Content Wars – How Youtube changed my perception of entertainment

Being someone of the so called “Generation Internet”, i drastically changed my media consumption behavior over the last decade. 2010 i completely got rid of my TV consumption habits, just leaving the screen standing for console gaming. While this change was feeling “different” at first, i honestly never looked back. Video portals like YouTube have greatly influenced my viewing behavior, so i thought it would be nice to reflect upon the years and get some points down ob what i would consider a good use of my time.

First Encounter (not being a good one)

My first contact with YouTube was rather late – roughly 1-2 years after the platform got a big success in America by 2006. This is due to the fact that my home-country – Germany – was (and still is) years behind in Internet development. Having a very meager downstream rate, videos were barely watchable even in 240p resolution. This led to the side-effect that all things requiring bandwidth left a really bad aftertaste in my mouth.

So i kept my distance and even felt annoyed when people mentioned the platform (or any site requiring bandwidth). Back then the only up-to-date videos and gaming related information i could get was based from magazines and their enclosed DVDs. The result of this was that i felt left way behind , unable to “get with the times” as you would say. Friends with better internet connections were bringing up sentences like “i don’t buy magazines anymore since i can get everything from the web”, unintentionally fanning my fire even more. Me being so used to reading and consuming “older” forms of media this was all sounding so unfamiliar .

All those things considered, a change of my habits seemed rather unlikely to me.

A new Hope

It took some years for things to change, but finally having access to decent Internet shed a whole new light on services like Steam or YouTube for me. It felt like experiencing the Internet in a completely different fashion. Load times became seemingly irrelevant, allowing for a wider choice of websites being accessible. For the first time i realized the real  potential behind YouTube. It was astounding to see how content and video quality already had increased since i first visited the page. Quite apparently people were learning the ropes of video production, coming up with regular content updates and getting dangerously close to production levels of huge gaming magazines. So i soon made my first account in order to subscribe to channels, which also lead to a drastic change in my “after-work” evening routine and media consumption behavior.

"The Bit Block" by Josh Thomas offers a production quality that is rarely matched by even developers themselves.

“The Bit Block” by Josh Thomas offers a production quality that is rarely matched by even publishers themselves.

This also changed the way i perceived “traditional media” like gaming magazines in general. I still didn’t give up reading them as they offered a more “professional” experience in terms of the layout, information and article quality. But on the other hand i often found myself looking at YouTube videos for a second opinion. Although most videos still are produced in a “unprofessional”  fashion they allow for a much more straight-forward assessment of a particular game’s qualities.

Their biggest advantage in comparison however is that those private videos are “untainted” by those nasty marketing / advertisement decisions that magazines often have to make. Subsequently checking the ratings and numbers behind a game became more and more irrelevant thing to me. Ratings may be viable for comparing games of the same genre or games being reviewed by the same guy, but all-in-all they are negligible and do more harm than good. This habit of ignoring “professional reviews” even went as far as checking YouTube “Let’s Plays” or private “Reviews” first before even deciding upon whether or not to buy a new game.

The next Generation

This sudden shift of interest and “decision power” provided by YouTube (or its derivatives) also brought some interesting side effects. A new generation of reviewers and media producers emerged on the platform, reaching millions of fans and subscribers every day. While those numbers are still not impressive when compared towards bigger TV productions, they clearly show a tendency and a very high demand for quality information whenever people want it.

"IndieStatik" by Josh Mattingly quickly grew to be the biggest resource in Indie Gaming thanks to one guy's amazing effort.

“IndieStatik” by Josh Mattingly quickly grew to be the biggest resource in Indie Gaming thanks to one guy’s amazing effort.

This burst of popularity has several reasons, one of which is the lack of what i would call “generation conflict”. TV shows are often produced by the “older” generation, leading to a natural gap towards the demands of the younger audience. An additional obstacle on TV is the fact that all content must be designed around reaching a wide audience, further diluting the experience and leaving little room for catering towards the more specific kind of taste. YouTube however can easily fill your plate, as content can be provided for just about any taste, thus allowing for a much wider variety of channels and specialization of their content.

Another big advantage is that you can see what you want, whenever you want, giving Internet video portals the edge even over time-shifted recording on TV. The generation conflict is also no issue, as no channel owner has any obligation to design his program for a specific time-window or wide audience. This basically means that  specialization is the key to success. You can attract a lot of people if you do something original or really well. And if you, as a consumer, don’t like it, you can simply look for something similar within the matter of seconds. If i don’t agree with a review opinion, i can simply search for a second or third one – or just look at a simple gameplay movie. Knowing that the player is somewhere around my age, i think that the decisions i make based on videos are far more solid that simply reading reviews – which even might be bought or faked by advertisement companies.

The only “term” and related question that i inherited from watching TV is the following: “What’s your favorite channel?”. The anwer? Many of them! Today my evening routine consists of a variety of YouTube channel feeds. I get loads of free entertainment from many people, while also relying heavily on their footage to base my opinions upon. I get both entertainment and information every day without having to rely on just one source in particular.

The key is that i get entertainment or information when i want to see it, and i can change the input as i see fit. Those are interactive traits that classical media like TV and magazines simply cannot offer. And even if “old media” companies are trying to catch up with good shows and on-demand streaming on TV, they still have lots of homework to do before being comparable on what the Internet has to offer. I am definitely glad that i made the switch, as it was for the better.

My Favorites on YouTube

If you are new to YouTube or just looking for high quality gaming content, these would be my absolute favorite channels to recommend. It’s just a small selection of all the channels out there, but I tried to find something for every taste while picking the best of the best.

Click on the pane titles below to unfold additional info.

Listen up to what Fen has to say!

Total Biscuit – The Cynical Brit (PC Games)

John “TotalBiscuit – PC Gaming Channel” Bain has become something close to a “political spokesperson” for PC gamers. With humble beginnings in “World of Warcraft” commentaries, he now has the weight and subscribers to make bigger game companies cringe when he reviews their games. The best about the self proclaimed “Cynical Brit” is that he doesn’t abuse his popularity. While being straightforward with his options, he  always tries to come with good arguments and reasons. In addition he also sets high standards for his own videos in both content and  production quality. His “WTF is…” Videos have become a quality source of information for many gamers.

After 3 years of seeing his video i have yet to see any spurs of arrogance or condescending behavior, which is a level of integrity that i value very much. I highly recommend subscribing if you are looking for honest and quality gaming content that heavily focuses on the PC playerbase.

Indie Statik (Indie Game coverage)

Driven by the sympathetic Josh Mattingly this Channel started growing incredibly fast. Now it is one of the biggest resources for all things Indie Gaming, and Josh is collaborating with the bigger numbers on YouTube to promote smaller games which wouldn’t have a chance otherwise.  Josh convinces me not just with honesty but also commitment towards his hobby up to a very professional level.

If you are fed up or disappointed with all the mediocre AAA-productions lately or simply want to look at games which are far away from set standards, give this channel a try – you won’t be disappointed.

The Bit Block (Nintendo Coverage)

The Bit Block by Josh Thomas focuses on providing Nintendo game footage. The channel features such a high production quality that it could easily be mistaken as a fully Nintendo-funded corporate channel. However, Josh also brings in real criticism about the games he plays, and he does so in an upbeat way that reminds us about the good childhood days with Nintendo. He also invites friends over to enjoy Wii game’s together, giving his videos a very “down-to-earth” approach.

If you’re looking for a channel that is genuine, true and catches the Nintendo vibe perfectly, give this one a try!

EgoRaptor (Game Comedy)

Arin Hanson aka “EgoRaptor” got famous by producing the “Awesome” Video  series on Newgrounds. As YouTube became more popular he teamed up with friends to widen his portfolio, ranging from random cartoons, singing, hilarious playthroughs. His jokes know no boundaries, so be aware that he will not stop from fart and breast-jokes.

If you are looking for originality in terms of random humor and game-nerdity, you have to know EgoRaptor. He’s a skilled animator and voice actor that every gamer should at least heard of once in his life. 🙂

ProJared (Multi System Reviews)

Jared Knabenbauer aka “ProJared” is not just good at humor, he also provides very concise and short 1-minute-reviews about many MANY different games. He manages to pull off a very cool style mixture of humor and “serious” reviews. However he also provides other contents like MAGfest panels and personal and interesting thoughts about gaming in general.

Give him a try if you are looking for a channel that covers a variety of gaming topics without focusing too much on a particular system. Jared provides a little of everything. 🙂

WingSpanTT of TopTierTactics (Gaming Strategies)

Run by the hilarious “WingSpanTT” (real name unknown), this channel features hilariously well-commented tactical videos with lots of funny remarks. While his website TopTierTactics features general strategies and tips, WingSpan focuses mostly on 3rd person, fps and action oriented games. His Assassin’s Creed Videos are highly entertaining to watch, even if you don’t play the game yourself.

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