"This is television, my friend. The big time. The hoo-rah. You've made it. And it's all because of those videogames."

Wow, thanks -

"Here's the deal. You play games. You write. You get paid. You get your name - but not your face, god help me; there's a shiver down my spine, sorry - up in lights. Sound good?"

What do I write about?

"How freakin' awesomely great the games are, of course!"

Which games?

"All of them."

All of them?

"All of them. Let's roll!"

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I didn't know what to expect from my brief affair with television, but I knew it wouldn't all be long walks on the beach and playing kissy-face. For a start, I've known television my whole life. I've suckled the great glass teat since I was a toddler, and TV has entertained - or at least occupied - many hours since. Climbing into bed with the boob tube sounded a little incestuous.

Videogames in the mix only complicated things. Would everyone get along? Would jealousy, greed and grim evolution make a lasting relationship impossible? On this week's episode of Colin, we find out. And I tell you this as a preview: Working on a TV show about videogames is like dating your cousin and your aunt and your toaster all at the same time. It's no country for the innocent. And you get royally, metallically screwed with your pants on.

Let's roll the tape.

***

Five years ago, in late 2003, the view from the New Zealand TV industry was a good one. Broadcast television, as it always had, attracted more advertising dollars than any other form of entertainment. And why shouldn't it? After all, television provides hours of quality entertainment, stylish news coverage and glamorous yet down-to-earth people. Who wouldn't want to be part of that?

Videogames, on the other hand, were kid's stuff. X-stations and Playboxes were a mighty fine bunch of toys, great for 10-year-olds or maybe those lousy misanthrope teenagers and man-children. But surely anyone in their right mind would rather watch Survivor or calcium blonde newsreaders.

There had never been a New Zealand TV show dedicated to videogames. We didn't get TechTV or G4. The UK's Gamer.tv was only available through a paid subscription. So a smart young producer with a good track record grabbed Gamer.tv clips, made the rounds of the PR companies and pitched a Saturday afternoon half-hour long show. It'd be cheap to produce. Easy to sponsor. The kids would lap it up. We might even get some glamorous yet down-to-earth people to front it. Drag up some poor sucker who can crank out reviews.

The bottom line is that videogames on TV are a profitable proposition.

The money people agreed with him. Green lit it for 10 weekly episodes of Screenshot TV. Found a cute young music presenter as host and a well-known NZ actor to do guest spots.

Yup, TV was sittin' pretty. And those videogame kids had damn well better be grateful for this Screenshot opportunity ...

***

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