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Five Gaming Culture Personalities to Know

AdamSessler

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Penny Arcade

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.
12 comments
Suburban_Hell
Suburban_Hell

Geoff Keighley?

Morgan Webb?

David Jaffe?

Michael Pachter?

Jessica Chobot?

The Game Grumps?  Ok, maybe not them...

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

@Suburban_Hell Certainly not Geoff Keighley. He has unfortunately turned over to the dark side. http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-24-lost-humanity-18-a-table-of-doritos

I would give a shoutout to Angry Joe though.

Suburban_Hell
Suburban_Hell

@bowlingotter @Suburban_Hell 

I'm not convinced that Doritos & Mountain Dew make Geoff Keighley not a gaming culture personality to follow.  That image could be taken out of context he could be shilling that giant load of junkfood in some kind of twitter campaign.  

That being said, I think most of the most well known are jaded and cynical because of how their respective television networks treat them.  See anyone at G4 over the last months of their existence.  

Suburban_Hell
Suburban_Hell

@bowlingotter @Suburban_Hell "And bigger deals should be made if gaming journalism is ever to be respected."  -- No argument here on that, but I think that's an inherent problem across the board, very few have that situational awareness it seems.  That, or, and I shudder to think, there's a rampant payola scandal within the industry.  

I don't think "hey remember that game we gave you a month before anyone else so your review got read first?" should ever translate to "10 outta 10", but having come from the radio industry, I have seen some shit...

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

@Suburban_Hell @bowlingotter Everyone gets advertisements to pay for programming. It's when a GAME is paying for programming that there's a problem. Every time. It's not like Slim Jim was promoting a game. Doritos and Mountain Dew were heavily promoting Halo 4 at the time.

There needs to be  strict line between journalism and press. In gaming right now, there isn't. It's obviously not just Keighly, but as a respected journalist, he was expected to be one who would distance himself from it. He didn't. Easier said that done, of course, but the message is sent.

Until there's a stronger line drawn, there's always going to be questions about how press influences journalism in gaming. Such questions are rampant right now. This is why a big deal has been made, and should be made. And bigger deals should be made if gaming journalism is ever to be respected.

Suburban_Hell
Suburban_Hell

@bowlingotter @Suburban_Hell What I'm saying is I don't think that Sessler's Slim Jim product placement nor Keighley's Mountain Dew/Doritos product placement was necessarily their own doing, but the company who provides them the outlet in which they report our news (in these cases Spike TV & Rev3).  

Spike got paid to shill Mountain Dew & Doritos as part of advertising revenue at the same time Microsoft was running some kind of promo with the junk, but I don't see Keighley saying everyone go buy Mountain Dew & Doritos because Master Cheif says so, by the way, 10 outta 10.

I think a bigger deal was made here than needed.  If this was about the GMAs, well, yeah, no-brainer all those events across all forms of media, see also Oscars, Grammy's, etc are corrupt and overrated and shouldn't be taken seriously to begin with.  I see no evidence that Keighley was paid by Microsoft to give Halo 4 a better review than if they hadn't.  Look at IGN news desk videos, littered with game paraphernalia in the background, does that mean they too are in the pockets of the gaming industry and are paid to give good reviews?  I sure hope we can't make that leap just from what anyone is sitting around at the time they make a judgment call.   

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

@Suburban_Hell Entirely missing the point by focusing on the food. Would anyone care if Roger Ebert did an Oreo commercial? Of course not. But if he did an Oreo commercial while they were clearly running a huge Zero Dark Thirty campaign, the film critic industry would lose its shit, and rightly so.

Actually, when our more prominent faces in the field show that they have been "bought," they lose huge amounts of credibility. It's NOT something that happens with regularity. If Jeff Gerstmann or Kevin VanOrd showed the same poor judgment, they'd be vilified, too. But they didn't. Geoff Keighley did, and he rightly loses credibility in doing so.

Suburban_Hell
Suburban_Hell

@bowlingotter Should we then also vilify Sessler for his latest Sessler's Something sponsored by Slim Jim with Slim Jim product placement strewn about during his video? 

Our more prominent faces in the field show on a relative basis that they have been "bought", usually through some marketing ploy by the company airing their pieces.  I blame Spike more than I blame Geoff for this, and unless he went on to give Halo 4 the most outstanding review ever written without playing a minute of it, I'd still find him to be a credible source of information.

bowlingotter
bowlingotter

@Suburban_Hell The picture symbolizes the uncomfortable link between gaming PR and journalism.  It's hard to take it out of context when it's clearly a promotional campaign for Halo. Not the kind of place you'd like to see a respectable journalist's face.

PostMesmeric
PostMesmeric

@bowlingotter @Suburban_Hell I wanted to stay as far away from developers as I could with this list, hence why Jaffe didn't make the cut. People like Pachter couldn't really be considered a culture personality. He's an analyst (if you really want to call him that).

As for the Game Grumps, I was very tempted to put Two Best Friends Play on this list, but decided against it since the series really didn't seem venerable and seasoned enough to affect culture so intensely (unlike Red Vs. Blue, which kind of did it first/best). Under those circumstances, I couldn't put Game Grumps on this list.

Maybe another list could be in the future...?