As a Canadian gamer, I grew up watching The Electric Playground. It was difficult for me to hear that G4 and City decided not to continue airing it after 2015 so now's a good time to reminisce about this fantastic show.
Before I begin, Victor Lucas created The Electric Playground back in the mid-90s and it succeeded against all odds. Therefore, this article is by no means an obituary for the show because I believe he can bring it back. Whether it's on a different network or only viewable on the web, he's bound to figure something out. It's his inability to quit that not only helped his shows succeed; it also made them more enjoyable to watch. Many risks were unapologetically taken and this resulted in the most entertaining television show about video games that I've ever seen. Over the years, nothing could stop the powerhouse that Vic created. The game reviews segment (Reviews on the Run) would eventually become its own show (known in the USA as Judgment Day) and The Electric Playground turned into a daily broadcast known as EP Daily. Now that you know some of its history, allow me to explain my personal relationship with the show.
When I was a younger fellow, I would go swimming with my dad every weekend. After, we'd sometimes go for ice cream but I just wanted to get home so I could see which video games Victor Lucas and his co-host Tommy Tallarico were talking about that week. Vic was quite reserved in his early days yet his passion for the industry definitely showed through his thoughtful analysis and in-depth interviews. On the other side of the spectrum, Tommy was always up to something hilarious and was never afraid to speak his mind. I remember when the miniature PSone came out and Tommy was compelled to show the viewers that he can fit it in his pants. He liked putting things in his pants. Now that he's gone on to create the phenomenal Video Games Live, I wonder if he still does. Anyway, the combination of insightful reviews, off-the-wall humour, and news that I couldn't get anywhere else made it a must-watch show.
When The Electric Playground expanded, more reviewers and journalists would join the show. Although each of them delivered a distinct perspective, one thing's for sure: they were all huge video game fans and it showed. Vic didn't hire anyone based solely on their ability to be a television personality; he hired people due to their shared love of the industry. From bubbly ex-Real World contestant Julie Stoffer to Jade Raymond who would later go on to be the managing director at Ubisoft Toronto and lead Electronic Arts' Motive Studios, every individual had something unique to offer. Steve Tilley and Raju Mudhar from Toronto would provide their expertise on PC games and the latest gadgets while Jose "Fubar" Sanchez and Ben Silverman from San Francisco discussed the latest AAA titles and obscurities such as Techno Kitten Adventure. The biggest change to the show would come after Tommy left and with such big (and probably stinky) shoes to fill, who could possibly step in? How about the tall, handsome, and sometimes pretentious anti-nerd Scott C. Jones?
Scott's dynamic with Vic resonated with long-time viewers as it echoed similar chemistry to what Tommy brought to the table. However, whereas Tommy was irreverent in a silly way, Scott was more cynical. This trait contrasted with Vic's almost unyielding optimism. To add even more polarity, previous contributor Marissa Roberto (lover of all things Animal Crossing) joined them in co-hosting the show. Watching her and Scott argue is always fun but you know it's not serious since they never fail to make each other laugh in the end. I enjoyed their banter so much that I watched their weekly podcast (Vic's Basement) just so I could get more of them.
Not only were the faces of the show changing over time, new segments would frequently pop up, too. As a collectable toy enthusiast, Vic introduced a Toy Table portion where he showed off the latest action figures. Around Halloween last year, Scott provided some film ideas to watch in his Spooky Stories segment. But, their favourite part of the show has always been the end in which they would answer the Twitter Question of the Day. As a retro gamer, the segment that I looked forward to most was their Classic Cartridge Reviews. It allowed gamers like me to reminisce about what made us want to be gamers in the first place. Every year, the show ended its season with the Rocket and Raygun Awards where everyone would come together to discuss the best games of the year. I loved seeing them all in one place, but you could've come up with a better name than "Rocket and Raygun", couldn't you, Vic?
As I write all of this, I realise that if it wasn't for Victor Lucas showing me what you can achieve when you have a passion for video games, I probably wouldn't have created this site. I know it has a long way to go to reach the heights of his successes, but if he's taught me anything it's that determination, hard work, and a unique perspective will get you a long way in the business. More importantly, however, is that you have to love what you do. Watching Vic and his gang over the past couple of decades while sharing their undying enthusiasm for all things gaming and knowing that they undoubtedly love what they do has been nothing short of inspiring.
Although it's not currently airing, I'm excited to see what Vic comes up with next. For now, be sure to subscribe to The Electric Playground's YouTube channel and see what they're up to. Who knows? Maybe they'll be back on the air shortly after I publish this.