Popular web series Video Game High School (VGHS) concluded its run earlier this week. I have some spoiler-filled thoughts on the show, as well as what it means for the future of video content, after the jump.

I’ll admit to falling squarely within VGHS’s target audience: I like serialized dramedies, and I like video games. But while VGHS spoke the language of video games better than almost any other series, televised or web, video games were merely part of its narrative framing. Beneath its ostensibly ludic trappings, VGHS was just a regular teen show (albeit one with magic hoverballs and affable talk-show robots). Nonetheless, it offered a surprisingly mature take on growing up that I think other teen shows miss: typical teenage problems aren’t real problems. In fact, Calhoun tells Brian D as much in the series’ penultimate episode.

VGHS also chose to end on a curiously bittersweet note, with Brian and Jenny separated by distance, if not emotionally as well. (Whether or not they’re still a couple is left unsaid.) In the end, the protagonist didn’t really “get the girl.” Jenny wasn’t just an object, an achievement to unlock; she was her own person with her own desires and objectives. In a series that draws heavily on video games, that’s quite a subversive outcome. Video games are all about achieving goals, but Brian doesn’t quite achieve the goal of being with Jenny. Instead, he takes comfort in the fact that he ended up with Ted and Ki as his best friends. Brian learns that life isn’t a video game, and sometimes the rewards you receive aren’t the ones you actively seek.

On a broader scale, there are two more lessons I take from VGHS. One: Ellary Porterfield (Ki Swan) and Brian Firenzi (The Law) should be in more things. Two: The Internet is the future for niche programming. A series like VGHS is far too weird for network television, and it would never land a berth on cable. Even cable channels have to develop programming with a fairly broad appeal, because they’re selling themselves to the subset of the American market that wants to watch television on a set schedule. Moreover, the kind of young, tech-savvy audience that VGHS is courting is increasingly moving away from traditional television to other video content. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus are growing in popularity.

Even so, not every household subscribes to a streaming service, which means that even the likes of Netflix have to deliver original programming with fairly broad appeal. In order for something like VGHS to succeed, it has to cast a wider net so it can scoop up the few people from around the world who would be interested in it. So it makes sense for them to adopt an ad-supported model and deliver new episodes on an open platform like YouTube or Vimeo. We saw something similar with Burning Love on Yahoo! Video.

Ads couldn’t support the entirety of VGHS’s production costs, however, and so crowdfunding was sought via Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Crowdfunding services allow creators to circumvent the studio system and deliver stranger, even more niche content.

While I don’t think traditional television is necessarily going extinct, it’s clear that on-demand Internet video is the future. But subscription streaming services won’t be the whole story. In order for weirder series to gain a foothold on the Internet, they will have to package themselves as free, ad-supported content on YouTube and similar services.. As for me, I’m excited that this is happening, because there’s some fantastic, weird, low-budget stuff out there, and I want to see more of it. Already, Jimmy Wong (Ted Wong on VGHS) is getting some of his old VGHS colleagues together for a new musical comedy web series, Band Aid. Series like it and Video Game High School are the future of video content.

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