Zero Punctuation

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Zero Punctuation
Zero Punctuation logo.png
The logo for Zero Punctuation, featuring Yahtzee's cartoon avatar
GenreVideo game reviews, black comedy, insult comedy, satire
Created byBen "Yahtzee" Croshaw
Theme music composerIan Dorsch
Opening themeRuss Pitts
Country of originAustralia United States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes526 (list of episodes)
DistributorThe Escapist (primary)
YouTube
Release
Original networkZero Punctuation on The Escapist
Original releaseJuly 24, 2007 (2007-07-24) – present
External links
Website
Production website

Zero Punctuation is a series of video game reviews created by English comedy writer and video game journalist Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. Since the series began in 2007, over 500 episodes have been created, which have been published weekly by internet magazine The Escapist. Episodes typically range from 5 to 6 minutes in length. Videos provide caustic humour, rapid-fire delivery, visual gags and critical insight into recently released video games, with occasional reviews of older 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 and the coming of the eighth generation of consoles.[5][6] Starting in 2014, Yahtzee has released a sub-series of Zero Punctuation, titled "Zero Punctuation’s occasional guide to retarded special moments in gaming history", where he looks back upon events or periods in gaming that garnered widespread, often infamous, attention; these include the video game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which helped contribute to the video game industry crash of 1983, and the controversial Hot Coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.[7][8] Since 2009, Croshaw has also been writing a column on The Escapist known as Extra Punctuation. These articles were originally published every Tuesday and often supplement the previous week's review by discussing a certain topic or trend exhibited by that game. However, after several years writing the column on a weekly basis, Croshaw began to produce entries less frequently.[9]

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.[10][11][12] 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.[13] 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, however in 2014, the videos posted on YouTube omit the credit sequences. 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 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.

The series' format has proved inspirational for several other web series, such as the critical and educational series Extra Credits[14] and CGP Grey.[15][16]

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][17] He tends to disdain certain overused tropes and conventions in video games, such as quick time events, highly common uses of motion controls, cover-based shooting and unbalanced emphasis on graphics over story or gameplay.[5][18][19] He also disapproves of game franchises that release sequels in rapid succession, such as Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed, and Call of Duty.[20]

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[when?], 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.[21][22][23] He often criticizes publishers or developers with practices that he believes are in some way damaging to video games industry or otherwise unacceptable, such as Electronic Arts and Microsoft.[24]

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[25]

Although Zero Punctuation episodes are usually intended to highlight Croshaw's criticisms of video games, his general opinions are not universally negative, and any positive feelings towards the aspects of a game will usually be explicitly stated.[24] A number of video games have received favorable Zero Punctuation reviews, which include some of his all-time favorite games such as Silent Hill 2, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Shadow of the Colossus.[26][27][28][29] Croshaw had no criticisms for another favorite, the video game Portal,[30] although by the time Portal 2 was released approximately 4 years later, he stated that the only flaw of the first Portal was its fan base.[31] 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.[32]

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.[24][33][34] He expressed respect towards the late Roger Ebert, noting that he "might one day aspire to being his videogaming equivalent".[35]

Games of the Year[edit]

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. In 2015, he added a new category concerning the blandest and least innovative games of the year.[36]

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 but rather saw it as "congealed failure". He also stated that the game would indefinitely hold the award until a worse game came along, which he claims "should roughly be around the time apes have retaken the earth."[20]

In 2015 he created a category where he gave his top five blandest games of 2015, which he felt had not added anything new or fresh to the franchise they were a part of. He rated Halo 5: Guardians as the year's blandest game. Undertale was awarded his Game of the Year but which had not been given its own Zero Punctuation episode beforehand. Having stated before the awards began that all games mentioned must have already been reviewed by him, he promptly gave his own last-minute opinion by merely stating "Undertale is a good game".[37]

Reception[edit]

Zero Punctuation has received generally positive reviews, with much of the praise centered towards Yahtzee's sharp wit and style of comedic writing. As of October 2018, the series has an IMDB rating of 7.7 from 409 users.[38] Boing Boing called the series "hilariously cutting ... first legitimate breakout hit from the gaming community in recent memory".[39]

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. ^ "E.T. - "The Worst Game Ever"". The Escapist. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Hot Coffee". The Escapist. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Extra Punctuation". The Escapist.
  10. ^ Lanxon, Nate (November 4, 2009). "Interview: Zero Punctuation's Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw reveals all". CNET.
  11. ^ StasseMarch 5, 2008, Terrence. "Zero Punctuation: Yahtzee cries about DMC4". Engadget.
  12. ^ "Zero Punctuation Review Terrorizes EA Game Development". GameAxis Unwired. No. 55. SPH Magazines. April 2008. ISSN 0219-872X.
  13. ^ "The Escapist : Sound and Music". The Escapist.
  14. ^ Floyd, Daniel. "Video Games and Storytelling". YouTube. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  15. ^ Haran, Brady; Grey, CGP (2014-05-28). "Nobody Owns the Facts". Hello Internet (Podcast). Hellointernet.fm. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  16. ^ Grey, C. G. P.; Hurley, Myke (August 14, 2015). "Cortex #10: Zero Artistic Skills". Cortex (Podcast). Relay FM. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  17. ^ Croshaw, Ben (May 7, 2008). "Zero Punctuation - Mailbag Showdown". The Escapist. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  18. ^ Croshaw, Ben (February 27, 2008). "ZeroPunctuation - Uncharted: Drake's Fortune". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  19. ^ Croshaw, Ben (July 3, 2013). "Zero Punctuation - The Last of Us". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Croshaw, Ben (January 1, 2014). "Zero Punctuation - Top 5 Games of 2013". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  21. ^ Croshaw, Ben (January 2, 2013). "Zero Punctuation - Top 5 of 2012". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  22. ^ Croshaw, Ben (September 5, 2007). "Zero Punctuation - Call of Duty: Black Ops". The Escapist. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  23. ^ Croshaw, Ben (November 7, 2012). "Zero Punctuation - Medal of Honor Warfighter & Doom 3 BFG Edition". The Escapist. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  24. ^ a b c "Destructoid interview: Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw". Destructoid. February 11, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  25. ^ Croshaw, Ben (April 8, 2011). "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  26. ^ Reddit AMAA. "IAM Yahtzee Croshaw off of the Escapist's Zero Punctuation, AMAA". Reddit.com. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  27. ^ "Zero Punctuation - Silent Hill 2". The Escapist. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Zero Punctuation - Prince of Persia Retrospective". The Escapist. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Zero Punctuation - Shadow of the Colossus". The Escapist. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  30. ^ "Zero Puncation - The Orange Box". The Escapist. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  31. ^ "Zero Puncation - Portal 2". The Escapist. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  32. ^ Croshaw, Ben (November 24, 2010). "Zero Punctuation - BioShock". The Escapist. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  33. ^ Schneider, James (February 14, 2008). "Interview: Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee". Geek.com. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  34. ^ Croshaw, Ben (November 21, 2007). "Yahtzee Visits Valve, a Travelogue". The Escapist. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  35. ^ Croshaw, Ben (April 27, 2010). "Extra Punctuation - Videogames as Art". The Escapist. Retrieved April 3, 2014.
  36. ^ Croshaw, Ben (January 13, 2016). "Top 5 Games of 2015 (Zero Punctuation)". YouTube. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  37. ^ "Zero Punctuation : Top 5 Games of 2015". The Escapist. Retrieved 2016-01-07.
  38. ^ "Zero Punctuation (2007-)". IMDB. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  39. ^ "Zero Punctuation". The Escapist. Retrieved 12 February 2018.

External links[edit]