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Boy Wonder: Ben Croshaw vs. Yahtzee


Interesting write-up on Ben Croshaw a.k.a. Yahtzee of video game reviewing fame and hilarity (See Zero Punctuation). I rarely even own or care about the games Croshaw reviews as its just fun to listen/watch his dry, humorous video reviews.

I liked the angle of nobody-turned-somebody that the author of this article took. That Croshaw is an outsider is also a refreshing and increasingly common meme we’re seeing as the internet-world competes with the established “authorities.”

H/T to David Byars for first telling me about Yahtzee.

Croshaw is beloved by many, and envied by most. He is the Peter-Pan-gone-right that misleads many of us to think that a little luck and a general lack of focus might lead to our discovery. Aspiring models and actors tell themselves the same myth, although it’s admittedly a larger leap for someone to genuinely identify with Kate Moss or Christian Bale. Croshaw, on the other hand, is just unkempt and self-deprecating enough for us to emotionally access him. At the end of the day, odds are we find ourselves to be prettier, richer, hipper, or nicer than little Ben C, which makes it all the more easier to think we could do what he does.

Yahtzee is living the collective dream of plenty of people I know online. In fact, he’s living the dream of some of the most ambitious, charismatic folks I know in the real world as well. Nobody is asking him to define himself by trade, title, or career path. He has dabbled in most aspects of the industry he enjoys, enough to give him the ethos and vocabulary that substantiate his reviews. Simultaneously, this lack of specialization gives him the refreshingly removed perspective of an outsider, and at least at one time, the enthusiasm of a fan boy.

It is indeed the sensation of Yahtzee that causes us to forget the hard labor of Ben Croshaw. Almost by the book, he got his lucky break being discovered by The Escapist (and a number of other outlets who wanted him) after MS Painting just two installments of Zero Punctuation and uploading them to YouTube.

After feeling a 400% increase in traffic, it was clear to The Escapist that Croshaw had been a lucrative acquisition. It may be tempting to say Zero Punctuation was a bit of a lottery ticket on both ends, but to undermine the work that went into production is hazardous. An avid writer, Croshaw understands narrative. A student of humor, he understands timing. His breadth of knowledge of game mechanics comes not only from playing, but developing, constructing, and imagining. The difference between Yahtzee and every mook who thinks he or she can, is that Yahtzee does and frequently, Yahtzee fails. His own site is stacked with work that never really got off the ground ranging from novels to games to storytelling in GMod. He hit it big by synthesizing many of his talents in a way that rang culturally relevant, but that took the kind of insight that grows out of patient observation. For most of us, patience is the missing link.

Ultimately, the internet is drawn to Yahtzee because he is one of the faceless masses, yet he has a face (and a hat). He is still, in part, a boy with loaded questions and an affinity for sex jokes. He is a forum troll with his very own forum. His opinions are manifold and he enjoys the audience. In 2003 he was blogging the sentiments of bloggers past and bloggers yet to come:

“I am a consumer, part of the system of capitalism. To the corporations that control our lives, I am nothing but a huge mouth wearing designer jeans, just one of billions, to be cajoled or threatened with advertising into giving my money to people who already have too much. Although I vocally consider this a despicable state of affairs, I buy their loveless food and wear their manufactured garments. I am simultaneously antagonist and component.”

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