Gaming With The Stars? Get Ready for the Next Reality TV Talent Show
11 Feb, 2020By: Mary Helen Sprecher
We’ve already seen a sit-com being developed around esports with a show reminiscent of the Big Bang Theory.
Now, get ready for gaming’s return to reality TV. A top esports team is seeking a new player and they’re inviting gamers to try out by submitting videos of themselves – which will likely come from competitions.
And that means event owners can reap the benefits of more attention on the growing sport, particularly if they position their events as a way for potential contestants to showcase their skills. And after all, what gamer wouldn’t want the chance to raise his or her profile and make that part of a portfolio of credentials being turned in to the show’s producers.
It’s not like it hasn’t been tried before. 2018 saw “The Gaming Life: Seattle,” about a group of contenders in a Fortnite competition. The show, which was broadcast on YouTube’s Overtime channel, was not picked up for a second season. And the following summer, Peach Media Productions put out an APB for gamers who would be interested in starring in a separate TV show. There has been no word since then on whether or when it will air.
According to Variety, Quibi will let viewers of “FaZe Up” (the working title of the show, although “Gaming with the Stars” might be catchier) submit videos showing off their gaming skills and making the case to join the team. Quibi subscribers then will vote to determine six finalists, who will travel to FaZe Clan’s headquarters to compete in a series of real-life and gaming challenges. Ultimately, one gamer (selected by FaZe) will be crowned the winner, receiving a slot on the team and a cash prize.
“The ‘FaZe Up’ show represents our next chapter in content creation with our first premium production effort and in collaboration with innovative partners like Whistle and Quibi,” FaZe Clan head of content Oluwafemi Okusanya said in a statement.
FaZe Clan has a roster of about 85 personalities who compete across six competitive esports teams in Fortnite, FIFA, PUBG, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, known in the gamer world as CS:GO.
The Verge notes that while there has been coverage of esports competitions in a clear format, the reality competition aspect adds a Hollywood flair “that hasn’t really been seen in the e-sports industry. Most professional video game players today are scouted either through the top leaderboards and tournaments of popular titles like Fortnite and League of Legends or they’re already well-known social media personalities with big followings on Twitch and YouTube. From there, an organization like Faze would sign a contract with the player to bring them onto its roster of talent, which can involve being a content creator or competing as part of an established esports team dedicated to a distinct title (in some cases, both).”
Additionally, the ability of a gamer to appeal to the voter crowd may depend on personality and appeal as on gaming skills – and in fact, “the description for Faze Up doesn’t say that potential contestants have to be top-tier in any one game or that they even need to have a substantial social media presence.”
Baby Boomers who are reading this will see a similarity to a reality TV show, “Grease: You’re the One that I Want,” in which a cast of Danny and Sandy wannabes was voted upon by a TV audience over a seven-month period, with the winners being awarded the roles in a Broadway revival that lasted about two years.
So with a format that seems to work and an up-and-coming sport that appeals to the (much) younger crowd, the concept seems poised for success. The only catch? You gotta hurry. The series will be part of the lineup in Quibi, set to launch April 6. According to Variety, Quibi’s untested hypothesis is that it can persuade smartphone-addicted millennials to pay for exclusive scripted and unscripted short-form programming like “FaZe Up.”