At this point in my life I watch a lot of YouTube. I enjoy the conversational style of vlogs and video essays, and I can sit through some of the more esoteric gaming content for hours. Not to mention it’s the best place for short form comedy. So what follows will be two sections: my favorite channels/series I subscribe to, as well as some solid standalone videos I otherwise haven’t interacted with.
I feel like it would be irresponsible of me to not mention speedruns when talking about YouTube. To be fair, at least one of the channels I’ll discuss in a bit focuses very specifically on them. But I don’t really follow any specific runner. I watch speedruns the way a lot of people watch sports: in the background, only really important a few times a year. With that said, I’ll link a couple channels for speedrunning events; feel free to peruse if you please. GDQ, RPG Limit Break.
All sections are ordered just in the order I copy-pasted the names from YouTube; no hierarchy or ranking is intended.
Starting off we have a YouTuber who started out posting his own speedruns of PunchOut! before he started instead looking at the history and progression of the world records for the same. Now, he focuses on that world record progression and other speedrun history videos, detailing what is honestly generally dry material in an engaging way.
Ceave Gaming is the definition of “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” While he also has pieces on Super Mario Maker and a few miscellaneous topics, my favorites are his videos detailing how to beat Super Mario Games (mostly the side scrolling Wii and Wii U titles) with absurd, impractical conditions. I almost don’t want to encourage him–these runs of coinless, jumpless, never pressing certain directions, etc etc games must take up an unhealthy portion of his free time–but he seems happy about it.
Dan Olsen deep dives into generally film, sometimes video game topics. Recent pieces include An American Tail’s video game adaptation, Annihilation, A Christmas Story and, as above, the movie adaptations of Fifty Shades of Grey. He’s well spoken, well edited, occasionally has great gags, and is generally pleasant to listen to. He has a strong understanding of film language that he presents to the viewer in an understandable way–you might not know how to frame a scene, but he can explain why a scene’s framing results in a specific emotion. He also streams on Twitch and dabbles in speedrunning because of course he does.
Originally I just knew Lindsey Ellis as the “Nostalgia Chick” on the “Nostalgia Critic”‘s shows, but since removing herself from Channel Awesome, she’s really blossomed into a much more interesting and much more watchable critic. She has a fantastic series teaching about different types of film criticisms via Michael Bay’s Transformers, as well as pieces like her three-part The Hobbit breakdown, linked here, which includes not only the movie’s missteps but information about the production and the legal ramifications of laws passed due to the same.
Voice actor, board game reviewer, ramen eater and comic, ProdZD (SungWon Cho) has his fingers in a lot of pies, but my favorite bits are still his Vine style voice overs and skits, carried over from when he first gained popularity on the short video platform. He also just has a very soothing voice when he’s talking about his interests, and two adorable black cats with his wife, who all make appearances.
Hbomberguy does a mix of “social justice” content, queer content, gaming content and just sort of mucking about. The linked video is one of his oddest–Serious Lore Analysis episode 3, CTRL+ALT+DEL, particularly the comic Loss. I would recommend poking at his videos and finding a video on something you know to start.
One of the fastest growing and most prominent food YouTubers, Babish (real name Andrew Rea) recreates foods from movies and TV shows, in addition to now having a sub series where he teaches cooking basics. He frequently collaborates with actors and other YouTubers, and his film background means the food generally looks really, really good.
Mark Brown’s Game Maker’s Toolkit is likely the most well known channel on game design done by someone outside of the industry at this point. His soothing but analytical videos sometimes break down dungeon designs, or interesting mechanics, but one of his more recent series is, like linked above, specifically looking at how to design games that people with disabilities can enjoy as easily and fully as people without. He can’t speak for that community, as say, Able Gamers might, but he’s still a welcome voice in that discussion.
Cilvanis is a bunch of really funny black dudes making skits. There really isn’t much else to say about them other than that they deserve more subscribers.
Specific Series on Channels
ExplosmEntertainment – News to Me With Chip Chapley
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Explosm every since I first started reading Cyanide & Happiness in high school. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s just offensive garbage. News to Me manages to fall squarely in the first camp, being a pastiche of the kind of news show that’s less about the news and more about the personalities presenting it, something fairly common in the representation of news media, if not that media itself.
Mother’s Basement – Public Service Anime
Mother’s Basement got his popularity mostly through breaking down opening theme song’s of anime, talking about the hidden meanings, editing choices, and other facets. His Public Service Anime series, however, is styled as an old-timey news announcer telling the children the things they need to know if they find themselves in typical anime situations. If you’ve ever needed to know what to do if you find yourself surrounded by willing, buxom suitors, or suddenly changing clothes and gaining superpowers, this is the show for you.
Bon Appetit It’s Alive
Bon Appetit magazine’s YouTube channel has a number of great shows, but It’s Alive starring Brad Leone is the one that won my heart. His show primarily focuses on fermented foods, though it has branched out over time. The big selling point is his personality–he’s one of the only people I could picture saying something like “bada bing bada boom” without it seeming farcical.
Game Grumps – 10 Minute Power Hour
Over time I’ve grown less and less interested in standard Let’s Play shows, so it was a good thing that the Game Grumps decided to branch out more. The 10 Minute Power Hour is basically themed goofing off for ten minutes a week, but the comedic chemistry between the two leads really keeps the laughs coming, especially in the early episodes.
Brutalmoose – Brutal Foods
More food! Brutalmoose normally does nostalgic media–games and cartoons–but he’s dabbled in other things, and Brutal Foods is my favorite of those spin-offs. Some episodes have him rating frozen foods, some have him cooking weird recipes, all have fantastic and silly editing that just keeps everything feeling friendly, casual, and fresh.
BuzzFeedVideo – Worth it
More food shows! Ok, I might have a problem. It’s fine because these gents (and later, gents and ladies) are here to not only try delicious food around the country (and the world), they’ll even tell me what foods are worth it to them at the price points they are sold at! Sometimes it’s the mom and pop $2 sandwich–sometimes it’s the artisanal masterpiece–everytime it’s a treat.
Unraveled is what I would make given six typewriters and a lemon. It’s what thrums through my veins when I see spreadsheets of data just waiting to be crunched. It’s the most “me” show on YouTube I have every encountered and I just. Love. It. The host takes you through absurdly deep lore dives, like reading every book in Skyrim, or ranking every Castlevania monster by their level of fuckability, and it is a goddamn fever dream in the best way.
Sometimes I fall in love with a meme even when I have no connection to its original source. Such was the case with Steamed Hams, a series of riffs on a scene from the Simpsons. I leave searching for the endless variety of them as an exercise for the reader but here is one of my favorites: Steamed Hams but it’s a Gorillaz song.
How to Make Slow-Cooked Russet Potatoes
What, you thought I was done with food videos? Hah. This video by The Onion is a gem, an absurd vegan take on a rack of ribs using potatoes that somehow, somewhy, have bones.
Morgan and Morgan
It’s just my name. Again, and again, and again, and again….
Egg Man – Big Bad Bosses
A music video for a song by the boy band Big Bad Bosses, this Egg Man video is a parody of a cooking show (I do have a problem don’t I…) when Dr. Robotnik sings about making eggs. It is way better than it sounds.
Fight Club: Cultural Fascism and the Colonization of Victimhood
I haven’t spent much time watching Maggie Mae Fish videos yet, mostly due to lack of time, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen. Another media-based video essayist, she doesn’t have that many videos up but her analysis of Fight Club is *chefs kiss* quite good.
Solving Pokemon Blue with a Single, Huge, Regular Expression
This is bullshit mathematics and I adore it. It’s one thing to solve Chess. It is quite another to solve a Pokemon game. If you’re a math nerd, take a watch.
How Gamers Killed Ultima Online’s Virtual Ecosystem and Why Dwarf Fortress stared killing cats
I couldn’t pick just one of these videos, both of which deal with the unintended consequences of the many many decisions made in the course of making a large (or even small) scale video game, once players are brought into the picture.
The Adventure Zone: Balance trailer
I should use this place to pitch The Adventure Zone, but I mean, just watch the trailer. If that doesn’t hype you up, well, I’m never going to persuade you to listen to the show.
12 Sips to Glory
This is the best six-minute documentary you will watch today. The tense, human story of one man, one brave, drunk man, trying to identify what type of orange soda is in twelve different cups with no preparation but his lifetime love of the beverage. Believe me, watch this, if nothing else on this list (helps that it’s one of the shortest videos I’m recommending.)
And that’s, well that. If you’ve been with me for the last ten days, wow, thank you. It’s been thirty thousand words of just absolute nonsense and I cannot wait to do it again next year. Happy 2019, and may you have as much success and you need to grow and prosper.