Tim Rogers is a Madman

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arkham_91

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#1  Edited By arkham_91

Tim’s new YT channel is the freshest game critique I’ve seen in a VERY long time. They’re labeled as reviews but are really long form video essays. The amount of time it must take to research, edit, and write these boggle my mind. Would love to see him guest in a Bombcast or something. The shit he’s doing is so damn cool

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Shindig

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I respect it but I can't stick with it. I keep returning to his DOOM one but it's all too meandering for me to focus on.

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danielkempster

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I discovered Tim Rogers back in late 2019 through his contributions to Kotaku's YouTube channel, and have followed his output pretty closely ever since. Action Button is hands down my favourite games-related media at the moment. I love his writing style, that combination of meticulously-remembered anecdotes and painstakingly-researched facts with a style of prose that verges on poetic at times, and he has a fantastic voice for reading his scripts that just makes them eminently listenable. Having seen all of the Action Button videos except for The Last of Us (which I will watch as soon as I've played that game for myself), the DOOM review is probably my favourite video so far.

To put it another way - I spent a significant chunk of my weekend watching a six-hour "review" of a Japan-only dating simulator that I will never play, and just thinking about it makes me want to watch it all over again. The guy is, indeed, a madman, and I admire him deeply for it.

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Humanity

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Mad is a great descriptor for it. I also respect it and I liked his hour long videos n Kotaku, but his 4 hour long essays as much as I love all the incidental storytelling are just a tad too much for me.

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senorsucks2suck

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It's a little too scripted and feels too much like schtick. I get it, he made game(s) and speaks japanese. He is everything half of us aspire to be. Now he's got fancy video equipment and it's done a complete 180 from being anti-establishment to being establishment with the requisite amount of "takes," to get the vibe he is going for. I enjoy hearing people talk too much about videogames (the reason i consume podcasts) but his selection of a game that none of us can actively play is just alot of inside baseball for the whole purpose of being edgy. If he would put the time into mainstream games I would absolutely like to hear what he has to say about AAA release games for 3 hours. He's just got a fancy iMac, nicer cameras, and a community that are probably doing alot of the heavy lifting for him. I'll pass.

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frytup

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More self-indulgent than mad. I support his Patreon and watch his videos all the way through (eventually), but let's face it he could edit out 98% of the personal anecdotes and lose absolutely nothing of what he's actually trying to say in the reviews.

My dream pairing would Dan Ryckert and Tim Rogers on a podcast. Just because it would be an absolute oil and water trainwreck.

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noboners

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I remember when he came on GB with Dave Lang to show off Videoball (I think?) and I really liked the cut of his jib. I definitely thought he was a child though. So it's wild to see how old he actually is.

But yeah, I agree, and I would love to see him on some stream with Jeff & Ben.

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chrispy145

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I dunno what it is abut the dude, but his snarkiness is just too much for me.

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hatking

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It's outstanding. He puts in an almost unreasonable amount of work into each of his videos. It's real refreshing from the navel gazing armchair cynicism, short enough to fit in a tweet, helpful to nobody style of critique most of the video game press has decided to pursue. It's like the rubber band snap in the opposite direction of the witty condemnations. It's thoughtful and personal, and long as fuck.

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asylumrunner

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@frytup: This is, like, the opposite of the appeal for me. So much writing on games is, still, just a basic factual checklist of features read one by one, with the added light zest of "I liked/did not like it". If I wanted to have a non-personal description of what Tokimeki Memorial was like I'd read the Wikipedia page.

I finished Tim's video yesterday, and it's so good for me because of how much he's able to tie his own experience and expertise into it, between his love life, his adolescence, his time in Japan, his time working at SE, his experiences in the industry, and all of that creates this fantastic, hollistic view of the game that makes me appreciate it so much more than if I saw a video that was just "this dating sim is good, also the devs went on to make Symphony of the Night, isn't that weird"

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clintlandon

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It’s kinda messed up to me that people complain about his video length. I get not being able to sit through that length of rumination, but the guy has virtually experience he’s ever had catalogued in his brain. That’s an incredibly rare ability to be able to pull from. Being able to record that and preserve it for posterity is something almost no one else is capable of doing. If you don’t like it, I get it, but wishing he’d remove the very thing that makes his voice so useful and one of a kind is, to me, narrow minded.

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jeremyf

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Yes, the amount of work that goes into his videos is unbelievable! He took a game that I barely heard of and I'll never play in a genre I don't care for and convinced me of its incredible historical value. I also agree that a lot of his personal digressions could be cut from the script, but they are often entertaining at the same time.

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frytup

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@asylumrunner: Yep, I realize asking him to edit out the personal anecdotes is basically the same as asking him to be a different reviewer.

I'm pretty much just telling on myself here and admitting I don't think his reviews are worth the time investment. And I should really be paring down my Patreon support list.

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jeremyf

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@senorsucks2suck: I don't really know what you're talking about in regards to these videos being "edgy" or that he doesn't cover mainstream games. He reviewed Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Last of Us, and I believe he is doing Cyberpunk next.

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Nodima

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The personal digressions are hilarious, and the self-indulgences are a writerly chef's kiss. I still can't believe he finished his Last of Us Part II review with a one-hour retelling of its story by writing a summary in the voice of Cormac McCarthy.

Even three hours of Pac-Man - Pac-Man - was somehow thrilling. I've watched them all once in single sittings, and The Last of Us review in single sittings at least three times. That is just a masterclass in video game critique and gave me or solidified for me a lot of new language to talk about and read video games in. He articulated in that video - and the DOOM video - so many things I'd always felt about games but not necessarily had the words for.

It's especially impressive how adept he is at swapping between personal indulgences, meticulous statistical breakdowns of a game's "game flavors", frivolous anecdotal evidence that a game is one way or another, snobbish anecdotal evidence about what a dev told him in the back room of a convention once, dickish personal revelations about all of video games based on a minor aspect of a given game, all wrapped in a winking, knowing understanding that there's a version of this that goes spectacularly, horrifyingly bad and yet it isn't and also stands tall and unique in the current Youtube landscape, even next to other essayists like Joseph Anderson or Noah Caldwell.

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arkham_91

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#16  Edited By arkham_91

@senorsucks2suck: Ah yes Doom and PAC-Man, the games so edgy and hard to find you’re forced to play it on your grandmothers fridge

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wollywoo

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#17  Edited By wollywoo

I enjoy him quite a bit (although he seems self-indulgent at times.) His FFVII translation analysis series is outstanding, even if you're like me and speak no Japanese. I would love to see more in-depth videos on translation like this for other games, or even for books or film. It's fascinating.

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Efesell

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#18  Edited By Efesell

You know, I will trust others that this is Good Actually but this is almost six hours and I have a hard time not just seeing that and thinking it's an unfocused mess.

Either way I do not have the time to watch it but hey if this is the thing you wanna make go wild.

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Pnutz83

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Tim was easily the best part of kotaku and i love Action Button. Haven't had time to watch the latest one and since I've never played the game I'm probably not going to watch it.

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asylumrunner

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@efesell said:

You know, I will trust others that this is Good Actually but this is almost six hours and I have a hard time not just seeing that and thinking it's an unfocused mess.

Either way I do not have the time to watch it but hey if this is the thing you wanna make go wild.

To be fair, he has stated that he wants it to be viewed in parts and not as a continuous whole (there are chapter headers, and intermissions, in which he literally asks you to go do something else instead of binge watching), and since pretty much no one in the English speaking world has played Tokimeki Memorial, 2 hours of those 6 are two (summarized) complete playthroughs of the game

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senorsucks2suck

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#21  Edited By senorsucks2suck

@replyall He brings up all these random games that he references constantly and talks about replaying 50+ hour RPGs, maybe he should learn a trade that benefits mankind, directly. He reminds me of Jason Schrier, who are these people and where are they in the real world. I'm the uber nerd in 100% of the circles i run in and I couldn't bring myself to find the time nor the rationale for the amount of games that they play. To each their own. His memory recall strikes me as someone that keeps a journal and not someone with a photographic memory, sorry. He takes a little too long between content which makes his effort a lot less amazing. I'm sure his Twitch is great though but I can't be bothered. I have to keep reminding myself every morning to be enthralled with other people.

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Efesell

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Change your name to Fifthline.

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huntad

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His review of the Xbox One Elite Controller Series 2 made me buy it. Classic.

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asylumrunner

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@replyall He brings up all these random games that he references constantly and talks about replaying 50+ hour RPGs, maybe he should learn a trade that benefits mankind, directly. He reminds me of Jason Schrier, who are these people and where are they in the real world.

What a garbage take. Ignoring the absolutely ridiculous insinuation that media criticism isn't beneficial and that everyone should go take up welding or whatever instead, you are literally making this point on a website run by and centered upon people who have dedicated their professional careers to discussing and playing video games. People are, as it turns out, allowed to have interests. Especially weird to make this argument against two people who, by basically all available metrics, have extremely successful careers.

Go be an asshole somewhere else lol

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Nodima

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#25  Edited By Nodima

It reminds me of the people who would be flabbergasted I had 150-200 albums ranked each year while I was a music critic. Or listen to a movie podcast then look on in wonderment when one of the hosts has a Letterboxd account with over 400 movies rated in a single year. That's the job, guys. And it takes someone truly dedicated to the craft of that job to continue doing it for years and years - I often have a laugh when I read how much people would like to or think they could do the GB gig. When I stopped writing about music, I also stopped listening to music pretty much full stop for two whole years and still listen to far more podcasts than music, and music was quite literally my life from middle school to my mid-20s. I learned the lesson most people do - turning your primary hobby into your lifeline can really sour you on the thing you love.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that's also what I love about Tim's reviews, you can see that he never lost his passion for this thing and it's festered into something wholly unique to him. Who else would kick off a review of The Last of Us with a 40 minute preamble about how the only games he owns physical copies of are Japanese language RPGs and a couple B-tier action titles like God Hand and make that extremely relevant to what he goes on to say about The Last of Us?

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CoinMatze

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I only discovered his new channel today. Just haven't kept up with what he's been up to post-Kotaku. But i'm really looking forward to jumping into his Doom video.

I love long-form video game essays and am always on the lookout for people who are interested in more than pure mechanics since that's just fucking boring. Noah Caldwell-Gervais is my absolute gold standard for what these kinds of videos should be imo. Personal, critical, political.

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Nodima

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@CoinMatze: Well, if you like personal, be prepared for about an hour of the DOOM review to encircle his experience as a kid who lied about when he first played DOOM. It's great!

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LapsarianGiraff

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So, as someone who is entirely on board with longer and more nuanced video essays on the internet, for any subject really, this was the first I had heard of Tim Rogers and I jumped into his DOOM video almost immediately.

I admire what he's doing, I'm happy for people who dig it, dude's super knowledgeable and has done so much research/work, and he's clearly a unique voice in video game criticism, but man... he could use slightly more editing. I am all for long digressions that at first appear to not be a part of the thesis, and then tie back in; most of his anecdotes do tie back into his points about DOOM effectively, but between the critical anecdotes, the flavor anecdotes, and the joke anecdotes, there's a lot of white noise there and his overall essay suffers. It's admirable in a "New Journalism"-esque way, going for some of the same flavor of sprawling personal journalism as Hunter S. Thompson or Joan Didion -- but those two got to the point much more quickly.

I got to about Part 4 when he started talking about the Edge review and couldn't keep at it any longer. Still, guy's clearly doing some of the more interesting work in video game criticism right now, and I'm glad his body of work exists.

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Nodima

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#29  Edited By Nodima

@theoracleofgame: So, there's a thing with his review style that's kind of hard to nail down with a single video which didn't really come into focus until his next review, Pac-Man, but he considered this year to be a "season": FFVIIR, The Last of Us, DOOM, Pac-Man, Tokimeki Memorial, Cyberpunk 2077. And so they go through this sort of progression -

• FFVIIR explains what he finds interesting about game design (and Japanese game design in particular) as much as the game itself while examining its unique context as an extremely mainstream thing that is very uncool

• The Last of Us explains why he considers it to be the epitome of telling story through gameplay (and cutscenes) despite his love for obtuse RPGs and action games while looking into how video games have figured out how to comfortably hang in the mainstream

• DOOM looks into what makes successful game design at its most fundamental level, but also satirizes the idea of old games from your childhood remaining the best games by coating the review in childhood stories while exploring gaming's link with the persona of a bullied outsider

• Pac-Man expands on both ideas, examining why certain games remain a part of our cultural memory long after their relevance and are immediately considered "cool" rather than "threatening" while deeply revering the contemporary creativity Pac-Man demanded.

• Tokimeki Memorial swallows up all of the things he repeatedly refers to off-handedly and in-depth about his personal life and applies them to a pair of let's plays of this game in order to examine the cult of personality certain games can celebrate and how much is wrapped up in the personal experiences surrounding those games and using the game's primary love interest (and her near impossible attainability) as a metaphor for the expansiveness of modern game design (and players' need to be validated by their choices of what to play)

• Cyberpunk 2077 doesn't have a review, because in its attempt to culminate all of these concepts...well, Tim said it would be both the BEST and MOST video game ever made in the season pilot he produced for Kotaku, and it may or may not have proven to be one or either of those things

And I can totally bet none of that comes across if you just dive into the middle, or don't immediately get hooked on his word choice and serpentine delivery method. I personally find the The Last of Us review the only one of the three truly valuable as pure video game criticism, but as an examination of gaming's cultural impact and a personal existential consideration of permanence during a pandemic, I found the whole thing pretty thrilling to watch over the summer into winter. I find it refreshing how he takes "review" back to the more primordial mode of assessment and context, though you can tell he's picking games he deeply enjoys as a counterbalance to the overwhelmingly negative vibe of most gaming Youtube.

Otherwise, like somebody else said, he does do the courtesy of breaking the "actual review" out from the rest of the video for those that only want that, and has a couple good jokes about why anybody would want to watch the entirety of any of his videos throughout the Tokimeki review anyway. I'd never, uh, screen them for anyone in-person no matter how much they'd told me they're interested in video games. But for me specifically, it's a very on point combination of self-indulgence, flagellation, cultural and artistic criticism that makes a few hours fly by real quick like.

But yea, they all could be an hour shorter.

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Efesell

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I feel like the length of these videos does not do it for me in regards to a video game essay but I do have to be careful not to be too judgmental because I AM a major proponent of Hardcore History.

Which is very much something you get to hour 5 in an episode and briefly question wait what were we talking about eh whatever it's fine.

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LapsarianGiraff

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@nodima That's what weirds me out -- I love serpentine delivery methods elsewhere, and again, I am all for creating personal essays and reflections out of games, movies, whatever. It's cool that the overall body of work has a larger progression, though.

@efesell Oh my god, I'm guilty of the exact same thing. Dan Carlin's Supernova in the East series has been fantastic videogame podcast background noise.

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theonewhoplays

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I listen to his essays while cleaning. Hearing his audio book version of the Last of Us while wiping my windows was something else.

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Vamino

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#33  Edited By Vamino

@senorsucks2suck said:

His memory recall strikes me as someone that keeps a journal and not someone with a photographic memory, sorry.

One of the weirdest insults(?) I've ever seen. "Hey look at this idiot, he takes notes! What a loser not having a photographic memory."

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Onemanarmyy

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#34  Edited By Onemanarmyy

@vamino: That was in response to a commenter saying:

`the guy has virtually experience he’s ever had catalogued in his brain. That’s an incredibly rare ability to be able to pull from. Being able to record that and preserve it for posterity is something almost no one else is capable of doing.`

Casting doubts on him having a rare ability is different from saying that a person that doesn't have that ability is an idiot.

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dudeglove

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Back in the mid 2000s I once disliked Tim Rogers but marvelled at his writing regardless. His video work in recent years, especially the "Lets Mosey" for FFVII, but in particular the Action Button Pacman review, has skyrocketed him to one of the best critical voices north america has ever produced for me. Even with a small team helping him out I am baffled at the output of the past 8 months of Action Button.

And Tim has been on a Giant Bomb live show - in fact the BLLS:L of 2015

Loading Video...

The more you know.

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senorsucks2suck

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#36  Edited By senorsucks2suck

@replyall Sorry if i don't go for self-appointed sausage king of Chicago types. He has testified so much to his ability that some don't question it. When he was doing that live show with Gita (who annoyingly brings up David half as us much as she does games and "The Man" during waypoint) he wasn't much to look at. I recall on March 6th 2016 at 11:14am I had just closed my 7th tab of poor window management and over indulgence in the yet-to-be-yet-soon-to-be-imperative-statement-of-the-hindenburg-widow-to-google-chrome-(you should google the word chrome people.. this is what google has been subtlety been imploring the masses but only 3.7% of the bibby babbus poulation has yet to comply.. grassy knoll people) which sent me down a rabbit hole of kotaku.com. Twas here that i saw my first nickel lenticular that made me so cringe that i thought the train was in my living room. That fine fellow doth told me a story of near death experience. He also reviewed the japanese-english translation of a game this final of fantasies seventh. When most on youtube promise more videos they never do such. He actually did his homework. This Tim, all his links doth navigate. These were the longest non-giantbomb videos (that weren't sporting event replays i had ever watched. Even my pandemic Yesterworld themepark videos top out at about half an hour. From here, for me, a star was born. I have watched all of his kotaku.com and post kotaku stuff. I even have watched some less than 1000 view stuff when he was cutting his teeth. He's legit, and maybe his uncle does work at nintendo but i don't think he's ever dropped the scientific name for whatever he's got so i dont buy it. But yeah..bros before does and wikipedia instead of rpg-ia. IMHO

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EmuLeader

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I have heard someone who is super into his work talk about the reason all of his videos/reviews are so long. I don't remember all of it, but It had something to do with the way his brain works through and catalogues thoughts. He may have an eidetic memory with some obsessive compulsive tendencies, and his meanderings are personally important for his process. Now its understandable that many people may not want to follow all of those meanderings/anecdotes, but his breadth of experience makes a lot of those pretty interesting.

I think he leaves it all in there as the style has also become a part of his identity as a creator. I can easily see it as very polarizing, but at the end of the day, it is pretty unique. He talks about what is interesting to him, and the people who really like his stuff tend to go all in. It is all part of the charm, or a major annoyance, depending on the viewer, but I'm glad he has stuck to his guns and does what he likes. Clearly there is an audience for it.

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Vamino

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@vamino: That was in response to a commenter saying:

`the guy has virtually experience he’s ever had catalogued in his brain. That’s an incredibly rare ability to be able to pull from. Being able to record that and preserve it for posterity is something almost no one else is capable of doing.`

Casting doubts on him having a rare ability is different from saying that a person that doesn't have that ability is an idiot.

Fair point on that, I missed that comment and didn't see the original context, hence why it seemed like a weird ass insult to me, effectively insulting someone for not having an incredibly rare brain.

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csl316

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#39  Edited By csl316

More power to him, if people are liking it and it makes him stand out. But good lord, that is absolutely not for me.

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Ramone

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Why do all white male video essayists have the exact same cadence?

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Humanity

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@ramone said:

Why do all white male video essayists have the exact same cadence?

Oh boy.

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MrGreenMan

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if this was under 2 hours, I would consider this. I love long form deep dives into subjects about all kinds of art, but 2 hours is about the limit for me. There is a point where you need to edit yourself and find the subject you want explore. There a point where people are just going to lose interest here, and I feel it's just a wasted opportunity here, being how good his work is. Video essays are fine, but this isn't an essay, this is just a long form attempt at a lecture about a very specific topic that is unedited or filtered at all, and for me that is absolutely dreadful, no matter how excellent the content is.

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ghost_cat

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There is only so much I can take of Tim, but that's just me. He comes across as a very smug version of Dan, and I don't think that always works as a comedic bit.

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BladeOfCreation

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So reading the descriptions of these video essays, I was reminded of an utterly meandering and self-indulgent review of BioShock Infinite in which the author spent far too long talking about the box art and the main character's haircut. I just looked that review up. Turns out it was written by Tim Rogers. I think I'll pass on these video essays. Good for him for finding an audience, though.

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BoOzak

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That guys 41 years old?! He looks 15...

Anyway, it's the first i've heard of him but judging his writing style purely from the litttle i've seen of that video I cant say i'm a fan.

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LyndBako

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I really liked Tim's first few years at Kotaku, particularly his E3 coverage, comedic videos and unscripted stuff with Gita Jackson. My personal favorite video of his, the Hyrule Warriors review, has everything I want from Tim Rogers –unique insight, personal anecdotes and plenty of humor– in a spare 21 minute running time. I have no idea who the audience for these 3 to 6(!) hour videos is. I thought his later hour-long Kotaku reviews were already starting to get meandering, aimless and dull.

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hatking

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Video games are some of the longest form, densest artworks out there. It makes total sense that 10, 20 hour games can get an analysis that is multiple hours long.

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archer88

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For the people balking at the length of some of his videos, might I recommend his Death Stranding review. Hilarious and only an hour long.

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I won't go on another Rogersian rant, but it's also worth pointing out (again, maybe?) that each review is broken up into episodes on the timestamp. There are hard cuts after each segment and they're very easy to walk away from and come back to. So if the length is a primary concern, like a long TV season you can always just walk away for a bit and come back.

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hatking

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@nodima: they’re structured like, would you believe it, video games! A big thing built up of smaller sections designed for the audience to walk away from, digest, and come back to.