YouTube is probably the greatest anthropological project ever launched. It has managed to expose the multitudes of the human condition more than any other medium ever created, and allowed people to express themselves in more diverse ways than at any point in history. This weekly column is an outlet for me to share with you some undiscovered gems, as well some very well trodden gems, and discuss just what it is that makes the chosen accounts so intriguing.
WHAT: Kinda arty videos about the painful shitness of the video games industry.
HOW MANY SUBSCRIBERS AT TIME OF WRITING: 51,329.
WHY SHOULD I CARE: One thing I don't really focus on in this column – in fact I've barely touched on it at all in the preceding 22 iterations – is the skill of editing. One of the biggest criticisms people have of YouTube, and user-generated content in general, is the poor quality of the editing – and they're all fair complaints. The terrible editing you find online has effectively created its own genre of video: those characterised by the endlessly irritating and nigh on unwatchable mid-monologue jump cut. The jump cut in itself isn't all that unusual – it's often used in films and music videos. But when it's cutting off the end of someone's sentence, and then their following sentence, on and on ad nauseam, it becomes impossible not to be enraged by it.
Another thing I don't focus on too much – and this is purposeful – is video games. The tough thing is, videos games – and video game streaming in particular – are where a lot of funny stuff happens. Raids, glitches and, as we saw in the Games Done Quick instalment of this column, incredible awkwardness.
CrowbCat is the mastermind behind the editing of perhaps the most awkward video ever to grace the hallowed halls of the internet, the infamous "Tomba 2 run" at Summer Games Done Quick in 2014. I didn't know about the Cat's oeuvre at the time, but I should have. It's the editing that brings the horror of that video to life: the sideways glances, the crash zooms, the timing of the cuts. Most important, though, is the crushing, doom-laden music and blurry close up on the face of the man whose spirit has been crushed.
A quick peruse through the rest of the Cat's videos dredges up some excellently subtle tongue-in-cheek exposures of how strange and stupid the video game industry can sometimes be. One entitled "Kinect: The dark age of Xbox" chronicles the cringe-worthy presentation of the ill-fated motion sensor – child actors pretending to have fun while Don Mattrick, Microsoft's former President of Interactive Entertainment, guffaws in a high-pitched, embarrassed voice. It is screamingly painful viewing. It's also an example of games and the games industry trying to be something it isn't: wholesome, cutesy, family-friendly, social, intellectual. Maybe if you're playing some Jonathan Blow game about a robot finding love in a giant chessboard full of philosophy puzzles you could expect a bit of nuance, but in this arena it simply doesn't work.
CrowbCat is adept at editing hours and hours of footage into manageable, bite-size videos. The ten hours of journalists from Giant Bomb using a HTC virtual reality headset – and not really being that impressed with it – is cut into just under 20 minutes of a guy wandering around a small room looking disappointed. It's strangely compelling.
However, perhaps the most impressive piece of CrowbCat's output to date is the Power of Nightmares-esque short about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where there's a kind of betting system to get different skins on in-game weapons; a fading image of Twitch streamers screaming in delight over their pointless pixelated treasures, floating over a pile of useless imaginary guns. It's quite artful, for a video about essentially nothing.
But that's the cool thing about good editing: you can make something out of nothing. You can stitch together an assortment of clips relating to the failed console Ouya and make it funny, or compile a load of videos about busted Xbox One Elite controllers and actually make it worth a watch. It's all about the person in the suite: their experience, their taste, their humour. And here, it's nice to see someone use their talent in the shadows for a change.
More from VICE: