The Best of YouTube Part 2

By Shamus
on Aug 13, 2017
Filed under:
Random

Like I said last week, I’m listing a bunch of YouTube channels that I find particularly interesting or noteworthy. The ordering of the list just reflects my own preferences and viewing habits, not the quality of the channel or its content.

14. Joseph Anderson


Link (YouTube)

No jokes. No personas. No funny characters. No running gags. If you’re looking for careful, in-depth, comprehensive game analysis, then Joseph Anderson is your guy. His videos have a lot in common with this site:

  1. Wait until a game has been out long enough that everyone has had a chance to reflect on it.
  2. Play through – usually multiple times – to get a sense of the work in full and see how the parts all work together, as opposed to just focusing on the obvious or superficial elements.
  3. Do a long-form review that looks at the game as a holistic work: Gameplay narrative, presentation, usability, etc.

Sure, Joseph Anderson makes videos and I usually stick to text, but our approaches have a lot in common and I think if you’re a fan of one you’ll probably really like the other. Anderson’s problem is that video like this is murderously time-consuming to produce, so you’re going to need a lot of patience once you’re done with the archive binge. If you subscribe to his channel you’re not going to see a lot of content in your feed. But when one does show up, you’ll have a nice long video to think about and enjoy. Some of his reviews are the length of feature films.

This is one creator that I’d love to see become successful enough to go full-time.

I’ve often wondered if long-form creators like this wouldn’t benefit from breaking up their content. If the review is broken into three conceptual parts, then maybe releasing it as a three-part series would help make the content more approachable for newcomers. If you need to step away from a long video then it’s easier to remember, “I watched part 1 and 2” than to remember, “I think I left off somewhere around the 50-minute mark or so? Maybe?”

On the other hand, doing things this way will add to the complexity of the overall structure. If I need to talk about gameplay for 45 minutes, the narrative for 15 minutes, and the sloppy console port for 5, then there’s no good way to cut that up into even pieces. You’ll end up trying to divide a single thesis into multiple segments, which can really undercut or confuse what you’re trying to say. If you spend one segment laying the groundwork and the next segment tying it all together to make a point, then you really want people to see both of them, together, in the proper order.

I don’t know. There aren’t any easy answers. This new world of random-length content doesn’t have a lot of rules, and we’re still figuring out what people want. At the same time, we’ve got the YouTube suggestion algorithms that prioritize and reward frequent short-form content at the expense of infrequent but higher-quality offeringsOr simply content that takes time to produce, which obviously isn’t a guarantee of quality.. I’ll talk a bit more about YouTube’s rules later in this list.

The only reason he’s not significantly higher on this list is because our personal tastes differ quite a bit, which means it’s pretty rare for him to review something I’m into.

Viewing suggestion: Rise of the Tomb Raider Critique

13. Today I Found Out


Link (YouTube)

While there are a lot of YouTube channels out there that present fun or obscure facts (sometimes in clickbait-ish ways) this is pretty much the zenith of the form. When I found this channel I cynically assumed it was a one-man operation of reposting interesting tidbits from Wikipedia. After I watched a few times it became clear that the episodes were actually a lot more sophisticated than I was giving them credit for. But it wasn’t until they did their behind-the-scenes video that I realized what a staggering amount of effort goes into each episode of TIFO. There’s a reason this channel is so much more popular that all the other “fun fact” style shows. It turns out that production value matters, and having a dedicated research staff can make for a really smart and informative video.

Viewing suggestion: A Lesson in Failure: The Rise of the Mars Candy Company

12. Deep Sky Videos

Everyone else wants us to go to Mars and do science. Me? I’d rather we just built ginormous mega-telescopes and watch the swirling slow-motion dance of stars and galaxies. I’m boring like that.

Back in the eighteenth century, Charles Messier was looking for comets. The telescopes of the day were pretty limited, and so it was hard to tell the fuzzy-looking comets from all the other fuzzy-looking things that weren’t comets. To help things along, he began cataloging all these boring “duds”, perhaps so that they could be ignored in future comet hunts. In the end he had a list of 110 things that were not comets, and this list came to be known as the Messier Catalogue.

Deep Sky Videos has two main forms of content. One is a series touring modern telescope facilities and talking about how they work, and the other is a series where they step through the Messier Catalogue and talk about what all of these non-comets turned out to be once our technology allowed us to see them more clearly. Along the way you’ll learn a lot about astronomy.

Viewing suggestion: Hubble Space Telescope

11. Folding Ideas


Link (YouTube)

I’m not a cinephile. Sure, I like a good movie as much as the next nerd. But it’s not really my passion. I’ve never really studied movies and I’ve never aspired to be a filmmaker.

However, my work as a videogame critic has been gradually pulling me into the topic out of basic necessity. Very often I’d find myself playing a game and thinking, “Why doesn’t this story work?” As AAA developers have increased their efforts to design and market games using the language of cinema, I’ve had to learn what they were trying to do so I could criticize them properly. Which has led to me following a handful of people like Folding Ideas who can explain why stories and scenes work, or don’t work.

In Folding Ideas, creator Dan Olson talks about cinema, editing, narrative theory, and the mechanisms of storytelling. Sadly, there are a lot of videos in his backlog that are hard for me to watch because he chose to express his essay through a puppet, and those videos don’t totally work. The puppet isn’t a part of the channel anymore, but I want to talk about it anyway because it was such an unusual idea…

In theory, I think a puppet is a really good gimmick for a show like this. We have tons of YouTube channels where Some Dude talks into The Camera, and after a while they kind of start to blur together. You can just remain an enigma and never show your face (which is what I do) but that can make your channel feel a little distant and impersonal. You can get around this by using hand-drawn images, but that’s obviously an expensive and time-consuming approach. Not good for your typical one-person micro-budget YouTube show.

The Folding Ideas puppet. I think the light-up eyes were a nice touch.

The Folding Ideas puppet. I think the light-up eyes were a nice touch.

So using a puppet is a really interesting way to get around these problems. You can give your channel an approachable “face” while at the same time avoiding becoming just another talking head.

Better yet, speaking through a character like this allows you to create some distance between the critic and their persona, which can help defuse your typical fanboy backlash. Zero Punctuation is built around this idea. People understand that the hyper-picky, pervasively profane ZP style is a deliberate affect and that the critic is over-exaggerating his position for comedic impact. The audience is encouraged to focus on the criticism rather than the critic, because after all, “That’s just how the character works”.

The same is true for Mr. Plinkett of Red Letter Media. If the review makes you mad because you disagree, then what are you going to do? Are you going to try to insult a drunken 150 year old psychotic serial killer who has sex with cats? He’s designed to be a loathsome monster. You’d just be participating in the fiction of the character. Worse, getting mad at a serial killer over his movie opinions makes you look ridiculous. How can you hope to denigrate someone who is already horrible in every way? The only way to engage without looking like a rank-and-file internet dumbass is to ignore the character and address the criticism itself: Is the author’s claim about the movie valid? A puppet could accomplish the same thing. It would hide the author and leave the audience with nothing to aim their anger at except a homunculus of felt and googly eyes.

The problem is that the Folding Ideas puppet was completely un-expressive and the puppetry was just amateur enough to be frustrating. It was like watching a movie where the audio is just a half second out of sync. I think Dan Olson was onto a good idea with the puppet, but it needed refinement and iteration.

In any case, he moved on from the puppet and now works in the YouTube standard style of talking directly into a camera. Maybe that’s less inventive, but it works and the author seems to have found his groove. When Olson is on his game he makes some excellent (and for me, educational) content.

Viewing suggestion: The Art of Editing and Suicide Squad

10. Mark Brown – Game Maker’s Toolkit


Link (YouTube)

This is a great channel that focuses on analyzing game design. It covers everything from niche indie titles to AAA blockbusters and usually has some really smart observations. This channel is also a great illustration of how important it is for a creator to post regularly.

For my money, Errant Signal (the next channel on my list) is the stronger channel. This is not to say that Mark Brown has anything to be ashamed of. He produces a great show and I really enjoy it. But I think Errant Signal digs just a little deeper and is a little more incisive. Maybe you disagree and you think that GMTK is the better channel. That’s fine. But I find it hard to believe that GMTK is three or four times better than Errant Signal, which is what you get if you compare them according to view count.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe GMTK really is that much better. Or maybe Veritasium is correct and the YouTube algorithm rewards “frequent but shallow” content at the expense of “deep but rare” offerings.

Viewing suggestion: Arkham Knight and the Scourge of Scale

9. Errant Signal

I don’t think this channel needs a lot of introduction on this site. Campster makes videos that lean towards and academic style of analysis, but his work is never dry. Haters accuse him of being “pretentious”, but if you actually watch his show you can see he does it out of genuine affection for the medium and not out of a desire to elevate himself. You could describe his approach as, “an academic with heart”.

I’ve watched his entire library multiple times. I’d love it if his Patreon took off to the point where he could produce Errant Signal full time. I’d love to see what that looks like.

Viewing suggestion: Saints Row IV and Kitsch.

8. Tom Scott


Link (YouTube)

Tom Scott is a linguist, which for some reason means he spends about half his time talking about computer security, privacy, and usability. The whole linguist thing has a very minor bearing on his channel. He travels the world, visits cool places, and does short little videos about curious bits of the planet. If there’s a strange museum, an odd geological formation, a poorly reported hack in the news media, or an unusual feature of a local culture, then he’s likely going to show up and talk about it. Top-notch stuff.

Viewing suggestion: The Moonpig Bug: How 3,000,000 Customers’ Details Were Exposed

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll wrap up the list.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Or simply content that takes time to produce, which obviously isn’t a guarantee of quality.


2020201575 comments? This post wasn't even all that interesting.

From the Archives:

  1. kunedog says:

    Joseph Anderson

    Despite the relatively small upload count, off the bat I see reviews for Infinifactory and Stardew Valley, my Games of the Year for 2015 and 2016, so that’s a good sign.

  2. Yerushalmi says:

    I don’t subscribe to Folding Ideas myself, but I’ve watched the video about the editing problems in Suicide Squad maybe five times. It’s a beautifully produced, incredibly intelligent video, and I hate you for reminding me of its existence because now I’m actively fighting the desire to watch it a sixth time when I should be working.

  3. MichaelGC says:

    Joseph Anderson does do jokes! Admittedly sometimes they’re so bad that he’ll include a written on-screen apology… 😁

    No, but I see what Shamus is saying – his videos certainly aren’t a madcap gagfest, and making you laff is far from his first priority. But he does have a great superdry sense of humour, and he does allow it to shine through on occasion.

  4. MichaelGC says:

    Heck, Campster describes himself as “pretentious,” which is demonstrably false given that he and his videos do have obvious depth. Can’t pretend to a profundity you don’t possess if you do in fact possess profundity… smiling_chap_pointing_to_his_head.jpg

    So, stop being a hater, Chris! 😉

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Chris is a teddy.I love the guy,and I wish he could overcome his shyness at least a bit.Its always a shame to see a smart person go quiet because they are afraid of the response.Even though I disagree with him on numerous things,Id still love for him to get more audience.

      • Droid says:

        He does get shouted at a lot in the comments whenever he dares talk about GTA, Half Life or other games with a ton of fans. And not only the fanatics (who call him pretentious) but also more sophisticated responses tend to dismiss his well thought out arguments as incoherent rambling as soon as he starts to contest their opinions.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Heres a thing about youtube comments that people often overlook:Only about 10% of people who watch the video bother to (dis)like,and only about 10% of them bother to comment.And if you weed out all of the “first”,”I laughed”,”stupid” and similar comments,you get one person who actually shares their opinion for every thousand people who watched it.Sure,you can use youtube comments to roughly gage the opinions of your audience,but they are in no way an accurate representation.The subscribers change and the like/dislike ratio are a much better thing to look at.

          • Trix2000 says:

            While that may be true, it’s hard to ignore the nastier comments when they’re a good chunk of what you DO see… especially if you have them appear in your inbox.

            It’s not hard for content creators to take such things personally, since it’s about their work after all.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    If you need to step away from a long video then it’s easier to remember, “I watched part 1 and 2” than to remember, “I think I left off somewhere around the 50-minute mark or so? Maybe?”

    This is one of the many benefits of youtube.If you are logged in,it tracks where you left off.So even if you switch devices,come back days later,lose power,or whatever,it will start you back where you switched off last time.

    • sofawall says:

      I keep seeing people mention this, but it isn’t necessarily true. Youtube forgets where I am in a video all the goddamn time.

      • Droid says:

        It has different ways to store the time in the video, which might conflict with each other. For one, it will store where you are in a specific video every few seconds or so, so it will know where to resume if you just open a link to the video. Then, there are links that force a certain time (their URL ends in either &t=XXX, &t=XXXs or &t=XXmYYs) which will be given preference over your “account saved” time.

        So if you e.g. watch a video in fullscreen and then a part of the next one, the link it will redirect you to as soon as you close fullscreen will have a timestamp (of the form t=XXX, iirc). If you now bookmark the website you are at, to view later on, it will restart where you left off.
        If you now watch a part of that video, leave again and come back, it will return where you left off the first time around, seemingly forgetting about your second session. That’s because of the aforementioned timestamp. If you delete the timestamp from the URL before bookmarking it, it will continue to function no matter how often you revisit.

        Another problem might be addons/plugins/extensions/… that disallow YouTube from working properly, maybe something interfering with their page scripts or redirects.

        Otherwise it should work reliably, unless you intentionally try to break it by viewing the same video with the same account on two different devices at the same time, or your usual breaks between viewing sessions are multiple years.

        • sofawall says:

          If you leave a Youtube page idle for long enough, it stops responding properly. Comments won’t load, the “Add to”, “Share”, etc. buttons stop working, and when you go to play the video again there is a decent chance you’ll just get a spinning sequence of dots until you refresh the page. This appears to consistently break the ability to resume where you left off.

          • Droid says:

            I also leave some YT pages idle for hours, on a pretty crappy rustbucket of a laptop to boot, but never experienced this. Even after being five tabs deep into other videos, with the laptop freezing shortly every time I want to pause/unpause a video. But when I get back to the original video and close it, it still works the next time around.

            So what I’m trying to say here is: this problem of yours might be fixable. If it isn’t, though, you can always right-click on the video, copy the video with your current timestamp and save that in one of your bookmarks. Not convenient, but workable.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            This sounds like a caching problem to me.The fix I see is to either purge your browser data often,or give it unlimited storage(which is not recommended).

    • Syal says:

      You can also put time… things… in the description for the various topic breaks. Instead of “maybe the 50-minute mark” you can say “he was talking about farts” and look up the farts portion.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The only reason he’s not significantly higher on this list is because our personal tastes differ quite a bit, which means it’s pretty rare for him to review something I’m into.

    You should not watch his latest prey video then,because he dares*joke* to suggest that prey is better than system shock 2.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Zero Punctuation is built around this idea. People understand that the hyper-picky, pervasively profane ZP style is a deliberate affect and that the critic is over-exaggerating his position for comedic impact.

    Yahtzee is a brit.They really are that nitpicky.

  8. Radiosity says:

    “This is one creator that I’d love to see become successful enough to go full-time.”

    He already is…

    In fact, he rakes in $4000 a month via Patreon alone now. Apparently we’re in the wrong business heh.

    Also, on splitting videos, he talked about why he doesn’t want to do that in his Patreon video a few weeks back, Shamus ;p

  9. Smejki says:

    Raycevick – deep video game analyses. Very hi quality.
    RagnarRox – analyses of video games (mostly Japanese) and other art forms (manga). Especially his episode on Kojima’s Homo Ludens is fantastic. And I don’t even care about Japanese production!
    hbomberguy – he analyses… well, everything. From games to famous internet idiots. He’s got a great video on Fallout 3. He’s highly satirical.
    History Respawned – A guy interviewing a historian whenever a video game tries to depict some historical period. Interesting stuff.
    Wendover Productions Deeper Tom Scott. Interesting places. Explanations complex systems. From operation of railway company to evolution of urban areas. For some reason this guy’s got an airline fetish. If you ever wanted to own an airline this guy will talk you out of it. :D
    Real engineering – explanation of various engineering stuff
    HeavyEyed – some decent gamedesign analyses
    Mason Miller; [game array] video game analyses
    Every Frame A Painting – analyses of movie art
    Cagey videos – Gamedesign analyses
    Durmin Paradox – a great analysis of the Gothic series. And then the channel died. Pitty…

  10. Joshua says:

    I like the Mr. Plinkett series, but prefer the more straight-forward Half in the Bag. Of course, it’s always amusing to see how they’re going to try to segue their scripted part into the movie review, or just give up the pretense and go straight into it.

    On their recent Spider-man: Homecoming review: “You and I were talking before the movie about this….um, even though I don’t know you and just met you for the first time.”

    • My favorite is in the pre-Robocop remake where Rich says he turned Mike onto Robocop 2 and Jay mentions how they’ve never met and Rich goes “Oh whatever”.

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      I enjoy how they get VHS tapes of movies that haven’t been released yet at, say, the top of a mountain or the bottom of the sea, depending on what stupid as hell storyline they’re currently in. All so they have a paper thin pretext to begin talking about that film.

    • Fade2Gray says:

      I liked Half in the Bag, but I think their tastes and mine diverged at some point, so I found less value in their reviews. They’re funny guys, but the show just wasn’t enjoyable enough to keep watching once I stopped caring about the review portion. Something about the way they presented their opinions just stopped clicking with me.

  11. Thomas says:

    I understand Veritasium’s frustration, but if you’re going to use anything as your metric of success ‘total long-term YouTube viewing time’ seems about as objective a measure as you can get.

    Maybe the way that stat is calculated is wonky, or maybe people don’t value quality as much he wants them too or maybe it’s a bad metric, but what metric could you use instead?

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ill simplify this quite a bit,but this is the essence of his frustration:

      If you put quantity over quality,then therell be so many videos on youtube that everyone who watches videos will always have something to watch there.Always a new video to go to after watching the latest TOP 10 THINGS ABOUT X!However,the problem with this is that so many of these are trash that theyll be skipped,so youll have far more videos hosted than watched.

      If you use quality over quantity,then therell be fewer videos on youtube,but many of them will be watched more times than one by the audience due to their quality.This way youll still get the attention of the audience,except therell be fewer videos you have to host.

      Thats basically why he,and I,think that youtubes new algorithms suck.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        The thing to realize is that Youtube doesn’t want to make the best website, they want the most PROFITABLE one. And video churn with ads on every single video is WAY better for them than hour long videos, even ones that have 3 ad breaks.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          And youtube red can be even more profitable than that.But in order for youtube red to thrive,focus has to be on quality over quantity.

          • Shoeboxjeddy says:

            That’s why Youtube Red has exclusive content. The quality principle is for those shows and movies to be appealing enough for people to subscribe. Regular Youtube is all about ad $$$.

    • LCF says:

      A complexe model of reality taking a boatload of factors into account should do the trick.

      • Droid says:

        It kind of already does. It’s just that it is the only thing on the planet that knows about its model of reality. Machine learning is never used when you know how to solve the problem you use it for. Unfortunately, careers and a lot of time and money investment are at stake when it guesses wrong.

        • Warstrike says:

          Machine learning is frequently used to learn how to solve problems we have solutions to. This is when you are trying to teach it how to do a job previously done by an expert. You have it watch a bunch of correct solutions, then have it work oncases, telling it when it screws up. Eventually you have trained it to do the job and only pass cases it’s not sure about up the chain. This is how radiology will work in 5-15 years -the expert systems are getting pretty good right now, in some cases making fewer errors than the radiologists when given trial sets with independent verification.

  12. tmtvl says:

    There’s this guy called MrBtongue I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him. He makes pretty decent content, although his upload schedule is kinda inconsistent.

  13. Christopher says:

    This time around, I recognize most of these guys since we’re into the analysis block. I’m subscribing to some of them and the rest often show up in my recommendations. Folding Ideas has some great videos, especially including the Suicide Squad one, which might be my favorite.

    Joseph Anderson just kills it every video. Dude puts in so much time and covers everything so thoroughly that even if I disagree with some of his assesments or preferences it’s just a joy to watch those videos. I look forward to his Witcher and Mass Effect videos coming presumably in 2022.

    Obviously everyone here knows Chris. I like Errant Signal, but I don’t love it. His focus and heart is almost exclusively centered on the themes of a given work. That’s what he cares about the most and has the ability to talk about in interesting ways. That works great for games that have a theme or prominent story, like Night in the Woods or Mafia 3, but it’s a bad fit for more gameplay-focused experiences like Dark Souls or THOTH, so I think it can be hit or miss depending on what he’s covering.

    • Droid says:

      Dark Souls does focus on its themes, though. Just came back from Joseph Anderson’s reviews of DkS3 and its DLC and he also talks about what themes the different areas are meant to cover.

      • Christopher says:

        Themes and story are a part of Dark Souls, but if you’re gonna tell me they are the focus of the games I disagree. JA covers everything. Chris would have covered them only, if he could.

        Chris’ videos on Dark Souls is about difficulty and ghost houses, because he can’t get deep into them because they’re hard, but likes ghost houses. So it might have been a bad example of his focus on themes, but it is a good example of his limits and specialization as a critic.

        • Christopher says:

          I wanna stress that I like Errant Signal. But I come to Chris to hear about the themes in Night in the Woods and things like that, which is what he’s great at. If I wanna know about a game’s mechanics or lore or stuff like that, I go to other people. Joseph Anderson is one. ChipCheezum is absolutely one. Epicnamebro is another. Thatgamingbrit scratches those itches, too. Take this as my own youtube recommendation post for this week.

          • I said it in his THOTH video and I’ll say it here: Chris is good at talking about feelings.

            His analysis is much more focused on sentimentality and emotional content/stimuli, and he’s light on quantitative elements. I don’t consider these flaws in any regard, but it does make it easier to throw shade his way. This is a shame because what he does is relatively unique and I dare say important…or at the very least brave. Where the majority of other media analysis I’ve seen is deliberately distancing or at the very least emotionally vague/simplistic, almost the entirety of Chris’ work shows a focus on and dogged pursuit of emotional content/resonance. It makes his work ring incredibly sincere and if he’s faking it, holy fuck is he good at it!

  14. eaglewingz says:

    … the YouTube algorithm rewards “frequent but shallow” content at the expense of “shallow but rare” offerings.

    Shouldn’t that be “deep but rare” ?

    I can see the difficulty. I had to re-type that about three times. At one point I had “frequent but rare”.

  15. CrushU says:

    Well, I definitely like Technology Connection that you posted last time. Lots of very interesting things I’d never known.

    It also makes me mildly concerned for archiving efforts; If we lose the ability to read this data (like we can’t get VCRs ever, but we got a bunch of VHS tapes…) it looks like it might be very difficult to re-discover how these data stores should be read.

  16. RJT says:

    The previous post in this series had a huge swath of commentors recommending their favorites as well. It was fun; I’ve been watching some of Shamus’ and others’ recommendations. I do notice I am the only person so far to offer a recommendation to a channel with narrative content. What trend is that, I wonder? No one is going to admit to watching something like Pewdepie, but narratives are considered as sophisticated as critical analysis and documenteries, right? So, my conclusion is that no one is recommending them because there is just a dearth of good narratives on Youtube. Sad times.

    • Droid says:

      I recommended two of those in my massive posts that I wrote as an answer to Steve C, the person asking Shamus for YouTube recommendations.

      The two channels I recommended were RooksAndKings for some EVE Lore with a really, really good narrator and VaatiVidya for Dark Souls Lore (also great narrator). Also, to a lesser extent, WebDM with their DnD campaign videos (just one campaign so far).

      Here‘s the first full post. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to add any links.

      EDIT: And despite it being a history channel, Historia Civilis also feels a lot like a narrative channel simply because it tells the story of different political figures in (mostly) Ancient Rome.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      No one is going to admit to watching something like Pewdepie

      Id admit it if I watched him with any regularity.But I rarely watch his videos.Usually when something blows up about him in the news.

      As for narratives,I like freemans mind.But I think that was already linked in one of the older blog posts here.

    • Droid says:

      “narrative content […] Pewdiepie”

      Ohhh, you meant Let’s Plays! *slaps face*

      In that case xwynns for two awesome XCOM 2 Long War 2 Let’s Plays (on the hardest difficulty with the hottest developer’s builds at the time, no less).

      Otherwise, there’s Zemalf, with some slow, thoughtful LPs of strategy games and RPGs.

      All the other ones I regularly watch are German.

  17. Tobias Plutat says:

    Personally, I prefer GMTK to Errant Signal. I love both, but over time, GMTK has grown a lot on me because Brown’s videos are so wonderfully focused on one aspect that they explore really deep, and he plays a lot more with form and structure.
    In contrast, I don’t feel Chris’ videos cut that deep at all. They do sometimes, and Chris is at his best when they do – I like his issue-centered videos (Keep Your Politics Out of my Videogames, Skinner Boxes, Photorealism) best, while the review episodes tend to lose sight of a core argument at the expense of covering everything. Still, he always finds something interesting to say, so I’m not hating on his stuff here. I still watch everything he does and enjoy it a lot.

  18. JDMM says:

    GameMakersToolkit I find tends to suffer the problem of a channel built for growth, it doesn’t build and never really evolves, there can be interesting things there though but it’s all disconnected 101 type stuff meant to be consumed in the one video of about 12 minutes. Generally the way a channel gets around this is by basing itself on a subject which has endless potential for 101-type videos (Numberphile with math for example)

    Errant Signal was nice however ultimately I found it to be too shallow in the politics of its age, it recognizes Civilization was stuck in a rut of universalizing ideas however it then assumed that it must have got those ideals from the USA rather than their actual origin (early Modern economic theories and philosophers like Hegel).

    I think I stopped watching when it diagnosed Deus Ex: MD as a different kind of thing than Deus Ex just because its politics were more contemporary than 90’s conspiracy theories shortly after Deus Ex: HR got scolded because the possible allegories for transhumanism were bad ignoring the idea of transhumanism as its own thing; that the question of whether Pitorius’ legs give him a boost is it’s own debate, not some allegory for abortion (Ross Scott I found had a more correct critique that the problem with modern Deus Ex is that it views transhumanism and cyborgism as omniuseful and more akin to magic)

  19. Miguk says:

    I wanted to like Errant Signal, but the episode about Civilization was just too much for me. I’m not going to accept that Sid Meier had some kind of evil imperialist agenda. What’s next? Maybe Mr. Rogers was secretly promoting monarchism by having King Friday rule over the Land of Makebelieve?

    • Tobias Plutat says:

      That’s not at all the point he was making. The point of this video (and other Errant Signal videos around the time) was that you can’t make a game devoid of politics, because you don’t make a game in a vacuum.
      With Civ, it wasn’t about an “evil imperialist agenda” so much as baked-in and unquestioned assumptions about what a civilization is and what a “good” and successful state is. It was an interesting take about what happens when a non-historian makes a game about history and just replicates a fun house mirror image of what you learn at school.
      That’s what I got, anyway, and YMMV some – but only to a point, and that point is that he made very clear that he was talking about what the game ended up conveying, not what it was intended to convey.

      • Tobias Plutat says:

        I must add I was kind of taken aback by the harsh reaction of Civ fans to this video. Like it’s even possible for a game like Civ to be apolitical, when the subject matter of the series is politics themselves.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Why wouldnt it be?Just because the game has a mechanic named diplomacy with caricatures of real world people does not automatically mean it must have something to say about it.I mean,it has caricatures of real world spearmen who can walk around a continent for hundreds of years,yet people dont say how it represents armies of old carrying women with them to replenish their ranks for centuries.Why cant one abstraction be taken as inconsequential as the other?

        • Christopher says:

          I was aggravated by that video in particular too, and it’s entirely because it feels like he just projects whatever he wants to see and read into it rather han picking up what the developers are putting down. It’s like saying that Super Mario is a scathing indictment of the monarchy because Mario beats a king a lot, the kind of analysis that makes me go “Yeah dude, sure, please tell me more about the ramifications of the 1-up”. Rather than being convinced by the video that every game is political, he convinced me that you can read politics into every game if you wanna be sly enough about avoiding the intent of the people creating the game. That’s why it’s aggravating, it doesn’t feel like he’s “reading what’s there”, but more like he’s just extrapolating a dumb view from mechanics that are in place for completely irrelevant reasons, like to have a more fun game with goals. He enjoys that as an exercise, but I think it’s dumb because games never “end up conveying” that stuff to me, giving the impression that he’s twisting his viewpoint and ignoring what’s really, actually there and plain for all to see.

          That’s one of the reasons why I think games with clear themes are a better fit for him than games with none. The difference between the CIV video and Night in the Woods is night and day, and those are the kind of videos I’d recommend for you, Miguk. Night in the Woods, Everything, Beginner’s Guide, Firewatch.

          • Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Eh, Civ can convey things whether it means to or not. Like let’s say purely for mechanical reasons and your playstyle, you find dictatorship or communism more effective than capitalism or democracy style countries. Does that open you up to the political idea that those governmental models could be superior? If you’re otherwise uneducated, I’d say yes it absolutely would plant that idea in your head.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Chances are there are people who believe that a company of bronze age spearmen can totally defeat a modern tank division because that happens in civilization sometimes.Does that mean we should blame civilization for planting unrealistic ideas about warfare and technology into peoples minds as well?

            • Christopher says:

              I can’t discount that some people might theoretically take a weird viewpoint from civ. But personally, I’m not some fool who’d play Horizon Zero Dawn, find no non-lethal options to deal with the human enemies and take the game as being a proponent of real-life murder, and be inspired to solve problems on my own with a good old murder. That’s why I think the civ exercise is tedious and annoying.

              In theory it’s looking at what the game is really saying, but in practice it just feels like dishonest playing around to justify his preferred approach. “If I’m ignoring everything I know about games and development, I can interpret this in a way where the game is sending me a political message. Therefore I’m justified in talking about the politics of all games, and the message I read into New Super Mario 2 is just as interesting and valid as what the developers of Mafia 3 are saying about race”.

              The idea is that no game is made in a vacuum, which is true. But there’s also a major difference between games made because the developers wanted to have something fun and mechanically rich with an entertaining blockbuster story(made by thousands of people across different nations and pumped out on a yearly basis) and a game made by a few visionaries with clear visions for a theme and message as a passion project. Some games are Assassin’s Creed 2, and some games are Hellblade. I’m not interested in a video analyzing the former as the latter.

  20. MaxEd says:

    YouTube channels are well and good, but… Well, I just don’t like watching videos. Reading stuff is easier. So… Can we get another series like this, but about interesting blogs? I mean, a lot of people here probably know them already from Twitter posts and other sources, but I only read blog posts and some comments, so I probably missed any recommendation that were given. Maybe I’m not alone (both in my dislike for videos and in interest in blog recommendations)?

    • Bubble181 says:

      While I absolutely agree with you about the preference for text over video, I also have to recognize that asking Shamus to point to other blogs is kind of like going into a McDonalds to ask directions to the Wendy’s (no slight intended towards Shamus or fast food restaurant chains).
      Of course some pointers are nice, and it certainly makes sense to point to, say, ninja-blues.com, where people write who’ve also written on here. Otherwise, though, he’s pretty much pointing you to his direct competition :p

      • MaxEd says:

        Nah, if I eat at McDonalds, I’m full, and going to KFC is not necessary any more. But if I read a post by Shamus, I still want to read more interesting things during my day. Especially since he post only every other day. Competition between long-form game analysis blogs aren’t that fierce :) Personally, I love reading Jeff Vogel’s musings in his The Bottom Feeder blog, but he posts once in a blue moon, unfortunately, being busy creating my favourite games: https://jeff-vogel.blogspot.com/

      • WWWebb says:

        There are a lot of blogs that would be of interest to the people here, but wouldn’t really be considered competition since they’re about different topics.

        For example, I occasionally like posts from The Adventure Gamer blog if it’s a game I remember fondly or never got to play.

        The CRPG Addict is a project to document long form text-plays of EVERY RPG. It started out as just quick retrospectives, but after a couple hundred RPGs, Chester can now comment on how each game fits into the innovation history of RPGs and what its influences were. Now that he’s getting to the 90’s, it’s about to get even more interesting.

        • MaxEd says:

          I love CRPGAddict! Sometimes I wish I could start a blog like that, documenting a whole collection of… well, anything – I just love to review big piles of stuff: music collections, ROM dumps from old consoles, short stories collections, etc. But I’m not sure I can keep a steady stream of interesting write-ups, and I don’t know what to pick that hasn’t already been done (e.g. while I did micro-reviews for all SNES games in one ROM-pack, a lot of people already reviewed these games in much better details).

    • Zekiel says:

      My preference also. I’d recommend http://www.scientificgamer.com which sadly doesn’t update very often any more. But the archives are good to browse through (including lots of posts on science at the beginning, which may or may not interest you.)

  21. Fade2Gray says:

    I remember being pretty surprised by Today I Found Out too. Youtube was being really persistent for a long time about trying to make me watch that channel before I finally gave in and click on one. Glad I finally gave in.

  22. Paul Spooner says:

    I’m subscribed to Errant Signal, and occasionally watch Deep sky, and Tom Scott. The rest in this batch are new to me, though I’ve just subscribed to Joseph Anderson and Folding Ideas.

  23. baud001 says:

    I’m watching a lot of GMTK, but I did not enjoyed any of the few errant signal videos I’ve seen.

    First I don’t really talking heads in YT videos, especially when talking about a visual medium like video game. I mean, what is the added value of one’s face instead of showing the video game(s) which are his subject matter (or diagrams and quotes like in GMTK)? I understand it might make it easier on the content creator who don’t need to record a lot of gameplay. (I think it’s something that has changed in more recent Errant signal videos, but I’m not really interested in checking right now)
    Still I like the Jimquisition since he’s kind of putting on a show, there’s movement and props, he does not just stand there looking at the camera and talking so it is possible to do the talking head right, by adding a value in having the talker on-screen (comedic in that case).
    Secondly, there might be a problem of pacing in his video, I just feel like they are going nowhere, the points are slow to come and I’m getting bored (it might also vary from video to video). That never happens with GMTK or every frame a painting, even if I’m not interested a lot by cinema.
    Then I might disagree with some of his opinions. And then that disagreement might explain why I tried to find two reason to dislike his videos other than “duh, I disagree with what he said”.

    So I’m going to try to subscribe (again) to his channel and watch the next few video and see what I think of the next few videos.

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