You can never go back? It’s been eight years since videoGaiden’s Robert Florence and Ryan Macleod were last spotted together. Evolving out of their homebrew online series Consolevania, Rab and Ryan’s comedy games show was practically pre-internet. Nowadays your YouTubes are chock-a-block with jittery user-generated content.
In the meantime, Rab has written and starred in Scottish sketch series Burnistoun, while Ryan has kept behind the scenes as a professional video editor and writer at gaming site Chuckie Dregs.
They recently returned for a BBC Scotland six-episode online run – and the first thing they do, in true videoGaiden style, is send-up hyperactive games vloggers:
2016’s videoGaiden is a return to form – an enjoyable mix of self-deprecating humor and deep respect for the video games covered (some anyway). It’s quiet and reflective, irreverent and often surreal, and always personal.
With the twitchy video games coverage of today generating heat but little light, Rab and Ryan have returned at the right time. They approach this new series of videoGaiden with a running gag (well, hopefully it’s a gag) about their “existential crisis” as they push towards age forty.
There are so many brilliant moments throughout videoGaiden. Ryan’s bemused woolgathering style is well-matched to his column “Independent Thoughts”, in which he reveres indie games like Shovel Knight and The Stanley Parable.
By contrast, Rab is all coiled intensity in detailing his love for board games in “Florence’s Board Game Selection”. It’s a hilarious, absurdist act. Probably.
The reviews are as inventive and challenging as the games themselves, with Rab’s unconventional trial-and-error review of indie first-person shooter Superhot a direct reflection of its gameplay:
(I see what you did there, Rab.)
And there are moments of emotional honesty. In introducing a segment on That Dragon, Cancer, an indie title made by grieving parents about the loss of their young son, Ryan admits that he doesn’t have the experience to fully understand the game – he is not a parent, and has never lost anyone to cancer. Instead, the review becomes a candid discussion with Rab, who is a father, on the game’s theme of parental love. A sensitive subject needed a thoughtful review like this.
And you don’t get that on Let’s Play videos, do you folks?
What could have been maudlin is instead lightened by the two Scots’ ability to poke fun at themselves. In the Twitch era, what place is there for these “aging” (you’re still only in your late thirties, guys!) video game journos? Rab has the perfect response to Ryan’s doubts when discussing classic game Sensible Soccer:
And the Glaswegian patter between these old pals is in full flow with “Games We Didn’t Review”, in which Rab and Ryan banter with each other using viewer tweets (“hashtag videoGaiden!”) to review big name releases:
Trying to relive the glory days? You can never go back? videoGaiden flits so easily between creative reviews, meditative opinion pieces, and cheeky, off-the-wall humor that it seems like Robert Florence and Ryan Macleod have been working on this in secret over the last few years, crafting and refining something funny, witty, and insightful.
videoGaiden is like chatting with old friends about a shared love of gaming. It’s the best show about video games ever made. Check out videoGaiden online, and don’t forget to follow on Twitter at @videoGaiden. #videoGaiden guys, keep using the hashtag!! Cheers guys!!