There’s a trend happening in television, in small part due to the success of Silicon Valley, of underserved communities becoming the basis for an entire comedy.
Good Game is the latest example of this. Good Game follows a “newly formed team of esports players trying to make it to the top in the cutthroat world of competitive gaming,” according to a press release. The series is being developed by YouTube host and personality Michele Morrow and Jesse Cox, another YouTube personality known for his games commentary. Community’s Dan Harmon will step in to oversee the six-episode series as an executive producer. YouTube released a small snippet of the show as part of its highlight reel of series coming to YouTube Red. It can be seen below.
Based on the few seconds glimpsed in the clip above and the description of the show, Good Game shares some ideas with series like Video Game High School, developed by RocketJump, and Loaded, a new series coming to AMC about a group of video game developers trying to deal with success. The show is being run by Sarah Carbiener and Erica Rosbe, who work on Rick and Morty, meaning that oddball, slightly disturbing and insightful comedy should make an appearance in the new series.
What’s interesting about Good Game, however, isn’t who’s running it, but rather who’s starring in it. The show stars Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan as two of the main esports players trying to make it big. While they may not be household names, those who are into both gaming and YouTube might know them from their successful channel, Game Grumps. It remains one of the largest games-centered channels on YouTube and the two hosts have become known for their Let’s Play series and commentary on games.
Much like other YouTube Red series, the show pulls from the platform’s own talents and pairs the duo with Hollywood veterans. This acts as a way to both boost Hanson and Avidan’s statuses in the industry and give the YouTube audience another reason to buy into its scripted series program on Red.
While esports may seem like an interesting move, it’s also indicative of both YouTube’s audience interest and one of the fastest growing sectors of mass entertainment. According to Twitch, the site has more than 100 million monthly viewers who spend 106 minutes a day watching different gaming streams, many of which are esports related. The International, Valve’s biggest competition for Dota 2, its popular MOBA, routinely pulls in millions of viewers when its on. Riot’s League of Legends, arguably the most popular MOBA around right now, pulled in more than 36 million viewers last year during its World Finals. That just so happens to be more than last year’s tense and highly watched NBA finals.
Esports, like technology, is slowly becoming less of an insular, niche area and that means more networks and streaming services are willing to take chances on dedicating a series to it. The success of Silicon Valley has been instrumental in proving there is an audience for these types of shows, even when other titles — anyone remember jPOD? — have failed.
YouTube is the perfect place to see if there’s a dedicated audience who will pay money and tune in for a show about esports, but it won’t be the last. There are a plethora of series about to come out on a variety of networks, including Crackle and Seeso, about startups and technology firms. In a few years, that will be gaming. As network series dabble in it (Elementary had an entire episode dedicated to esports that starred actual athletes), mainstream audiences become introduced to the world and the idea to sell an entire series based on a niche concept becomes less bizarre.
Good Game premieres Aug. 30 on YouTube Red.