In case you missed it – or you just weren’t born in the 80’s – Starcade was one of the more popular video game shows from the 80’s. This game show provided a lot of thrills back in “the day”, with players competing for prizes like cameras, home game systems and, best of all, their own arcade game, through a number of old-school challenges.
The show is seeing a resurgence as of late, as Shout! Factory is currently hosting a marathon of the classic show on Twitch, which can be seen here in all its glory. The company is also looking to bring back the show to some capacity, though those plans are still in the works.
Still, we were feeling nostalgic enough to catch up with the co-creators of the show, Jim Caruso and Mavis E. Arthur, to talk about how it came about, and other factoids about the show. Go watch!
First off, how did the creation of Starcade come about? Were you a big arcade game fan at the time?
We really can't say that we were big video arcade game fans in the beginning (late 70s and early 80s), although the games were everywhere. The computer technology was advancing rapidly as were its uses. I had created and produced several broadcast and corporate television shows instructing people how to use the programs and some of the basics for companies such as Electronic Data Systems and Bank of America. So the games were a natural next step for us. The television industry was moving forward also, but not as rapidly as the games.
Mavis and I wanted to get into series TV with a show so we thought, why not choose a subject that already had a following? The answer was easy. And as we were lying on the beach in St. John USVI with piña coladas fueling our thought processes, we decided the show would be a game show about video arcade games.
Our first attempt was a team sports format which the audience liked, but the broadcasters didn't, so we changed it to a more acceptable production which became the series shows.
How did you go about finding an ideal host for the show?
It was really hard finding someone that had more than a passing interest in video games. You must remember the games were everywhere – restaurants, gas stations, movie theaters – so finding a person with TV talent and personality, and not just game knowledge was a hard job. And again, we had to put up with hosts that had set the standards for years, when everyone wanted to be Bob Barker, including Mark Richards. Geoff was a natural who had acting experience, so when Turner suggested him we agreed with the provision that he learn the games, which he was happy to do in order to get back on the air. We gave him a try out and all got along, so he was it.
The show has continued to be a cult favorite for many years. Do you have a lot of fans talking about favorite episodes and games?
No, it seems that all shows were accepted. What we mean by that is the games were the largest entertainment venue in the world, so it follows that we would have favorites "clubs" and" cults" within the population. Shout Factory and Twitch are running a Starcade marathon right now and the audience is responding by viewing.
What would you say is the craziest thing you've ever given away on the show?
A small record player, no bigger than a man’s shoe.
Thirty five years later and competitive gaming has taken off like a rocket. How does it feel to have Starcade at the forefront of that?
As far as we know, video games never went away. They have almost always been the highest dollar producers in the entertainment business. We like it now that we are seeing more openings in broadcast and the internet exposure.
How thrilled are you that fans will be able to discover this show again with the Twitch marathon?
We are happy to see it legibly shown again!
Did you get involved with putting the marathon in place?
We worked on locating the tapes that have been stored and provided some audience knowledge that we’ve gained through the years.
Finally, if you could ever win just one arcade game from the show, what would it be? Or would you rather have a consolation prize?
We have a Gyruss that gets played on a regular basis in Starcade Central.
Thanks to Jim and Mavis for the interview. You can check out the Starcade streaming marathon here.