Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, critic and amateur game developer, decided one day to conduct an experiment. He was faced with a demo of The Darkness he wished to review for his website and wanted to try something new, so he took Photoshop, Windows Movie Maker, a headset mic, and his sense of humour, and turned them into a YouTube video. He then turned to Fable: The Lost Chapters.
Less than a month later, he was hired by The Escapist, an online magazine with a big boat made of money (see the page quote), to release one of these video reviews a week. And so began Zero Punctuation. The combination of caustic humour (admittedly with occasional dashes of compassion), rapid-fire delivery, and visual gags made the show an instant success.
Yahtzee. Also. Had. A. Follow-up. Column. Called. "Extra Punctuation." In. Order. To. Explain. His. Views. And. Opinions. On. The. Game. Of. The. Week. In. Greater. Detail. And. Bring. Up. Points. He. Could. Not. Turn. Into. Jokes. The column was dormant for while, with the written version having been discontinued since 2017, but was it eventually resurrected in October 2021 in the form of a video series.
In February 2011, he also started a column called "Extra Consideration" with Bob "Moviebob" Chipman and James Portnow of Extra Credits (though Portnow was replaced by Jim Sterling of The Jimquisition and Destructoid fame after he left the Escapist). The column sadly petered out by early September, but its entire run can still be found here. However, in April 2013, Yahtzee and Jim started up again with the segment Jim & Yahtzee's Rhymedown Spectacular where they recite slam poetry about the game topic at hand.
Previews of the next video were shown on X-Play for a brief period in 2008.
Since the beginning of 2017, Yahtzee has started streaming games after each ZP episode (usually the game he reviewed that day), and the Escapist YouTube channel also has several streams of him and his girlfriend playing games. Since 2019, he has teamed up with Jack Packard of RedLetterMedia fame for Let's Play videos and debates.
Don't confuse with the trope No Punctuation Period, although the show is named for the fact that he speaks quickly enough to embody that trope.
Tropes which Zero Punctuation provides an example of:
Tropes discussed in Zero Punctuation includes:
- 8.8: Yahtzee invokes the trope when he names The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the fourth best game of 2017. Yahtzee: Yeah, fanboys, I'm putting it in at 4! What are you going to do about it? You going to cry? "Ooh, mummy, call the police! He only moderately lavished it with praise! Bring me my coat that looks good from the back, 'cause I'm going to do some serious shunning!"
- Aesop Amnesia: His Guide to Special Moments in Gaming History, which is even lampshaded by the opening jingle: "Let's all laugh/at an industry/that never learns anything/tee-hee-hee!"
- Cosmic Horror Story: Yahtzee is a fan of the genre and has incorporated various themes from it into a lot of his own works, such as the Chzo Mythos, Differently Morphous and The Consuming Shadow. That said, in his review of The Sinking City, he points out that cosmic horror doesn't really translate to modern values, as the core philosophy of the genre - mankind's futile endeavours in the face of ancient and uncaring beings - isn't as effective on a modern audience, who can get the same essential message just by opening any web browser. Thus, in his estimation, the genre requires a different approach to work in the modern day.
- Discredited Meme: By the time of his Kingdom Come: Deliverance review, Yahtzee had come to regret the PC Master Race meme that he had started. While he still views PC gaming as the superior option, he's grown incredibly disgusted by the gatekeeping and elitism from certain circles of the PC gaming community, to the point where he wishes that he had named them something "like the PC Gaming Dickslurp All-stars". Of course, the entire point of the meme to begin with was to mock the elitists among the PC gaming communities.
- Evil vs. Evil: Yahtzee notes that most post-apocalyptic games have "Nutters vs. Fascists" as the factions.
- Fetish Retardant: Yahtzee describes Bayonetta's hyper stylistic design as such, most notably her long legs and that if he were to have sex with her he'd need a step ladder.
- Franchise Original Sin: Brings this up with Modern Warfare games is his article "What is the Matter with You People?" Aside from bringing up the reason for the above question, Yahtzee brings up that when one of the player characters was killed in a nuclear blast in the original Modern Warfare, it was a well done shock. In almost every moment like that, the character will survive or somebody will rescue them, so it's especially gripping with the character's struggle to move before finally dying. In Yahtzee's opinion, the next games in the series missed what made that a powerful moment and started killing characters left and right, causing the deaths to lose impact. The infamous "No Russian" level from Modern Warfare 2 - while it served the story at the time - came off as a cheap attempt to shock the players just for the sake of shocking them. By the same token, the family killed by a suicide bomber in Modern Warfare 3 failed to shock in any sense, because it was expected by that point.
- Irony: A personal Berserk Button for Yahtzee is games which do something shitty, only to roll their eyes and state they're doing it "ironically", as if that somehow constitutes a joke. He based an entire cult of loony assholes around this concept in Jam and chewed My Friend Pedro out for doing it while smacking it with a rolled up newspaper.
- Moral Myopia: Not a fan of this trope unless the others who are doing it are taking it to ridiculous levels or are just not on your team.Oh, so when they're knocking over ATMs, it's stealing, but when we do it, it's wealth redistribution, am I right?
- Nightmare Retardant: In-Universe, Yahtzee says that not being scary is the worst flaw a horror game can suffer from, especially if it resorts to Nausea Fuel instead.
- Papa Wolf: Discussed in The Evil Within 2 review which he calls games that revolve around a man saving his child or child surrogate "Yummy Hairy Dad Games" which he says are a swapped version of "rescue the princess" fantasy and are instead catering to the unrealistic fantasy of dads actually being responsible.
- Player Punch: Spec Ops: The Line. Pretty much all of it. To wit...
- "Rise and Fall" Gangster Arc: He discussed the ubiquity of this trope in his Mafia II review:I was able to accurately predict the entire story of Mafia II using only the fact that it's this game about The Mafia. The main character, I foretold with the game's box to my forehead, will start the game licking the mildew off his landlady's crystallized vagina to make rent and will be lured into organized crime by the money, the clothes, the pretty cars, the fast whores, etc., but after a brief heyday will be ordered to kill a friend, or a friend will be ordered to kill them, and they'll realize that CRIME DOES NOT PAY (except for all the money, and the clothes, and the pretty cars, and the fast whores etc.). I have never seen a Mafia story where a bloke joins the Mafia and then everything is lovely forever. Why does society insist on demonising organized crime?
- True Art Is Angsty: Zig-zagged. On the one hand, he praised depressing emotionally gutting games like Silent Hill 2 and Spec Ops: The Line, but on the other hand, one of his Extra Punctuation columns bemoaned the popular trend towards making existing franchises Darker and Edgier (after reviewing Twisted Metal and finding its inconsistent tone rather perplexing), and discovering to his surprise that he found the increasing emphasis on Gorn in video games a little disquieting with his advancing years. He has also given high praise to games with a notable lightness of tone, such as Psychonauts and Driver: San Francisco. To be more concise: it's not so much the gorn that he hates, but rather when the gorn is utterly tasteless (Tomb Raider (2013)), or when it's utterly repetitive (Splatterhouse). He also gave high praise to Undertale for averting this, being dramatic and genuinely funny in equal measure without either coming across as feeling forced, and using The Power of Friendship in a way that actually worked.
- Vindicated by History:
- In his review of Medal of Honor Warfighter and Doom 3, Yahtzee described how for everything Doom 3 got wrong, it still was a game that stands head and shoulders above realistic modern shooters.
- His Extra Punctuation follow-up to Far Cry 3 has him saying the same thing about Bulletstorm and Wolfenstein (2009). Sonic Colors was similarly slammed harshly the first two times Yahtzee mentioned it, but every other time it's been brought up he's been much more favourable to it, comparing it to Resident Evil 4 as the game in the franchise that got away from all the things that was dragging it down.
- He was originally rather harsh to Call of Duty: Black Ops II, arguing that its narrative was inconsistent and its gameplay boring and unfulfilling. Fast-forward to 2013, and Yahtzee's already saying that it was a much more self-aware and interesting game than its successor.
- Yahtzee compares Super Mario Sunshine unfavourably to Joseph Goebbels' head pasted onto a praying mantis in his Super Mario Galaxy review, but he later says he enjoyed it a lot more than Super Mario 64 in his "XBLA Double Bill" review.
- Also tends to happen whenever he includes a game he wasn't too positive about in his end-of-year Top 5, as was what happened with Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
- Yahtzee mentioned during his The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker that despite the game being lambasted at the time for its celshaded graphics, it actually allowed its graphics to age very well over time, to the point of making it difficult for the HD re-release he was reviewing to substantially "improve" it.
- He had a condensed take on this for his review of Persona 4: Golden, which he was inspired into playing after suddenly falling in love with Persona 5, though his opinion at the time was that it was substantially less than what 5 was in his eyes. Several months later during his dual "Bugsnax & Super Meat Boy Forever" review, he mentioned he got to replaying 4 in his off-time and found he liked it much more after getting more used to it, even if he still prefers 5.
- World of Symbolism: He dislikes this trope, if his review of Sea of Solitude is any indication:What I dislike about games like this and GRIS is that they're trying to affect the appearance of meaningfulness without actually having any depth. If you look at, say, Moby-Dick, it can be interpreted as a metaphor for a lot of things - man vs. nature, order vs. chaos, the struggle to clean semen out of the bathroom rug before your mum gets home - but on the surface level, it's an adventure story about a white whale and a dude with a narc-on, and if you prefer it that way, then that's all it need be. GRIS and Sea of Solitude have no surface level; it's all symbolism all the time, but at least GRIS has its characters keep their fucking mouths shut so it's open to interpretation. Sea of Solitude has no such patience, and Kay's narration is constantly laying everything bare. "Look, there's a thing. It represents thing. Isn't that clever?"