UPDATE: A new version of this article is now available here
Forget Let’s Plays and ‘reaction vids’: if you’re after informative, entertaining and intelligent videos that will genuinely enhance your love of gaming, these are the people you should be following.
YouTube has some truly amazing video game reviewers, commentators and creatives if you know where to look. Here are twelve of the very best channels you can watch right now.
Offering the kind of fresh insights and alternative perspectives that’ll have you cooing with interest, George Weidman’s vids are a treasure-trove of thoughtful opinion. Ranging from reviews of the latest releases to fascinating opinion blogs and mammoth retrospectives (his Metal Gear Solid series is a delight), it’s the kind of intelligent commentary that makes you think about gaming in a whole new light.
Armed with one of the finest voices YouTube has to offer, Stuart Brown has gained a devoted following, mainly thanks to his exhaustive and surprisingly compelling essays on iconic weapons in video games. FPS fans will be in seventh heaven, but there’s also some genuinely brilliant diversions from the gun-specific path. His videos on open-world games and the original Half-Life are sensational.
A relatively new spin-off channel from Rich Evans and Jack Packard of Red Letter Media fame, there are copious Twitch recordings here; but the real meat lies in their occasional, lengthy dissections of games both new and old. Skewering mainstream releases and sacred cows while championing indie gems, their forthright views are always interesting – and sometimes eyebrow-raising – to behold.
If you’re a fan of the whole so-bad-it’s-good thing (and Lord knows we are), you’ve come to the right place. Jon Jafari currently specialises in seeking out the most weird, obscure and downright hilarious video games going – from anti-drug monstrosities to an 8-bit movie inspired knock-off called ‘Titenic’. Sharply edited and chock-full of humour, his vids are a pleasure to watch.
Distinctive, engaging and admirably academic in their approach, the smart minds behind this long-running series cast a light on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to game design; covering topics that make you realise just why some experiences leave you utterly spell-bound, and others leave you utterly cold. Intellectually stimulating stuff then – but it’s so cheerful and witty you won’t feel lectured to.
Ever wanted to see your favourite video game character’s weapon forged in real-life? As in, by a professional blacksmith?! Yep, these guys actually do that. Dante’s sword and the Dragonborn helmet from Skyrim are just two iconic pieces of gaming kit that get the fire and steel treatment.
He may be a divisive figure, but Joe Vargas serves up some of the most entertaining, insightful and in-depth game reviews on the web. His ‘Angry Reviews’ regularly top the 30-minute mark, and are laden with irreverent fancy-dress fueled sketches and fiery rants alike. Passionate in the extreme, but fair and balanced with it, you’ll truly empathise with a guy who really wants to love each and every game – and gets furious when they let him down.
Speaking of games letting people down, you could fill a thousand gigabyte library with the dirt that Sterling has collected on dodgy, broken Steam releases in recent times. The outspoken bane of every shameless, money-grabbing developer out there, he’s certainly not shy about letting rip at cynical Triple A tactics either. His weekly ‘Jimquisition’ series is a marvel of withering sarcasm and sharp satire when aiming at the negative – and an uplifting singing of praises when he falls in love with something.
It’s only been going a month, but already this fledgling video game analysis channel has produced some highly compelling content – primarily based around looking at what makes certain storytelling devices or gameplay staples work well. The narrator has a voice you can listen to for hours, and the ‘Great Levels’ series deserves to become a popular favourite.
Andrew M Films
Boasting both top-notch special effects and copious laugh-out-loud in-jokes, the extremely talented Andrew McCurry brings video games vividly to life in his highly entertaining series of colourful and creative short films. If you’ve ever wanted to see a live-action Half-Life or a Minecraft player in an epic showdown with Mario, this is the place to be.
A glorious geek culture thinker whose thoughts on everything from the latest releases to online controversy are always worth a watch, Boogie is one of the most likable gaming personalities on YouTube – and his Francis alter-ego, for which he is perhaps best-known, offers copious opportunity for really fun parodies of gamer outrage.
A veritable titan of gaming analysis, John Bain rakes through everything from indie oddities to Triple A behemoths with a fine toothcomb; his immensely popular ‘WTF is…’ series providing a really neat mix of review and first impressions piece as he plays through the initial stages of a new game and reports his feelings on the experience. As articulate as it gets, his meticulously formulated views are always worth listening to.
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