Video Essay Recommendations

As an avid watcher of YouTube gaming critique and discussion, I figured this would be a great forum for us to share recommendations re: specific creators or works within the medium of internet video. I intentionally put this in the “General” topic so that recommendations don‘t have to be limited to the video game sphere. I also intentionally didn’t mention YouTube in the discussion title…so feel free to drop your favorite Niconico or Vimeo links here at your own peril.

I'll get started: have y'all heard of this [Tim Rogers]( guy??? YouTube videos SURE have come a long way since [themselves](

he’s gonna take you back to the past….

Noah Caldwell-Gervais does wonderful video game essays, but his travel videos are my favorite. Luckily, his Fallout essay is both:

I guess we also might as well get the obvious ones out of the way while we're at it

Summoning Salt makes incredible speedrunning docs and has been recommended by Frank in the past. Here's my favorite:

Jon Bois does intricate sports essays with completely unnecessary and lovely 3D effects:

Despite being neither a game developer nor a programmer, the technical minutiae of early game programming and graphics are endlessly fascinating to me. Here are a few channels that scratch this particular itch for me:

[Retro Game Mechanics Explained]( produces a savant-level series of videos that delves exhaustively (in all senses of the word) into the inner workings of the Super NES and also addresses several specific programming phenomena from older games and consoles. The videos are really second to none in terms of expertly produced visual aides, not to mention the soothing cadence of his voice. Here is one that particularly resonated with me dissecting the psychedelic enemy encounter backgrounds from _Earthbound_:

[Modern Vintage Gamer]( produces consistent videos of a digestible size focused mainly on homebrew and investigating older means of copy protection. The topics really do run the gamut of interesting hardware and software quirks, though, and he can speak with some authority as an active contributor to the homebrew community. Here's a recent breakdown of the impressive SNES SF Alpha 2 port, which also addresses modern efforts to improve it even further:

[GameHut]( is created and maintained by Jon Burton, a founder of Travellers Tales with quite a programming [pedigree](,53984/). His channel is updated only sporadically, but he goes into quite a bit of detail about the demoscene-level programming tricks incorporated into what would have been otherwise bland licensed games. For example:

[Displaced Gamers]( is another channel that really gets into the nitty-gritty with the programming of older games, down to examining and manipulating assembly code in games such as The Legend of Zelda. There is also quite a bit of technical discussion of video output, for example:

Finally, this needs no introduction I'm sure, but the cream of the crop for me is the excellent [DF Retro]( series produced by John Linneman for Digital Foundry. Each of these video releases is an eagerly anticipated event for me--I especially appreciate how expertly he threads the needle between accessibility and technical completeness in his videos. As a specific example, I quite enjoyed the exploration of the quad-based rendering of the Saturn in this video, which included footage of what the game would look like if these quad transformations were completely disabled:

This channel is very small but it has some really good videogame history related video essays. This one is really interesting.

Bowl of Lentils isn't super active, but I like their Early History of Falcom overview a lot:

Good editing, plenty of archival footage, and more than enough contextualizing Falcom's rise to mainstream notability from their Japanese PC days through to Trails of Cold Steel's ubiquity.

I'm not so hot about his other videos (most of the games just aren't in my bailiwick), but PatricianTV made a very comprehensive, comically in-depth retrospective on Morrowind that I can't ignore:

I apologize if these are too obvious or well-known folks, but my two favorite video essayists (aside from our hometown hero, of course) are:

HBomberguy, who I've mentioned in other threads. He does a bit of a hodgepodge of topics. Video games, but also lefty politics, analyses of conspiracy theories, some kinda experimental stuff.

and Lindsay Ellis, who does film criticism with a decidedly academic bent. Also lefty politics.

@MichaelDMcGrath#20485 Summoning Salt is legendary! Thanks for posting. Also, if anyone hasn't heard it, he has been interviewed on the Video Game History Hour podcast by Frank and Kelsey and also on the DrunkFriend podcast.



@Syzygy#20473 I’m going to leave it to you to discover the best videos on it.

my advice: either scroll to the very bottom or sort the videos oldest to newest. lol

i‘m gonna post more later but this is one i enjoyed recently. Austin Wintory, composer of the Journey soundtrack (among others) made a lil tribute to Ennio Morricone upon his passing last year. he does a bit of an overview of his favorite Morricone scores and then picks one that’s particularly meaningful to him, and articulately talks about how it works with the movie.

Two channels that I quite enjoy are those of Karl Jobst, and Stand-Up Maths. They both recent(ish)ly released videos on the same topic!

I have no real interest in Minecraft in particular, and did not know about the events being discussed before seeing the first of these videos. I just thought it was neat that these two usually quite separate avenues of interest for me temporarily aligned like this.

@rejj#20611 Matt Parker is great! Thanks for sharing–I was not aware of that second video!

His appearances on the [Numberphile]( YT channel are great, as is his [interview]( on their podcast.

If you have even a casual interest in mathematics, I would also heartily recommend [3Blue1Brown ]( [Mathologer](

@tombo#20595 Thank you for sharing, I‘ll be sure to watch this! I was tangentially familiar with Morricone before, but I really fell in love with his work after stumbling upon this excellent mixtape on Wild Nothing’s Soundcloud several years ago:

In general I am skeptical/cautious of:


-Youtube videos

-Youtube video essays

-Youtube video essays about video games

-Youtube video essays about video games which run longer than 10 minutes (and even the 10min ones are suspicious)

-anyone dunking on my personal buddy Metal Gear Solid 4

But I love this. It's indulgent. It's monumental.


@kory#20616 already well versed in 3b1b, but I’ll have to check out Mathologer, thanks!

@kory#20617 nice! here's another one i heard a while back, this one more focused on westerns:

Here's something from the mid 90s which was way, way ahead of its time. A video essayist from long before video essayists were a thing, this man miraculously managed to get this stuff broadcast on national TV to an audience of, if not millions, then at least many many thousands of unsuspecting people, my young self included. I present a true hero of mine, Jonathan Meades.

Most of his work is ostensibly about buildings, food or a combination of both. This particular essay is about "psychotropic buildings, intoxicating structures and the pursuit of vertigo". But you can't really talk about those things without also talking about art, social policy, drugs, engineering and any number of other subjects. And he presents it with a combination of learned, assured wordiness and a lot of proudly stupid jokes which reminds me of a certain other, insert credit-associated video essayist I could mention.

All his stuff is great, but in addition to this I'd particularly recommend his much later work Magnetic North, which follows the Baltic coast and explores the overlooked architectural and artistic treasures of the dark Northern edge of Europe. Pretty much everything of his is on YouTube.

Not really about games but...well if it's about architecture then it is, by extension, about level design so that's my excuse.

i mean if we're talking video essays before video essays, the OG is John Berger in 1972(!)
incredibly influential and essential!!

p.s. i really appreciate this thread because the algo makes curating this kind of content vexing af

was just about to post this good call