VIDEO: The rise and fall of G4

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G4 TV 4 Gamers was the first all gaming television channel. Cecil takes a look at its history, what it did right, and the many things it did wrong.

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  • Animikean

    I miss Extended Play and the awesome late night anime on Tech TV (it was the first time I saw series like R.O.D. the TV)

    Cinematech was great but I always wanted them to mention which games the clips came from so I could play them!

    I’ll never forget X-Play’s Halloween episodes or the time Adam Sessler escorted a fish around San Francisco.

    • Moppet

      I remember Cinematech got me to pick up the Galerians titles with some of the scenes they showed off. I’ll never be sad that the channel led me to a game where getting a migraine would starting popping the heads of your enemies like zits until it eventually killed you if not dealt with.

      • Cecil_Trachenburg

        I miss insane games like that.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      They used to run late night blocks of Cinematech the first few years. It was wonderful. I swear, from 2002-2004 my tv was either on G4 or playing a video game.

  • Man, I miss X-Play.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Thankfully a lot of their best bits have been uploaded to youtube…although in really bad quality. Better than nothing I guess!

  • Moppet

    I came from TechTV. It used to be on my T.V. all the time, the only channel I watched at the time. It’d be on in the background when cooking, studying, playing games that didn’t have much story, it even ran while I was sleeping because I don’t sleep well in the dark or silence, I like background noise. I’d even leave it running when I was gone at school or working or just going around with friends because in the neighborhood I lived in it was just not a good idea for people to think a house or apartment were empty, so I’d keep the sound up and going even when I was gone.

    It was the first time time I ever came across I channel I was okay with pretty much all the time.

    When the merger with G4 was announced, and later happened? I wasn’t sure what to think. At first I thought it was going to be okay, because I caught some of the older G4 programming, but everything from Tech TV and G4 that I thought was okay quickly went away. I think the Screen Savers transitioning to Attack of the Show getting rid of Leo, Pat and the gang was the last straw. I’d still catch episodes of X-play now and then, but at that point I barely watched traditional T.V. channels at all anymore, and quickly stopped even watching X-play.

    Extended play transitioning to X-play and Morgan Webb transferring from the Screensavers to X-play and so much more, I remember the evolution of that show, its roots, and so much more. It was sad to see what happened around it. TechTV had wonderful shows beyond games, and even one of the best anime blocks I’d seen on any channel where I discovered things like Serial Experiments Lain, Gad Guard, Crest and Banner of the Stars and plenty of others. I’d liked anime prior, but I probably wouldn’t have an anime section in my collection of movies and shows if TechTV hadn’t kicked my interest beyond watching and into taking part in communities where I found many more lovely titles. That certainly wasn’t even the best of what TechTV offered though.

    I miss it.

    I suppose it was really easy to dislike G4 because I came from the TechTV side of things and never really saw G4 at its best. I’m glad for the perspective this video provided and it was also nice to see the person that originally conceived of G4 talking like he wished he’d done some things different, and gone another way in general.

    Still, wasted potential, and so much potential at that.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      It was such a shame because when the merger first went down, they sent in the troops to calm the message boards to try and explain why this was a good thing. Overall, the initial burst was good but it quickly became clear they had no intention of keeping TTV. If not for how well X-play and The Screen Savers were doing in the ratings, they would have dropped them too.

  • asdf

    well, we have youtube now… its great

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      It is pretty wonderful.

  • Wizkamridr

    I couldn’t stand their game reviews or the hosts. I found them annoying. To each their own.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Across the board or just after the merger?

  • Eliot Littlejohn

    I loved g4 but looking back on it now its amazing what it did in twelve years. What took usa mtv and sci fi twenty years to do and become a crappy channel. Thats notheing like the channel it started as. I guess you could say six years because like tens of millions of other people i couldnt get g4. Im a classic gamer so i wouldnt watch alot of the shows about modern gaming but it was awesome when they would show hosted movies. Like the class of nukem high and other troma movies it was like watching usa up all night again. The comic con coverage was great and the little news feeds they used to show on the bottom of the screen of gaming news and odd ball news was cool but at least that poor channel was put out of its mysery.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      They had so many great ideas and plenty of time to capitalize on them but they were too interested in going after the market that didn’t care.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    The lesson is that you can’t appeal to people if you can’t hide your contempt for them.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      This.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Great article. I used to love watching X-Play and I am not a guy who plays video games. I just liked the chemistry between Sessler and Webb. I gave up on the channel when they started their Cops marathons.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Thanks! I used to watch X-play more for the comedy than the actual reviews. Then when they removed the comedy, they removed the soul.

  • Bouncy X

    i’m in canada so due to our retarded regulations for canadian content, while we got the channel many of the shows you mentioned never aired here. its crazy how few of these i recognized. we got X-Play and Attack of course but barely anything else. the funny thing is that G4 still exists here, but it airs a completely different set of shows as it used to. Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run are the only gaming/tech shows left really.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      I believe that once G4 aired in Canada they had already stripped all the original shows, hence why you never saw them. Sad, because they really were the best, although Vic with EP is great. I’m really happy that is still going. It’s not on in the US anymore, so I haven’t been able to see it in years.

  • Joel Schlosberg
    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Huzzah! Although according to one guy in the comments, I talk like a robot. lol, oh you.

      • danbreunig

        I hear a natural born book-on-tape/cd author with the charm and warmth of Daniel Stern’s narration on The Wonder Years. Quirky, huh? Awesome article reference to you too, my good fellow!

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          Things like this really warm my heart, seriously. Thank you for making my day a little brighter. 🙂

      • Moppet

        You talk fine, down to earth but informative, usually with the just the right amount of straight faced commentary accented by humor, sarcasm or charm where appropriate. On another note, while you poke fun at the movies at times, it never comes off as mean or disrespectful, it’s one of the reasons I come back to the show consistently. I don’t mind humor, but some video producers go way over the top (into the mean/disrespectful areas), and it’s especially nice that you talk about the films, their cast and makers, people behind the scenes, effects and many other subjects on the level to balance things out. So no robot voice, and lots of positives.

        I also noticed the article seemed to think the G4 video ran a bit long. Personally I felt the length was appropriate for the amount of information given, without ever wearing out its welcome. Being previously interested in the subject, and having memories of TechTV may, or may, not make me overly biased/interested in more in depth information though.

        • Cecil_Trachenburg

          My biggest thing, one thing I always strove for, was to speak in my real voice. (unless I’m doing an impersonation for comedic effect) I’m not big on people who overly effect their voice or do “radio voice” because that is what usually works. To me it seems disingenuous.

          However, that stuff is not for me. I always wanted the show to feel like a really fun/interesting narration. Like listening to a friend talk about old times. You don’t get that when listening to someone who is screaming in a fake voice about why something sucks. (there is a market for that but its not mine) I think that is the problem with a lot of people. The are so used to hearing someone giving a fake delivery that when they hear someone just talking, they jump to “you are monotone”.

          I do poke fun at a lot of these movies/games/tv shows/etc but its never spiteful. I genuinely enjoy all the stuff I talk about, in various degrees of course, and I’m glad that comes through. I also want to show all the work that goes into these because often, it is forgotten that a ton of work may have gone into something only to be summarily dismissed by a sour crowd.

          In essence, I’m glad you get what I’m going for. 🙂

          I was kind of surprised they said the video ran long too. It’s funny…when I see certain things posted on some sites (not just my stuff) it’s like they always need to throw in a little job or backhanded compliment. I’m not sure how else I was supposed to fit 12 years of history in any shorter a time frame. In a world where vloggers will berate a movie in an unedited rant that runs longer than said film, my talking for a little over 20 minutes about the entire history of a tv network isn’t that bad. Besides, it ran about 35 minutes before I cut out the redundant stuff.

          My videos are always longer the first pass and then I trim them down repeatedly to get the right pacing and length. ^^

  • tcorp

    Well, you can’t pay the bills by selling something nobody will buy.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      Too true.

  • G4 was pretty stripped down when it reached Canada, luckily, they brought back The Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run (Which has become more of a variety show, but mostly game focused). I believe EP and Reviews on the Run were picked up by City. Also G4 Canada is surprisingly still a thing, those bare-bones with a grand total of NINE shows,

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      EP existed before G4 and I’m happy that it continues without them.

  • Adam Bomb 1701

    I remember G4 running the original “Star Trek” for a time, starting in 2006. They had something called “Trek 2.0” which aired weeknights. That had little factoids about the show appear on-screen as the episode ran. On weekends, G4 ran “Trek Uncut”, on which they ran the shows as they originally appeared on NBC, without all the syndication cuts. They may have bought the show at the wrong time, however, as TV Land also ran “Trek”, although cut for syndication. Also, the “enhanced” episodes, with the upgraded effects, were starting to be syndicated for weekend runs.

    • Cecil_Trachenburg

      I actually was contacted by the guy who created Trek 2.0. Really cool. 🙂

      Yeah, I think that was just a bad timing thing as far as running the shows.

  • John Wilson

    Well, now we have the internet.

  • Moon Spirit

    It’s really a shame that G4 went down like that. It was a channel I could relate to, until it leaned toward the lower demographics instead of the intended demographics. With the rise of YouTube and the fact that the most subscribed channel is a gamer, I can feel another G4 can happen if done absolutely right. If The Game Awards can somehow manage that many viewers in that one night, even though not many of us “real gamers” expected it to succeed, then gaming could have a place on TV again.

    That’s just me, as the channel was what got me into online forums and the gaming community. Without G4, I would just be a shut-in.

  • trlkly

    Wait, didn’t I see this on YouTube?