After watching the first episode, Melissa, a chef who lives in Los Angeles, sent Andrew a MySpace message. “I saw the first episode of GameLife when they were SomethingAwful’s ‘Awful Link of the Day,’ ” she says. “There was something so endearing about Andrew and Alex that I had to track them down and tell them so. I made a wisecrack about submitting a guest review and Andrew told me to do it.” Melissa was drawn to the show’s guilelessness. “These guys aren’t out to impress anyone; they just decided to make a show one day.”
Out on the left coast, Melissa taped a review of the cutesy Mario Brothers spin-off Super Princess Peach and e-mailed it to Andrew, who edited it into the show. “She reviews all the ‘cute’ games,” says Andrew.
“But,” Alex clarifies, “it’s not like we tell her, ‘You’re a girl, you review these.’ ”
It should be noted that, besides reviewing “cute” games, Melissa is, well, very cute: fit, a fresh face, fishnet tights, and a funny, engaging personality. These are not traits that are typically found in much abundance in hardcore gaming circles, and Melissa, presumably, has helped keep viewers around who otherwise might not have watched more than one episode.
Then there’s Geoff Mendicino, 17, a self-professed “bad boy” from Tallahassee, Florida. Like Melissa, Geoff happened on a GameLife episode while surfing GoogleVideo. “I found their video, and I was like, ‘Holy crap, this is freaking amazing,’ ” he says. “I love these guys. They are so awkward but they try, and they try in just a freaking awesome way.”
Mendicino is a different beast from the guys in Needham. In one of his first reviews, he takes on the classic 1988 Nintendo shoot-’em-up, Contra, which is notoriously difficult to beat with just the three allotted lives it gives you. As Tiny Tim’s “Living in the Sunlight, Loving in the Moonlight” trills in the background, Mendicino rages at the screen, screaming, cursing, howling, gnashing teeth, and, ultimately, banging his head against the wall in abject frustration. Cut to the next scene, where he stares dolefully into the camera, blood flowing copiously from his nose.
“Geoff’s craaaaaaazy,” says Dave. “He brings loudness and a lot of outbursts. Which for some reason people love.”
Says Melissa: “Geoff is a loveable jackass.”
Sure, his foul mouth and off-color jokes might sometimes seem at odds with the show’s tenor, but, hey, “he’s a little bit younger, and not as mature yet as us,” Andrew reasons (about a guy who’s two years his junior). And, at the end of the day, “he brings lots of fans.”
The big time
Fans are exactly what Alex Porter, senior producer for MTV’s online portal, Overdrive, was counting on when he decided GameLife might be good for the station. He’s constantly on the lookout for new and off-kilter material (one of his spots profiles a 71-year old grandmother who’s a hardcore gamer), and he had a hunch this “Wayne’s World of gaming” would be just the thing. So MTV sent the GameLife guys a free copy of Big Brain Academy and told them to review it and send back the clip.