The first time I met Adam Sessler, it was March of 2000. I remember it well because I’d watched a ton of episodes of ZDTV’s Gamespot TV in anticipation of my starting work on the show as a segment producer. I must admit I was a bit intimated to meet this super-energized guy with crazy spiky blonde hair and shirts loud enough to match. That intimidation was immediatly put to rest by the endless intelligence, sensitivity and outrageous sense of humor of the guy who would quickly become one of my closest friends. Once you get to know Adam even a little bit, you can’t help but be on his team.
We spent a couple of years doing a lot of traveling for the show as it evolved into Extended Play and ZDTV evolved into TechTV. As we traveled to places as far flung as Tokyo, London and Mesquite Texas, we always made each other laugh non-stop. We began to wonder how we could infuse that mostly ridiculous sense of humor into a show about games. Right about that time, I was asked by the head of programming at TechTV (a wonderful guy and mentor named Greg Brannan) to think about what a late night show about videogames may look like, and create a pilot. That pilot was fun and challenging to create and I worked very closely with Adam on it (as well as an extremely talented and creative show team), infusing the sense of humor we’d talked about for years. That pilot became “X-Play,” also hosted by another good friend, Morgan Webb. X-Play wraps up at the end of the year after almost 9 years on the air. I can tell you when we first launched it in 2003, we didn’t even know if we would last a month. Lucky for us, and thanks to the loyal viewers, we were the top-rated show on TechTV that month and kept bringing in strong numbers for the life of the show.
Now I get to greet a brand new era of working with Adam Sessler and officially welcome him to Revision3. I’m beyond excited to have him join the stellar Rev3Games team. Max Scoville, Tara Long, Anthony Carboni and producer Zac Minor have the brand of humor and journalistic integrity that made X-Play great. Now we have the former host of X-play joining us to help guide Rev3Games into the future. I know Adam can’t wait to throw himself fully into the online video space and become a leader in this world as he did in the world of traditional television.
I’m endlessly excited to see what comes next from this group and I hope you’ll join me in watching every step of the way!
-Ryan Vance, Sr. VP, Programming and Production
Some thoughts from Mr. Sessler himself:
It would be a dramatic understatement to say that the abrupt end of an experience that was part of my life for 14 years was striking. I came to television by accident, encouraged to audition for a show I had questionable aptitude for in 1998 by friends associated with other friends in one of those circuitous social grapevines that defined life for many young people living in San Francisco in the heady, bustle-y and exuberant 90’s. That job, hosting Gamespot TV on ZDTV, was something that promised to be as fleeting a part of my life as any residence, girlfriend or life ambition I had had up until that point. Somehow it stuck, somehow I grew into the role and matured with it as the show engaged in its own metamorphosis, becoming Extended Play and then X-Play, the early years of which still elicits shock from me for its audacity. I knew one day it had to end, and at the beginning of this year, it became increasingly clear that my time was at a close. After 14 years, it was hard to conceive of what would come next. Re-reading my final review from earlier this year – of Mass Effect 3 – I’m struck by my obsession with finality and the inescapable gravity of closure, that things end and that the process sometimes forsakes any agency on your part.
The months that followed my departure from the show were both jarring and revelatory. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but it was exhilarating to get to make that choice. I played games on my terms, made every effort to avoid wearing pants, and with my newfound distance, was able to crystalize what it was that kept me going through three networks, seven sets and some horrible fashion choices. It came down to two things: curiosity and fun. The game industry, even when it feels the most plastic and predictable, always manages to surprise and find some mutation – Half-Life, Starcraft, Ico, Halo, Katamary Damacy, Bioshock and Call of Duty come to mind – that, despite their stature now, rattled the backbone of the industry and reinvested my interest in the creative and technical process behind their development. At the end of the day though, videogames are about fun, and if not exactly “fun,” then some form of aesthetic pleasure. X-Play, in its alternating reverence and absurdity was about that celebration and it was essential that, wherever I would myself next, those values could take hold again.
Not long after my departure from X-Play, I was contacted by Ryan Vance, Senior Vice President of Programming & Production at Revision3, a man with whom I had worked since the early, deeply wide-eyed days of Extended Play, who became a close friend and professional partner-in-crime with globe-trotting war stories that still generate eye-watering laughter over drinks. He was right there with me as we created X-Play, a do-or-die initiative where he helped make “do,” the only option. It was in this creative process (which included the inestimable talents of many people, not the least of which was Morgan Webb) that we truly threw caution to the wind, violated the rules of our television format and games journalism precepts, creating something that combined unvarnished honesty, love of videogames, the need to break barriers and the untapped humor of a man and his dead fish. We loved it and as much as we were certain it would last 5 weeks. That was 2003. His call to me was in May 2012. After some discussion and pants-less gallivanting on my part (check Twitter: @adamsessler), it was clear that to get back to covering games with my values, I needed to get back to my roots.
With that, I am very happy to be announcing my arrival at Revision3, more specifically Rev3Games. I have already been taken with the talent, personality and conviction of Tara Long, Max Scoville and Anthony Carboni and cannot wait to see how this mix of personalities will manifest itself in the weeks and months to come. While we may not know exactly what may come as of yet, I can assure you that it will be honest, it will continue my interest in raising the discourse of videogames beyond the false contests of reviews and the fetishization of minutiae, and it will involve you, the community, because you are playing the games along with us. Most of all, it will be fun and inclusive. Come all and get some.
My favorite game of all time is Capcom’s Ghosts and Goblins. I played it obsessively at the local bowling alley in El Cerrito at the age of nine. I loved it because it had the most articulated art direction of any game I had seen, Technicolor absurdist malevolence. I played it because there was a reward beyond a high score; it was seeing the next level, each distinct from the last. All the effort of playing a game that was so aneurism-inducing hard was just to see what was around the corner, to see something new. Right now, I feel like that 9-year old and I couldn’t be happier.
“I been away a long time” – Chief Bromden, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest