YouTube is home to a plethora of content – from movie trailers and makeup tutorials to funny cat compilations. Over the years, the video hosting service has also become a place for independent YouTubers to offer their analysis of subjects ranging from Sonic the Hedgehog’s game design to representation in comics. Here are three video essayists worth checking out.
On her eponymous YouTube channel, Lindsay Ellis takes a look at all things media. From Disney movies to big-budget musicals to the monster boyfriend trope (yes, that’s a thing), Ellis contextualizes the work she critiques to give viewers insights into how their favorite art was created, what the work is trying to say, and how successfully it accomplishes its goals. Ellis, an author herself, has a sharp eye for effective storytelling. Through her videos, she helps viewers understand the techniques involved in the making of various media – be it filmmaking, literature, or theater – and what the text contributes to culture.
Where to start: “How Aladdin Changed Animation (by Screwing Over Robin Williams)”
On Philosophy Tube, Oliver Thorn makes philosophy fun. Thorn pairs creative costumes with theatrical performances to help explain complicated philosophical ideas. The channel has covered many schools of thought, including Confucianism, Plato, and topics such as data security. Thorn has also drawn from his own life to explore more directly personal issues, including an essay on trauma and abuse – an emotional 30-minute video shot without a single cut.
Where to start: “The Trouble with the Video Game Industry”
Game Maker’s Toolkit
Created and presented by video game journalist Mark Brown, Game Maker’s Toolkit gives viewers an exceptional foundational understanding of the vocabulary of video game design. Brown’s essays are simple and easy to understand – usually focusing on a single genre or game mechanic, and expounding on them with loads of examples (both good and bad) to give players and game developers alike consider what makes for fun, compelling game design.
Where to start: “The Secret of Mario's Jump (and other Versatile Verbs)”
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