Threepenny Thursday – Game Grumps

9 Aug

Here’s a shocker – I love video games. I love everything about them. As a medium, as an activity; even as a culture. Steeped I was, like a fine Earl Grey, from a very young age. Much like the Internet and computers and mobile technology, it’s an industry which has seen change, upheaval, and evolution at a breakneck pace, and I’ve been there every step of the way. Well okay – not every step.

Boy, that electronic leisure appliance looks like it’d go great with a few lines of Colombian gold, doesn’t it?

It’s a niche culture which has burst into the mainstream. The North American video game industry makes a metric bitch-tonne of money annually – in fact, it was big news a few years back when the industry kicked Hollywood‘s proverbial monkey ass, and it has been a wild ride on the money train straight into the stratosphere since then. This, of course, has influenced the development of video games themselves. In a dark parallel of what seems to be Hollywood’s M.O., gaming store shelves are overflowing with offal, with most major titles produced by huge corporations to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. It takes knowledge, time, and concerted effort to dig through the mass market shitpile to find the sparse nuggets of gold within, and darned if that ain’t a little bit sad.

So as a veteran gamer, I find it’s a joy to reach under the bed, pull out the box, and cradle my old video game consoles once more. I blow the dust off, clack a cartridge in there and return to my youth, when video game development was like the Wild West! There were no rules, no big corporations, just a bunch of starry-eyed programmers and artists with meagre hardware and big ideas. It was art through adversity – a Golden Age, long past. And when I meet people my age who were there too, fighting in the trenches of the Console Wars, I invariably discover that we share strong bonds of kinship and memory about that glorious time.

Enter Game Grumps, a union born of that love for all things 16-bit. JonTron and Egoraptor – two fellow vets and established Youtubers – sit on a couch and play Super Nintendo games, crackin’ jokes, laughing their asses off, and having a thoroughly excellent time. It’s that simple, and that awesome.

Egoraptor you may know from his Awesome Series, a suite of ridiculous cartoon animations about video games. He’s an accomplished voice actor as well, with a particular propensity for screaming in a way that makes me laugh really hard. His dulcet tones and hilarious, furious delivery go a long way when combined with his melodramatic and often hideous character animation.

 

JonTron is equally ridiculous, but with a different flavour. Jon and his robotic parrot Jacques review games both bad and good, and participate in live-action sketch comedy shenanigans. Where Egoraptor is acerbic and incisive, JonTron is much more bombastic and theatrical – in fact, he has a background in musical theatre, very similar to my own. There are a lot of things, actually, that JonTron and I have in common – not the least of which is the fact that Banjo-Kazooie holds our #1 Game Of All Time spot – enough that I’m convinced, after rabidly inhaling every video he produces, that if we ever met in real life we’d be the best of friends.

 

And that’s what Game Grumps is all about: despite the name, it’s just two expressive, wacky, talented friends sitting down and having fun together. It’s infectious fun; it’s the kind of fun that makes you wish you were there with them. It’s pretty magical that they’ve forever captured the kind of evenings I’ve had with my own friends, more times than I can possibly count. Here’s the straight dope: if you like video games and fun, you owe it to yourself to hop on the rapidly-growing Game Grump bandwagon.

I leave you with just one of their videos, to whet the appetite (slightly NSFW language):

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