Welcome to the first part of an eleven part monthly series where I look back into days long gone and pull things from my memory regarding the original series that launched in late April of 2002 for G4. I will lightly touch on the failed merger between G4 and TechTV and the ensuing chaos following the merger. However I just want you all to know that this isn’t a critique, a flame-post, or anything attacking G4. What this is, is simply nostalgia and longing for those days. So, let’s get this started with Team Wheaton vs Team Downs on the first part of the G4 Retrospective: ARENA!
Those who got G4 in the mid-point of the network’s lifespan probably knows this show for being where Kevin Perreira got his start going from production assistant to co-host with Lee Reherman who in 2003 along with Michael Louden replaced Travis Oates and Wil Wheaton (yes, THAT Wil Wheaton). The premise of Arena was an early form of televised E-Sports with two teams going head to head playing multiplayer games like Counterstrike, Dead or Alive, MechWarrior, and more. Arena was considered one of the shows that had real problems behind the scenes with talent like Wheaton and Oates, and problems with game publishers which led to certain games to be pulled from the show never to be played again. The trouble with Wheaton and Oates were mainly with Jim Downs who was a producer on other G4 shows and was part of the All Games Network group that preceded G4. Downs would unfortunately pass away in 2016 at the age of 44.
The show would run from 2002-2005 and after being cancelled in ’05 the show would live on for another year or two thanks to reruns. While being an early hit with the showcasing of LAN party multiplayer matches between two teams across three different rounds and the integration of Wil Wheaton and Travis Oates into the first G4 E3 special featuring most of the G4 show hosts. I remember around this time of year in 2007 at the height of HD long before 4K was a thing that there was a channel called “Gameplay HD” which was exactly that. Gameplay videos in high definition. There were things such as Quake 4 multiplayer matches which made me remember Arena and then I saw a random commercial for a car game special hosted by none other Lee Reherman.
So here ends the first chapter of my G4 Remembrance series. Next month will be the first show to ever air on G4 and that will be the Bill Sindelar hosted action/adventure focused series Blister!