Channel 4's latest computer games show, Thumb Bandits, aired for the first time on Friday evening, and has received mixed responses from gamers.
The show, which replaces the popular Bits series, is presented by Iain Lee and Aleks Krotowski, but the inclusion of Iain Lee has made a number of viewers feel that it's got too much of satire like the 11 O'clock Show. However others have said they thought he was great, and made the show funny - we thought it was meant to be a games show, and not a comedy show, though?
Other complaints from gamers that we spoke to included the fact that there were errors in facts such as that Starfox was a Japanese Gamecube launch title, Iain Lee messing up and garbling some of his words, and also the fact that there was a lack of in-game footage, which caused gamers on the Channel 4 forums to call for the return of "Bits".
A Channel 4 spokesman told us "Thumb Bandits isn't meant to be like Bits, it's meant to be different, and is the one stop shop for everything you need to know about gaming". When asked about the criticism on the official Thumb Bandits forum about Iain Lee, he commented "Iain Lee had previously presented the games show Thumb Candy and has a strong interest in computer gaming, anyone who had seen that program will know that he is completely qualified to talk about games, as is Aleks."
Another part of the show which appeared to irritate gamers that we spoke to, was a feature where a boy who appeared to be around 12 years old was talking about "strat games" (which he insisted to call strat games, and not strategy games), and how they weren't socially accepted - sadly though, he admitted to never even playing a "strat game" before, and asked fairly stupid questions to the gamers who were taking part in the Sudden Strike UK Championships at The Playing Fields in London.
Quite how the use of someone who appeared to have no knowledge of the subject was beneficial to making such strategy games socially acceptable baffles us, along with what appears to be quite a few other viewers of the program. Really it just seemed to do more harm to gaming in general, and could easily be seen by some of the un-knowing mainstream media as another excuse to label gaming as a "kids thing" and to not take it seriously - not what the games industry needs at the moment.
Computer game shows have yet to been seen as exactly what gamers are after, and TV companies face some hard choices when it comes to producing a programme which will be both entertaining and informative, whilst not being seen as geeky, and not aimed at "casual gamers" who don't mind getting fed any old rubbish and simply accepting it.
There are six shows in the series, each filmed about a week before being aired, with the second one on Channel 4 this Friday (23rd of November) at 11:55pm - make a note of the time and date now, and judge for yourself. The official Thumb Bandits website and forums can be found at channel4.com/thumbbandits.