YouTube has come a long way since its launch in 2005. Once little more than a failed online dating service (seriously look it up) the site is now the biggest video sharing platform on the internet. It has over one billion daily users, who between them watch over one billion hours of content daily. Those are intimidating numbers. YouTube gaming has also seen huge growth.
The sheer amount and variety of content on YouTube can sometimes make it difficult to find stuff that you actually want to watch. Google’s algorithms try their best but AI can only do so much right now. So what do you do if say, you want to find out where the most informative and entertaining gaming channels are on YouTube? Reading this list is a good first step. YouTube gaming is as broad and diverse as anything currently on the platform, and we’re here to help you dive in.
A couple of things to note. When I say “Youtube gaming” I mean any channel on the site that is in some way gaming-focused, that means criticism, analysis, lets plays, etc. This is, however, a list of channels, not of YouTube personalities. If you don’t see your favorite streamer that’s probably the reason why. I am only including channels that I feel really have something to add to the gaming conversation. This list is also in no particular order.
With all that said, let’s begin our rundown of the YouTube gaming channels that you should be watching right now.
Writing on Games
I sometimes feel that there aren’t enough of us out there willing to really plumb the depths of certain kinds of games. Genres like racing and fighting games come to mind. There seems to be a consensus that games of that type don’t need context, or that anything beyond the moment-to-moment gameplay just doesn’t matter for some reason.
Now I don’t want to suggest that dispelling this notion is the only string to Writing On Game’s bow, but it was their recent videos on the overlooked qualities of Tekken’s story, the oddities of Gran Turismo 7 that really made me appreciate their love of the medium and eye for detail. But let’s roll back a little, what exactly goes on at Writing On Games?
Writing On Games (hosted by the enigmatic “Hamish”) is a channel focused on original, and often deeply personal, gaming criticism. There are a number of straight-up traditional reviews on the channel, but those aren’t the main draw for me. Where Hamish truly shines is in his ability to come at a game (or games) from an entirely new angle.
Videos like “Dark Souls Helped Me Cope With Suicidal Depression” and “Wolfenstein: The New Order Is About More Than Defeating the Nazis” are both wonderful examples of fresh, and genuinely important gaming conversations about games. Unafraid to tackle big subjects, Writing On Games is the perfect channel for anyone who wants a more thoughtful take on their favorite titles.
If you want a channel with a laid-back feel, that does a little bit of everything, the Gameranx is for you. Top 10s, news, reviews, and opinion pieces all in one place. If you’re just getting into gaming, then this is a channel I recommend you subscribe to immediately. They keep everything nice and simple and even do the odd “tips and tricks” video someone new to the hobby might appreciate.
A lot of Gameranx’s appeal is in how likable its hosts are. Jake Baldino (who hosts the weekly news roundup) in particular is a nice change of pace from the in-your-face, over-the-top style a lot of other YouTubers go for. He’s reasonable, chilled out, and generally tries to see the positives where he can. That might not be everyone’s bag but I certainly appreciate it.
Other than the Friday news show, Ganeranx does a flagship “Before You Buy” series of reviews and a rundown of the weirdest things to happen in gaming in a given month, which is usually good for a laugh. YouTube gaming channels are often very high-energy environments. It’s nice to see someone take a more measured approach.
Angry Centaur Gaming
As far as straight-up reviews go, you won’t find many better than those on Angry Centaur Gaming, or ACG. There are few channels on YouTube that are this dedicated to protecting the consumer. You have to admire the lengths to which Karak (ACG’s host) will go to protect his integrity.
I like that he buys every game that he reviews. I think that shows a willingness to put himself in his audience’s shoes. Even more impressively, if he should happen to receive a free copy, he gives it away to a fan.
A lot of gaming channels do reviews that are maybe 4-5 minutes long. That is not the case at ACG. Karak’s reviews are generally around 15 minutes in length and cover the game from all angles. It is then rated as either “Buy,” “Wait for Sale,” or “Never Touch.” Wherever a game ends up, you can be sure it was a considered decision.
It’s not just reviews though. ACG also covers news, previews, do podcasts, and conduct interviews. No matter what you’re in the mood for, there’s something to keep you informed and entertained. If you’re looking for a channel that can keep you up to date, with regular new content, ACG is well worth a subscription.
Game Maker’s Toolkit
Despite what it sometimes feels like the YouTube gaming space isn’t all about speedruns and GTA V videos. There are some fantastic educational channels out there too.
The purpose of channels like Game Maker’s Toolkit (GMTK) is to provide a resource that functions as an introduction to game design and production. Each (absurdly well-produced) video feels like a lecture that might be given at a school for budding game designers.
That might sound a little dry, or even intimidating, but have no fear. Things never get so technical that someone without a design background will start to feel lost. The focus is primarily on general or fundamental principles. You don’t need to know how to code, or to have taken classes in game design to know what’s going on. For reference, I’m a complete cretin, and I have a great time with GMTK.
Many of the videos on the channel are part of a series. Boss Keys is a brilliantly thorough breakdown of the dungeon and world design in games like Zelda, Metroid, and Hollow Knight. And, the annual rundown of the best of the GMTK game jam is always a delight.
There’s also a series on the go just now called “Developing” where Mark (the brains behind the channel) attempts to design and create a game of his very own.
I also want to commend the channel on its commitment to accessibility and designing for gamers with disability. Gaming ought to be as inclusive as possible so it’s great to see gaming channels on YouTube take those things seriously. In addition to roundups of the most and least accessible games of the year, there are a number of videos on the channel that focus on specific ways to make games more playable for those with cognitive, sensory or motor disabilities.
28 million people can’t be wrong right? You’d hope not, wouldn’t you? And in this case, I’m inclined to agree with them. This channel needs no introduction, but here we go anyway.
Jacksepticeye is the home of video game streamer Seán McLoughlin. After a shoutout from fellow streamer PewDiePie in 2013, his channel saw explosive growth, and he is now one of the most recognizable figures on the internet.
The channel is mainly “lets plays” and their style might turn some people off just as much as it might attract others. Each video is highly edited, and McLoughlin’s hyperactive, stream of consciousness commentary can be something of a whirlwind. But his positive attitude is infectious and if you’re willing to go along for the ride, it can be a lot of fun.
That same positivity also appears to have found its way into the community around the channel. I’m not sure how it was done, but I have to say, Jacksepticeye has one of the most welcoming and inclusive followings on YouTube.
McLoughlin also does a lot of work for charity and has raised millions for worthy causes since finding fame. If you want relentless positivity (and why wouldn’t you?) check out Jacksepticeye.
Ever vigilant, always ready to stand against injustice, Jim Sterling (they/them) is the hero we need.
You may not always agree with what they have to say, but you have to respect them for saying it. Best known for their weekly series “The Jimquisition”, Sterling has a long history of taking developers and publishers to task for shady practices and dodgy dealings.
Big publishers draw Jim’s ire most often, generally, regarding microtransactions, loot boxes, season passes, and pre-orders. All the stuff that we wish would just go away, but seems to stick around regardless. We really shouldn’t let EA, Ubisoft, and the usual suspects get away with this sort of thing, and it’s nice to know the Jimquisition has our backs.
The take no prisoners approach, Sterling employs has often had spectacular results. An ongoing (and hilarious) feud with Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford and a spurious lawsuit filed by two-bit asset flippers Digital Homicide are among the highlights. No matter who Jim is up against, he carries himself with dignity and flair.
There are also a number of reviews and impressions videos on the channel covering a wide variety of games. Sterling is something of an outlier in the YouTube gaming space, however, and will often cover games that other creators wouldn’t touch with a sterilized barge pole. Sometimes it’s a hidden gem, just as often it’s something mind-bogglingly awful. Either way, it’s a lot of fun to watch.
Run by an entity known only as “Warbot,” Design Doc is another channel that dives deep into design principles and concepts. Just as with Game Maker’s Toolkit, the videos on this channel feel almost like going to school for game design. That might sound dull, but the concise, engaging narration and excellent use of visual aids keep the energy up nicely.
This is definitely another channel to check out if you have any interest in making your own games. All the basics are laid out in a way that anyone can get to grips with. Whether it’s the fundamentals of UI and HUD design or how to make a great first boss, Design Doc is ready with all the answers.
There are also some really interesting mini-documentaries on the channel. Focused mostly on the history of gaming, they cover topics such as “The History of Console Cheat Devices” and “The Evolution of Roguelike Design”. They are a great watch for anyone who feels like they need to fill in a few blanks on their knowledge of gaming’s past.
This channel hasn’t seen an update in over a year, which is a real shame. Despite that, I feel the need to make more people aware of it. Joseph Anderson has produced some of the most in-depth critiques of games I have ever seen. Some of them are very lengthy, but it’s worth it if you can stick around. There’s a great backlog to go through.
I really hope we see this channel begin to post again, there was some great stuff going up while it was still active. I’d recommend “Joseph Anderson Vs Fallout 76” and “Three Games to Refund No Man’s Sky For” if you want something a little lighter to get started. Then once you’ve got those out of the way, you can dive into the analysis of either the Witcher or God of War Series. Both videos are over three hours long.
There honestly isn’t a huge amount more to say. If you like long-form critiques, then you owe it to yourself to check out this channel. It is arguably the best one on YouTube. It may be a little niche (some videos are over two hours long), but if this is your thing, then this is as good as that thing gets. Get comfortable with a cup of tea, and start watching.
A channel that manages to direct rage into something positive. Jose Antonio Vargas (AKA “Angry Joe”) has been bringing the fury since 20I8 and is showing no signs of slowing down. Originally just a platform from which Joe was able to vent about “S**t that pisses him off,” the channel is now an absolute juggernaut.
Joe and his friends do reviews, news shows, lets plays, and more. They also cover film and television if you’re into that stuff too. The “Angry Joe” character is of course played up for laughs, but he still has plenty to say that’s worth listening to.
The videos on this channel (a lot like ACG’s ironically) are honest, in-depth, and lengthy. There are usually a couple of giggle-worthy skits thrown in for good measure too.
The AngryJoeShow may not have the production values of some of the other channels on this list, but honestly, that’s kind of why I like it. It feels like exactly what you’d get if you got a few guys who love gaming together in a room and set up a microphone. I think there’s a little Angry Joe in all of us, and that’s no bad thing.
Another channel with some extremely impressive numbers to back it up, and another channel that probably needs no introduction. As of this moment, Markiplier (Mark Fischbach) has just over 32 million subscribers. That’s a staggeringly high number. There are very few gaming channels that even come close. So what’s the secret to all this success?
Much like Jacksepticeye, I think a lot of it comes down to the seemingly unstoppable energy exuded by the host. I think it’s fair to say that Fischbach puts his all into every video, and it shows. He does a lot of survival horror stuff, but no matter what he’s playing, he finds a way to make it fun.
For a lot of people, this kind of channel brings back happy memories of playing through a game while a friend or a sibling sits beside you, sometimes helping, sometimes just watching. It’s a nice mental space to be in.
Again, like Jacksepticeye (the two are actually good friends), Fischbach is something of a philanthropist. He too has raised millions for charity with live streams and fundraisers, as well as the tongue-in-cheek sale of a “Tasteful Nudes” Charity Calendar. I’m afraid I don’t know if/where it’s still available for purchase.
Superbunnyhop, and by extension its creator, George Weidman, earned my respect for (like many of the channels on this list) doing their own thing. I know that sounds kind of stupid but it’s true. There’s a tendency for gaming channels on YouTube to become rather impersonal once they reach a certain size. They take on staff, they try to broaden their appeal, and things get a little bland.
On the other hand, we have channels like Superbunnyhop, which is free to indulge in whatever it feels like. Gaming channels on YouTube can get a bit samey, so it’s nice to see someone do some stuff that’s a little more “out there”.
Whether it’s the astrophysics of The Outer Wilds, whether or not games can teach history, or a review of a Japanese Pachinko parlor, you’re sure to find an original and entertaining take. I really enjoy the more laid-back style, but that’s certainly not to say that Superbunnyhop content is lacking in rigor. Far from it. The reviews and analysis on the channel are up there with the best on YouTube.
In my opinion, the best series on the channel is “Games From My Inbox”. A showcase of the weird and wonderful things that fans, small developers, and assorted lunatics email in. Some of the stuff in there is pretty wild.
Ok, this is the big one. We’ve already seen a couple of channels with ludicrous subscriber counts, but this is still the one to beat. Felix Kjellberg (AKA PewDiePie) currently has over 111 million total subscribers, and more than 28 billion views. That’s almost inconceivable. Time magazine even named him one of the world’s most influential people, and honestly, it’s not hard to see why.
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying the impact he has had not just on the YouTube gaming scene, but pop culture in general.
Oddball, and often verging on obnoxious, there’s a kind of crude simplicity to Kjellberg’s content that can be quite appealing. He almost takes on the role of a little video game id, screaming and shouting incoherently while the game he’s playing fades into the background.
His style does tend to accommodate younger viewers a bit better, but being such a phenomenon, his appeal clearly goes beyond that demographic.
If you want something that (at times) feels almost totally unfiltered, then PewDiePie will provide. There’s not much structure, and sometimes not even much logic to proceedings, but sometimes that can be captivating.
Noclip – Video Game Documentaries
Documentary lovers who are also gamers, rejoice! Noclip is here to provide the content you need. Given how big and how mainstream gaming has become, there really aren’t enough good documentaries on the subject. Hopefully, that changes soon, but for now, Noclip has you covered.
Completely crowdfunded, Noclip makes utterly absorbing documentary films that cover a wide range of games, as well as the people who make them. If you’ve ever wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at one of your favorite games or pick the brains of some of the best indie talents in the industry, then you need to get watching.
Highlights for me include Edmund McMillen (Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy) breaking down both his own games and his journey as a developer, and “Unforeseen Consequences”, a film exploring the legacy of the original Half-Life. Those are just my own favorites though, even if those don’t interest you, I guarantee that something on this channel will.
If you want a little bit of everything, this might be the channel for you. A pillar of the YouTube gaming community, The Escapist provides news, reviews, comedy, and editorials. It’s all here under one roof, and (especially in recent years) it’s all top quality. There is however one particular series on the channel that deserves special mention
Zero Punctuation, written and hosted by Ben “Yahtzee” Crowshaw, is one of my favorite video series of all time. Blending an acerbic, irreverent wit with genuinely insightful critique, there’s nothing else quite like it.
It’s also Youtube gaming royalty, having been on the site since 2007, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. The animation is brilliant and most episodes are laugh-out-loud funny, even if you aren’t into gaming.
For a long time, Zero Punctuation was all The Escapist really had, but they’ve managed to turn things around. There are now all kinds of new projects being churned out. Extra Punctuation, 3-Minute Reviews, Slightly Something Else, Adventure is Nigh, the list goes on and on. There are also a few documentaries on the channel, something of a rarity for this kind of channel.
Zero Punctuation may be the big draw (massively outperforming other content on the channel), but the Escapist is no longer the one-trick pony it once was. So if you’ve dismissed it in the past, now is a good time to give the channel a second chance. Exciting things are happening over there.
That completes our round-up of the very best that YouTube has to offer. I hope I’ve managed to include something for everyone, but don’t be afraid to comment and tell me about your favourites I might have missed!
Also, and this is a little bit cheeky, we have a YouTube channel of our very own, which you can check out right here.