The series that created the PC Master Race meme.
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 eventually resurrected in October 2021 in the form of a video series, where his signature fast speech is toned down to a normal pace, with clearer punctuation.
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.
On the 7th of November of 2023, Yahtzee formally announced his resignation from Escapist Magazine alongside a slew of other Escapist video creators. While Yahtzee has promised that he will be back in some other format, The Escapist still owns the rights to Zero Punctuation, all but stating that the series is over after over 800 reviews. The day following, he announced on the Second Wind channel that he will continue Zero Punctuation in the form of Fully Ramblomatic, the original Pre-Escapist name of the series, with the first episode premiering on the 15th. Extra Punctuation is also set to continue in a similar manner, as "Semi Ramblomatic."
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:
- 100% Completion: Yahtzee has dismissed the concept before as being for 'unemployed psychotics and Koreans', but nevertheless recognises the accompanying existence of the 'obsessive instinct' that would drive certain people to dedicate time and even money to scratch the itch that the feeling of 'completeness' brings. He cites Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island's introduction of tracked level collectibles as the origin of what would later become the modern video game industry's exploitation of this instinct via live service games and loot boxes.
- 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!" Each video under this subseries includes a section labelled "The Lessons Nobody Learned".
- 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 states that he believes cosmic horror requires a different approach to work in the modern day, as the core philosophy of the genre - mankind's ultimate futility and pointlessness in the face of a vast, uncaring universe - isn't as effective when the audience can get the same essential experience just from glancing at their web browsers or social media pages.
- 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:
- Modern Warfare games in 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 Call of Duty 4, 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. Brings this up with the
- Soma. In said review, Yahtzee notes how Soma still uses the stealth-focused Survival Horror gameplay that discourages the player from looking at the monsters hunting after them that was used in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the Spiritual Predecessor to Soma. However, he then muses that this worked well in Amnesia because of the tight, claustrophobic passageways and the panicky atmosphere from the Survival Horror story distracting the player from the inherent paradox involved, but it doesn't work nearly as well in Soma. This is because not only is Soma more of a philosophy-focused game rather than the horror-focused game that Amnesia was (and so the player will feel less stressed out and more able to ruminate on how unreasonable it is to motivate the player to avoid monsters and discourage the player from being able to tell where said monsters are), but the more open and less claustrophobic level design in Soma makes it easier for the monsters to unexpectedly find the player, only further compounding the effect. While not to the same extent, Yahtzee discusses a game mechanics-related example in his review of
- Grandfather Clause: He's not a fan of games using outdated video game conventions for no better reason than tradition, such as the "lives" systems that persist in Super Mario Bros. titles or even in modern titles such as I Am Alive.
- Home and Garden: In the episode about Metal: Hellsinger, Yahtzee criticizes the lack of creativity found in the Fire and Brimstone Hell levels. He compares the experience of playing through them as if being trapped in an episode of BBC's Gardeners World.
- 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.
- Last-Second Ending Choice: He calls it the Endingtron 3000, and is absolutely not fond of this trope.There's no payoff at all, no glimpse of the world our choice created or what became of the characters, no word on whether your techy support guy ever managed to dislodge that tree branch from up his bum.
- Mood Dissonance: He dedicated an entire Extra Punctuation episode to this, noting how Sonic Frontiers in particular, setting itself in environments that look like Death Stranding, inherently damages its tone by then making you play through them as Sonic the Hedgehog, "a blue cartoon mouse in sneakers with eyes the size of hubcaps".
- 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...Spec Ops: The Line is one of those pleasant surprises that comes along every now and again, a video game story that really got to me, giving me genuine feelings of weariness, guilt, and actual physical sickness. Fun, fun, fun!
- "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?
- So Bad, It Was Better: Alluded to in his review of Dead Space (2023) where he compares the remade game to the original Dead Space; Yahtzee notes that while the improved effort being given to the writing and voice acting for Dead Space (2023) made the characters all feel less like pricks, it also made the characters a fair bit less interesting. Or, to quote Yahtzee himself, "Sensible is nice, but prick is what gets attention!"
- So Okay, It's Average: In some of the videos, he claims that bland and paint-by-numbers games are in some ways worse than bad games. One of the reasons in this opinion is that there is much less to learn from bland games than from games that fail in interesting ways.
- 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. Notably averted by him giving The Last of Us Part II, a lot of other publication's game of the year, his worst game of 2020 award because he saw the dark elements as nothing more than emotionally exploitational in service of a poor story.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: Yahtzee isn't fundamentally averse to games juggling multiple gameplay elements at once, but he does consider it a problem if they don't jive well in theme and pacing, instead turning into bloated admin. "Jiminy Cockthroat" games that fuse open world sandboxes with a menagerie of action, stealth, collect-a-thons, and crafting particularly get on his nerves for being radically unfocused, but this can also manifest in milder ways — he's given flack towards Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Death Stranding for having gameplay loops based around survival and exploration, then periodically break the flow for Boss Battles built around combat, which he sees as out-of-place considering the context.
- 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 favorable 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, especially if it's used as a crutch in lieu of making a narrative that can be taken at face value, 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?"