The Harsh Battle Outside the Arena

Posted on December 1, 2012
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If you got your television through http://www.satellitetv.net around 2002, then you might have had access to the G4 TV channel and seen a program called Arena. At its height, G4 was ostensibly about gaming television and Arena was just one of their many video game oriented programs.

It basically pitted online players in competitive multiplayer matches following a format similar to most competitive game shows. While lots of people thought it was a riot, few really knew what was going on behind the scenes.

Originally hosted by Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame) and Travis Oates, geeks in their own right, the show had a dark secret. The secret was that the producer absolutely abhorred geek culture and geeks (the people the show as marketed to).

The producer, according to Wil Wheaton, would set up competitions and teams with gamers from all over the world, and then proceed to treat everyone like garbage. Often times, contestants were made to sit in waiting room lobbies for several hours on end when they weren’t being paid or compensated in even the slightest.

The shows reputation was so soiled in the gaming circles that they even had trouble finding gamers to compete. Toward the end, they tried substituting staff members for contestants and passing them off as genuine, unaffiliated people.

It eventually got so bad that Wil and Travis left their job after a dispute in which they were unceremoniously and unexpectedly demoted and docked their pay. From there it was all downhill and the program was eventually cancelled.

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