If you hadn’t heard the news earlier this week, fans of video game themed YouTube shows got a bit of a shock. Classic Game Room is shutting down. Well mostly. Mark Bussler will still be writing, and shooting episodes, but at an unknown pace. On the CGR website forums, he made the announcement that he’s moving into a newer career soon, and subsequently the CGR store, site, and its sister show CGR Undertow are going to be phased out by years end.
On the one hand I, and many fans are certainly happy that Mark has found an opportunity. But on the other hand it’s sad for a number of reasons, the biggest being that all of the wonderful people who made the channel work behind the scenes need to find work. I hope every one of them does. As someone who has experienced a company closure twice, as well as a layoff during a downsize, it is a tough go of it, even tougher these days. The upside for them is they have enough experience to not only do work elsewhere, but some may be able to transition into doing what they love for themselves. So we may see a new venture composed of CGR talent. One can only hope.
But losing Classic Game Room is a huge void in the realm of YouTube channels. Many people don’t realize it, but Mark Bussler’s review show was actually one of the earliest. It may have even been the first by some accounts. It started online life back in 2008. But it started life even before that; in 1999. Classic Game Room is also unique. The show didn’t try to come off like a games publication. There weren’t scores, or breakdowns. Mark (and later the Undertow crew) would simply talk about how much he enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy a game, or a console, peripheral, or computer. It was also unique in that it didn’t go the route of riffing. Many really good shows took the approach of reliving bad games, and making jokes about them. Over time they added well thought out critiques, and perspectives to the comedy. Classic Game Room didn’t try to jump on trends. That isn’t to say there was never comedy. There were jokes, and references. But like the rest of the show, it was lighthearted. One of the staples over the years was a bit where a game or device would be attempted to be connected to an incompatible console. The show incorporated its own comic books, and recurring characters. The set had a retro kitsch many times, including disco balls, lava lamps, and other items in the background. It was rare an episode was ever more than a few minutes in length. Again, concentrating on the experience, and whether or not it was enjoyable to the host.
The show also had a great soundtrack, from the iconic theme song to the background tunes. Everything had an old school, needle drop quality you’d find before, and after commercials on radio shows back in the day. These were called bumps. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block has also continued this tradition. But now I’ve begun to ramble. The point is, that Classic Game Room was a great show, and it is going to be missed greatly by a lot of people who love video games. Not only did it cover a lot of the classics, and new releases, it also covered a lot of underrated gems. There are a lot of people who discovered a lot of really great games on that show over the years. It wasn’t only wistful older gamers like me who loved it, but many younger generations interested in what came before. Classic Game Room certainly isn’t the only show that has had that effect, but it is one of the most notable. If you haven’t watched this seminal series, you should really check it out while you still can. As for myself, I’m going to pour one out for the CGR crew, binge watch some reruns, and then fire up some TRUXTON.
Thank you Classic Game Room for years of entertainment, education, and giving us reasons to purchase some craft beer.