As the video game industry and culture has continued to grow, gaming has grown from interactive entertainment to a spectator sport. Numerous leagues and streaming websites now feature live streaming broadcasts of almost any video game in the world, ranging from major competitions to walk-throughs of popular titles taking place in a gamer’s living room.
Gaming Under the Influence aims to change the rules and bring video game competition out of the the living room. Taking place every Friday night from O’Malley’s Liquor Kitchen in Chicago, GUI brings television production quality to the table as participants take part in a combination of video game competition and drinking games.
“A couple years ago, I toyed around with the idea of doing something different than a ‘stream’,” said GUI‘s Jared Hoffa. “I play a lot of games, but I can’t sit and watch someone play games on Twitch. It bores the hell out of me.”
According to Hoffa, it was a trip to another part of the world that helped him put the pieces together for the show that would become GUI.
“I headed over to South Korea for fun and made it a point to see what they were doing in TV and gaming,” he said. “As most gamers know, professional video gaming is serious business over there and broadcasted on two major networks. What you might not know is the studio that makes all this magic is smaller than a high school gymnasium and broadcasted in standard definition. The same day, the executives at KBS-TV showed me GAG, a live, improv show that seats 500 audience members every show. It was unbelievable. With that, I had my motivation.”
Bringing video gamers out of gaming streams and into an entertainment venue was aimed at bringing them to the forefront, according to Hoffa. Several video game personalities, including Robot Combat League contestant Keisha Howard, have already appeared on GUI.
“I wanted people besides hardcore gamers to be engaged and have fun,” Hoffa added. “I wanted gamers to find a new platform to showcase their talent and their personality. Take off the Turtle Beaches and get out of the chairs. Give people a show!”
Stressing that Gaming Under the Influence is not a video game livestream, Hoffa brings years of television experience to the live show.
“I’ve been an on-air personality for NBCUniversal’s In The Loop w/ iVillage, and a producer/shooter/editor for ABC, NBC, and WCIU-TV in Chicago,” he said. “As of now, I’m on-air as the witty App-Man on ABC7 Chicago’s Windy City Live. Television is fun, brutal, and unforgiving in every-way possible, but it’s an experience I’d never want to live without. GUI takes an entire production team and a slew of equipment to make possible. All the graphics you see, all the effects and camera changes is happening live.”
The surroundings of Gaming Under the Influence combined with a live broadcast brings an unpredictable element to the show, according to Hoffa.
“Every show we do, something memorable happens,” he said. “I think my favorite show is when a random old guy in a suit jumped on stage and started dancing next to the contestants. It was random, it was hilarious, and it threw everyone off…even our play-by-play announcer.”
Gaming Under the Influence airs live every Friday night at TheGUIShow.com. Viewers can interact with the live shows by voting with the Hot Box throughout the broadcast.
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