Angry Game Reviewers: Fad or Here to Stay?
These gamers are filled with nerd rage and they’re not afraid to show it. But are they here to stay, or will they eventually fade away?
Alrighty, kids! Time for a pop quiz! YAYS!
Have a look at this quote (I apologise now for the amount of profanity):
Now you’re playing with Power… now you’re playing with fuckin’ shit! You’re better off fucking shit than fucking with this fucked up shit! Fuck this shit; you don’t know shit about how fuckin’ shitty this fuckin’ shit is! It’s so bad it sucks, it’s so fuckin’ suck it fucks. And I… can’t take anymore.
After reading that quote, what can you say about the person who said it? We can conclude that he’s:
- a) Uncle Frank when he’s drunk
- b) Your 10-year-old cousin who learned a bunch of “colourful” words from stand-up comics he shouldn’t be watching
- c) An angry video game reviewer
- d) All of the above
If you answered ‘d’… then you’d be right But today, we’re taking a look at a phenomenon that’s been hitting the web over the last few years: the angry reviewer.
Since the advent of Web 2.0, everyday people have been taking part in something that they previously thought they couldn’t do before: creating their own content – content that they enjoy reading or watching – and sharing it with people. Some do it just to share with family members; others do it to share with like-minded folk. Many have gone on to become ‘internet celebrities’ seemingly overnight; with thousands of loyal followers.
Okie dokie. So what’s up with those angry reviewers?
Fans of various media have decided to express their opinions about the things they love… or rather, what they hate.
Gamers with a lot of pent-up anger over the many awful games they’ve played have taken to the Net to vent in the form of rants; be them video, podcast, or written.
One of the more popular angry video game reviewers is James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd (formerly the Angry Nintendo Nerd), whose angry, foul-mouthed rants about the horrible games from his youth have resonated with many other gamers (myself included – love his work). Over time, as webcams became affordable and creating your own websites became way easier to do, more gamers have followed the Nerd’s footsteps with their own cuss-filled rants.
I’m all for choice; variety is the spice of life and hearing reactions from other sources gives you a more complete picture of how a game really is. But I think with the whole angry video game reviewer onslaught, we might’ve run into a bit of a problem: we seem to be over-saturated with every variety of angry reviewer imaginable.
What’s the big deal, Minee? You said “variety’s the spice of life”. We have variety. So what?
Indeed, variety is important, but there’s something important to keep in mind: too much of a good thing can be bad.
Before I continue, I need to emphasize that I enjoy watching several of these angry reviewers. Many of them work hard to deliver something they feel fans would enjoy. That said, after watching several of ‘em for a while, I kinda noticed some things:
1) Many of the same games come creeping up. While there are some who review newer, crappy games, many choose to talk about games of old. Some games are such a mess they’re just ripe with material to tear into. Now, there’s nothing wrong with people wanting to review the same games, but there reaches a point where every negative thing to say about a game has been said so many times in so many different ways, that there really is nothing left to discuss. So when a new guy comes along and wants to do a game that’s been done to death, what else is there for him to add? All he can really do at this point is bring on his own brand of cussing. Which eventually leads to another problem:
2) Reviewers all sound the same. Many angry reviewers yell at the top of their lungs or speak in a low, menacing voice, uttering the most absurd swear words they can think of. I give them all the props in the world; trying to find funny, creative ways to get their points across is hard. But after a while of hearing angry reviewers, they all start to sound the same. All that hootin’ and hollering and vulgarity. After a while it starts to sound like one big string of over-the-top profanity. This flows into one more problem:
3) They lose their uniqueness. One of the reasons I think people enjoy watching these reviewers was the shock value. For many, this was something new; they’ve never seen anything like this before: someone like them getting real mad over a really bad game. But now that everyone and their mother is trying to jump aboard this gravy train to internet fame, doing the same shtick, what will differentiate one from the other? They all show footage of the game along with some voice over commentary. Some choose to do only this, others take it to another level and get dressed up in all sorts of costumes, add fancy green screen work and a bunch of digitized effects. But if you strip away all the Adobe After Effects graphics, all the green screen usage, at its very core, it’s still a review. Full of swearing and angry yelling. And after all of that… there isn’t really anything that sets them apart from each other. They are no longer unique and the novelty associated with this style of critique doesn’t seem special anymore. Of course, long time fans don’t really care about that, but for someone looking to give these types of critics a chance, they’ll just look at all of them, note the profanity, and scratch their head, going “What’s the difference between this guy and that guy”?
You said they start to sound the same. Any of them straight up copy another reviewer?
Oooo boy… well, this caused quite a stir up on YouTube. Sometime after Rolfe came onto the scene, there was another game reviewer named Chris Bores. His character, the Irate Gamer, started out reviewing horrible games from the past, just like Rolfe. Many of the games he touched on were games that Rolfe’s Nerd already talked about. The reviews were similar… a little too much so.
And I’m not talking about pointing out the same flaws (of which there were many). I’m talking about many of the same lines Rolfe used in his reviews were used in Bores… down to the same jokes. It really did seem really suspicious and any time someone would point out the similarities, the Irate Gamer fans would become… well, irate. Bores has gone on to create a bunch of spin-offs based on his initial videos, but his blatant attempt to straight up steal material from a fellow reviewer left a bad taste in people’s mouths.
They’re Not Angry All the Time… Are They?
Surprisingly enough… no. Some of them actually decide to look at good games. But for the most part, letting the world know of their hatred for certain games is their bread and butter.
And not every reviewer that comes along takes this angry route. Pat the NES Punk reviews both good and bad NES games, but doesn’t really get as angry as the others.
The most refreshing new reviewer I’ve seen is Derek Alexander, the Happy Video Game Nerd. He just talks about all the old games that he likes! Not only that, but he gives a bit of history behind the game or the series he talks about. And he toasts the game at the end of his videos with a glass of wine. Awesome games + history + glass of wine = awesome.
They Must Get Tired of Being Angry All The Time?
Hmmm… that’s a good question. Surely after 50+ episodes, one would get tired of the same ol’ thing.
Again going back to the Nerd, I was watching a video Q&A he did at MAGfest earlier this year. A fan came up and asked this question:
[...] Lately, you’ve been a little more laid back… when before it was like, “This is a blizzard of balls! This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen!” Are you really being laid back, or kinda… like… being lazy, or…?
… okay, so this question was poorly worded and the poor kid got an earful in the Comments Section of that post. But I kinda understood what he was trying to ask. In the earlier Nerd videos, his anger seemed more natural, like it felt real and genuine. In later episodes, his angry lines seemed rather… forced. Like he was just going through the motions and adding them in because he knows he has too. Perhaps he was feeling burnout at around this time (and no one can blame him; he was churning out a hell of a lot of videos every month). But yea, he did seem rather tired of being angry all the time. Some of his later videos go into more history behind the games (check out his Swordquest video), and those are some of his more interesting work. I suspect that many others feel or have felt the same way, but they continue to do it because it’s what their fans want.
So… Are They a Fad, Or Here To Stay?
I believe that things are cyclical. Things that were once all the rage kinda die down a bit in popularity after awhile, but then make a comeback later on. We’ve seen this happen in fashion (with bell bottoms) anything to do with the 80’s (from thick makeup to large, puffy hair) and even vampires, that were all the rage back in the day kinda backed itself away only to make a comeback because of things like Twilight (… ugh).
So are angry game reviewers a fad? Not really. There will always be reviewers that will just let their hatred for a game flow. However, I think that maybe… just maybe… there will be a slowdown in the number of new angry reviewers that come onto the scene. The ones that are around now with the large fanbase will stay around up until they stop of their own volition. The ones that are here already but don’t have as much of a following might choose to stop because the job of reviewing games wasn’t as easy as they thought it would be. Then, for a while, we may not get any new angry reviewers on the scene. Then, they’ll start coming out of the woodwork again. Such is the way of the Nerd Rage Cycle.
Long Live the Angry Reviewer
I may have been a bit critical, but as I mentioned before, I do enjoy many of the reviewers I mentioned here. They do manage to get a laugh out of me even though I know what to expect from them. And sometimes I might learn a thing or two about a game I might not have known before. A lot of probably feel the same way. Many of us can relate to their frustrations; they’re like a voice to many gamers who can’t quite articulate their feelings about games they love to loathe. This is probably one of those internet creations that isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.
Interested in checking some of these guys out? Here you go:
Angry Video Game Nerd:
The Spoony One (Note: the ads on his site are NSFW, so be careful when checking this out during your lunch break):
Pat the NES Punk:
The Happy Video Game Nerd:
The Angry Joe Show:
Other Features for you to enjoy:
- Folks Up In Arms Over Deus Ex: Human Revolution Character, Calling Her Racist
- Games Industry Doesn’t Know How To Satisfy Female Gamers, Says Silicon Sisters
- Happy Birthday, Metroid!
- FANDEMONIUM!: The Art of ~paokamon
Are there any angry video game reviewers that you follow? Which one(s) do you like? Any of them get under your skin? Do you think the angry video game reviewer scene is a fad, or do you think it’s here to stay? Have your say in the Comments Section!