SPOILER ALERT: I REALLY SUGGEST WATCHING MOST, IF NOT ALL OF YAHTZEE’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL BEFORE READING THIS BLOG POST. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
I can’t remember precisely when I first came across “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation – a hilariously fast-paced and acerbic YouTube series of computer games reviews – but sometime in 2013, I stumbed across Croshaw’s forays into “Let’s Play” videos. For the uninitiated, Let’s Plays are literally just one or more people recording themselves playing any computer game they feel like; some are intended just to show off the story and/or gameplay, but the more typical approach is to just record whatever you’re doing, and talk about whatever it is you feel like with anyone else sat beside you as you play the game.
Yahtzee decided to opt for the latter method, bringing in his friend Gabriel (he generally prefers “Gabe”) Norton, the bouncer at the bar Yahtzee co-owned. I have to be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Gabriel . As Yahtzee endured the obtuse nonsense that is Fantasy Land Dizzy, all Gabe seemed to offer was the oh-so hilarious notion that all the Yolk Folk that the hero Dizzy spoke to must be on different kinds of illegal narcotics. Oh, my sides. In retrospect, Gabe made several excellent observations about the game’s inelegant level design, but I suppose I was in a fit of pique… Still, he was Yahtzee’s friend, and therefore I simply had to lump him if I wanted more Yahtzee.
But then something happened in the next video… not only was Gabriel the one playing the game, but he was wittier, brighter and more erudite. The reason for this was revealed at the outset: Gabriel had become teetotal, after realising that he “didn’t have a problem with alcohol, alcohol had a problem with [him]”. Yahtzee, being a snarky little gobshite, claimed this made Gabriel less fun. This more or less crystallised their friendship: they are friends… but they also enjoy being nasty little shits to each other, because that’s what friends do to each other, because being a friend means you are okay with somebody being a nasty little shit to you.
And as time went on, Yahtzee and Gabe went on being brutally honest about everything whilst playing mediocre graphic adventure games that nobody remembered, with Gabriel’s other foibles coming to the foreground; his previous dalliances with drugs, his complete indifference to living below the poverty line for his entire life, his insistence on pronouncing Sega as “See-gar” (which always reminds me of E.C. Segar, the guy who created Popeye the Sailor Man). However, by the end of their first year, it was clear that Yahtzee was getting fed up going through entire games. Something needed to change.
And so, out of the ashes of Yahtzee’s Let’s Play videos came his Let’s Drown Out videos. The premise was the same, only different: he and Gabe would still alternate playing bad video games, but only for an hour or so. Also, the game might not actually be bad, but if that was the case then certain stipulations would be set e.g. Silent Hill would be played without referring to the in-game map. The majority of the episode would be spent discussing video game news and Yahtzee being furious with Gabe for not answering a bloody question.
During that time, Gabe continued to fascinate everyone else with his lackadaisical approach to life and blunt honesty about his life, from his upbringing to his battles with depression and addiction. He wasn’t angling for sympathy, he just wanted to talk about it so that anyone watching/listening to the videos (I tend to fall in the latter camp) could take something positive away from him and Yahtzee getting angry at a video game for an hour. The fact that he once asked “Am I internet famous?” proved that he was baffled by the idea of such frippery.
However, it seemed like Yahtzee was getting bored, especially with the constan focus of SJW issues in video game journalism, and tried injecting new things into the format: Culture Corner (both of them discussed a book/film/TV show they’d read/seen that week) and questions from the audience. It didn’t help that they did in fact piss each other off quite a bit. A word of warning to anybody still making their way through the LDO back catalogue and doesn’t like awkward scenes in real life: don’t listen to the last five minutes of their Chulip video. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Anyway, they tried going back to ploughing through an entire adventure game… which soon fell by the wayside when they spent three hours going through the first Police Quest game.
So, they went back to a pared-down version of Let’s Drown Out, simply answering the multitude of audience questions asked via various forms of social media. Actually, the format has changed a bit, to a mix of “an hour of whatever is popular on Steam right now” and “games Yahtzee likes, all the way through/for an hour, depending on Yahtzee’s mood”. This went very well, with the Dark Souls 2 videos both delighting and infuriating fans of both the game and this delightfully trenchant duo… then Yahtzee revealed that he was emigrating to America to be with his girlfriend. Soon after, Gabe told us that he was going to relocate to the back-end of nowhere for his teaching job, and would most likely go off the grid completely.
I realise that’s still a few months away… but I’d just like to say “Thank you” to both Yahtzee and Gabe. I realise you hate this kind of mushy shit, but you two really have been helping me during some pretty crap periods in my life, and giving some really intelligent opinions on stuff that was kinda bugging the hell out of me. Also, special thanks to Gabe for reminding me of three things:
- Snap decisions about people based on spending an hour with them are really fucking stupid.
- Everyone can be a damn fascinating human being.
- We should all put experience points into ourselves.
I’ll miss you, you fucking chuzzwuzza.