ABC’s Good Game: last Oz screen culture show turns 10

ABC marks the 10th anniversary of Good Game

It’s one of Australian TV’s hidden success stories. The last remaining Australian TV show dedicated exclusively to screen culture, video game review show Good Game this week celebrated its 10th year on air with a special hour-long episode filmed before a live audience.

MORE: Janet Carr and Stephanie Bendixsen speak with Dan Barrett on a Mediaweek podcast

When Mediaweek sat down with show EP Janet Carr and on-air presenter Stephanie “Hex” Bendixsen, neither thought they would be working on the show for as long as they have.

“I didn’t expect to be here after one episode,” explained Carr. “We weren’t even commissioned by the television department. We were on ABC2 and it was managed by the innovation division, which was really just a re-broadcaster of main channel stuff. They were just dipping their toes into making original content. I was making a show for them called Australia Wide, which was bringing together news and current affairs programs from around the country and repackaging it for ABC2. They asked me if I had any other ideas. Being a massive gamer, I said yes.”

Bendixsen joined the show in 2009, a couple of years into the show’s run: “I was so excited to have the job. I was a big fan of the show to begin with. I used to podcast it on iTunes and watch it on the way to my crappy job that I hated.”

With Bendixsen fronting the show with co-host Steven “Bajo” O’Donnell, the show has grown its audience year-on-year, tapping into the ever-growing audience for gaming. They are regular fixtures at metropolitan and regional conventions across Australia. It’s a show built for its dedicated youth viewers who loyally watch the show through ABC’s iview.

The show has not been without controversy. The appointment of Bendixsen to the role was met with mild outrage from some fans who felt the show was cynically marketing to them in the same way that game marketers have sought to appeal to male gamers with gaming convention “booth babes” and other equally sexist efforts.

This quietened down quickly once viewers realised Bendixsen truly was one of their tribe.

Janet Carr explained that Bendixsen was initially hired to host Good Game’s children-focused spinoff Spawn Point. “I really wanted to find a girl gamer. But it had to be someone who was completely immersed in the whole culture that surrounds gaming. You can’t fake it. There’s no way you can carry off saying lines about video games if you do not know what you are talking about. Our viewers would spot that a mile off.”

“As if the ABC or Janet would hire someone for ‘sex appeal’ is just so stupid,” Bendixsen added.

Good Game and its spinoffs Good Game Pocket and Spawn Point are available on iview. Good Game is broadcast Tuesdays on ABC2.

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