Hello. I'm been linked quite a few times to requests on this site for me to do this IAMA thing, and I had some free time, so I thought what the dealio.

I am the Escapist's resident game critic, responsible for the weekly Zero Punctuation video, which I have been making since around August 2007. I also write the associated Extra Punctuation column that goes out on Tuesdays.

I'm also a novelist, with my first book Mogworld published by Dark Horse, and am currently working on my second.

Here is my proof of identity. Ask me things now.

Comments: 2489 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

vanquish421406 karma


I very recently lost a close friend to cancer. He passed just before his 23rd birthday this year, and as a very cynical young gamer, one of his greatest enjoyments in life was watching your reviews. I remember we would gather around his computer with much excitement as soon as you released new reviews. Even up until his last days watching and laughing at your videos was one of the last things he did, despite being barely conscious and coherent.

This isn't a question, obviously, I just want to thank you for brining such joy to such a great person's life, especially in his darkest hours. People who share their thoughts and opinions, and amuse and entertain the shit out of other people in doing so, may often overlook just how important they are in making others happy. You are one of those people, and my hat is off to you, sir. Thank you.

RIP Michael, 1988-2011

yahtzeee334 karma

Wow, I never know what to say to things like that. I'm sure you give me too much credit but I'm glad I could help.

mlahstadon361 karma

Would you like a hug?

yahtzeee904 karma

Get the hell away from me.

Gredelston350 karma

Is each video done as one complete take, or do you splice together four-second snippets?

yahtzeee606 karma

One take. I do cut out pauses for breath, though.

Tanuki0310 karma

What's with the goatee? Is there an alt-version of you somewhere uploading very slow commentaries of cute kittens?

yahtzeee523 karma

I just have a grudge against my own mouth.

[deleted]293 karma

If you could go back in time and stop developers from inventing game mechanics, which three would you save the future from?

yahtzeee619 karma

Cover-based shooting. Token RPG elements in non-RPGs. And the plot twist where the guy you thought was good is actually bad.

achilleask473 karma

I was almost certain you would mention "quick time events" here.

yahtzeee649 karma

And that.

pezhore284 karma

Do people in your neighborhood know of your online fame? What about parents/siblings/college friends?

yahtzeee917 karma

My parents have never approved of what I do. The last time I saw my mum she just sighed and said 'as long as you're happy' in a really, really passive-aggressive way.

captainzero69139 karma

What do you think your parents expected you to do - If you provide for yourself, have a good time, and are happy with what you are doing, what else is there?

Did they expect you to be Superman or the Prime Minister?

I say "thanks" for providing me with so much free entertainment and I am glad you are who you are. Keep up the good work!

yahtzeee278 karma

All I know is they wanted me to go to university at some point. Not sure what good it would have done me.

fox_wesley283 karma

What's the most requested review of all time you haven't done, and why not?

yahtzeee1125 karma

Hard to say because I eventually caved and did them all - World of Warcraft used to be it, and more recently Pokemon was one. I guess the only one left is Kingdom Hearts, which I haven't done because fuck you.

Zoibie282 karma

Where did the imp-thing come from?

yahtzeee434 karma

My very first review on Youtube was of The Darkness and I used it to represent the imps in that game. It looked funny enough on its own to hang around.

CuddleCorn136 karma

Was this before or after Android's logo? The two creatures have always seemed related to me.

yahtzeee342 karma

It was before the Android logo. And I do wonder about that sometimes.

[deleted]263 karma

I just want to say that, during a "Game Design" class at a school that will go unmentioned our teacher did not have a lesson plan and thought that playing Zero Punctuation videos during every class would constitute some form of education.

As a result I have a searing hatred for the the introductory theme song to your videos, and for a while I refused to watch them because they reminded me of that class.

Do game publishers give you the games to play or do you buy them on your own? Do they come with promo materials and other stuff that tell you how to play the game and what features?

yahtzeee409 karma

I usually buy the games myself and get paid back for them by the Escapist. Promo stuff tends to get sent to them, and I don't see much myself. Although the THQ guys once sent me a Saint's Row 2 ballistics vest, that was nice of them.

slothboy250 karma

I have noticed that some developers take a bad review from you as a badge of honor or a rite of passage. I can't imagine all developers have that great of a sense of humor though. What is the worst response you have received from a game developer after you tore their game to pieces and/or compared it to a cock?

yahtzeee388 karma

Developers I usually get on really well with. A lot of my friends are in the local industry. It's because a lot of them say "That thing you mentioned? We said the same thing to the publishers but they didn't give us time to fix it."

Publishers are a different story, it's occasionally been awkward to work with them for promotions at the Mana Bar. We have to assure them that ZP me is a me I leave at home.

hipsterdefender87 karma

Can you go more into leaving "that side of you" at home? Do you actually need to convince publishers that you're not out to shit all over their ideas when you're in business with them?

yahtzeee153 karma

I guess the most notable occasion was when we had Randy Pitchford in to showcase DNF and answer questions, so a representative of the publisher was there to make sure I didn't verbally trap him like David Frost talking to Richard Nixon or something. But I have to admit I got a bit fanboy-y myself around Randy, we talked a lot about Opposing Force and Duke Nukem Atomic Edition.

kaiden11227 karma

Who. Who is the "plain," "boring," "normal" guy face you feature in every video?

yahtzeee352 karma

An anonymous man photographed by photographer Thomas Ruff as part of his 'expressionless faces' series. His is the most expressionless face I've ever seen. It makes me laugh just to look at it.

[deleted]215 karma

What games are you looking forward to this year, if any?

yahtzeee474 karma

Portal 2 of course, Infamous 2, LA Noire, the new Zelda, Duke Nukem Forever. I've interviewed Randy Pitchford in person and he's a straight up sort of bloke.

Inflectionpoint214 karma

why do you talk sooooo fast?

yahtzeee790 karma

So people don't have time to think about it.

[deleted]204 karma

Have you seen the den of idiocy that floods into the comments for your videos? It is a truly terrifying sight.

Also, have you abandoned making indie games for the greener pastures of literature?

yahtzeee289 karma

Often I can't bring myself to read my comments more than a page or two, it's true. And as for indie games, I still work on a lot of projects but it's hard to find time for them these days and I have a tendency to lose interest. I actually have Game Maker 8 open as I type this because I'm working on a little thing right now.

Berserkr09194 karma

What was your job before Zero Punctuation?

yahtzeee301 karma

Occasional magazine articles and temporary office work.

JohnOrrIsAnArsonist194 karma

How long do you spend before each video thinking up insults, and have you ever given a game a bad review, and changed your mind later?

yahtzeee420 karma

I take about two days to write the script for each video. There have been a couple of cases of games that I reviewed badly but still have a soft spot for because they were trying something new and slightly interesting, like Mirror's Edge and Alone In The Dark. They're still bad games, mind, but I prefer them over crushing mediocrity like Kane and Lynch 2.

Imadeadman193 karma

If you are single, has Zero Punctuation ever gotten you laid? If not, have you ever been propositioned because of Zero Punctuation and then have to turn them down(or not)?

If either of those two are yes, help a brother out.

yahtzeee401 karma

A gentleman never names names, But the answer's yes, to both.

crackerwax166 karma

Do you think you'll ever return to the UK or is life in the antipodes just too (as I believe the vernacular to be) sweet?

yahtzeee298 karma

No way, it's cold up there.

silxx156 karma

Was setting up the Mana Bar worth it? What tips would you give to someone wanting to set up a similar cool bar elsewhere?

yahtzeee324 karma

In brief, be ready to get jerked around by everything in the universe.

angelkimne149 karma

What are some of the funniest e-mails/messages/death-threats you've received?

yahtzeee431 karma

My favourite one was the guy who asked me where I got a copy of Duke Nukem Forever after I did my spoof review. What a div.

[deleted]145 karma

Can you upload your minecraft save? I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to take a look around.

theusernameiwanted89 karma


yahtzeee157 karma

I didn't actually make a gold cock and balls myself, I was illustrating a point. It didn't stop about fifty people making one and sending me pictures, mind.

greedyiguana144 karma

what is the biggest spider you have seen in real life. approximate size in centimeters, please. did you kill it?

yahtzeee431 karma

Since I live in the inner city, I don't see many. Biggest was a Huntsman spider with a legspan about 4-5 inches. Whatever Cracked might tell you, you do not get savaged by Shelob the instant you get off the plane in this country.

erkurita141 karma

What made you decide to review videogames talking that fast?

yahtzeee414 karma

Because videogames deserved it.

Bibblejw136 karma

What would you class as your favourite game?

yahtzeee323 karma

Either Silent Hill 2 or Portal.

Mushroomer135 karma

You obviously must get a lot of angry fanboy hate-mail, considering your opinions. How much of it do you read, and if so - any standout examples?

yahtzeee368 karma

Actually I don't get hate mail sent directly to me very often, because angry fanboys are obviously cowards.

Kanuck88130 karma

First question so much pressure

When the'Zero Puncuation' videos started taking off and becoming more and more popular how strange was that for you ?

Also thanks for doing this.

yahtzeee214 karma

You missed first question actually, har har. It certainly was strange in that I'd never done anything that popular before. I think it was when Theo Savidis at Starbreeze and Peter Molyneux at Lionhead both emailed me about my first Youtube videos about The Darkness and Fable that I was given pause for thought.

CGSColin80 karma

Colour me intrigued! What did Peter have to say? If you can share that is.

yahtzeee279 karma

Just that he hoped Fable 2 would live up to my standards, in his characteristically overoptimistic way.

directhex129 karma

It's fairly well documented that your Painkiller review caused a terrifying jump in sales. Do you have any idea what other kinds of effects you've had on how well a game has sold? Reckon a bad review has helped stop sales?

yahtzeee181 karma

Fairly often I see people post 'Well I guess I won't buy that then', but I don't know if they're numerous enough to really cause an impact...

Bodknocks123 karma

The Thomas Ruff photo appears in nearly every episode. Is there a story behind that, or is it just a running gag?

yahtzeee192 karma

He just makes me laugh. I've seen Ruff's other expressionless faces and all of them have some hint of emotion, like surprise of a little smile, but Mr. Expressionless has nothing. He's hollow. Dead in the eyes. And that's why I love him.

RequiemCOTF122 karma

As someone who found your first novel, Mogworld, absolutely great, what can you tell us about your second novel?

yahtzeee161 karma

It's not a sequel to Mogworld and it's set in the real world. One of the main characters had a small role in Mogworld, though.

ajudson108 karma

How much money does valve pay you, and how much is valve paying you for the portal 2 perfect score to come soon.


I mean this in a playful way, I love valve too.

yahtzeee263 karma

Valve don't pay me, although they did consider employing me at one point, I had an interview. I'm determined to go into Portal 2 as unbiased as I can be. It's best to be pessimistic about everything.

Chiasmata99 karma


yahtzeee309 karma

The position of a member of the Valve team. Valve don't do 'positions'. They're a very unique development environment and I may well re-apply at some point in the future.

[deleted]108 karma

What is the best kind of hat?

yahtzeee319 karma

I dunno. A fez being worn by a bear.

baconhax107 karma

Why are you so fascinated with trilby hats?

yahtzeee228 karma

I actually haven't worn mine IRL for some time. It gets me recognised too much in the street and it's starting to whiff a bit.

nihilisticmonk99 karma

Does being British, Living in Australia, catering mostly to Americans make your appeal powerless to resist?

yahtzeee181 karma

I think you answered your own question there.

gemmink95 karma

Do you consider yourself a real game reviewer or an entertainer?

yahtzeee260 karma

I consider myself a game critic. I set out to entertain, but that's the best way to make people listen.

ULTRA_Lenin93 karma

How much of an influence upon you is Charlie Brooker? Ever thought of contacting him to try and make some gameswipe together, I think that'd be the best thing ever.

yahtzeee171 karma

I've followed Charlie's work since he wrote for PC Zone, he could well be who first showed me the fun to be had in negative reviews. It's cheering to see how much success he's gained. He did contact me to put ZP on Gameswipe, but the copyright is owned by the Escapist and we couldn't work something out. Would still love to work with him on something, and I know he's a viewer. Hi Charlie.

[deleted]93 karma

What do you think about the game review industry as a whole nowadays.

Also opinions on IGN Gamestop and the likes.

Bonus: Destructoid, ars technica

yahtzeee344 karma

I think any reviewer who gives a score, like stars or marks out of 100, should be regarded with suspicion and contempt. That's how you review a lawn mower. Games are far too complex to be classified like that. And it's a sad truth of many reviewing industries that they necessarily have to foster relationships with publishers, and that means they have to be diplomatic, which can lead to pussyfooting or overly positive reviews. Personally I think constructive criticism is a far kinder service.

metaranha88 karma

When you put your videos together, do you have a standard list of things you look for when playing through a game or do you just make notes on things you dislike off-the-cuff?

yahtzeee207 karma

No list, really, I generally just try to figure out whether or not I'm having fun, then try to explain it.

cookingbro85 karma

Any plans for a Mana Bar in North America?

yahtzeee130 karma

We're concentrating on our second Australian venue for now, but it's not off the cards.

deelybobber85 karma

How much emphasis do you personally place on story within a game? For instance, is a game with a great story but obnoxious gameplay a bad game? Conversely, is a game with great gameplay but terrible story still a good game?

yahtzeee277 karma

If a game has bad gameplay but a great story then it might as well just be a film. Games need gameplay because interactivity is the unique selling point, it's what makes it the most interesting medium in the world for me. The best games merge the story and gameplay together indivisibly, like Half Life 2, and most definitely unlike Final Fantasy 13.

IshX181 karma

What is your favorite RPG, western or JRPG? I remember you saying you like the latter in the age of FFVI, but I couldn't quite tell which you might like more.

yahtzeee311 karma

I'm not huge on either. In general I prefer western RPGs, but I actually really like the Paper Mario series. The second one in particular. I love its extremely irreverent use of the Mario property - this is a game where Princess Peach is captured by aliens and the ship computer falls in love with her because it spied on her showering.

RequiemCOTF81 karma

Also, how do you create the images for your reviews? Photoshop, I'm guessing?

yahtzeee145 karma

You guess right.

Hoodie_Weather80 karma

Is it stressful having to play through an entire new game each week? While I understand that on the surface it sounds like a great gig, I'm sure playing through ~50 games a year can get exhausting. And what about games you really like and want to play but don't have time to play more of?

yahtzeee154 karma

I guess the disadvantage of playing games as your job is that that's exactly what it starts to feel like, a job. But that makes the ones that don't feel like a chore stand out and shine all the brighter. I assuredly have quite a few games I intend to go back to the moment I don't do this for a living anymore.

katzenjammer36078 karma

Do you tend to have the same type of sarcastic humor in your day-to-day life or is it stored up and unleashed all at once for zp? You seem like a hilariously quick-witted guy to be friends with.

yahtzeee224 karma

Since ZP is heavily scripted I'm a lot quieter in person. Although I am always cynical and sarcastic. I've lost quite a few girlfriends that way.

gigreviews76 karma

Most hated game of all time and why?

yahtzeee194 karma

Too Human is probably still the game I reviewed worst. Seriously, people, leave the right analog stick camera controls alone.

Mailia75 karma

Do you yell at random strangers?

yahtzeee324 karma

No. But since I got internet famous, random strangers yell at me.

Pelvic_thrust_robot74 karma

have you been to GAMETRADERS ROBINA lately?

yahtzeee99 karma

It's closed down, sadly.

Kulikant72 karma

Do you feel under pressure to live by principles you set (e.g. saying a twitter account and an iphone is bollocks and then obtaining both of them)?

yahtzeee255 karma

My principle is simple: everything is bollocks until prove otherwise. I'm not so small minded a man that I can't be swayed on anything.

lozzobear69 karma

Thanks for the AMA mate. I was wondering if you make a good buck out of ZP now? I mean, it has to be one of the most popular and consistent web shows out there, does it pay as much as a decent office bludge?

yahtzeee148 karma

It's a little crass to say how much one earns, but I make a living from ZP, and a considerably bigger one than I ever made doing office work.

lamqta66 karma

Would you consider reviewing Super Meat Boy?

yahtzeee97 karma

It might be a bit old now. If I did, it'd be one of those XBLA double bills.

AuhsojSivart66 karma

What's your problem with multiplayer games?

yahtzeee245 karma

I don't like competitive games. The added pressure just irritates me. As for co-op, the headache involved in getting online, orchestrating a time with your friends, or giving up and putting up with pubbies turns me off. A full-price game needs to stand up on its single player, because if a game is only good when your friends are involved that's not a great endorsement, because the same could be said of Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Daeno52 karma


yahtzeee133 karma

They asked me to do the keynote for PAX one year, but I turned them down 'cos I didn't have much stage experience. I do now, though, so I'd seriously consider it if they asked again.

Craig60042 karma

Your review of Duke Nukem Forever has to be my favorite. I know this probably goes without saying: do intend to review it when it comes out right?

Keep up the great job sir!

yahtzeee67 karma

Yes, definitely. Don't know what I'll call the review, mind.

tyrannoAdjudica38 karma

What is, in your opinion, the best way to present or progress a story inside of a game? For example, cutscenes, cinematics, or just plain dialogue.

yahtzeee196 karma

I'll tell you one of the worst ways - by fading out every fifty yards and fading in on an uncontrollable cinematic. Keep it within gameplay and you don't sacrifice flow. The start of Bioshock is fully interactive and it's the best opening of any game.

[deleted]38 karma

Do you isolate yourself from other review websites or hype in general before/while playing a game?

yahtzeee73 karma

Indeed. I never play demos, watch trailers or read gaming news because I know I'm going to buy every new game anyway and I don't want to give myself expectations. For the same reason I avoid reading other people's reviews until I've done mine.

lisabadcat37 karma

Any love for the riddick games?

yahtzeee71 karma

Escape from Butcher Bay, great game, shame Vin Diesel felt he had to jerk off on the character so much. Assault on Dark Athena I'm not so hot on.

gngf12336 karma

Does the lack of an R18 rating in Australia for video games ever tempt you to leave the country/protest?

yahtzeee136 karma

The beaches are too nice to leave behind, but there is some movement, and now R18 has a lot of support in the government. Basically the only reason we don't have it yet is because the Attorneys General are fat lazy ignorant old shits.

tattool36 karma

I loved Mogworld. What writers/books would you point to as inspirations?

yahtzeee101 karma

Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, PG Wodehouse, Robert Rankin, Tom Holt, Tom Sharpe, Alexandre Dumas.

Digital_Addict33 karma

I don't know if this has been asked, but do you do all the animations for your videos?

yahtzeee77 karma

Yes, I do the art, write the script, record the narration and put it all together. It's all me.

artgrey29 karma

How disappointed are you that the future of gaming is heading in the "jumping around like a jackass in your living room" direction with Move, Kinect and Wii? Do you ever see this as being a potentially fun method of playing games that are actually worth a damn?

yahtzeee79 karma

Motion controls are a dead end and the industry has thankfully started to understand that. Nintendo's more recent first-party games have left the motion controller behind almost totally, or use it with no more depth than a token Sixaxis control.

steamwhistler29 karma

Hi, mainly just posting to say I'm a fan of your reviews and agree with you 90% of the time.

Here's a question if you feel like tackling it:

What do you think about the people out there who are looking to assign big important roles to video games? From the tired "building hand-eye coordination" arguments, to Steven Johnson's assertion that they make children smarter, to Jane McGonigal-types who want to employ MMO-inspired reward systems in real life, people have a lot of high hopes for games.

Do you have any thoughts on these sorts of social/cultural roles that people argue for? (Or arguments of your own, of course.)

yahtzeee102 karma

I would argue that even if games were only good for entertainment, that still gives them more right to exist than a lot of things in the world.

[deleted]25 karma

Favorite Zelda game?

yahtzeee99 karma

Wind Waker.

lucas_kelly24 karma

What's happening with Game Damage? Is that show still going to be made?

yahtzeee46 karma


Spike_Spiegel23 karma

What game sequels surpass the original games?

yahtzeee81 karma

Silent Hill 2. Straight off the bat in big glowing letters. Also Half-Life 2. In general, a good sequel is one that uses the original as a jumping off point, while a bad sequel merely wallows in the original (like Monkey Island 4).

siwenna21 karma


yahtzeee60 karma

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.

bobandy4719 karma

Do you have a favourite quote from a video game character, who was it and from what game?

"It's MEEE, MARIO" does not qualify. Or the 'Whoopeeeeeee' every 3 seconds when double jumping in SMGalaxy.

yahtzeee95 karma

"After you walk into a village and you see 50 children, all sitting neatly in a row, against a church wall, each with their throats cut and their hands chopped off, you realize that the creature that could do this doesn't have a soul." - Niko Bellic, GTA IV, an amazingly well-written protagonist in precisely the wrong game for him

Pliskin32116 karma

Will you be doing any more work with the guys from Australian Gamer, Yug and Matt?

yahtzeee33 karma

Since I still share an apartment with Matt, and am still business partners with Yug, I wouldn't discount anything.