It's quite an honour to look back and realise that you were there when video games took what was a monumental step into the extreme mainstream. Up until then they were a clique (albeit a fairly popular one) which was generally viewed as being for awkward children. Indeed the bedroom programmer boom of the 1980's saw a wealth of talent flood the 8-Bit home computer world but as the machines moved into the 16-Bit realm and games went from being bleepy block moving exercises to lush works of art they started to gain interest from the more mature (HA!) teenagers of the time. This jump in popularity was solidified in 1992 when the (at the time) progressive Channel 4 in the UK released the first ever fully dedicated video games based TV series, the magnificent Gamesmaster.
The show featured competitions, challenges and current, often exclusive gaming news which in a pre internet world was essential to get up to speed. Before that people generally relied on games magazines such as C+VG and Mean Machines for their gaming updates and although the mags did generally tend to get the scoop first Gamesmaser often gave us an exclusive nugget here and there.
The show was probably made most famous by the strange decision to cast ancient astronomer Sir Patrick Moore in the role of the all knowing computer AI who would appear now and again as a bio-mechanical floating head to introduce challenges and offer advice. Moore, who would have been in his 60's at the time and as far as I am aware had no acting experience, attacked the role with a great deal of charm as he thundered out his lines in that distinctive and plummy pre-war voice.
Gamesmaster was also famous for it's devilishly crude and childish sense of humour which played right into the minds of it's smelly spotty audience. The show was littered with double entendres and slightly over the line snipes. Constant references to joystick waggling, button stroking and inserting things into floppy and hard drives delivered with a wink and a smile from speccy, red coated presenter Dominik Diamond in a razor sharp fashion with a delivery which was something akin to a Viz strip crossed with a Carry on film. Often the humour would seem maybe a bit too mature for it's target audience but this added to the gentle danger of the show only increasing its reputation amongst its low brow audience. The surprising thing was that it was actually more funny than corny and added a whole lot of personality to an already great show.
Clone shows such as 'Bad influence!' started to appear later in 1992 as the medium of television was opening up for the shadowy gaming world and signified the first signs of moondust on the genres boot sole in what would become an amalgamation of the two as exists somewhat largely today.
Gamesmaster went through a few changes over the years including a change of presenter in season 3 as Dexter Fletcher too over the reigns before Dominik Diamond returned.
The show met it's demised in 1998. Dominik Diamond apparently wanted to take the series to a more adult theme that presumably meant a bit more filthy humour which to all intents and purposes probably would have worked a charm. Michael Jackson (Shamon!) who was the new head of Channel 4 at the time never cared for the show and it was promptly axed for good.
Between 1987 and 1994 you had life altering experiences like Tim Burton's Batman, Shadow Of The Beast, Sonic The Hedgehog, Terminator 2, Bill & Ted, Streets Of Rage, Mortal Kombat, Sim City, Streetfighter II, Final Fight, Monkey Island, Cannon Fodder, Populous, Syndicate, the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, Allien ³ , Double Dragon, Mario 3 & Super Mario World, Masters of The Universe, The Last Ninja, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, The Commodore Amiga (Oh the music!), The Sega Megadrive, The Super Nintendo, Total Recall, Akira, Golden Axe and many MANY more!
There was not only an explosion of products that have since become yardsticks for their genres but the sway in popular opinion towards games was changing forever and Gamesmaster was there to capture that spirit in it's smutty, grimy way that only it ever could.
Striding forth from his lair at Castle Stareskull one morning, Alan Stares decided to not reign down terror on the villagers, but instead go back inside, crack open a beer and load up Streets Of Rage 2. One hundred years later, he's still there. A avid music maker (of TERROR!) and retro gamer, he can be found whooping any and all heroes at all manner of SNK-based challenges.