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July 28, 2014

'Pure Pwnage' Brings Gaming to the Small Screen

by Chris Jancelewicz, posted Mar 9th 2010 11:59PM


Do you know anyone who sits around in their sweatpants and plays video games for over 24 hours straight? What about that dude from work who talks about his online domination as if it were reality? If you know what I'm talking about, then you're going to absolutely love Showcase's new online-hit-turned-TV-show 'Pure Pwnage' (pronounced OWN-age, it means that you "own" the other player).

"Pwnage" isn't the only gamer word in this show's vernacular – there's "noob", short for "newbie", meaning rookie gamer. Then there are acronyms like "FPS", which means first-person shooter. If you're at all into gaming, or know someone who is, none of this should be alien to you... unless, of course, you like games featuring aliens.

'Pure Pwnage' began as an overwhelmingly successful web series, started by Toronto residents Jarett Cale and Geoff Lapaire in 2004. They not only helm the creative force behind the show, but they also star in it. Cale plays socially-awkward, games-obsessed Jeremy, who games under the 'the_pwnerer' identity online. Lapaire plays his brother Kyle, who eagerly films, documentary-style, every misstep Jeremy makes.

AOL TV Canada sat down to talk with Cale and Lapaire about making the jump to television, what the reception has been like from the gaming community, and what they're going to do if 'Pure Pwnage' takes off.

Do you know anyone who sits around in their sweatpants and plays video games for over 24 hours straight? What about that dude from work who talks about his online domination as if it were reality? If you know what I'm talking about, then you're going to absolutely love Showcase's new online-hit-turned-TV-show 'Pure Pwnage' (pronounced OWN-age, it means that you "own" the other player).

"Pwnage" isn't the only gamer word in this show's vernacular – there's "noob", short for "newbie", meaning rookie gamer. Then there are acronyms like "FPS", which means first-person shooter. If you're at all into gaming, or know someone who is, none of this should be alien to you... unless, of course, you like games featuring aliens.

'Pure Pwnage' began as an overwhelmingly successful web series, started by Toronto residents Jarett Cale and Geoff Lapaire in 2004. They not only helm the creative force behind the show, but they also star in it. Cale plays socially-awkward, games-obsessed Jeremy, who games under the 'the_pwnerer' identity online. Lapaire plays his brother Kyle, who eagerly films, documentary-style, every misstep Jeremy makes.

AOL TV Canada sat down to talk with Cale and Lapaire about making the jump to television, what the reception has been like from the gaming community, and what they're going to do if 'Pure Pwnage' takes off.

Did you guys anticipate the success of your web series when you started it?

Geoff:
No, it came as a surprise. It grew an audience on its own, virally. It was amazing how quickly it grew, and how fast it became a worldwide phenomenon. The biggest surprise was when we did a live screening, and all these people showed up. It's one thing to look at your hits on a website – they're just a bunch of numbers – but when you see the fans in real life, that's something else.

Were there any rabid fans?


Jarett: I've used the word 'rabid' before to describe them, yeah. It's cult-like, that's what I like to call it when people take part in something that's not mainstream. It's really, really underground. We've never advertised, it's strictly word-of-mouth. We have a worldwide audience, but there's a 'local band' feel to our fan base, because it feels like it's just theirs, and no one else's.

A Little 'Promotion' From Jeremy



How did the show even come to be? What was the impetus?

Geoff:
It started when I was testing some editing software for my computer, and I borrowed a camera from the University of Toronto library. I filmed Jarett improvising a character that later became Jeremy... he and I were talking about 'Command & Conquer: Generals Zero Hour', a game we played too much of in 2004... talking about strategy and figuring out what we were going to do that night online.

Jarett: We'd get together for these writing meetings, and end up talking about strats, what our opening was going to be, and in fact, for the first two years of the web series, we probably would have put out twice as many episodes if we weren't so into that game.

Geoff: It just came from us living in the gaming world, and then satirizing it. Jarett was performing stand-up at the time, and he found out that he can get a much bigger audience online than he could in a comedy club.

Gaming is an untapped market, in terms of television. There are passing references to games and that sort of thing, but there isn't anything dedicated solely to the gaming culture. You guys will be accessing a market that's virtually untouched.

Geoff: We're really happy that Showcase is willing to take a chance with us. It is untapped, but it's also new ground. I think this stuff that we're releasing is some of the best stuff we've done yet. It's quality, a level above that of the web series. I can't wait to bring that niche content to the mainstream and see what the noobs think.

Jarett: Anytime you see games in movies or on TV, it's always a quick shot. You know, you'll see the guy playing on the couch before he quickly turns it off and engages in a non-related conversation. Or if you hear about a gaming show, it's always a review show. Two guys behind a counter talking about the new games that came out last week, maybe some cheat codes. It's always very generic, but no one has actually addressed the culture. I mean – video games surpassed movies by $50 trillion last year [he's exaggerating]!

At the same time, no one's stopped to think, wait a minute... if there's hundreds of millions of gamers out there in these tight-knit communities, that's how cultures form. No one's addressing that. No one's bringing characters out to represent that culture on movies or TV.

That's why I think you guys are poised for success.

Jarett: Totally. We've met so many gamers... people you'd never think are gamers. The chiselled, attractive guy who goes to the clubs on Friday and Saturday, he's at home every other day of the week playing 'FIFA'. And how many women are hard-core gamers? I think 'Warcraft' has a 50 percent female player base – and they have a higher-than-average gametime than your average guy.

First Episode of 'Pure Pwnage'



Well, now I have to ask. What games are you guys playing right now?


Geoff:
I think it's nothing but 'Star Craft II'. Oh, and some 'Plants vs. Zombies'. That was a neat game.

The characters on the show are pretty out there. Did you have any real-life influences for them?

Jarett:
Yeah, definitely. The actors that play each of the characters engage in hyper-exaggeration, making parodies of themselves. I have a little bit of Jeremy in me, because I was a competitive RTS [real-time strategy] player. I have been known, in non-public circumstances, to hump a controller or two after a victory. [Laughs]

Geoff:
He has a few spare keyboards on hand, usually. Just in case.

How did you come up with Jeremy's horrible accent?

Jarett: It was the idea that this guy has grown up in his basement, constantly playing games. He never really interacts with people around him in Canada; instead, he interacts with people all around the world who game with him. He uses voicechat with people who are Swedish, Taiwanese, Australian, Norwegian, or whatever, and because all these people have different accents, his accent became a blend of all these other accents.

Geoff: What's also funny is, since we have such a large international viewership, a lot of people thought that's how Canadians talk. They had no idea it was a joke.

If this show takes off, what's the first thing you guys are going to do?

Jarett: You know, I'm not much of a money guy. I think barrels of money to me means a nice little place in B.C., in the woods somewhere. A nice computer too.

Geoff: Yep, a nice computer. I think that's high priority. A fast internet connection. [Laughs]

'Pure Pwnage' debuts on Showcase Friday, March 12 at 10 pm ET.

Check out the 'Pure Pwnage' home page

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