16] allowing Xbox 360 owners to view highlights from the previous week's episodes for 160 Microsoft Points ($2 US).

Beginning the week of June 15, 2009, X-Play Weekly was also made available for download through the Playstation Network, also at $2 per weekly program.

Sessler's Soapbox

A short 5-7 minute editorial segment which debuted on the G4 website on August 3, 2007 (and usually comes out with a new episode every Tuesday), Sessler's Soapbox is a vodcast where Adam offers his opinion on various gaming subjects in more detail than can usually be offered within the television show.

Feedback

In September 2009, G4TV.com rebranded its Feed Nightcap vodcast (a web spinoff of the Attack of the Show segment "The Feed") with the new title Feedback. This weekly segment is usually hosted by Adam Sessler and features a rotating panel of co-hosts drawn from X-Play's editorial staff. The show's stated goal is to deliver "intelligent, informative, and very very humorous discussion about games" by reviewing current news stories as well as answering viewer questions, and is filmed via a roundtable format in G4's audio recording studio. Even though the show could be considered an extension of the AOTS brand, all of the content for the program is drawn from and presented by X-Play staff.

Book

On October 22, 2004, TechTV (in association with Peachpit Press) published the book The X-Play Insider's Guide to Gaming: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Video Games From G4techTV's Brutally Honest Experts. Written by Marc Saltzman (along with the X-Play Cast) and weighing in at a hefty 468 pages, the book contains game reviews, cheat codes, and Q&A sessions with the cast and crew. Adam and Morgan even went on a nation-wide book-signing tour to help promote their literary endeavor.

Copies of the book can be found everywhere from the Brooklyn Public Library to the University of Hong Kong.[17]

References

External links


Gaming

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

X-play is a game review show. Hosts are Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb. Morgan was previously on The Screen Savers. Reviews are based on a 1 to 5 star scale. 1 star being very bad and 5 stars being very good. Largely the reviews have about as much information about the reviewed game as a four or five sentence paragraph. The rest of the time is spent on skits and stabs at gaming humor. While some find this funny others find it to be very dry humor.

Morgan Webb
I don't know why but I had to use this picture
Adam Sessler
um hmm again

X-Play game ratings

External Links

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