Monday, June 23, 2008

Coincidence?

Alright. As per my previous post, I have been going through old works and consolidating them so that I might later roll them into some sort of large portfolio. This next article kind of sent shivers up my spine when I read it. I'm not sure what day it was written on, but I'm pretty sure the year is 1997 because the letter that I wrote in the legal pad right after this one is from just before I moved into my (grandfather's) house, which was in 1997. Just for clarity, Tech TV debuted in May of 1998, the Dilbert show in 1999, G4 in 2002. I've left the wording and grammar untouched and full of errors and poor esthetical choices, but corrected some spelling. I was going to send this to Turner Broadcasting Networks for a pitch, but I never had the gumption to do it (though considering the current state of G4/Tech TV, maybe I should send it again). Here we go:

TO WHOM THIS MAY CONCERN:

I have a vision. To some this may seem like a trivial matter, but to me it is a matter of much forethought and many sleepless nights. Even if you do not embrace my idea it would mean quite a bit to me (and perhaps to you as well) if you would only consider it for a while.

As you may or may not be aware, there has been an exciting new media that has entered our everyday lives within the last quarter of this century: home computers, interactive television, video games and of course the internet. The increasing technology involved in the creation of these has become incredible, each new generation eclipsing its forefathers to the point where there is always something to astound all but the most dedicated enthusiast.

To the more casual observers however, the improvements not only make them more productive (hopefully), but also keep them entertained. From the spectacular digital effects of Hollywood's blockbusters to the Solitaire icon on a computer's screen, electronic entertainment is fast becoming an unavoidable part of our lives. The "Hollywoodesque" flashiness of modern software has begun to blur the line between television and video games, and it is from this that I draw the inspiration for my less-than-modest proposition: A twenty-four-a-day cable network dedicated to the hardware and software in this age of electronic information.

Twenty-four hours a day of news, reviews, tips, secrets, and trade-show coverage dedicated to the multi-billion dollar computer and game markets!

I know what you're probably thinking: "We came up with that idea years ago, and there's just no market for it." Well, my primary reason for this letter is to tell you that there is a market for it, one as diverse and faithful as that of any major network.

The truth is that I am an adult, and I play video games. I am both amazed and disappointed by modern technology. I mean, software commercials are hardly ever modest about their product, and though you may see a screen shot in a magazine, it is still a poor example of the actual product. Then there is television; like many other people I am excited about new technologies, but with the rare exception of a few computer-based shows and an occasional documentary there just isn't enough to keep me interested. For example: it does little good to watch a news network, only to hope that they tell you something of Intel's latest chip. I would love a channel that I could turn to at one in the morning, to wind down a hectic day with information that could aid my game or show me what's up-and-coming.

Another simply amazing facet of this proposal is the sheer range of lifestyles involved – every age, every class – anyone who has an interest in the human side of our electronic world. From the parent wondering what game to purchase for a child to a senior citizen wanting to get on the information superhighway, the adult appeal is definitely there.

O.K. If you've read this far you may still be interested, but now you're probably asking where to get these intended programs. The sad thing, as mentioned before, is that all of these proposed programs will have to be filmed and edited by contract, since there are really very few shows like this on anywhere. I do not have a degree in economics, but I would bet that if large companies such as Microsoft and Nintendo would advertise on an unrelated network, they would only be too eager to advertise on one dedicated to their products. The commercial value would be too much for them to turn down.

As for the shows themselves, there are many interesting ideas to consider:

1. I like the idea of a forum where various panels of normal people of varying computer literacy debate their likes (or dislikes) of recent products, perhaps for a half-hour or so.

2. Shows made in contract with various popular magazines such as DieHard Gamefan or PC Gamer, in which games are previewed, reviewed, and criticized if necessary (if more companies could see a reaction to their product, they might make it better next time).

3. A program set along the lines of "This Old House," except pertaining to personal computers would show even the most computer illiterate how to improve their existing systems. Perhaps best as a morning series.

4. A review of the best online businesses and markets, to make finding the perfect website for your application just a little easier.

5. A history showcase of documentaries showing the history of various consumer electronics, such as radio, television, and computers.

6. A news show of upcoming events, electronics mergers, development news and interviews with the publishers of some of the most recognized software (i.e. Bill Gates of Microsoft, Howard Lincoln of Nintendo, David Perry of Shiny Entertainment, etc.). Probably best in a talk show format.

7. A series that goes behind the scenes at some of the world's leading hardware and software giants, to take a little mystery out of the industry and to show the public what they're really like.

8. Live coverage of trade shows and expositions, both foreign and domestic, letting consumers see (or not see) what to expect in the future.

9. A consumers' guide to building software would be most welcome to the more hardcore enthusiasts, perhaps showing how to setup a web page or what's involved in learning a computer language.

10. To appeal to the very young to teen groups a Saturday morning cartoon show lineup would be terrific. There are a number of video game and computer related programs now, as you may already know, and the addition of any of them to a lineup would be both campy and appealing to many.

11. Computer-oriented game shows may not be a wholly original idea, but could be made fun and educational for all. I should point out though, that very few of these game shows today ask almost no questions involving computers or software, even though they have names like "Video Challenge."

12. Sketch comedy on a computer network may sound dry, but anything along the idea of Scott Adams' "Dilbert" or satirical advertisements may be a welcome break from the news and instruction the channel provides the rest of the time.

I realize that it is at your discretion to review this letter and to approve and disapprove with some or all of these suggestions. I only want to make you aware that there is another target audience out there, some of us more willing to see a review of the latest computer game than catch the season finale to such shows as "Melrose Place" or "Frasier." I don't watch television as much as I would if there was something on that interested me. Maybe this channel I proposed already exists. If so, where is it? If not, where is it?

Michael R. Adams

(John Q. Public-at-large)

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