Penny Arcade Launches Online Reality Show

You have to hand it to the guys behind Penny Arcade. What started out as a web comic a decade ago has since exploded to become a full-blown phenomenon that encompasses merchandising, video games and a convention (that tens of thousands of people attend) dedicated to all things “nerd.” You can potentially add reality TV stars to that list as Penny Arcade launched its own web series earlier this week to give fans a sneak peek behind their curtain.

The Penny Arcade guys (co-founders Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins) are like the R.E.M. of the nerd world. They appear to have managed their growth without ever blatantly “selling out,” and projects they pursue seem to be of genuine interest to them. Either that or they are insidious masters of disguise. But it’s because of this organic, intentional growth that I was surprised to hear about their new reality show. With people faking child endangerment and supposedly crashing White House parties to get on a reality TV show, why would these two, supposed bastions of integrity want anything to do with the genre?

I wanted to find out a bit more so I emailed Krahulik with some questions. “We thought our readers would enjoy a behind the scenes look at what goes on here at Penny Arcade,” said Krahulik, “How the comic is made, how we pull off PAX, Child’s Play and just day to day life here in the office.”

The episodes are being produced by Two Player Productions and episodes are monetized with a pre-roll ad. Given the popularity of Penny Arcade, I figured that they could at least finagle a deal with G4 or SyFy or some other TV network, but Krahulik said they like the web, “Like most things we do, we like to have complete control over the project,” he said, “There is no reason to deal with a Network if we don’t have to.”

Penny Arcade has dabbled in online video programming before, live streaming Krahulik as he drew a comic strip. But this endeavor is certainly more polished and professional. “PA TV” premiered earlier this week with the pilot episode broken down into two segments. The bulk of the first show takes place at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), the duo’s annual convention held in Washington. There’s also a nice peek into how Krahuli and Holkins got started and just a dollop of daddy issues to add some emotional weight.