I understand that this might not be something that everyone is interested in, but I’ve spent a lot of my time watching or listening to video essays by online creators that I really enjoy and today I thought I would recommend some of them. Now, most of these are fairly long. Many are over an hour and some of them are even multiple hours long. However, I did manage to throw in some that are less than fifteen minutes if you can’t make the longer time commitment or if you just want to start dipping your toes into this sort of content. I also tried to vary things by using several different creators. Either way, there should be at least one on this list that will appeal to you. (Warning: Some of these videos may make use of strong language.)
World of Warcraft Classic and What We Left Behind (40 minutes)
I’ve never played any form of World of Warcraft, but Dan Olson of Folding ideas is a creator who never fails to capture my interest with his style. And despite how much I don’t want anything to do with Blizzard these days since they still haven’t cleaned up from their rampant abuses, the topics talked about here can apply to so many other long running game series. There’s always some point “before” when things were “better”, but do we really know exactly what that means? Were they really so great?
Cyberpunk 2077 – Truly WASTED Potential (~5 hours)
Luke Stephens is a creator that I have actually disagreed with a few times. There are some of his videos that I think are a little inconsistent compared with others, but that doesn’t mean that a lot of his content isn’t great. This big old Cyberpunk 2077 video is one of many comprehensive takes that I could have put on this list about that game, but it’s worth the watch if you’re able to take on such a long form video.
ACTION BUTTON REVIEWS The Final Fantasy VII Remake (~3.25 hours)
Action Button is one of my new favorites, even if there isn’t a ton out just yet. While the video is titled as a review of a game, this is nothing like your typical game review. With personal stories relating to the topic woven throughout, this video series is one that also keeps my interest through the long runtime. While every video on this channel could have made this list, the way that the videos build on one another and form a series mean that the best place to start is with the very first.
CD Projeckt Red vs Gamers: A Cautionary Cyberpunk Tale (9 minutes)
I’ve mentioned before how much I love Girlfriend Reviews. Matt and Shelby (Congrats on the recent engagement!) are not only insightful, but also devilishly funny. Their videos always get at least one solid laugh out of me and have me smiling for the whole rest of the time that I’m watching. They don’t do so much pure essay content as they do funny reviews, but there have been a few times that they have delved into broader topics rather than a single game focus and I do always love to see that. This dive into the relationship between CD Project Red itself and the gaming community after the big show that was Cyberpunk 2077’s launch is just as interesting as their usual content and I highly recommend it.
Minecraft, Sandboxes, and Colonialism (15 Minutes)
The second Folding Ideas video on this list is on the shorter side, but no less insightful. Some of you might think that the topic here is being overthought, but overthinking can sometimes be how we get to dive into the realm of implications that were not intended by the developers but emerge at the intersections of gameplay. When one way to make a new village is a little overly long and complex, you might be accidentally incentivised to do something that is actually way way worse when you think about it just a little more than the process you took. You might accidentally start colonialism in your sandbox building game.
Why are you so Angry? (65 minutes, 6 video series)
It might be a little cheating to put a whole series (playlist here) on this list rather than a single stand alone video, but this one is well worth a watch if you’ve been hanging around gaming long enough to remember the horrid spectacle that was Gamergate. This series aims to look into what the root of the problems was and the way that these ideas were able to take root in people that might otherwise have not been engaged in the abusive portion and harassment campaigns. This also serves as a great precursor to Innuendo Studios’s other series on more political topic of extremist parties. That one’s worth a watch too, but it’s not about gaming so this is the one we’ll go with.
Outlast 1 & 2: Gamifying Found Footage Horror (55 minutes)
Noah Caldwell-Gervais in another creator who always manages to keep my interest no matter how long the video is or if I have never gone deep into the topic. Initially I was going to put his video on the Resident Evil series on this list, but I haven’t quite finished it yet, so this lengthy dive into the Outlast series, their relation to found footage and what the means for horror in gaming is going to have to satisfy you instead. It’s also one of his shorter ones, despite the length, so it’s a great gateway into his content.
Tell me Why: What Makes a Queer Narrative Authentic? (9 minutes)
Rantasmo’s videos are likely to be the shortest on this list, rarely clocking in at more than ten minutes, but a lot of great content can be packed into the short runtime. He’s not one that looks at games a ton in his content, but the few times that he has do stand out. Particularly if you’re looking for a way to introduce yourself to looking at a medium through the lens of queer theory or have a curiosity in exploring the myriad of different ways that LGBT+ characters have been represented across all forms of media, you can do no better for a primer. While you’re there, have a look at some of his other content about movies and TV, you won’t regret it.
Toys to Life (~1 hour)
Scott the Woz might be overall one of the best when it comes to younger creators on the platform. With a whole lot of gaming experience behind him, he crafts videos that can be not only insightful looks into various gaming topics, but also pieces of surrealist or absurdist comedy. This is one of his more recent videos diving into the world of toys to life games, something that bloomed up one day only to vanish not long later. He looks into some of the biggest of the trend and the good and bad that they had to offer alongside some ideas about why things may have faded away in the way they did.
An Exhaustive Look at Pokémon Omega Ruby (7.25 Hours)
How could I make this list without adding in this behemoth that was the talk of the town when it came out? You knew it had to be coming. Shaymay’s 7 hour look into Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is not only a deep dive into this particular set of games, but Pokémon games as a whole up to that point. Taking the journey route by route and city by city, this deep dive goes into detail but never grows stale, comparing and contrasting pieces of old games, new games, and everything that came between to craft one of the most in depth looks into the Pokémon formula that I have ever seen. You might not think that needs seven hours to discuss, but this video will prove you wrong.