Video Game Fan Videos

Video Game Fan Videos: Why They’re Amazing

By: Brit McGinnis

Let me start my first guest post by revealing something about me: I am not a gamer.

Nope. Not at all. I love video game culture. I read about it all the time, and I love learning about it. I chill with gamers on a pretty regular basis. But I am, in all essence, the Eternal Noob.

So I had a dilemma on my hands: How could I learn more about video game culture when I can barely hold a controller? How could I learn about new games without investing hours and months and years in clumsy and ineffective gameplay?

An answer emerged fairly quickly: Video game fan videos.

Here’s the concept: Someone makes a movie about playing a video game (including actual video game footage) for people, usually other gamers, to watch. Some are reviews of the entire video game at hand, others are merely 30-minute previews. Some are edited for so that only the “good parts” are featured, while others are complete playthroughs that go on and on into eternity.

When I heard this, I was completely befuddled. If someone wanted to see a video game from the player’s perspective, why not just go out and buy a copy themselves? If they wanted guidance, why not read a review article or just buy a player’s guide? This also sounded like a financial nightmare for video game companies, and more than once I wondered why these video makers hadn’t already been killed by the ninjas working at Sony and Nintendo.

But as I spent more and more time watching this particular genre of Internet mayhem, I realized that these videos are frickin’ everywhere. They’re completely proliferating the landscape of Internet videos. You can’t go ten clicks without hitting something by Machinima. And for good reason — the best of them are absolutely amazing entertainment.

How are they amazing? And what exactly makes such a counter-intuitive kind of entertainment popular? I have deduced the reasons why, and have presented them here for your consideration. Just so one more noob doesn’t miss out on the most mind-blowing incident of fire ax mishandling ever.

They’re objectively funny. 

I have never played any Final Fantasy game, and I honestly never plan to. I’m just not that breed of geek. But I freaking love watching Spoony’s now-legendary playthrough/review videos of the Final Fantasy series. I can watch them all day.

Not only do these videos attack the most cringe-inducing aspects of Final Fantasy fan culture, but these videos are objectively hilarious. Spoony has a great sense of comedic timing, knows when to run with a weird but strangely awesome concept, and has the editing skills of a god. I’d watch that guy even if he was making ShamWow commercials. Especially if he made ShamWow commercials.

Half the fun of watching Spoony's reviews are expressions like these. (Via The Spoony Experiment)

Half the fun of watching Spoony’s reviews are expressions like these.
(Via The Spoony Experiment)

The best series have fairly original concepts. 

Anyone can buy a mechanism to film themselves playing a video game, then record themselves talking over it. Anyone can do that. The people who have done well in this new video subculture have survived by making their videos different in some way.

People have already done videos of people playing video games with their adorable-but-socially-inept friend and selling the video based on their banter. Others are based completely around the idea that the players suck at video games. Zero Punctuation is a series that reviews games using no actual game footage, no live people, and usually requiring less than ten minutes to do so effectively. But it’s all hilarious!

Yes, Pat is always that rude. And Matt is always that adorable. (Via machinima)

Yes, Pat is always that rude. And Matt is always that adorable.
(Via machinima)

Personality trumps all! 

Some of the best playthrough series I’ve ever seen aren’t at all entertaining because of the players’ actually gaming abilities. Their success actually lies in the hosts’ ability to be distinct and endearing to the audience. That’s right, the same principle that makes Barney a classic television show is also why Two Best Friends Play an epic win.

I don’t care about how much better Matt is than Pat at playing Mario Kart. I watch about those two losers because Pat actually let his guard down and screamed while playing Slender. I want to watch the Giant Bomb guys because they impersonate cupcakes for kicks and giggles during playthroughs. A casual person doesn’t care that these guys are industry experts. They care about their ability to project their own personalities onto colored blobs.

My knowledge of video game knowledge is far from complete. I’ve yet to scratch the surface of the vast and wondrous world that is ScrewAttack, and I’ve barely seen anything by these people. But as I learn about this world, I find the best (and more popular) videos still follow these three rules. And thankfully, it’s a community that has plenty of  room for casual and non-gamers.

Because come on, who doesn’t like watching grown men fail spectacularly at driving a virtual train?

The Giant bomb crew does exactly what we all do that first day we own a Kinect. (Via xpantherx)

The Giant bomb crew does exactly what we all do
that first day we own a Kinect. (Via xpantherx)

About the Author: Brit McGinnis’ nerdiness emerged very young, mostly centering around The Princess Bride and The Lord of the Rings (her elf name was Sorcha). It re-manifested in many other forms, but currently she is obsessed with Firefly and beating the Elite Four on Pokemon Crystal. This nerdette writes. A lot. She became famous in her college town for writing the only negative review of a local play (prompting a call of protest from the director). Brit has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. In her spare time, she writes a weekly erotica e-book series titled TIDBITS. Brit also has a day job as a social media consultant, where she shows people how to use Facebook correctly. Check out her blog Happily Cynical, find her on Facebook, or ogle her pretty modeling photos!