Zero Punctuation

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Zero Punctuation
Zero Punctuation
The current logo for Zero Punctuation, featuring Yahtzee's cartoon avatar
Genre Video game reviews, Black Comedy, Insult Comedy, Satire
Created by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 347 (List of episodes)
Distributor The Escapist (primary)
YouTube
Broadcast
Original channel Internet: Zero Punctuation on The Escapist
Original run July 24, 2007 (2007-07-24) – present
External links
Website
Production website

Zero Punctuation is a series of video game reviews created by English-Australian comedy writer and video game journalist Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Since the series began in 2007, over 300 episodes have been created, which have been published weekly by internet magazine The Escapist. Episodes are typically about five minutes in length and provide critical insight into recently released video games.

History[edit]

Prior to Zero Punctuation, Croshaw primarily authored content for his blog, Fully Ramblomatic, and would occasionally review video games, often with an emphasis on humor and criticism.[1] In July 2007, Croshaw uploaded two game reviews in video format to YouTube in the same style that would eventually be used for Zero Punctuation: one of the demo of The Darkness for the PlayStation 3, and the other of Fable: The Lost Chapters for the PC. Both were well-received and The Escapist was one of several publishers to offer Croshaw a contract.[2]

The name "Zero Punctuation" refers to the speed of Croshaw's narration. Since its creation, the series has become popular in the gaming community.[2] Video game developers and publishers have occasionally acknowledged Croshaw's reviews of their games, and at least one internet meme has resulted from Zero Punctuation.[3][4] At the end of every year, Croshaw creates special episodes of Zero Punctuation discussing what he believes were the best and worst games of the year; a practice that started at the end of 2008. He has occasionally dedicated episodes to new technologies or milestones in video gaming rather than games, such as E3, the Kinect, and the coming of the eighth generation of consoles.[5][6]

Since 2009, Croshaw has also been writing a column on The Escapist known as Extra Punctuation. These articles are published every Tuesday and often supplement the previous week's review by discussing a certain topic or trend exhibited by that game.

Format[edit]

Typical Zero Punctuation imagery, describing Croshaw's confusion with obtaining spaceship fuel in Starbound

In Zero Punctuation, Croshaw usually reviews a game or games in a highly critical manner using rapid-fire speech delivery accompanied by minimalistic cartoon imagery and animation on a distinctive yellow background, which illustrates what is being said or provides an ironic counterpoint to it. Subtle references or jokes may be inserted to the visuals for comic effect or to add additional context to the narration. His reviews are intended to be humorous with constant usage of puns, analogies, metaphors, and dark humour accompanied by liberal use of profanity. Croshaw usually substitutes the main character or himself with his own avatar, a cartoon man distinguished by a trilby. Another character used often is an imp-like creature (originally meant to resemble a "darkling" from The Darkness) which represents antagonists, animals, or less important characters from a video game. Video games, developers, countries, and other entities are often anthropomorphized as box arts, logos, or flags with arms and legs when they are being addressed directly, or when an action by that entity is being explained.

Zero Punctuation opens and closes with a theme song, a rock track composed and performed by Ian Dorsch.[7] The ending credits usually feature humorous notes or other information relating to the review, as well as imagery of characters from the review engaging in slapstick. Prior to mid-2008, Zero Punctuation featured commercial songs at the beginning and end of each episode, which were usually related to the context of, or ironically at odds with, the game in question, such as The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated" and Eric Johnson's "Cliffs of Dover" at the beginning and end, respectively, of his review of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

Critical style[edit]

Croshaw, more often than not, provides highly critical reviews of games, usually pointing out the faults that he implies other professional reviewers ignore in high-profile releases.[4][8] He tends to disdain certain overused tropes and conventions in video games, such as quick time events, motion controls, cover-based shooting and unbalanced emphasis on graphics or story over gameplay.[5][9][10] He also disapproves of game franchises that release sequels in rapid succession, such as Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed, and Call of Duty.[11]

Although Zero Punctuation episodes are usually intended to highlight Croshaw's criticisms of video games, his general opinions are not universally negative. He had no criticisms for the video game Portal. He opened his review of BioShock by saying "nobody likes it when I'm being nice to a game," referring to the negative reception of his favorable review of Psychonauts.[12]

Certainly I focus on the bad, because I reckon plenty of sources focus on the good already. Happily, the bad is also easier to make funny.

Croshaw on a Reddit "Ask me Anything" thread in 2011[13]

Croshaw generally does not review certain genres of games, and has openly admitted to not liking most JRPGs, real-time strategy games, fighting games, or simulation games. More recently, he has begun disliking military-themed first-person shooters such as Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield for being what he believes to be extremely similar in gameplay, poor in ethics, and contrived in story, while using the moniker "spunkgargleweewee" to differentiate them from other styles of first-person shooter game.[14][15][16] He often criticizes publishers or developers with practices that he believes are in some way damaging to video games or otherwise unacceptable, such as Electronic Arts and Microsoft.[17]

Croshaw cites the work of British television critic and PC Zone journalist Charlie Brooker as the "main inspiration" for his own reviewing style, as well as the writings of Douglas Adams, Sean "Seanbaby" Riley, Victor Lewis-Smith, and Old Man Murray's Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw.[17][18][19] He expressed respect towards the late Roger Ebert, noting that he "might one day aspire to being his videogaming equivalent".[20]

At the end of each year since 2008, Croshaw has created episodes of Zero Punctuation showcasing his favorite and most disliked games reviewed in that year. These episodes systematically alternate between his selections for the five best and five worst of the year in ascending order. In 2008 and 2009, however, these were done in a mock awards format.

Zero Punctuation's Games of the Year
Year Best Game Worst Game
2008 Saints Row 2 Too Human (later implied)[21]
2009 Batman: Arkham Asylum not explicitly stated, instead giving a similar award to Michael Atkinson
2010 Just Cause 2 Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
2011 Portal 2 Tie between Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3
2012 Spec Ops: The Line Amy
2013 BioShock Infinite Call of Duty: Ghosts

In his 2013 lists, he also awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Award for Total Abhorrence" to Ride to Hell: Retribution, expressing that it was so poor in quality that he hardly considered it a game. He also stated that the game would indefinitely hold the award until a worse game comes along, which he doubts will ever happen as evidenced by saying "... should roughly be around the time apes have retaken the earth."[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Croshaw, Ben (2008). "Reviews on FullyRamblomatic". Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Orland, Kyle (March 22, 2008). "PressSpotting: Ramblin' with Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw". GameSpot. Retrieved September 3, 2011. 
  3. ^ Good, Owen (July 4, 2009). "inFamous Defeats Prototype in Cross-Dressing Playoff". Kotaku. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Francis, Tom (August 5, 2010). "Community heroes: Yahtzee, for Zero Punctuation". PC Gamer. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Croshaw, Ben (October 26, 2011). "Zero Punctuation - Kinect". The Escapist. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  6. ^ Croshaw, Ben (June 5, 2013). "Zero Punctuation - Next Gen Buyer's Guide". The Escapist. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Escapist : Sound and Music". The Escapist. 
  8. ^ Croshaw, Ben (May 7, 2008). "Zero Punctuation - Mailbag Showdown". The Escapist. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ Croshaw, Ben (February 27, 2008). "ZeroPunctuation - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  10. ^ Croshaw, Ben (July 3, 2013). "Zero Punctuation - The Last of Us". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Croshaw, Ben (January 1, 2014). "Zero Punctuation - Top 5 Games of 2013". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ Croshaw, Ben (November 24, 2010). "Zero Punctuation - BioShock". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  13. ^ Croshaw, Ben (April 8, 2011). "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  14. ^ Croshaw, Ben (January 2, 2013). "Zero Punctuation - Top 5 of 2012". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  15. ^ Croshaw, Ben (September 5, 2007). "Zero Punctuation - Call of Duty: Black Ops". The Escapist. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ Croshaw, Ben (November 7, 2012). "Zero Punctuation - Medal of Honor Warfighter & Doom 3 BFG Edition". The Escapist. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Destructoid interview: Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw". Destructoid. February 11, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ Schneider, James (February 14, 2008). "Interview: Zero Punctuation’s Yahtzee". Geek.com. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ Croshaw, Ben (November 21, 2007). "Yahtzee Visits Valve, a Travelogue". The Escapist. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ Croshaw, Ben (April 27, 2010). "Extra Punctuation - Videogames as Art". The Escapist. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 
  21. ^ Croshaw, Ben (April 8, 2011). "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit. Retrieved April 3, 2014. 

External links[edit]