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A Perspective About Gaming in Late Night Talk Shows

"This mainstream coverage a good or bad rap for games?"

Over the past couple years, video games have been getting mainstream attention on late night talk shows. It was a sign of the times when old timers were on the way out and the current hosts seemed more catered to the 18-41 year old demographic especially gamers. Stephen Colbert’s CBS show recently premiered and while he has YouTube Gaming sensation PewDiePie and Sean Murray from Hello Games showing off No Man’s Sky later this week, it will be interesting to see how he handles the gaming crowd compared to the other crop of late night hosts. With that in mind, let’s take a look how late night talk shows have been handling video games lately.

First off is Jimmy Fallon and I would say he’s been giving gaming a fair shake throughout his Late Night and current Tonight Show days. He’s had dedicated video game weeks with big names in the gaming world showing off the latest games from Phil Spencer around the Xbox One’s launch, Reggie Fils-Aime from Nintendo with Super Mario 3D World and Mark Cerny for the Playstation 4’s launch. Personally, his bigger pull with the gaming audience is the more nostalgic games just like how he likes bringing things back with the recent Kenan and Kel Good Burger sketch and the Saved By the Bell one a while back. The one with Pierce Brosnan above for GoldenEye 007 was a great example of it along with Mike Tyson for Punch-Out. Hopefully Jimmy has more video game weeks in the future because I think he knows his current demographic of viewers that watch his show on a regular basis.

The same couldn’t be said for Jimmy Kimmel. Out of the current crop of late night talk show hosts, Kimmel seems to be the old guard of the bunch. He recently put the launch of YouTube gaming on blast, more specifically gamers that spend hours watching than playing games in his comedic, stereotypical fashion. He did have gamers Markiplier and MissesMae to educate on the art of watching others play games to compensate for all the hate mail he got. Sure, the internet crowd would go on an outrage over something they enjoy, but seeing the hate mail at a mainstream level definitely gave gamers a bad rap. Kimmel at least tried to make things right with the segment above, but we’ll see if he gives the gaming crowd another chance at the limelight for his show.

Conan O’ Brien however has embraced the gaming audience the best of the three I mentioned. His Clueless Gamer segments fit his comedic style and fortunately some of his staff have been avid gamers that help him out on these to the point they have the TeamCoco Twitch channel where Conan himself stops by from time to time. He just had a new one last week for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 with Tony Hawk and rapper Lil’ Wayne, but the biggest games of the year do get the spotlight so we’ll see more of these this holiday season. Conan has also been to E3 the past couple years as well for his show checking out indie games with his jokes and of course making fun at the voice of Mario too. The best one is arguably his Mortal Kombat X one with Marshawn Lynch and Rob Gronkowski.

It’s great that gaming has been getting more exposure in late night television whether good or bad. While most of the hosts have been giving them a fair shake and publishers are willing to dish out the marketing dollars, Conan has been the one embracing it the best and most compared to other hosts. Fallon is good with the nostalgia segments, but Kimmel is still not in tune with gamers yet. I’m sure Colbert this week will be fine with PewDiePie and No Man’s Sky, which we haven’t seen much since E3. Along with more e-sports coming to cable in the next year, it feels like it’s still the beginning for TV giving gaming more exposure.

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