Wednesday, October 12, 2011

“The Lab” Hits Home with Jamaican Gamers

The Lab: Video Game TV a locally produced show on FlowTV is changing gaming for the Jamaican audience by offering public access to the latest gaming information. The Jamaican video-gaming landscape has a heavy following; nowadays it is all too common to be acquainted with a passionate gamer. However there are few gaming support resources tailored to fit the Jamaican experience. While the local video gaming industry continues to thrive, offering thirsty gamers a plethora of goods and services, it often lacks specialized avenues to bring information to the local market. The Lab serves to fill the gap where Jamaican gamers have relied on information gained from foreign media, or by word of mouth exchanged in the arcades and game shops which serve as oases to thirsty gamers.
The brainchild of producer and gaming aficionado Wayne Benjamin, The Lab: Video Game TV is a half-hour programme dedicated to the gaming experience in Jamaica. The hobby is an expensive one, as games, consoles, and accessories are imported; under such conditions the information presented on the home grown show is invaluable to the Jamaican gamer with limited resources. In  an environment where cash strapped gamers are very cautious in their selections, The Lab provides the local gamers with news, previews, and in-depth reviews of what’s new and exciting in video-gaming from a Jamaican perspective.
According to Benjamin The Lab is, “Created by gamers for gamers. Anything you want to know about video games you can actually watch The Lab for. The show’s segmented format includes news, reviews and three additional segments: Retro, Who Bus’ Yu, Celeb Gamerz, and Get in the Game, all of which use a Jamaican context presented with engaging narrative, to supply information that affects the local gaming experience.
Michael Look Tong, Director of media services for Flow endorsed the show, explaining that the company aims to “continually offer more new and innovative products and services that help Jamaicans and enhance the way that we work, the way we play, and the way that we learn.” Partnered with Benjamin’s innovative approach to giving the Jamaican gaming community more exposure, the future looks bright for the Jamaican gaming industry.
The views and reviews on The Lab use the distinctly Jamaican living experience, language, and economic factors to present a view that should resonate with local audiences who share similar cultural and technical experiences The show also provides suggestions to the viewer on where they can be purchased new or used, a service of much value to videogame retailers and distributors.
One needs not be into the videogame culture to gain great value from it. The Who Bus’ Yu segment is built not only for the techie-gamer but for the gadget enthusiast in general. The section is great for the gadget-lover who wants to keep abreast of all the latest tech toys and where to find them. The Retro segment appeals to the older gamers and those who have been out of the gaming circle for a while, providing nostalgia-filled analyses of the games of old that are still loved today.

Benjamin explains, “The Lab isn’t just for grown men or little boys, it’s for everybody. The gaming demographic is unbelievably wide, it’s huge.” Benjamin’s sentiments display his understanding of the Jamaican gaming community, and the format of the show stays true to this understanding.  Celeb Gamerz exemplifies the far reach of local gaming as viewers can see their favourite local entertainers such as Tiffa, Assassin, Queen Ifrica and a slew of others, getting into game mode, and sharing their favourite games and tips.
Get in the Game provides local videogame tournament hosts and those looking to exhibit other services a medium to promote their skills and events. It also provides players looking to test their ability in competition with all the information they’ll need to get out there, get in the game and compete with their fellow gamers.
 Reviews on The Lab are candid providing pros and cons of featured games. In a similar vein to internet and overseas breakdowns, review criteria is separated into categories such as genre, graphics, and game play, and then given a final score out of 10. However the home-grown Jamaican perspective makes the difference here. In the case of games with online communal components where the experience differs greatly from one gaming community to another; The Lab Reviews segment also gives Jamaicans access to helpful insights in playing remotely with overseas team members.
The Lab: Video Game TV is the first of its kind in Jamaica. It is a vehicle for entertainment and information for a continually growing sub-culture that has lacked mainstream support in the Jamaican society.  The show airs Mondays at 7:00pm with a repeat broadcast on Wednesdays at 7:30pm on Flow channel 100.
Producer of "The Lab" Wayne Benjamin

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