Amidst the acid washed jeans, side ponytails and shoulder pad trends of the 1980s, many gamers forget (or just weren’t even there yet) that full motion video games were actually a trend. Live action video narration in games eventually went as dead as pastel suits, giving up the throne to devs that could render full worlds by the pixel at an (admittedly cheaper) cost. I mean, seriously, did any of you actually play Night Trap? There’s a reason these things died.
I therefore considered it a bold move when publisher Tinybuild Games announced a fully acted newsroom simulator, Not For Broadcast, at Pax West 2019. How the hell would a game style as old as the mullet compete in today’s day and age? I’m still uncertain, but after playing the demo —- consider me intrigued.
Not for Broadcast bills itself as a “Dystopian Newsroom Simulator”, set in 1980s Great Britain. Your character plays an unassuming TV broadcaster pulled in as a favor to your friend who has calleds you to run a nightly broadcast. Your goal is to air a news segment as seamlessly as possible — you pop in cassette tapes to pick commercials, choose from multiple angle shots of live action sequences during an on- the- air recording to splice together video feed, and avoid the embarrassing segments that may occur when your cast thinks the cameras aren’t rolling.
The entire time you’re live, a viewership bar on the top tells you how well you’re doing. All in all, it’s actually quite fun to get your Newsroom on. The mechanics that were available were unique and well thought through, and I agonized over getting the perfect shots.
What makes me most excited for Not for Broadcast, however, is the potential — the promise of what is to come. I only got to play an alpha cut of the game, so the one thing that was missing in the demo of dystopian news was the concept of dystopia. What does that mean for the upcoming release? Will the game force you into playing a top-down, government mandated version of the news, using it’s witty, cast-acted, video statements as political commentary for today’s post-truth day and age? Or will it actually provide you with a choice to go full- on pirate radio and air the video footage truth that the people need to see, man?
Whatever the game lets you choose will ultimately decide its playability and interest to the general public. I’m not expecting full motion video games to make a comeback, but if anything — we might get treated to an interesting slice of nostalgia.
Not for Broadcast makes it to the airwaves in November. You can wishlist it on Steam.