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Farewell, X-Play

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“It’s Adam Sessler, and Moooooorgan Webb!”

In 2003, little 10 year-old me was flipping through the television channels when I turned to the middle of an episode of X-Play, the Disembodied Voice announcing the hosts’ return from a commercial break. A television show about video games, Izh thought. My young mind was blown by the mere concept of it. I fell in love with their sketch comedy, their excellent reviews, and the hosts, Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb. I’ve been a dedicated fan ever since.

That’s why I cried (silently) when I heard that X-Play was going off the air at the end of this year. They’ve been the only show I’ve been dedicated to for so long; last year when I lost any access to cable, I watched what I could on their website. Even with Adam Sessler gone, I still watched for Morgan Webb and out of dedication. When the last episode airs this month, a huge part of my life will be gone.

For those who don’t know, X-Play was a television show about video games, famous for their reviews and comedy skits. They first aired in 2003 and lasted for nine years. They currently have more than 1,300 episodes, the last one airing this month.

I grew up watching Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb. I’m not afraid to admit that the show has influenced me a lot. When I was 10 – a shy, nerdy, elementary school kid with few friends who loved games – watching two adults talking about games, something that I, and many people, considered just for kids was revolutionary. The fact that even one of them was female was mind boggling to me. Most girls I knew didn’t even like games.

And yes, I thought, and still think Morgan Webb is beautiful.

Through X-Play I met some of my best gamer friends. We would get together at each other’s houses and watch an episode before playing some games of our own, laughing at Adam and Morgan’s shenanigans or a random joke in a game review.

It was one of the few shows, including SpongeBob, which my father loved to watch with me. He didn’t care much about the game reviews, but instead looked forward to the sketches. I remember us laughing together on the sofa at Adam and Morgan startling the Witch, or Emperor Palpatine trying to find a new job.

X-Play sketches, parodying games and pop culture, are what people seem to remember most fondly about the show, and there were many. Some of those sketches encompassed whole episodes rather than a couple skits between reviews: Star Wars episodes, X-Play Hires a Robot, The X-Play Musical, The X-Play Zombie Episode, the annual Golden Mullet Awards, the E.T. Cartridge Episode (parodying Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), the Breakfast Club episode, and so many more. I love their sense of humor and it really influenced the sense of humor I have today.

With those sketches came some memorable characters: the various Interns (the Screaming Intern was my favorite), Drunk Link, Grabnar the Wanderer, Ratty the hand puppet, Johnny Extreme, Canadian Guy, just to name a few. I remember in one episode where Adam asked Morgan “Just how many random-ass supporting characters do we have on this show?” The answer is “a lot.”

In recent years, the number of skits declined on X-Play, but when they did show them they were still as good as the classic ones.

Skyrim in Real Life

X-Play shouldn’t just be remembered for skits but also for great reviews. Their trademark humor came through best when they were tearing a game apart, but even with great games they managed to inject humor. This is what makes X-Play reviews stand head and shoulders above most video reviews, even the ones today that IGN and Gamespot come out with. Most of the video reviews that come out are too cut and dry, like their reading from their written review. If I wanted to listen to the written review, I would read it. X-Play had written reviews on their site that went into much more depth than the video review, and that’s great because that made their video reviews an entertaining supplement to the written review and not a replacement unless you just wanted a basic overview of the game and not an in depth dissection.

After nine years, I can say that Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb were, and still are, role models to me. Throughout the years, I remember watching the both of them talking about topics in the game industry very intelligently. Adam Sessler was the more vocal of the two, defending the game industry against people like Jack Thompson, one of the first people to criticize Metacritic, and various other issues on his Soapbox. Morgan Webb to me more represented that there were intelligent, beautiful women out there that enjoyed video games and all things geeky. When I was younger I thought she was the only one, but now that I’m older I know that she’s just one of many. To me she’s still one of the more intelligent and influential ones out there, especially when she’s in the media spotlight for these kinds of things in an industry that is typically male dominated. Through them and publications like Game Informer, I began to form a more proper view of the game industry.

One of my favorite episodes of all time has to be the 1,000 Episode Special. It recapped the varied history of X-Play, from the beginnings in San Francisco to Los Angeles, and the various sketches, reviews, guests, and more. I remember the ending showing Adam and Morgan hosting the show in wheelchairs, aged and decrepit. It was a hilarious sight, and I think it was then that I started thinking about when the show would eventually end. Another 1,000 episodes, another nine years, would be hard to pull off, as much as I hated to admit it.

It began to dawn on me the end was near when Adam officially left the show. I knew that he was going to pursue other things, but it angered me that they didn’t give him the proper farewell he deserved.

But I kept watching. Morgan Webb was still there, and Blaire Herter was getting more comfortable with the show. Even when Kristen Holt, the girl that used to host Cheat, came on to the show, I thought I could keep watching when she would eventually replace Morgan Webb. As sad as that would have been, I knew she too perhaps wanted a change of scenery after nine years.

That never happened. G4 announced that there were revamping the whole network, cancelling X-Play in the process.

It was naïve of me to think that X-Play would have lasted forever, or even another 1,000 episodes, because all things eventually come to an end. Even though I know that, it doesn’t make it any easier to let go, especially when I won’t be able to watch the final episode that airs.

I doubt they’ll give it a proper goodbye, and that’s why I’m writing my farewell to X-Play, my favorite show on television.

Adam, you showed me that there are intelligent people like you out there that represent the video game industry in a positive and critical manner. You continue to be an inspiration for my writings about the game industry.

Morgan, you proved to my younger self that women in the game industry, whether that’s in journalism or making games, exist. Now, you represent to me the continuation of the strong female presence in the game industry even if you are in the minority, which is a downright shame.

Thank you both and the rest of the X-Play staff, past and present, for nine years of quality and informative video game entertainment. Your reviews are some of the best because they are entertaining and brutally honest. Your comedy skits still make me laugh and pick me up when I’m feeling down.

I wish you all nothing but the best in your future endeavors. Wherever you two end up, other fans and I will continue to watch.

Thank you for everything these many years. I’m going to miss you all so much.

X-Play: All The Way

X-Play gets a 5, out of 5.

If you want to follow Adam, check him out on Twitter and watch him on Rev3Games. I don’t know what Morgan has planned yet, but follow her on Twitter too!

What do you guys think about X-Play? Do you have any favorite memories? Did you not care for the show? Will you follow Adam and Morgan past X-Play? Leave a comment below and thanks for reading.


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