The Top 10 Best Portrayals of Gamers on Television

The Top 10 Best Portrayals of Gamers on Television

Though pop culture is packed with terrible video game stereotypes, there are good portrayals of gaming and gamers, too.

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A shame you put the #1 entry in the banner so it was obvious who was going to be at the top.

Though I probably would have guessed it anyway, come to think of it.

I'd add Parker Lewis Can't Lose to the list. The main character was cool, relaxed and awesome, and him and his friends stewed in 90s pop culture which of course included video games (SEGA AND NINTENDO). One episode even had an upbeat and surprisingly profound take on videogame addiction.

What's this? Once again Bob ignores the glories of Spaced? He ignores the greatness of Tim Bisley?

How in the 9 hells do you make a list like this without including Tim? Essentially an "every man" 20-something late 90's- early 2000's geek. He worked in a comic shop, enters Robot Wars, Plays Videogames, casually references nerd material, but these references are never played for specific laughs (unless it's for a particular pastiche). He's not displayed as weird, strange, mal-adjusted. He is the simple every gamer.

Can't help but feel that once again Bob's own American Imperialism is at play: "STOP ERASING MAH CULTURE MAN!"

In all seriousness, I asked him on Twitter and he said if it was a top 11-12, which fair enough I guess the importance of the Character is down-played heavily if you're not a late 20's - early 30's British pop culture aficionado.

Digital Estate Planning is by far my favorite Community episode, and that's saying a lot, considering its my favorite show. I cannot wait for season 6 to start.

Fun fact: the actual killer in "Care" was played by Carries mom in the original film Carrie.

And yeah, that was a great episode of SVU.

Keith David explains how a Donkey Kong cabinet works - there's just something so simplistically beautiful about that, like watching a sunset.

JonSherwell:
Digital Estate Planning is by far my favorite Community episode, and that's saying a lot, considering its my favorite show. I cannot wait for season 6 to start.

Cannot agree with you more! Although I do miss Troy an awful lot. :(

Gah! That shot of Clarissa Explains It All is so 90's it hurts!

I took a shot at The Big Bang Theory last week, which I feel was wholly justified by virtue of The Big Bang Theory being a cancerous cultural polyp made vaguely less noxious only when Wil Wheaton turns up.

Tell us how you really feel ;) Also, I'm sad Felicia Day's character from supernatural didn't make the list.

It was my wife who reminded me last year that Clarissa Darling was the first positive gaming role-model she had. Her family didn't encourage gaming as a positive use of the family television, but seeing seeing Clarissa building her own games, she thought that games looked like a pretty kick-ass hobby.

I'm partial to the "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?"

JMac85:
Gah! That shot of Clarissa Explains It All is so 90's it hurts!

That was my exact first thought.

OP: Most of these were before my time, but it was an entertaining read anyways.

I can't watch the Futurama Space Invaders scene any more without thinking about the massive shoutout it got in the Chuck episode Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer.

Then I can't look at this list without wondering where Chuck Bartowski is.

Watch more Chuck

No mention for Frank Underwood? A pity. He really plays into the fact that gaming is essentially nothing more than teaching you systems and then how to beat them or master them. Don't know most/almost all of the above references, but I think the gaming-as-empowerment gets a one-sided view a lot of the time. There's no real learning to succeed or dominate in the broader world in the media portrayals, except for chess, which any master of strategy apparently knows intimately.

A shout-out for Community?

Woop woop! \^_^/

EinSoph:
No mention for Frank Underwood? A pity. He really plays into the fact that gaming is essentially nothing more than teaching you systems and then how to beat them or master them. Don't know most/almost all of the above references, but I think the gaming-as-empowerment gets a one-sided view a lot of the time. There's no real learning to succeed or dominate in the broader world in the media portrayals, except for chess, which any master of strategy apparently knows intimately.

Whilst he is brilliant, the few times we see him around a video game seem to exist more for the sake of product placement, rather than saying that 'this dude is brilliant, AND he plays games'.

Case in point, this scene:

You never get the sense that he does it because it helps him: it's more of a casual distraction to him. Hell, even BBQ ribs carry more significance to him >.>

Sigmund Av Volsung:
snip

EinSoph:
No mention for Frank Underwood? A pity. He really plays into the fact that gaming is essentially nothing more than teaching you systems and then how to beat them or master them. Don't know most/almost all of the above references, but I think the gaming-as-empowerment gets a one-sided view a lot of the time. There's no real learning to succeed or dominate in the broader world in the media portrayals, except for chess, which any master of strategy apparently knows intimately.

Whilst he is brilliant, the few times we see him around a video game seem to exist more for the sake of product placement, rather than saying that 'this dude is brilliant, AND he plays games'.

Case in point, this scene:

You never get the sense that he does it because it helps him: it's more of a casual distraction to him. Hell, even BBQ ribs carry more significance to him >.>

A totally fair point, albeit one that prompts a debate over how much and what type of gaming is needed to be a gamer. And that's entirely subjective and been done to death. Also yeah, I get that it isn't really his identity, but A: he was the closest example I had to my point, and B: it's actually kinda refreshing to not have the typical game-obsessed/fixated gamer. To be fair, they do make a point of "this dude is brilliant, AND he's bisexual", so I saw the "AND he plays games" part when it came up too. Nevertheless you can't argue he isn't a king of the kind of system exploitation that a really good gamer is too.

If anyone's read the Liar Game manga, that's a better example of what I mean.

Good list Bob thanks for reminding me to get the Carmen Sandiego games for my girls. Also Fred Rogers was just a great human being.

JMac85:
Gah! That shot of Clarissa Explains It All is so 90's it hurts!

I know! And the scary thing was I'm pretty sure I saw that episode when it first aired.... I'm getting old. D:

Wow, didn't have a clue that Mr. Rodgers had an bit on his show about gaming, that's awesome! :D

So, when Commander Keen came out, I thought it was Captain N because of the name similarities.

dalek sec:

JMac85:
Gah! That shot of Clarissa Explains It All is so 90's it hurts!

I know! And the scary thing was I'm pretty sure I saw that episode when it first aired.... I'm getting old. D:

-snip-

I remember mostly another thing about suezos or something, mostly for confusing my memories of that episode with Monster Rancher. I think that was the right 90's show. Mostly I now remember that as the first instance of MPDG.

Rellik San:
What's this? Once again Bob ignores the glories of Spaced? He ignores the greatness of Tim Bisley?

How in the 9 hells do you make a list like this without including Tim? Essentially an "every man" 20-something late 90's- early 2000's geek. He worked in a comic shop, enters Robot Wars, Plays Videogames, casually references nerd material, but these references are never played for specific laughs (unless it's for a particular pastiche). He's not displayed as weird, strange, mal-adjusted. He is the simple every gamer.

Can't help but feel that once again Bob's own American Imperialism is at play: "STOP ERASING MAH CULTURE MAN!"

In all seriousness, I asked him on Twitter and he said if it was a top 11-12, which fair enough I guess the importance of the Character is down-played heavily if you're not a late 20's - early 30's British pop culture aficionado.

Been a long time since I saw Spaced regularly, but I recently watched an episode where after playing RE2 he goes a bit mad and thinks everyone's a zombie. So maybe it wasn't always gamer-positive!:P

Also, did Clarissa ever actually play games other than the ones she made? It's a fair assumption that she was a gamer if she was making them, but don't remember any mentions of her playing anything else.

JonSherwell:
Digital Estate Planning is by far my favorite Community episode, and that's saying a lot, considering its my favorite show. I cannot wait for season 6 to start.

It's my number 2 for me. The first is the original Dungeons and Dragons episode. But it's still a really close call because both episodes are phenomenal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiC-JcqMrPM

You forget about Rab Florence, YOU ALL FORGOT ABOUT RAB FLORENCE

petef201:

Been a long time since I saw Spaced regularly, but I recently watched an episode where after playing RE2 he goes a bit mad and thinks everyone's a zombie. So maybe it wasn't always gamer-positive!:P

To be fair: That's the fault of some bad "Twigletts" (or speed as the case maybe) after not sleeping for days. Yes he punches a Trans-Woman in the process... but also said Trans-Woman was a complete tool towards one of his friends and he pulls them all out of an incredibly awkward and for Brian, upsetting situation.

So in the process his freak out saves the day (and it's far from his only one).

As for not being always gamer-positive, I say he should be in it, because he isn't necessarily positive, it's more down to showing that gaming wasn't a defining characteristic: He's the every-twenty-something nerd in British culture, the show doesn't go to great pains to show him as socially awkward or mal-adjusted, he's just a guy, gets out clubs, holds conversations and relationships normally, wears his nerdiness on his sleeve, he isn't awkward, he isn't played as either a good or bad guy... he's just a normal guy and what he does is all perfectly normal.

And for my money that's why he should be one of the best portrayals of a gamer, because he is exactly what 90% of British nerds and gamers are like... just normal people who happen to play.

But that all really ties into British media generally having a much healthier relationship with gamers and gamer culture (I mean let's face it, you had shows like "Bits" where in 3 incredibly attractive and 90's women talk videogames; wanna know why this isn't pandering? Because they all wrote and researched the show) in the first place. Very rarely did we need the "nerd saves the day" show, because everyone is a little nerdy, our mainstream comedians, or known avid gamers, it's just in general a whole other culture. Maybe it was to do with the home computer boom and bedroom coders in the 80's/90's but regardless of the reason: Tim Bisley is (for my money) the nadir of that.

Rellik San:

petef201:

Been a long time since I saw Spaced regularly, but I recently watched an episode where after playing RE2 he goes a bit mad and thinks everyone's a zombie. So maybe it wasn't always gamer-positive!:P

To be fair: That's the fault of some bad "Twigletts" (or speed as the case maybe) after not sleeping for days. Yes he punches a Trans-Woman in the process... but also said Trans-Woman was a complete tool towards one of his friends and he pulls them all out of an incredibly awkward and for Brian, upsetting situation.

So in the process his freak out saves the day (and it's far from his only one).

As for not being always gamer-positive, I say he should be in it, because he isn't necessarily positive, it's more down to showing that gaming wasn't a defining characteristic: He's the every-twenty-something nerd in British culture, the show doesn't go to great pains to show him as socially awkward or mal-adjusted, he's just a guy, gets out clubs, holds conversations and relationships normally, wears his nerdiness on his sleeve, he isn't awkward, he isn't played as either a good or bad guy... he's just a normal guy and what he does is all perfectly normal.

And for my money that's why he should be one of the best portrayals of a gamer, because he is exactly what 90% of British nerds and gamers are like... just normal people who happen to play.

But that all really ties into British media generally having a much healthier relationship with gamers and gamer culture (I mean let's face it, you had shows like "Bits" where in 3 incredibly attractive and 90's women talk videogames; wanna know why this isn't pandering? Because they all wrote and researched the show) in the first place. Very rarely did we need the "nerd saves the day" show, because everyone is a little nerdy, our mainstream comedians, or known avid gamers, it's just in general a whole other culture. Maybe it was to do with the home computer boom and bedroom coders in the 80's/90's but regardless of the reason: Tim Bisley is (for my money) the nadir of that.

Ah fair enough! When I saw the episode recently I only had it on in the background, so must've missed that.

So completely agree he should've been on the list!

Every time I look at something like BMO I can't help thinking of Richard Brautigan's poem "All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace."

 

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