Video games have become something of their own among the lip-syncing viral videos and random cat pictures that litter the internet. Whether you’re a retro fan or a top-of-the-line PC owner, you’re bound to follow a few gaming icons around Youtube or Twitter, but not just the gaming developers or long-time franchise leaders. There are many to speak of, but here are five gaming personalities that have made following gamer culture entertaining and more influential than ever. Enjoy!
Adam Sessler’s transition from gaming television punching bag to video game commentator and icon really allowed the long-time gamer to come out of his shell. Though he has barely even mentioned his past employers by name in any of his videos, Adam Sessler will always be the lovable, eccentric goof that X-Play made him. But upon arriving at Rev3Games, something definitely shifted. Sessler had been the butt of jokes on X-Play for years, so seeing the guy in a serious and analytical position on Rev3Games opened many fans’ eyes that he wasn’t a joker. He really did care about video games and wasn’t afraid to push some controversial topics into the public eye, though in a tamer and much more empathetic way. Adam Sessler has been through so much during his career as a gaming media figure. Leaving the neutered G4 network let the guy spread his wings into a new field. This guy cares about games and you won’t forget that legendary pause in the middle of his score delivery.
The Angry Video Game Nerd
The internet has had its shares of rage quitters and disgruntled retro gamers, but no one really took it to as high a level as James Rolfe, best known by his character The Angry Video Game Nerd. Though he debuted on the web as The Angry Nintendo Nerd, Rolfe’s expansion into the realm of Atari, Sega, and many other consoles became iconic among Youtube viewers. Whether he ranted about landing the plane in Top Gun or was beating the crap out of a Bugs Bunny costume, The Nerd’s antics always kept us saying “Fuck yeah!” Rolfe’s love of retro games enlightened fans about the sewage flow of bad NES games like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or the horrific Phillips CD-I system. And don’t forget about his catchy theme song written by musician friend Kyle Justin. Let’s face it: you probably have never played any of the games he reviews in his videos, but after watching The Nerd go nuts, would you really want to? Rolfe’s biggest project yet is the AVGN movie, which continues to be in development. Will we be seeing The Nerd on the big-screen this year? Who knows? But we can guarantee that there’ll be a few dozen F-bombs scattered throughout.
Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw
Love him or hate him, Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw is one of the most cynical gaming personalities you’ll find on the web. Best known for his run-on, minimalist-animated Zero Punctuation series, Croshaw constantly tears the living hell out of games when reviewing them. His nitpicky and ultimately pessimistic sense of criticism has earned him fans (and haters) from across the internet, but beneath his nonsensical bashing of devs and almost creepy infatuation with Silent Hill 2, Croshaw has since become an accomplished author and review icon. With gaming criticism becoming so widely cynical, Croshaw’s role seems to a self-fulfilling prophecy, parodying professional reviewers as a whole. He likes what he likes and hates what he hates, and even when the community treats him like a jerk, he really is a jerk. But he’s a jerk with things to say. He may be one of the most cynical guys on the planet, but ignoring his parody of the review community makes quite the message. And he hates quick-time events too.
Red Vs. Blue
No series really set the bar for video game-based cinema than Red Vs. Blue. Originally designed around the classic “Machinima” style of cinema, where voice-over is matched together with game footage, Red Vs. Blue had humble beginnings. Using the Halo characters and environment models, the series’ wacky spoofs of first-person shooting staples like Capture the Flag became an instant hit from not only Halo fans, but even the original Halo devs, Bungie. While Machinima has grown into something much bigger than what anyone mighty expect these days, Red Vs. Blue proved that there was a way to make something so simple into something animated and full of creativity. Rooster Teeth and long-time RvB mastermind Burnie Burns have made the series a phenomenon, even so far as getting their own Easter Eggs in the Halo series like the famous Grifball gametype. It’s become synonymous with the style and while there are infinite imitators, Red Vs. Blue could easily be the first series of its kind to do it and do it right.
Webcomics have come a long way since 1998. Gaming culture has definitely evolved and few knew it better than Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the creators of the legendary webcomic Penny Arcade. When it comes to webcomics, Penny Arcade is one of the first, if not THE first to come to mind. Focusing on the topically hilarious antics and discussions of Gabe and Tycho, Penny Arcade is significant because it really took webcomics into the gaming eye. It could be considered the gamers’ equivalent of mainstream comics like Foxtrot or Doonesbury, albeit with much more swearing. Despite its slightly mature language, it can’t be understated how massively influential the comic has been to the gaming community. Aside from games based on the series, the designers also have become full-on philanthropists with the Child’s Play charity and convention organizers with the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). But it all comes back to Penny Arcade. It’s a topical commentary on the gaming culture with witty and ultimately alert humor sensibilities. Gaming wouldn’t be the same without it.
Any other gaming icons worth noting? Write them in the comments!
It began with a hand-me-down Sega Genesis from his cousin and since then, he's been fascinated with video games. He enjoys the blissful platforming of the 16-bit era and the rich adventures of the 64-bit era. Favorite games include Metroid Prime, Banjo-Tooie, and practically every 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog title.
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