In Memoriam: X-Play

I started watching TechTV back in 2003. I couldn’t wait to hear what Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb had to say about the latest games. I remember the advent of the PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox. All of which quickly became dominant forces in my life. I remember nights spent playing Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter, Dr. Muto, Spyro, the console iteration of Half-Life, especially the Decay co-op mode with my big brother. Through all of it, I never missed an episode of X-Play.

Things weren’t great at home and to know that there was someone out there who would help me make a decision on what game to buy that week with my allowance was comforting. Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb helped me through some of the worst times. 

The hilarious disembodied voice echoed through the new set; TV screens projecting the new logo in the background, Adam Sessler and his striped shirt with hands clasped, thanking Mr. Disembodied Voice for the introduction. When Morgan came on set for the first time, I immediately had a crush on her, as I’m sure many other young gamers did. This ushered in the age of TechTV and X-Play.

I could watch the channel all day. It wasn’t just X-Play that excited me anymore. It was Icons, Filter, Pulse, Arena, Portal, Cinematech, Screen Savers, Judgment Day, Electronic Playground, Call for Help, and I never missed a second. Even now I’m getting a knot in my throat from the nostalgia. I was so happy that there was finally a place where I belonged, where I could hear people talk about things I loved, even when my home life was painful.

When my mom wasn’t doing well, when my dad didn’t know, when my brother was preoccupied, when it was stale bread and root beer keeping our hearts pumping, TechTV and especially X-Play were there reminding me that it would all be okay, that for a half an hour to 4 hours every night I didn’t need to worry about my mom or dad or brother. I never missed an episode of any shows. I watched TechTV endlessly all week and I wish now that I had cherished that time more because soon it would come to an end.

In 2004, TechTV became G4TechTV and not everyone survived the merger. I was confused at first, but relieved when X-Play was still there. Sadly, Filter was gone, Pulse ended along with Arena and Portal, Kristin Holt replaced the well-loved Cory Rouse. But thank god, Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were still there in their best form and funnier than ever. These days for the show were the happiest.

The skits from this era stand in my memory as the funniest. As life went down the drain, X-Play and the Screen Savers got better week-by-week and I couldn’t wait to see the next installment of Sensitive Sess, Bob and Steve, or any other insane sketchers the team came up with.

I can’t tell you how long I waited to see Meet the Sess after the April Fools episode. I remember the announcement of San Andreas before Kevin Rose founded Digg. I remember the best times for G4.

I’m probably not getting the timeline right, but the best skits came to life on screen. Adam 2.0, Ratty Hand Puppet, the Screaming Intern, Adam-San and Morgan-San, Violent Morgan, when Adam stapled his own balls, the bad camera angles sketch, Sensitive Sess, Meet the Sess, the amazing X-Play musical, the Breakfast Club episode, all the Halloween episodes, especially the Zombie and Adam V installments, and of course Bob and Steve.

But it was only a year until G4TechTV became G4 and almost every old show dissolved into that ether, thankfully Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were still there, telling me and everyone else the honest truth about the best and worst games. I’ll never forget the Ninja Gaiden, Drake of the 99 Dragons, and Aquaman reviews. Slippy the Fish is burned into my memory.

I couldn’t’ve been happier or more prone to missing days of school and homework assignments than I was during this time. Back in 11th grade, I skipped out of class to watch all the best episodes that we, the fans, voted on. It all led up to the airing of the 1000th episode. 

I couldn’t believe it. 1000 episodes? I remembered when I was little over 5 feet with a double chin pretending to be sick just so I could absorb every minute of TechTV, laughing all the while. X-Play had made the transition to a more news-oriented show, and it quickly became an important part of the gaming community. Sketches began to minimize in favor of journalistic news stories and the good old software and hardware reviews, but it was okay.

I began to see Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb as the articulate and intelligent journalists they are. They had created art in the past, and they continued to do so. I still want to work as hard and accomplish what they’ve accomplished in such a niche market. Then came the 1000th episode, a return to their best form. It was great.

It imagined them looking back at the 1000th episode during their 1000000th episode. And I couldn’t wait to live until that episode and see them looking back on the 1000000th episode from the 100000000th episode. That was a great day, and I didn’t get a shred of homework done, but I didn’t care. It was X-Play, and Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were what mattered.

I wanted everyone to know that I had been there for the best and worst moments. That weird ass set with the giant crystal balls on the ground and the classic TechTV and G4TechTV lounge. I watched loyally until I didn’t have the time, started to become an adult with responsibilities and I simply couldn’t fit it all into my schedule, but it remained in my heart and mind for so long. I loved it, and I always will.

Then Adam Sessler quit, and I simply couldn’t watch anymore. Morgan Webb is great and beautiful, and my crush for her still lingers, but the dry wit and fierce intelligence of Sessler is still today unmatched on any network and many websites, I eagerly await to see what he does with his future, as I do with Morgan Webb. I’d like to make it clear I didn’t miss an episode of Webb Alert. Today I found out the show is getting canceled and I realize now what it meant to me.

X-Play was like the parent I didn’t have at the worst times who understood my interests, my loves, what made me laugh, and what made me cry.

When I watched my first episode of X-Play, Icons, Filter, Pulse, Arena, Portal, Cinematech, Screen Savers, Judgment Day, Electronic Playground, Call for Help, and Robot Wars I was just shy of 10 years old, not used to walking, shitting, or eating on my own, and at the end of the best era gamers could get on TV, I am 18 years old going to college pursuing a degree in psychology with huge amounts of writing that I’m immensely proud of.

My mother is in recovery and sober, my dad is chair of the university English department, I have a girlfriend who I adore and I’ve made connections with people I have already forgotten. But I will never forget what X-Play did for me. Never. Not in a million years. I still dream about it. And though I yearn for the older times of ZDTV and TechTV, time doesn’t give out hall passes.

I’d like to bid farewell to Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb and thank them for everything they’ve helped me through, even though they’ll never know it, you guys were parents to me when my real ones weren’t so up to date. I will remember you forever and I’m deeply saddened by how it’s all ending. I hope you read this and realize the impact you’ve had on my life and, no doubt, many others.

I want so badly to meet them both and chat, but at that point, I’ll be just another fan. A part of me doesn’t care about that, but another part of me wants to remain in the anonymous ether of their fan base. The quiet support to the series finale. As it’s sung in the hilarious “On The X-Play Boards,” I’ll stay with you until the bitter end. I never thought those words would ring true. I’ll never miss an episode for these remaining months. I will be there because you deserve the little I can give you again, whether or not Hyperactive is around for me to let you know I’m there. 

Now this era’s end follows that of the Foo Fighters, the tape player in my stepmother’s van, and a relationship I thought would remain until the ends of the Earth ceased to be infinite. All things are finite, the end of X-Play has taught me that.

I love you all, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for these past 9 years. I’ll tell my kids about you, and I’ll show them the video gaming wisdom you imparted upon me. 

Oh eww. That is literally the worst thing I ever read. The merger between G4 and TechTv was an abomination from the depths of hell. Talented, hard working people lost their jobs so that network could be considered hip and fall apart at the seams. Now it’s a spike-tv clone and they’re showing the Marvel Anime series, which from a storytelling standpoint, is completely UNNECESSARY.

Excuse my rant but thinking about that merger sets me the fuck off. Thanks for the info Paul.

It’s finally over. G4 is dead.

More than a decade ago, G4 briefly provided a glimpse of what it would be like if video games and the culture and community surrounding them could support an entire full schedule TV station.

However, it was allowed to, or even encouraged to, rapidly decay into an absolute train wreck of a television network that became a joke amongst many gamers, and it destroyed another great channel, Tech TV, in the process of doing so.

What was supposed to do for video games what MTV did for music and pop culture in the 80’s and 90’s spend most of its existence as a hollow Spike TV wannabe with a technology slant generally informed by the least flattering aspects of the gaming/technology subculture that leaned heavily towards “dudebro”.

Unlike the early 2000’s however, being represented by a television station is nowhere near as important a mark of distinction for the gaming industry in the age of web based mass media and user generated content.

I miss what G4 very briefly was and very briefly represented to those passionate about video games, but what it spent most of its life as was in my opinion an absolute embarrassment, and I’m glad it’s over.

Though I have to admit, I very nearly shed a tear as I snapped this photo of my TV screen.

Some stuff I picked up yesterday.

Gungriffon Blaze caught my eye because it’s a Working Designs game.

Vexx is something I remember renting as a kid and I remember looking that gave then, hopefully it’s as good as I remember it.

I used to own all of the Kessen games and I played them a good but when I was younger. I remember the way I found out about that game series was that the game into played on G4TechTV’s Cinematech.

Sony has hired Hanna screenwriter Seth Locchead to work on a script written by Juston Marks for a film adaptation of Shadow of the Colossus, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Marks was the original writer brought in back in 2009, and Lochhead steps in now to work with director Josh Trank (Chronicle) on polishing the story off.

Team Ico PlayStation 2-era classic should need no introduction with the G4 crowd. The game sends the young Wander and his trusty steed Argo off an adventure across a barren land populated by 16 towering creatures, the titular Colossi. Wander’s goal is to defeat the inhabitants of the land so that he can free his lady love from a magically induced sleep.

Sony bringing in a second writer to polish of this long in development script is an extremely good sign. Be hopeful, Team Ico fans. Be very hopeful.

Well I just found out that Attack Of The Show and X-Play are ending their runs at the end of the year. G4’s last two shreds of dignity are blinking out of existence, and with them another big part of my geeky childhood. G4/TechTV had been an important part in making me the gamer I am today. It all started in the era of the LAN Party, with one sick day, a little show called ScreenSavers, and a CPU filled with thermite. From that day forth„ whenever I had a day off, I would flip the station to channel 11 at 11am, and expand my knowledge of video games, technology, and humor. It was through this wonderful programming that I first heard of E3 and saw footage of Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. I learned about the history of video games, and of those inside the industry like Tim Schafer and Tommy Tallarico. And even as I watched with horror as this wonderland mutated into the horrid bro-fest Spike clone it is today, 2 shows held up; Attack of the Show, the retool of my beloved ScreenSavers, and X-Play, one of the first video game review shows. And now all semblance to the original format for the channel, A channel devoted to video games and technology, is gone. And to think, if it hadn’t been for channel surfing on a sick day, I may have never been as informed a gamer back then to mold me into the geek I am today.

sload replied to your post:ive been working on this mod with a big team that recreates Morrowind in Skyrim (not Skywind) since its 4E. Kinda wanna make a cute little rodent that looks like your icon.

I’ve always wondered at the story behind your icon.

I first used it on the Tamriel Rebuilt site in 2004. It came from a G4TechTV newsletter talking about a site outage, the original image had the squirrel sitting on a phoneline with cables chewed up. I’m not sure if it already had red eyes or I added those. For a brief period the eyes actually used to blink, but I decided to keep it simple.