Television was a very important hurdle for the videogame industry to surpass. Yes, there had been game commercials on the tube since the 80’s, but games themselves didn’t become a focus until really the 00’s. I know what you’re thinking, what about Nick Arcade or Starrcade? Nick Arcade was a game show, where kids would answer questions that they somehow remembered from Social Studies class, and then play the most awkward video games ever in some sort of VR situation. Some sort of prepubescent Oculus. Starrcade was a less critical, more used car salesman style exposure to game play of the time’s most state-of-the-art games. Respectable, but I wouldn’t call it a breakthrough. This doesn’t count, either.
No longer shackled to print in magazines or archaic internet websites (probably hosted by Geocities), game critique would plant its flag in the cratery new landscape of extended cable. ZDtv and Gamespot.com reached a deal to run a Gamespot branded TV network, and hosts Adam Sessler and Lauren Fielder would be the first explorers of this brave new journalistic world. The show would change names for a few years, as well as co-hosts. As much as I personally loved Kate Botello (and her Judy Garland-impression), the TV show didn’t make its biggest and most important change until 2003, when Morgan Webb came aboard.
This isn’t to imply that she was the driving force behind the newly expanded set and more verbose and dynamic writing, but as the end user, I associate all of the memorable antics of the show with the dynamic duo, which didn’t start until she showed up. Rudimentary arithmetic, go!
A mainstay in other TechTV programs like The ScreenSavers and Call for Help, Webb was pretty much a shoo in for such a role. She had gained such a following thanks to spots like her Windows Tips, that the growing fanbase grew to demand more Webb. Even outside of her X-Play work, she was a regular on pretty much every other popular show on the network. Her cynically seasoned commentary on games, tech, and pop culture was one of the now defunct network’s most important strengths. Be it guest spots on Attack of the Show, or Morgan’s Minutes wedged between ads during commercial breaks, she was a consistent personality that was reliably enjoyable, especially when the network’s future was most tumultuous.
Her non-G4 work is rather expansive, as well. She’s often summoned to provide a gamers perspective for outlets outside of the industry, most notably shows like Chelsea Lately and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. She wrote columns for FHM up until they stopped publishing them in ‘07, to answer gamers mostly-gamer-related questions. She produced her own web content in the form of daily video blog, WebbAlert!, which would last about a year and a half. Even without the infamous Madonna Incident, she was a web icon, and a foremost authority of the Internet Age.
After the fall of G4, Webb landed a pretty sweet gig at evil overlords mega-publisher Activision Blizzard, as a “creative advisor.” I’m not sure what that means, but so far it means she hosts a monthly webshow, WoW Source, where she discusses various aspects of the multi-million dollar franchise with the people who make it. I don’t play WoW, but I do watch Source. I like listening to people talk all nerd like about games, even if I don’t play them.
That, and you know, Morgan’s there.