WCG Ultimate Gamer producers interview, the Games begin on Syfy Aug. 19

Syfy, in partnership with Samsung and the World Cyber Games, levels up to the second season of WCG Ultimate Gamer, premiering Thursday, August 19th at 11:00PM ET/PT on Syfy. 

The show consists of eight 1-hour episodes, and pits a dozen top video gamers from around the country against each other to test their skills in a range of video game and real-life competition that takes them “beyond the game,” all while living together as housemates.

Big Brother with a Joy Stick.

Drama will unfold, as only one gamer can emerge victorious to claim the title of WCG Ultimate Gamer.

From real-life, large-scale challenges inspired by top-selling games including Tekken 6, Wii Sports Resort, Mario Kart Wii, NHL 2010, Battlefield Bad Company 2, Forza 3 and WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 to head-to-head elimination matches before hundreds of screaming spectators, the last gamer standing will have survived gaming’s ultimate test and will be dubbed the best all-around gamer in the world. In winning, they will take home the biggest prize in gaming: $100k, the ultimate Samsung prize package and the chance to represent the World Cyber Games at events around the world.

This season, the final contestants will face off for the title at the prestigious 10th anniversary WCG 2010 Grand Final competition and festival taking place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, September 30th – October 3rd 2010. The WCG Grand Final is the world’s largest gaming festival, held annually with thousands of participants from around the world.

Monsters and Critics spoke to Hannah Simone and Joel Gourdin, the co-hosts of WCG Ultimate Gamer as well as Executive Producers Michael Agbabian and Dwight D. Smith yesterday about this high-energy competition that airs Thursday, August 19th at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific.

Monsters & Critics: All right, so I watched the first episode and I loved how your series sort of blows away the fallacies that gamers are A, all guys and B, big giant fat potatoes, it’s actually quite a svelte group, physically fit and in shape given the obesity crisis that we’re facing as a nation and I was wondering if you could talk about your general observations in this community, if you could talk about what you thought all the different cities, the auditions and eliminate for people your observations…

Joel Gourdin: No, you guys first. I mean, you guys are the producers, yeah.

Dwight Smith: I think for us there really is a stereotype of who gamers are and in our auditions we realized it’s not true. They come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all ages.

I mean, we had people in their 50s auditioning who were really skilled gamers. We had some women this season who are amazing and can really give the guys a run for their money.

We had all types, all shapes, all sizes and I think the message is clear that gaming is not some sort of niche hobby. It’s massive and it’s something that reaches out to the masses and it appeals to all shapes and sizes and all types of people.

Michael Agbabian: I actually appreciate your question because I think that one of the things that I learned after doing this for two seasons is that the stereotype I think is actually really should be blown away.

I think gaming is such a massive part of our pop culture and so many people play games, it eclipses obviously television and film in terms of revenue and all sorts of other things, yet people seem to forget I think sometimes and if there’s anything that we can do on this show other than to entertain, I would love to show the world that gamers are not what people think they are.

Dwight and I have done a lot of different types of television shows and the one thing about gamers in particular is they are exceptionally competitive, probably more so than a typical reality contestant and they’re very smart and they’re game players.

So they play the game almost – they almost outplay us in some respects – and we’re on our toes for the entire time of production because they even try to outthink us.

Hannah Simone: I was just going to say and then I would going to ask you Joel to help support me on this but I think also if you look at how the gaming industry has evolved, it has become incredibly physical.

The days I think of just sitting on your couch to play video games, that isn’t even true anymore in 2010. I mean, like I played video games and after half an hour, I’m exhausted to be honest with you because especially when you play something like the Wii, you’re up, you’re on your feet, you’re running around.

So I think that the industry has shifted and I think shows like Ultimate Gamer help the perception of who a gamer is actually shift as well away from that negative stereotype.

Joel Gourdin: Absolutely.  I think Hannah has a great point. I mean, with Kinetic and Move coming out really soon and with Rock Band and DDR and all the peripherals from the Wii, games are more active than we’ve ever been and of course, we’re always interested in a good peripheral or a new way to play on Ultimate Gamer, anything that’s visually exciting will translate so well on TV.

But as for the stereotypes, I mean, I always love this topic because when I started out in gaming media, I was worried that it wasn’t for me anymore, that I wasn’t a “good fit” and when I first met with Dwight and Michael, that was the first thing they said is, “We want to create something that bucks that trend.”

So I was very excited about the project really just to make gamers look really good and sometimes when I’ve been out in the field talking after season 1 and people say, you know, oh, what about so-and-so crying or so-and-so getting emotional or so-and-so getting angry.

I’m always excited to say well, I’m glad that people get to see gamers like this instead of robots who have no life. I think that’s offensive. I think gamers come in all shapes and sizes and creeds and it’s ridiculous to pigeonhole them and I’m always excited to hear that people enjoy that aspect.

M&C:  That’s what my follow-up is, regarding your production values. It’s been very well produced and I love the editing, the post production that you’ve done on it and the amount of work and effort for the stages and the physical challenges that your cast faces and I was wondering if you could talk about how big your crew is and the people who put the show together.

Dwight Smith: Well, first of all, thank you for saying that. That means a lot to us because we really strived on this show to create a unique look to keep our production value extremely high and to make it look special and different and stand out so the fact that you’ve sort of recognized that and acknowledged it means a lot to us so thank you.

Michael Agbabian:  The show’s a little bit of an unusual beast as you can tell. There’s different editing styles, there’s different types of shooting the different challenges.

To make a long answer as short as possible, we essentially have two crews for lack of more real specific, I mean, we have a reality crew that basically shoots the real-life challenge and part of the isolation challenge as well as all the house reality.

And then we have a stage crew which the typical multi-camera setup with the truck who of course with another director, a different director who does Samsung Stadium and a portion of the isolation challenge as well and then the rooftop ceremony and all of that is handled by the reality crew.

So overall, at one point I think the show employs – when you consider postproduction – about almost 300 people overall, yeah, in different stages, of course not all at once but in the height of production we’re probably at about 200 probably.

And we have about eight editors who are working furiously to get the show done and on the air and we do pride ourselves a lot in the style of the show. We think it’s important that for this particular audience that it’s so exposed to so much media on a minute-by-minute basis to keep them visually interested in a show like this is challenging and we understand that we have to come up to the challenge and we’re hoping to do that.

M&C: Wow. Is it fair to say that (Kat) is our Omarosa?

Dwight Smith: You know, I don’t know if it is – this is Dwight – I don’t know if it is or not. She has many layers to her and you see a lot of that as the episode unfolds and things kind of move on so I don’t know if that’s true.

When I think of Omarosa, I think of somebody who’s one level and I think (Kat) has many levels to her and I think she’s somebody who’s an incredibly skilled gamer and she’s not somebody who’s just there to be a personality. She’s somebody who has some significant skills to back it up.

Hannah Simone: And (as in to) Dwight like I said is she’s a second-generation gamer, like her father is an incredible gamer as well, no?

Dwight Smith: Yes. Her entire family games. Her mother games, her father games, all her siblings game. The whole family games together so yeah, she’s grown up with it.



Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.