Interview: Alex Horne on Taskmaster VR, getting fans involved, and the infinite nature of tasking

Interview: Alex Horne on Taskmaster VR, getting fans involved, and the infinite nature of tasking
Image via Channel 4 | Scallywag Arcade

Written by 

Joseph Kime


20th May 2024 14:00

VR is a peculiar platform, especially when you consider what its applications in the gaming world were supposed to do. The thought of strapping a brick to your face and suddenly being transported to another world seemed once to be something out of sci-fi, and it does its job damn well.

There's still work to be done to convince consumers that VR is essential. There are games that are doing a lot of work to ensure that players are getting involved, whether they be seasoned gamers or regular consumers who feel the same novelty about the VR world as they did when the Nintendo Wii first launched.

It looks one new game could be about to jolt the VR scene, especially for consumers in the UK. Taskmaster has made leaps and bounds in culture, taking the bizarre concept of forcing five comedians to act like buffoons in strange and ultimately inconsequential tasks in favour of the Taskmaster himself, Greg Davies.

The success of the show has already transcended borders, with New Zealand, Belgium, and Sweden getting their own versions, while Taskmaster has breached TV itself with a board game and collection of books. All of this stemmed from the mind of the show's punching bag and quiet mastermind.

As Taskmaster VR gets ready to launch, Little Alex Horne is ready for the next step in Taskmaster's evolution. Although he might be digitally bullied, it probably beats being grilled in real life.

Alex Horne goes polygonal in Taskmaster VR

The player handles a rubber duck with a grabber arm as Alex Horne watches on in Taskmaster VR.
Click to enlarge
Image via Scallywag Arcade

As leader of The Horne Section and lackey to the Taskmaster himself, Alex Horne has earned the right to be defensive over Taskmaster. After all, it was his idea, and many tasks come directly from himself and the small team that produces the show. 

Handing off his likeness and the entire concept of the seventeen-series show to an external team must have been one hell of a plunge to take. But, as Horne reveals to GGRecon, it seems that the risk was worth it.

"We definitely had to trust them first," Horne says of developers Scallywag Arcade, and their choice not to simply replicate the Taskmaster house (which they do immaculately) but also to define its own aesthetic with a fresh theme.

"I mean, they could have easily gone for the easier option of 'we’re going to pick this theme, maybe the first one we had in the house or the latest one,' but they said, 'No, we want it to be its own thing. We don’t want to recreate, we don’t want to use tasks that you’ve done in the show. We want it to be a surprise every time you open an envelope.'"

The work that Scallywag Arcade has put into Tasmaster VR is second to none. All it takes is a simple look around the Taskmaster house often displayed in the show to prove it - every corner of the small estate tucked between a golf course and busy road is lovingly recreated with a fresh aesthetic, with a "California Dreamin’" theme guiding the residential laboratory. It seems to have worked too well. "It’s slightly annoying because now we can’t do that one, but that’s good," Horne laughs.

It's not just the house we see here. Both Horne and his furious leader, Greg Davies, have been brought to life in the game in an almost caricature-like way, servicing Taskmaster VR's cartoonish palette and giving the pair the chance to see what creating a game looks like. If you ask us, it seems like a lot of work.

"It’s really good for our egos, it’s brilliant," Horne jokes. "We had some things stuck on our faces, and then we did the voices over and over again. I had to say every number between one and… well, it felt like four hundred, so that we've got everything covered, depending on what you do when you’re playing the game. But even that, weirdly, it wasn't boring because it's so exciting to create this."

Taskmaster VR gives you total control

The player plays a trombone in the hallway of the Taskmaster house as Greg Davies looks down on them from a portrait in Taskmaster VR.
Click to enlarge
Image via Scallywag Arcade

Even though it gives you the chance to live through bizarre tasks of Scallywag's design and fight your case on the Taskmaster stage, perhaps the most compelling thing about Taskmaster VR is the chance to do it all yourself.

Taskmaster VR's creative mode allows players to create and share their own wacky tasks for their friends to indulge in, tipping out the entire toybox and letting players run riot. It doesn't demand brilliance, as the mode also lets players rifle through the shed, dart around the caravan, and explore until their heart's content.

Total freedom like this comes at a cost to someone, though, and it'd be easy to presume that Horne might be up against the creativity of players to maintain his "no repeated tasks" rule - but he doesn't seem too concerned.

"I think after maybe four series on the telly, I was thinking ‘wow, we’re going to run out of ideas soon.’ But now we’re on series eighteen, filming at the moment in the studio, and I think it’s like jokes or songs. There’s not a finite number of these things.

"You can rearrange things like the musical notes. You can rearrange them in infinite ways, pretty much. I’m more excited about that, to see what ways people come up with. We’ve done countless tasks involving a ball, or an egg, or a piece of paper. It’s just being imaginative and finding a new way of doing things, so I genuinely find that a thrill rather than a worry."

Freedom like this leads to you pushing boundaries, which is an exciting thing for them, but for the digital rendering of Alex Horne, it might be a danger. It's clear to fans of the show that Alex gets the s**t end of the stick, serving under the ruthless Taskmaster as a numbers jockey.

In trying to regulate tasks as they unfold in the show, Horne ends up finding the worst end of the comedians' nerves, leading to barks of frustration or even total public embarrassment. We hope we don't need to remind you about Rhod Gilbert's exploitation of the poor man.

Horne's constant presence in Taskmaster VR, then, combined with a bottomless toybox of items that look really fun to throw at someone's head, it might end up being he that feels it. Horne could accidentally become a pushover in the public eye.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Get exclusive news, content, and discounts sent directly to your inbox

You've joined our newsletter. Thank you!
Sorry, there has been an issue in subscribing to the newsletter.

"That’s a good point," he says as I remind him. "Until now, it hadn’t worried me." Oh. Whoops.

"You’re right, when I played a Star Wars game, and when you’ve got Darth Vader there, you are tempted just to tickle him, and I think people will do that when I’m in there. I will get bullied, but I don’t think it works like a voodoo doll. I think I’ll be safe at home."

Taskmaster VR is turning over the toybox

The player awaits their judgement from the Taskmaster as Alex Horne sits next to him on the stage of the studio in Taskmaster VR.
Click to enlarge
Image via Scallywag Arcade

The concept of Taskmaster coming to VR is great enough by itself, but Scallywag's love for it and the intricacies that appear in the digital Taskmaster house prove that the idea has always had a life.

Players love to get involved with the silly concepts, with the Taskmaster board game winning over fans everywhere and a potential Live Taskmaster Experience in the works filling fans with a giddy glee, Taskmaster VR becomes the chance for players to take to the stage in the most literal terms.

The influence of Taskmaster stretches wide, and as I sign off with the man behind the madness by mentioning my failures to take the gilded Greg Davies head in Taskmaster evenings hosted by my own friends, he offers a message that accidentally reflects much of what the show represents.

"You know what, people at the bottom are often the best in their own way," says Horne. If that sounds like you, Taskmaster VR is your chance to finally, truly prove yourself. Take the opportunity, throw some rubber ducks at Alex's head, and see for yourself everything that Taskmaster can offer. Your time starts now.

Taskmaster VR launches on June 13th for Meta Quest 2 & 3 and SteamVR.

Joseph Kime
About the author
Joseph Kime
Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.