We’re meant to remember the details. Where were you when you fell in love? When was it? What did you say?

Personally, I’m terrible at details. I’m good at big ideas, hopeless at the finer points. And my memory is generally shot to hell.

I can’t remember where I was when I first saw Consolevania (but I’m guessing I was at my flat), or what I was wearing, but I can remember how I felt. Elated. Finally, someone gets it. Someone has finally cracked how to do a show about games.

Note the lack of the letters “T” and “V” in there. This wasn’t an awkward fit between two mediums which traditionally haven’t gone well together. Consolevania didn’t need to pander to an audience which may or may not know what the fuck they’re talking about. They didn’t have to constantly reach for the lowest common denominator in order to prevent alienating anyone who mistakenly tuned in thinking it was a cookery programme. And they didn’t have to hold back with their choice of language – no sponsors to alienate, no watershed to adhere to, no guidelines to follow; they made the show the way they wanted to, and trusted the audience to recognise they were joking (when they were actually joking). Especially with John Wayne Gacy and Hitler.

The show was originally distributed through CDs in the post to forumites who were interested; later on it was available for download on the net. The show’s fans would post links on their favourite forums, and the show probably got as many fans as it could ever get. There’s only so far a show hosted by Glaswegians without subtitles was ever going to go.

Consolevania was the antithesis to Game Trailers, or IGN, or Official XNinteSonyBox Magazine. Consolevania was personal. The show was filmed in Glasgow, their home city. Most of it was filmed in their homes. The sketches were even more charming due to the way the props were all taken from stuff they had round the house; End of Level Boss‘s outfit was cardboard boxes, a pair of sunglasses and a hard hat, Decision Commander looked infinitely French with the addition of a flat cap, and Hitler‘s lop-sided wig and sticky tape moustache just added to the silliness. The microphone used for the first two series was a little tie clip microphone taped to a folded-up coat hanger. The reviews were mostly done by holding a video camera up to a CRT TV with a game running on it and talking over the footage.

So far, so Bits on the cheap. Where it differed was with the hosts. Rab and Ryan cared. They weren’t awkwardly trying to match a TV show format with reviews and features – they’d often take the reviews or the sketches to weird and wonderful places, rarely relying on a given format. They weren’t hired to feign interest in geekery – they were gamers through and through, and genuinely cared. They made Consolevania a show which celebrated and respected games, the people that made them (although asking Rare and Codemasters out for a fight might suggest otherwise), and the history of games. If they gave a game a scathing review, they’d usually recommend an alternative, or point the viewer in the direction of an earlier game which went in a similar and more successful direction.

And here’s the regret. I want more. Rab’s gone on to write and perform in TV shows (Burnistoun was ace), I’m assuming Ryan is sitting around in his pants and trying to avoid the inevitable daily beating from Kenny. I know Consolevania only died last year after five years of quality, but no-one else is doing a show as charming and funny as the one they made. No-one is putting passion into it in the way they did. No-one has really tried.

No-one has called Rare or Codemasters out since.


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