Gaming critiques and deconstructions on YouTube

I have a complicated relationship with them.

On the one hand, it's easy to look at them and say: wow, here are hundreds of videos retreading a game like Super Mario 64 most people who care about games have played and coming to largely the same conclusion.

On the other hand, it's not wrong to like something, nor is it necessary for large catalogues of human endeavor to be deduplicated. For each of these videos there has always been thousands of people thinking similar thoughts or holding fond memories in their head.

As an example, I have long appreciated how well-designed the Baby Mario bubble dynamic in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is. The sound of the baby is gut-wrenching and speaks to your instincts; after recovering from being stunned, Yoshi seems to lurch in the right direction; it's possible for the flying toadies that come to collect him to be delayed or prevented from approaching the bubble even though the countdown timer is at 0.

Thanks to videos like the ones I have been watching over the years, I have come to appreciate those details and think about game design in a way I surely wouldn't unless I designed games myself, even though I've been playing games all my life.

For similar reasons, the ongoing and surely accelerating death of magazine journalism is not the death of gaming journalism. "Democratization" is a common and worn-out term, but it's also imprecise – it's not so much that everyone can write a review but that we are able to be seeded with ideas and foundations of knowledge now like never before.

Many of the English language gaming magazines available to me when I grew up seemed more like rough-housing lad bibles that were most entertaining to the ten people on staff who understood all the in-jokes. Meanwhile, there are plenty of hour-long videos exploring the meaning, pacing, narrative, metaphysics, controls and so on of games; here's one about 2018's God of War. I don't mean to compare the message available in a 3 hour video vs a two-page spread, but I do mean to contrast that the desire for depth was often never really there in the old magazines, and I'd rather trust the guy who made the video than most classically designated game journalists.

In a way this is the positive side of the wonder of the Internet. For good and for bad, it connects people and lets them communicate. It can let misinformation, stereotypes and conspiracy theories flourish, with many consequences. But it can also be a positive force in deepening interest and knowledge and passion, which makes us stronger and happier and more fulfilled, and helps us on the way to fight the bad sides.

(And wouldn't you know that there are thoughtful deconstructions of those things too.)

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