Since YouTube burst onto the multimedia scene in February 2005, it has slowly developed into a haven for various different types of videos about gaming culture. It runs the gamut from joke videos, serious criticism, previews and even, in later years, entire series where viewers can watch someone else sweat over a gamepad while they simply sit there eating noodles.
It's easy to forget that YouTube in its early days lacked what it has now, namely the relatively high production values that even amateurs bring to the table, and general content standards. Back in its infancy (I'd say between 2005 and 2008), YouTube videos about games tended to be a little rough around the edges, with pioneers such as AVGN and Rooster Teeth, among others, slowly introducing change.
Nevertheless, I greedily hoarded all of these diamonds in the rough, and even though they have clearly aged in the intervening years, I'm still rather fond of a lot of them. Some of these video ancestors have started trends and memes which endure today, while others are a little on the forgettable side. Open a packet of Werther's Originals and brew some Earl Grey tea, as we reminisce about YouTube videos that are really, really, really old.*
* In other words, 8 to 11 years old. Do YouTube videos age in dog years, perhaps?
1. "Stupid motherfu-"
(2 February 2006)
It only seems right to start the list with 1) a music video, since fan videos were all the rage when YouTube was but a twinkle in Chad Hurley's eye, and 2) a reference to Resident Evil 4. I can still remember clear as day sitting in chemistry class as a 13 year old, as my benchmates rambled on about how amazing the trailer to the 4th installment of the deadite-pwning franchise was. They even marvelled at how you could be sent flying out of a window. Utter witchcraft.
You just know that if RE4 were a new release now, Separate Ways would have been DLC.
The video constitutes footage from the Separate Ways minigame present in post-Gamecube versions of Resident Evil 4, set to Stupid MF by the still-rather-excellent Mindless Self Indulgence. In a quite entertaining and fitting fashion, the chosen clips focus on moments when enemies were behaving like complete dimwits (e.g. walking straight into laser sights and having their brain shredded into mince) and when Ashley's AI threw a strop.
For a video released early on in the YouTube movement, it has an impeccable sense of timing and still tickles my funnybone somewhat. Of course, it spawned a bunch of copycats for the later Resident Evil titles, which is not all that tiresome given that Chris becomes a gormless meathead as the series develops. The Shadow Leggy Resident Evil parodies pip it to the post when it comes to Umbrella-themed funnies, but Jimmy Urine screaming over Ada Wong almost being decapitated was My First.
Massive congrats to Shadow Leggy for managing to make Nemesis a cutie pie.
2. "We're not unreasonable, I mean, no-one's gonna eat your eyes!"
(17 May 2006)
Back in my teen years, I was a card-carrying Nerdfighter, and part of the territory was swearing allegiance to the mighty Jonathan Coulton. One of the results of his Thing A Week project was a memorable tune about a poor office worker being trapped in his stuffy workplace during a full-blown zombie apocalypse and negotiating with his undead coworkers.
This, of course, spawned fan videos, including an oft-watched one acted out by old World of Warcraft characters (there's not a Pandarian in sight).
The air guitar is the icing on the cake.
My largest connection with World of Warcraft is cooing over the pet turtles and pugs in the newer editions, so admittedly the game footage wasn't a big lure for me. However, I did watch this video over and over again because of the perfectly-matched animations and how the use of gameplay somehow amplified the humour. Kudos to the Coulton x Warcraft crew out there in the world; you are kings (orcs?) among men.
3. "The moment you get to the top of the ladder, it all goes shitfaced again!"
(15 September 2006)
Back in 2006, we weren't quite at the pinnacle of excellent video game analysis. The Completionist probably had not yet sprouted a beard, AVGN was doing this thing on a smaller scale, and TotalBiscuit was not berating godawful PC ports, to name but a few stalwarts of the genre. As a result, it's probably a good idea to ladle on the empathy with those who were giving it the ol' college try back in the wilderness years of YouTube.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you usually have to hold down directional buttons while pressing X to jump across gaps?
To be fair to the lad, I had a great amount of respect for his opinions and his courage in putting together a review video well before it became the borderline overblown phenomenon that it is today...up until he suggested that Team Siren should have got rid of the sightjacking. Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater! The defining feature of Forbidden Siren and Forbidden Siren 2 was the ability to get one up on your enemies by seeing out of their own eyes.
The history of audiovisual games reviewing is a fascinating one, but it is not always a pretty one.
4. *puts Wiimote skin down trousers*
(18 March 2008)
As I mentioned earlier, in my adolescent years, I was a proud citizen of Nerdfighteria. Of course, with my hormones running rampant, I honed in like a moth to a porch light on any teen boy with floppy hair and a beanie hat who also worshipped Hank and John Green. One of these moppets was Charlie McDonnell (who is actually still a thoroughly decent content creator who I respect a lot).
Oh my God, it's a console that is almost 2 generations out of date! ROFLMAO sooo putting this on Bebo
Suffice to say, some of his earlier content was a little...childish, and doesn't quite draw as many laughs out of me now as it did back then. Of course, this is a natural progression, since I no longer have a rampant case of bacne and I pay my own rent. It still makes me smile precisely because it reminds me how in the early days of YouTube, I would be drawn to "random!!!!!!" submissions by what were essentially the "boyband members" of YouTube.
Not that that was still the case up until a year ago. Ahem.
5. *incomprehensible Japanese while flailing*
(30 November 2008)
Cartridge tilting is a well-documented practice which I still find completely enthralling. The first home console that I owned was a PS1, so I grew up mainly on a diet of CD/DVD-based games, or cartridges that weren't as prone to connection pin glitches of this type. By 2008, I had only played on an N64 perhaps once or twice at a family Christmas party.
So, combine the wacky stylings of Goldeneye 007, a jaunty J-pop ditty and some violent cartridge tilting, and 16 year old me had sides that were truly split.
This links back to the Jonathan Coulton and Charlie McDonnell videos, since Hank Green (VP of Nerdfighteria) did a video on the Geddan craze. Strange how worlds collide, isn't it?
It's important to note that this video was originally on a Japanese media site but was re-uploaded to YouTube in 2008; I've linked to the YouTube version because it is where most people outside Japan will have probably seen it and it is relatively difficult to access the original. The Geddan meme still gets a chuckle out of me, though the videos of people doing the "Geddan dance" don't resonate with me anymore; it's the original that still puts a massive grin on my face, because the campness of Goldeneye 007 is the perfect counterpart to the cheery pop song and stuttering movements.
I like to think Rare are smiling down on all those who are Geddan-ing, since if their back catalogue is anything to go by, they positively revel in daftness.
What are your favourite YouTube gaming video memories from yesteryear? Let me know in the comments down below!