Friday, May 24, 2013

Ten YouTube Video Game Channels You Should Check Out

          YouTube is great. Not only is it a great alternative to television with less commercials, but it’s also a creative playground where anyone can share works of music and art, or have their own show on any topic they choose. If you’re like me, you waste a lot of time on YouTube, and over the years I’ve discovered a lot of great video game-related content on the site (and I’m sure there’s much more that I haven’t discovered). I’m going to talk about ten channels in particular that I think deserve special recommendation. I want to give a shout out to these channels because of the great amount of entertainment they’ve brought me and because of all the hard work these people put into creating some terrific videos. If you’ve got some time to kill and love video games, check these people out!

          Note on people that I left out but are worth mentioning: I excluded the following from this list because although they can all be found on YouTube, I initially discovered them in other places and have, for the most part, watched their videos on their own respective websites. Maybe that's unfair, but chances are you've heard of these people and have seen some of their stuff anyway.

          James Rolfe, aka the Angry Video Game Nerd, is not on this list. If you haven’t heard of him, than stop reading this right now, go to his website and start with episode 1: Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. He also has a YouTube channel, JamesNintendoNerd. AVGN is the inspiration for many video game-related content creators on YouTube, a few of which are on this list.

          I’m also leaving out Mega64, the best video game comedy troupe on the internet. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you already know about them. Check out their website here. You can also check out their YouTube channel here.

          And finally I'm leaving out Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw from The Escapist and of Zero Punctuation fame. The Escapist has a YouTube channel, complete with Zero Punctuation videos, that you can find here. Yahtzee's funny and he's not afraid to be critical.

(In no particular order, here are the channels)

          Did You Know Gaming is a trivia show all about video games. Featuring a wide variety of hosts from all across the YouTube video game community, the show features bite-sized episodes that delve into the history of various classic gaming franchises from Mortal Kombat to Final Fantasy. The show features things like easter eggs you might have missed in games as well as insight into the development of popular games. DYKG is still a relatively young project, so there are still plenty of future episodes and gaming trivia to look forward to.

          A humble man with far less views than he deserves, Matthewmatosis is one of my favorite video game critics on the web. Although he uses the term himself, perhaps "review" isn’t the right word to describe his lengthy in-depth analyses of games. He doesn’t have a whole lot of uploads, but what he lacks in quantity, he more than makes up for in quality. He displays a keen critical eye and a superb attention to detail that I’ve found lacking in just about every mainstream review website out there. Perhaps he can get a little too nit-picky sometimes, and you might argue he talks for maybe a little too long, but I’ve never gotten bored watching one of his expertly-voiced, painstakingly well-edited reviews before. I should note that you shouldn’t watch one of his reviews without first playing the game in question. These reviews aren’t meant to recommend a game, but more to spur a discussion surrounding the game's many strengths and weaknesses. I want to give special recommendation to his The Legend of Zelda and Metal Gear Solid series reviews.

          Johnny Millennium is one of my favorite people on YouTube. I just love the guy. If there’s one word that can unarguably describe Johnny’s videos, it’s nostalgia. Not necessarily your own nostalgia either. Johnny describes his passion and enthusiasm for games I’ve never even heard of with such zeal and adoration that I can’t help but get excited about the game myself. Listening to Johnny and his buddy Rob Man talk about classic games in front of Johnny’s massive wall of gaming goodness sent me into such a  nostalgic frenzy that, after discovering his channel and watching his massive backlog of videos, I went on a retro gaming shopping spree and spent hundreds of dollars on classic games and consoles on ebay. It was worth every penny.

          The Game Theorists are a group of video game enthusiasts who have some of the most unique discussions about video games you’ll find on the web. The group's main channel is spearheaded by Matthew Patrick’s own show Game Theory, which is a MythBusters-like show about video games. MatPat applies real world logic to video games and uses science to do things like prove the sex of the Pyro in Team Fortress 2, figure out just how fast Sonic the Hedgehog is, and to prove that the Star Fox team is actually a group of very poor fighter pilots. MatPat shares his channel with Gaijin Goomba and Ronnie “Oni” Edwards, who both have their own channels as well. Gaijin Goomba’s show, Game Exchange, delves into cultural influences (particularly Japanese ones) in many of your favorite games. Ronnie Edwards’ show, Digressing and Sidequesting, looks at intricate game design elements that you’ve probably never thought of, like why Street Fighter II’s interface is so well-designed, and just what makes Super Metroid such a genius experience. If you’re ready to laugh and learn, check out MatPat’s channel. Just don’t take everything he talks about on Game Theory too seriously; it’s all in good fun.

          Another great video game critic that can be found on YouTube, Juan “Johnny” Ortiz takes an in-depth critical look at a wide variety of games. Johnny is another reviewer who talks about the game in full, including full story spoilers, etc., so his reviews are also more for people who’ve already played the games he talks about. Although he talks a little too fast and he has a habit of getting caught up on small nit-picks in games, his reviews are still very high quality, well-edited, and always enjoyable to watch. Johnny’s also just a very likable guy. His favorite series seem to be Sonic the Hedgehog and Metroid, so I’d especially recommend those videos because he tends to go really in-depth with them. Anything he does on his channel is worth a watch though.

          Jirard Khalil is The Completionist. Every week he picks a game and completes it 100%: everything unlocked, every item, every trophy, everything. In a week. Yeah. While Jirard’s commentary isn’t the most in-depth thing out there, he has a very unique style and a great sense of humor, much of which comes from his zany co-host, The Mediocre-ist, Greg Wilmot. Jirard and Greg are very likable guys and it’s clear that they just have a ton of fun making this show. I love listening to Jirard share his enthusiasm for games while Greg does some silly things in the background. Jirard’s videos, like everyone else on this list, are also just very well put-together and well-edited. Jirard and Greg also co-host a Let’s Play channel along with their friend Alex Faciane called Super Beard Bros. DELUXE, where they play games and share trivia about the games. I’d recommend Super Beard Bros. as well, which can be found at Jirard’s other channel, ThatOneLaserClown.

          It's difficult to describe just what it is Jon Jafari does on his JonTron channel. Sure, he makes video reviews, does Top 10s, and makes random skits, but that doesn't describe his hilarious sense of humor or the sheer creative lunacy of his videos. He’s a very creative dude and I don’t think any one of his videos has ever failed in making me laugh, both with his amusing commentary on the games he plays and his silly non sequiturs. It’s hard to pick just one video that encapsulates JonTron’s style, so I encourage you to browse his backlog and check out some of his stuff. Maybe his sense of humor won't be for you, but I love the guy. He doesn’t upload things too frequently anymore, but he still has a lot of older episodes for you to peruse and enjoy.

          One of the reasons JonTron hasn’t uploaded much lately is because he’s been busy playing games with his buddy Arin Hanson, aka Egoraptor, a popular internet animator with his own YouTube channel, on their channel, Game Grumps. Game Grumps, as the channel description puts it, involves “JonTron and Egoraptor [playing] Video Games while generally grumping about.” The definition of “grumping about” can change drastically from episode to episode. Game Grumps is essentially a Let’s Play channel in which the two hosts play a variety of video games and commentate on them, but these two are certainly different from your average Let’s Player. For one thing, they have no problem only playing a certain game for a few episodes and then abandoning it, or playing through three to five games at once. Game Grumps is what I’d call a “hit and miss” show. At their worst, JonTron and Egoraptor’s commentary devolves into random shouting when they can’t think of what to say, but at their best they make hilarious observations about the games they’re playing and also have smart discussion about games in general. So…It’s hard to recommend everything they do, but when they hit, they have had me literally LOLing and also engaged in interesting discussion about games.

          While the Game Grumps are hit and miss, the Two Best Friends are almost always hit for me. They’re just fun to listen to. They do full Let’s Plays at their channel, TheSw1tcher, but they also have a seasonal show that airs on Machinima. I mainly watch their full Let’s Play stuff. Matt and Pat (and occasionally their friends Woolie and Liam) play a variety of games while constantly making fun of them. Matt usually never takes anything too seriously, while Pat is usually angry at the follies of poorly-executed games…unless when he’s super excited about how sick Robo from Chrono Trigger is! Anyway, if you don’t mind foul language and maybe some obscure references you won't get, Matt and Pat are great fun. I’d recommend their Eternal Darkness, Chrono Trigger, and Heavy Rain Let’s Plays very much, as well as their current Silent Hill: Homecoming (aka the worst game ever) playthrough. Just don't listen to Pat when he says Chrono Cross is bad.

          If I could recommend that you watch just one of any of these ten's videos, it would Extra Credits'. I’d heard the name in the past, but I actually only started watching Extra Credits very recently. Boy was I missing out. Extra Credits is exactly the kind of insightful, intelligent discussion about video games that is sorely missing from mainstream media outlets. The Extra Credits team treats video games for what they are: a burgeoning form of art that is struggling to find its respectable place in the world. Tackling topics like what makes a good video game narrative, the meaning and implications of the term “gamer”, social diversity in games, and the way the gaming industry faces controversy, among a wide variety of countless other topics, this is important stuff if you enjoy video games and take them seriously as an art form like I do. I’ve only scratched the surface of the Extra Credits content available myself because they’ve been around for a while now and have a huge backlog of videos to check out. If you have any serious interest in the video game medium, give them a watch. You won’t regret it.

Honorable Mentions

          There are so many great gaming channels on YouTube and I can't possibly include them all. I encourage you to explore and find some of the hidden greats waiting to be discovered. Here are several other video game-related channels that I've found much enjoyment in.

Rev3Games (home of Adam Sessler)
Cyborcat (great Silent Hill retrospectives)
lophatjello (The Happy Video Game Nerd)
Twin Perfect (home of The Real Silent Hill Experience)
Smooth McGroove (original video game a cappella arrangements)
InecomCompany (Classic Game Room)
CGRundertow (Classic Game Room: Undertow)
WiiFolderJosh (The Bit Block)
Chyde109 (great Zelda stuff)

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