Whenever a new “reality” competition makes its way to television, usually the promos leave me intrigued and I always think maybe I’ll give the show a shot. I don’t really consider myself an avid viewer of this kind of programming, but I have sat through my share of contests: an entire season of CBS’s Big Brother and Survivor, two seasons of Fox’s American Idol, and a handful of episodes of The Amazing Race.
A month or two ago, I watched a trailer for The Tester, a show made available by Sony and Dr. Pepper and available for download on the PlayStation Network. It was nothing short of cringeworthy. On the show, a number of twentysomethings go through a bunch of Double Dare-inspired Physical Challenges(™) in order to secure a job at Sony Computer Entertainment America to become the next PlayStation tester. The goal itself, right from the beginning, put the mother of all dumbstruck looks on my face. My understanding is that being a tester is an awful job, to say the least. People are under the impression that any kind of job where you “get paid to game” must be the best job in the universe since turning the letters on Wheel of Fortune. I’m curious as to whether The Tester’s ‘con-tester-ants’ (har har) are aware of what they signed up for.
In the first episode, we meet the gang, excited at all the PlayStation gear they get to collect, and proudly wear their “Tester” badges. They then meet the host: model, cutie pie, and real trooper Meredith Molinari. She explains what is in store for them, and they meet the two main panelists: Brent Gocke, release manager of first-party quality assurance, SCE etc., and, um, comedian Hal Sparks, because he needs something to live on while he slowly waits until VH1 spits out I Love the ‘10s and ’20s.
The contestants on The Tester answer to what I assume to be their PSN user IDs or the names the show gave them. Some of them already crack me up, like Amped (real name Amanda Brockman), who may have clearly been signed on to be the “cutie” for all the hopeless nerds out there. Hey, maybe she can kick my ass at Modern Warfare 2, too. I’m not at all disputing her gaming skills at all because she belongs to a minority group of ‘hot gamers.’ Regardless, based merely on my assumption on how reality programs work behind the scenes, she could fail miserably at everything the show throws at her, but I can’t see her going anywhere just yet, even if it would leave Meredith as the only eye candy. Big D, well, nothing particularly outstanding except he needs to shave that beard ASAP. Then there’s Doc, whose ear studs, guido haircut and the vomit-inducing desire to pour beer in Apple Jacks just scream “Jersey Shore reject” from the top of a mountain.
I suppose if it weren’t for the fact that this is a program targeted towards what I’m guessing is the 18 – 34 male demographic, and “only” available on the PlayStation Network, and the “prize” for winning games that test important tester-level skills like launching footballs into a bucket, I’d probably dismiss it and move on to something else. But! Watching their “excited” reactions to everything Sony, including one contestant’s orgasmic reaction to guest panelist, Twisted Metal and God of War creator David Jaffe, folks, we might have a spectacular train wreck on our hands. The only thing that saddens me is that the contestants will, as of episode four, face PlayStation Home producer Katherine De Leon. I’m assuming the contestants have either scripted dialogue or at least certain directions to follow but man, I’d totally tell her how I feel about Home, if I were there facing elimination anyway. Can’t. Turn. Away.
Next up: Part One of my most-likely 3,619-part series of my time with Final Fantasy XIII.