Video Game High School: Play to Learn

Categories: The Intertubes

If there is anything that Video Game High School really does well in this second season it's the show's ability to explore the video game generation. I'm on the tail end of that, myself, but the show is more interested in the types of kids that have really grown up with things like photorealistic graphics, constant online play, a nation wide leader board on all their play, and other advances in entertainment that boggle the mind.

And you have it wonder how those advancements and these shifts in social interactions have changed the world. I'm not talking about this, "Back in my day the best graphics were outside" ham-fisted old boy nonsense you hear people in their 50s spewing. I'm asking, "What is a world where Call of Duty is as integral to the American child as freeze tag going to be like?"

To judge by X-Box Live it's mostly posturing, racism, and arrested development, but, you know, that's always going on somewhere. What do you do?

More to the point is that those stories you used to see in film where a rebellious quarterback learns to be a man as he leads his high school team to the county championship or whatever? Those stories are now being told against the backdrop of first-person shooters and drift race matches.

Flashback
Video Game High School: Parents Just Don't Understand

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That's what really makes episodes like this of VGHS so special. Much of it focuses on Ted as he is trying once again to measure up to the expectations of his racing team. The symbol of acceptance is a special car-USB drive, and to earn one you have to win a special racing game.

Rocky Collins as Drift King, the head of the racing department, has been something of a mixed bag this season after easily being one of the highlights of the first. He is such a wonderfully over-the-top character even in a show that has nothing but over-the-top characters, but so much of what makes him great is grandness in everything around him. Watching him walk into the secret room housing a racing game supposedly responsible for some kid's death is masterful, especially with the subtle nod to the approach to the Magus boss fight in Chrono Trigger that the scene has.

Yet... there are too many moments that he makes himself the butt of the joke. The fact that the key to the secret room is a book about building secret rooms on an otherwise empty bookshelf, his admission that he picked up the game on eBay, or that crap with the corndog a few episodes back all steal from an honest magnetism that the character used to have. I liked that the Drift King was genuinely something larger than the other strutting windbags of the school. He's sort of gone from Arthur to Quixote.

Back to Ted, who finds himself racing for 84 straight hours (By the way, do not do that. People have died doing that). The game contains a race that cannot be beaten or captured, and though Ted continues to win race after race, he's always thwarted when he tries to claim his prize.



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