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Like pretty much everyone born after 1993, I spend far too much time on the internet. This is not necessarily a problem; in fact, I love YouTube so much that I spend more time watching videos on it than I do watching television. And I have Sky in my flat!
Yet with me it’s not all cats and viral hits—if you take a look at some of the biggest and most influential YouTube channels, gaming has an overwhelming presence. The biggest name is, of course, PewDiePie, who has had the most subscribers on the site since late 2013 by screaming and making obnoxious noises while playing games. He’s a cool guy, but his content isn’t for everyone. There is, however, more to the YouTube gaming scene than Pewds and his ilk, and I feel it is my duty as a “game journalist” to give exposure to the figures that deserve it. Here’s a list of some of my favourites, in no particular order:
- TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit (youtube.com/totalhalibut)
Depending on your tastes, TB is either a god amongst men or the most poisonous presence in the YouTube gaming scene. Yet you can’t deny that he got where he is by putting the interests of consumers above all else, as well as being a damn entertaining fellow. If your game is on PC, chances are TB will have scrutinised every single aspect of it; may heaven help you if you’ve forgotten the field of view slider or locked the framerate to 30. His integrity and brutal honesty make him a standout critic in a field tainted by shameless pandering to corporate interests—he is always worth watching. Also, YouTube comments gave him full-blown cancer.
- Jim Sterling (youtube.com/jimsterling)
Thank God for Jim Fucking Sterling, son. While relatively new to the scene, he has already spent years working in game journalism, which gives him an edge in games commentary that is often imitated, but never duplicated. His “Squirty Plays” and “Best of Steam Greenlight Trailers” videos have helped to expose some of the worst games ever created and the practises that led to Steam’s current state of disrepute, punctuated by the weekly “Jimquisition” where he takes the industry’s shadiest figures to task. Jim sticks up for truth, pride and garme jurnalizm, and that’s just the way we like him.
- Stuart “Ahoy” Brown (youtube.com/XboxAhoy)
It’s rare that an ardent gun nut comes across as witty and intelligent, but Stuart Brown pulls it off. He is most famous for his “Iconic Arms” series, where he looks at the weapons commonly found in games and gives insight into their portrayals, including how they compare to their real life counterparts. Ahoy never does anything half-arsed—his content is excellently edited with elegant graphical detail, his voiceovers give a real sense of authority to the on-screen content, and he always does his research. A real hidden gem that deserves even more attention.
- Super Best Friends Play (youtube.com/TheSw1tcher)
These guys prove you don’t have to scream all the time to make a decent Let’s Play. The Zaibatsu of Matt, Pat, Woolie and Liam are some of the funniest YouTubers you’re ever likely to come across, and putting them in front of a shitty game will only make them funnier. Gaming is always best with friends, and you always feel you’re part of something special whenever you watch the Zaibatsu. Highlights of the channel include RustleMania, where the boys play nothing but wrestling games, and that one time where Woolie chose Marvel vs Capcom 3 over sex. With two women. At the same time.
- The Angry Video Game Nerd (youtube.com/Cinemassacre)
The one that pretty much started it all. James Rolfe has been playing the AVGN for nearly ten years now, and he’s still going strong. Nearly every game reviewer on YouTube has a huge debt of gratitude to the Nerd, who has managed to turn the angry expletive-laden rant into an art form courtesy of some of the worst games ever made. The editing is a bit shoddy, but considering how much James loves B-movies they can be forgiven for looking a little rough around the edges. Still, his rants are funny enough to justify a binge session, and you’ll be calling everything a shitload of fuck in no time.
This is but a small selection of some of the best gaming content that YouTube has to offer, so don’t be afraid to do a little digging and find something you enjoy. Even if it’s PewDiePie. I won’t judge.