BBC Reveal Concept For Multiplayer Gaming TV Show


The BBC have unveiled a concept for a live television game show based upon a multiplayer video game, smooshing together bits of The Crystal Maze with livestreaming and a top-down shooter. It sees contestants playing a game at home while a live-action presenter in the studio is zapped into the game world to be mean to them. This here ‘Multiplayer Broadcasting’ is not a show the BBC are actually making, to be clear, rather an idea Auntie’s R&D folks have been tinkering with. They’re interested in the future of audience interaction, see. Here, have a look:

To recap for folks who can’t/won’t watch that now. The idea is for a television show based on a multiplayer video game, a third-person shooter which exists and runs outside the show. Contestants are picked from the game’s top players by viewers voting on an app, then they play from their own home. Their real face is recorded live and added to their virtual character, so you can see them as they chat and zap. Meanwhile, in the studio, a presenter is green-screened into the world to be the host and Anne Robinson-y antagonist. Then off they go to do missions, apparently.

Here’s what Auntie’s gang say:

“Multiplayer Broadcasting blends live TV shows with the interactivity of online games by placing audience avatars and presenters into a shared virtual world. Not only does this give audience members a chance to interact and communicate with live performers, but they are no longer limited by real world locations. We see it as the next iteration of audience participation shows in a broadcast-VR enabled future.”

They expand on that:

“Capturing the presenter live preserves their showmanship and performance as-is and allows them to interact and improvise with the audience. Having audience avatars means suddenly anyone, anywhere can become a participant in a show. They can meet their heroes without needing to be in the same physical location. The virtual environment provides endless stylistic and creative opportunities; we’re no longer limited by reality. We can send our presenter and participants to impossible locations, we can defy the laws of physics and set them challenges too dangerous for real life. We could give them superpowers, or we could dissolve them in lava, without a risk assessment in sight!”

To be double-clear, this isn’t a specific show they’re pitching or a game they’ve made. The video is one example of merging broadcasting and gaming, a concept of ways audiences could participate in the future. Or, to go jargony, this film was made “to communicate the creative opportunities enabled by the concept and help us identify the technical challenges involved in making this experience a reality.”

But it does look like it could be a weird and fun thing in a very cheery British television way, doesn’t it? We turned Total War into Time Commanders. We’re confident that people still rip the piss out of Simon for sidestepping to his left even though it was totally his mate’s fault. We made children compete for the amusement of an astronomer-turned-gamebaby. We even already did augmented reality gaming a bit with Bamzooki. This would certainly fit in the tradition of ambitious and endearingly awkward British video games shows which I’d hope none of my family see and think resembles anything I do.

My only question: if you die in the game, do you die for real?


  1. aircool says:

    Let’s just cut to the chase and do a real Running Man. Unless Channel 4 have already got that one under development.

  2. DarkFenix says:

    It’s not often something makes me cringe that hard.

  3. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Dara Ó Briain’s next project then.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      I derived way too much joy seeing King’s infamous low kick on 8 bit. Used to have my brother in tears from that move.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I saw he was doing some new thing on Dave, what’s it like? Worth watching?

      • inspiredhandle says:

        Slightly shakey start. Seems to be the sort of thing that’s very dependant on the quality of the guests. Good though

      • something says:

        Do you like watching people play video games on YouTube? If so then stick to that ‘cos the thing on Dave is just a demonstration of all the ways TV production can get in the way of that formula:

        – ad breaks
        – a live audience breaking up the rhythm with polite laughter and applause
        – a rotating set (*Harry Hill shrug*) so the talent doesn’t have its back to the audience the whole time
        – trying to bring an assumed unfamiliar audience up to speed without patronising actual gamers
        – awkward, variable tone
        – cheap guests who struggle to work their usual shtick into the less familiar subject matter
        – gen-xers playing at being millennials in front of an audience of boomers

        They hadn’t even figured out how to have the gamer and the game on screen at the same time, in the way that every Twitch streamer does.

        Oh well. It did at least have the magnificent Susan Calman in it.

        • inspiredhandle says:

          I agree with all points. I don’t quite see what’s so great about Susan Calman though.

  4. Napalm Sushi says:

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine embarrassed game show hosts awkwardly trying to deal with desyncs and dropped connections forever.

  5. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    Looks a bit of a Knightmare.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      Dammit! You’ve gotta be quick in the comment section.

      It better be just like knightmare… Or crystal maze. In fact, fuck it. Just actually make it crystal maze. That is, only if Richard O’Brian is on board. Used to love the way he taunted the contestants.

      • ThePuzzler says:

        No, bring back the Crystal Maze with Stephen Merchant presenting it! Make it so! I command it!

        • Shinard says:

          Stephen Merchant? Really? He strikes me as way too awkward and self conscious. I know it’s an image, but still. Say what you like about Richard O’Brien (or Edward Tudor-Pole for that matter) but he had complete confidence in everything they did.

  6. Zanchito says:

    I never understood the appeal of shows /judges who belittle contestants. If I want to see someone breaking someone else’s dreams while being unnecesary hurtful I can just go to work.

    • inspiredhandle says:

      (As per my previous comment) Unless it’s Richard O’Brian doing the belittling. What a champ.

  7. ROMhack2 says:

    Nah nah nah.

    Why not just make a live version of 1 v 100 with smartphone apps if you’re interested in merging gaming and broadcasting? At least that requires, a) real participation, and b) a distinct lack of cringe.

    And while we’re at it, where’s the Have You Played for 1 v 100. ‘Twas a much underappreciated game that.

  8. zarnywoop says:

    Welcome, watchers of illusion, to the castle of confusion.

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    I’m reminded of Killer Net, anyone remember that?
    link to

    If that’s the direction I might watch :)

  10. JB says:

    Time Commanders is back soon. I almost applied for it. Maybe next season.

    (crosses fingers that there’ll be a next season)

    • TheMaru says:

      Just saw that for the first time (I’m not from GB, so never heard of it before) and loved it. Watched a few episodes now and thought sometimes that I had the feeling that they play against AI and that would it be great for them to play against another team. Looks like it they heard my thoughts before I was even thinking them. Definitely try to catch that.

  11. smuppet says:

    Recording players faces to put on the characters is just asking for someone to get their balls out on national TV

  12. Avus says:

    North American game shows are so conservative and so “same formula”, they should take notes from Korean and Japanese…

  13. Moonracer says:

    Anything like this tends to focus on and artificially create human drama. Unfortunately this usually only expresses the most base forms of said drama (petty conflicts, bad relationships, emotions).

  14. Sin Vega says:

    They really need to NOT include “time played” as a stat if they want tolerable humans to take part.

  15. Sin Vega says:

    The most vital thing is the host. They have to get someone who can bridge the gap between “cringeworthily serious” and “taking the piss” like Richard O’Brien did. Which is a pretty tall order, but can be done.

  16. rob4001 says:

  17. racccoon says:

    This is great another cool idea just like Dara O Briain’s Go 8 Bit is a great t.v. show too! soo would love to be a contestant on that! :)

  18. April March says:

    So it’s a regular videogame, but instead of the top tier of players being some boring esports it’s a big narrative thing that even affects the game? Marry me, you British broadcasting bastards.

  19. Shinard says:

    BAMZOOKI! Aw, I miss that show. I watched it religiously, and used to mess around with the creation tool all the time with friends. Took us way too long to figure out how to stagger leg movement, so they weren’t all moving at the same time and the “zook” stopped tripping over itself.

    Oh, and did anyone else get a “Black Mirror” vibe from the trailer?

  20. sapien82 says:

    and watch and wait for the BBC to introduce their online gaming license fee!

    cunts the lot , never trust them they are scum

  21. Sinomatic says:

    For the love of god, why won’t someone just bring back Knightmare and be done with it?

  22. Blake says:

    A milsimmer’s wet dream, really. Not the television part, I mean a competent, professional game master making it more dramatic and interesting. Not necessarily talking about showmanship here though.

    Alright, I’m probably talking about something entirely different here, but it just reminded me how great Arma 3 can be if the right people get together and also how rare these occasions are.

  23. Einsammler says:

    Might I recommend FaceRig for the in-game avatar purposes? Only requires a webcam and doesn’t paste a human face on a flat polygon.