It’s time we, as a community, face facts – the best writing done for video games for nearly a decade are not done by publication writers. When it comes to reviewing games, I have begun to trust professional writers less, and freelancers more, because these freelancers often provide the best writing, analysis and reviews of the video games we all know and love. I am not the only one to feel this way. Youtube has become a fertile proving ground for such modern journalism, involving some of the best minds for more than just video game analysis – there are a plethora of video essayists writing on everything from movies, cinema, art, and music as well. These video makers provide infinitely interesting content that deserve much more attention than they’re getting. Below are a handful of my favorites:
Game Makers Tool Kit
Marc Brown’s analysis snippets are the perfect starting place for the uninitiated. His videos, often succinctly between 10-15 minutes will always analyze video game design in such a way that makes the nuts and bolts of development very interesting. He usually dives deep in to the actual craft of the games, examining what works mechanically and what doesn’t. It’s because of this guy that I got into such franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex, and others.
Writing on Games
Shane Black is another writer on this level. His videos are as equally visually spectacular as GMTK, but puts his own spin on things. Unlike Marc Brown, Shane opts instead to focus on the writing of the stories of the games he analyzes. While he does talk about the mechanics of the games, the most interesting topics come from his analyses of the game stories themselves, and how they interact with the mechanics. Two great examples of this are his videos on ludonarrative dissonance with GTAV and the plot of The Last of Us part 2. Additionally, his episodes tend to be a smidge longer than those of Game Maker’s Tool Kit, but absolutely justify their length.
This man is a goddamn genius writer. Noah writes extremely long episodes regarding his favorite franchises and often going further than that, analyzing not just the mechanics of these games, but the writing and the pure art of it all. In the past 3 weeks I have listened to his videos at work pretty much exclusively. The writing is sharp, intellectual, and frankly, extremely well written. With a skill for words remeniscent of classic american authors such as Steinbeck and Hemingway, Noah’s videos, while long, are always entertaining and great fun to listen to. His analysis on Mass Effect is what sold me, and I’m sure many others, on picking up the franchise. Check him out guys, especially his travelogues – perfect writing if I’ve ever heard it.
This one is a little different. Zero brightness is a podcast from two musicians about horror video games – but with tangents galore. In each episode’s runtime from an hour to an hour and a half, The two gentlemen who run the show share smart, intellectual insight into not just the games they review, but the politics, craft, and circumstances of each game. One of the best things about this show is how cohesive the product is. Ali and James are both extremely smart and educated guys, bringing a level of analysis to the playing field not often seen.
Who are some of your favorite writers in the scene? Let us know in the comments below!