Mark your calendar for Thursday, February 18. That's the premiere date for The Tester, an exclusive to PlayStation Home reality show in which a 11 contestants compete in "grueling physical and mental challenged" to win five thousand dollars and a position as a game tester at SCEA.
Wait, the winner gets to be a game tester?
Anyway, there are eight episodes planned to air weekly on Thursdays. According to Sony's press release, "emotions run high, alliances form and they battle with brain and brawn. While donning giant slingshots, paintball guns, and human hamster balls, contestants will be put to the test in a series of elimination challenges shaped around the skills necessary to be a game tester, including dexterity, communication skills and mental prowess."
Does that sound like entertainment to you?
The show is hosted by Meredith Molinari, "model and host of multiple online music shows," and will be judged by video game industry insiders.
PS3 owners can either download the show or view the latest episode of The Tester with other gamers in the PlayStation Home Theater every Thursday, as well as "purchase a variety of The Tester virtual items relating to scenes from the show or their favorite cast member."
I'll be honest: I don't predict huge success for The Tester. While I really like the idea of narrow-cast content being shown through the PlayStation Network, The Tester doesn't seem like the killer app to make this happen. It seems like a cheap-to-produce test program aimed squarely at the wrong target. I mean, seriously, is anyone interested in watching wannabe game-testers rolling around in giant hamster balls?
I've never tested games before, but I have friends who have, and they tell me that "playing games for a living" isn't as rad as it sounds. It works like this: Someone says, "Here, sit in this dank basement and play Imagine: Animal Doctor on the DS until your eyes bleed. If you notice any bugs, fill out this complicated paperwork, but please try not to tell us, as it makes extra work for the programmers. Here's minimum wage for you, and if you're lucky, here's a T-shirt for Call of Duty 2: The Big Red One." It doesn't seem to have much to do with the dexterity, communication skills and mental prowess" mentioned in the show's press material.
The prize in this show is actually the problem. The only sensible prize for TV is a lot of money. Think of that P. Diddy show, where the prize is the chance to be an assistant to a self-important music guy. Again: I've known several entertainment assistance, and the quality of the job depends on the personality of your employer: Get some nice actor lady and you get paid good money to walk a dog and pick up dry cleaning; get some big-headed, mean mogul and it's nightmare city...Or The Apprentice: Who wants to be a junior guy at the Trump organization?
But what do you think? Is there a future for original, gamer-entertainment on the PlayStation Network?