A Passing Defense of Adam Sessler

Every so often there is a pull as strong as the most powerful Lucas Arts video game space tractor beam to watch old episodes of X-Play on G4TV, which aired in the 2000s on a TV network that spoke to a type of person that wasn't spoken to very often - which is; a 20 something that still enjoyed gaming past the expiration dates that the industry (Nintendo, Sega) put on the package in the 80s and 90s. 

The PSX and Xbox discovered this group of people and laid the foundations of what is still the gaming landscape today. As a matter of fact, a lot of "gaming culture" is frozen in that time still today. Nintendo is still wildly popular, but it is the PlayStation, Xbox, and PC "gamers" that dominate the landscape, now 20 years later.

You could say that while the calendar says it is 2024, gaming is locked in the late aughts except for one thing - the accessibility of making your own "X-play" and posting it online.

There are lots of ways to get your gaming thoughts out there but YouTube is more or less where all of this is landing. My 7-year-old has a handful of favorite YT families that will often fire up a game like Roblox or Minecraft. She loves it. A strange outcropping of this is her liking a game she has never played. It's happened while watching people play a game like "Among Us." This outcropping is also responsible for her being a Power Rangers fan even though she has never actually watched a single episode of the series or movies. She has dressed up as the pink Ranger the last two Halloweens. It's crazy for me as an "old dad" in his late 40s, but also neat and fun.

Gaming on YT is a zillion-dollar industry and only getting larger. There was even a Super Bowl ad for a tax company about a young person turning gaming into a living.

Where do I think this has all come from? X-Play and its two voices, Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb. 

I see it almost like the YT gaming personalities as the children of Adam and Morgan. They didn't create the format, but they did light the commentary fire for young adults in gaming. Herein lies the problem, however. It hasn't grown up. It's still mostly 20-somethings popping off and trying to pick up subs. There are a few honest voices out there that are wise beyond their age and even a few popular over 40s with solid followings that are really interesting. By and large, though, it's cynical voices and meandering thoughts that give in to the worst of what YT requires. Subs, likes, and keeping people watching.

"Stay till the end for a surprise!"

"Smash that subscription button so we can keep doing this."

"Be sure to comment on this video with what you think of Billy smashing his head."

The problem with this type of game review is that it isn't a review of the game. The game is only a tool to keep you watching. What happens is that it then becomes easy to become polarizing. Why This Game Sucks and You Should Review Bomb It means you get paid a bit more. The "personality" on YT has overtaken the game.

X-Play, of course, is a product of the time. Sessler and Webb gave us smart, honest thoughts, often with a few gags and jokes. They were likable and at the same time sincere about both good and bad games and often spent more time on the latter. In a way, they took bits and pieces from SportsCenter, which was wildly popular at the time and did it for video games. Adam and Morgan were perfect for this.

Their comments overtop of game highlights with quick quips but ultimately landed on clear and honest thoughts is what has given way to things today. Only multiply it by a million and put it on your face when you trying to get a couple thoughts on a new IP or whatever.


X-Play and its network are over 10 years gone now, save for a minor revival attempt that died last year. Both Morgan and Adam seem to be doing well since the show ended. I suppose being a decade out from a show that lasted a decade is a good way to mark time. The last 20 years of their life, likely almost all of their adult life - half with the show, half without the show.

Sessler has put a lot of himself out there in recent years. He's cynical and doesn't appear to like where things have landed in his world. Namely, "gamers" who see themselves as the main character in their own movie who act like assholes in that every single thing has a good or bad result. Everything is a with us or against us situation. A review bomb moment. A moment to insert a product into their personality.

Here's a link to a YouTuber who got into an online battle with Sessler about a year ago (go to the link, I'm not putting on my site) when he bumped up against one of these people. In the video, you can see the host spend 10 minutes doing what Adam hates, trying to put himself above him on his own personal leaderboard - and missing the point the whole time as Adam sees himself as a journalist, an individual voice, and a person who is growing up and not part of an immature, anti-intellectual gamer blob that has overtaken the conversation for the last decade since X-Play left the air.


It sucks that Sony, Microsoft, and their big studio developers are now fighting over these consumers. They suck. This isn't to say they should take the Nintendo route (sitting over in the corner there, laughing), but they should stop servicing the squeaky wheel weirdos. It's put off the rest of their potential customers. Sort of like what Marvel did to the movies. Yeah, they made a million billion dollars but it ruined the moving-going experience for everyone else.

It's interesting and one of the reasons I decided to write a few words on this is that Adam recently played Red Dead Redemption 2 again and enjoyed it outside the review space in a calm place. RDR2 sold well and serviced a slice of gamers who want to move beyond the current state of things. It aimed high and hit high, so to speak.

So, here's to Adam Sessler. One of the most intelligent voices in the video game industry there has ever been. May the conversation and community around games catch up and be worth it all again. 


questions, comments: ljbaby654@gmail.com