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{Errant Signal} is an Analysis Channel run by Chris "Campster" Franklin, dedicated to the analysis and essay-based discussion of the plot, central themes and conceits of various video games. His series, which can be found on YouTube, covers game design and discussion of usage of gaming tropes, sometimes analyzing an aspect of game design through examination of a game and other times discussing a game design concept by itself. His show favors a cerebral style that tries to make game design concepts more accessible to the common gamer.
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Errant Signal can be found here, and he has a Patreon here. Franklin is also a regular on the Let's Play group Spoiler Warning, which is dedicated to similar motifs from a let's player's perspective but in less depth.


Tropes found in {Errant Signal} include:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Discussed Trope. He noted in his review of Bastion that this trope had effectively become the norm in video series about gaming, and described his review of Bastion as a spirited attempt to avert it.
  • Affectionate Parody: He describes Saints Row IV as a light-hearted tribute to various pop culture kitsch in contrast to the vitriolic Shallow Parody found in Grand Theft Auto V. invoked
  • All There in the Stinger: Criticizes Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Prey (2017) for their use of this trope, though he does nonetheless consider the latter's version a good a wrap-up of the game's themes.
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  • Anvilicious: invoked One of his criticisms of A Hand with Many Fingers, a game about investigating the Nugan Hand Bank and the CIA's involvement in it. At one point, the game shows a scribble in red ink that outright calls the CIA "the organized crime wing of the ruling class", which Errant Signal considers too direct and on-the-nose. He feels that since the course of the game's investigation alone makes a good case for the CIA indeed being a glorified organized crime wing, having the game spell out its Aesop directly is unnecessary.
  • Angst? What Angst?: invoked One of his main criticisms of Alyx Vance is that she doesn't seem to have any emotional baggage; for example, about the implied death of her mother, or resenting her father for unintentionally helping the Combine conquer Earth.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: He takes a brief aside in his video on Rage 2 to list the many instances of this trope he found in the game. After the credits end, he shows off even more examples.
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  • Berserk Button: Jerkass protagonists who aren't admitted to be as such by the narrative; his entire Watch_Dogs video is a scathing indictment of Aiden Pearce and his reckless and selfish actions throughout the game, and apparent belief Ubisoft had he would be regarded as inherently cool.
  • Clueless Aesop: Frequently discussed. Many times, he finds games that are fully capable of delivering a message but are too reluctant to take a stance or games that merely feature something to discuss rather than actually discussing it. He notes that Immersive Sim games with multiple choices and pathways tend to this since its focus is encouraging and ensuring a stable middle ground and that works only in a narrative where your options are extremes of one kind or another. He is especially critical of BioShock and BioShock Infinite for this kind of storytelling, especially the latter game that makes the false equivalency between slaveowning white supremacists and a slave uprising.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: His old videos have a lot more jokes and gags and sometimes even full-on skits. There are parts where he's talking to a camera with his face shown, and the thumbnails have the name of the game discussed in text rather than including the game's logo. Franklin also used to have a bit of a Caustic Critic streak. His video on Far Cry 2 perhaps best exemplflies his old style.
  • Environmental Narrative Game: He's examined the genre on several occasions, including his review of Gone Home or his videos examining what constitutes a "real" video game or "The Debate That Never Took Place", which examines the artificial distinction between story and gameplay commonly seen in video game criticism (and on this wiki, in such tropes as Story to Gameplay Ratio or Story and Gameplay Segregation).
  • Excuse Plot: Central to his reading of Hotline Miami. He discusses how he sees the game as attacking the idea of story as a justification for game, with the second character, who wants to get to the bottom of the mystery, being a stand-in for the kind of gamer who does want a meaning behind their actions.
  • Filler: Argues that the middle part of Prey (2017) is essentially this, not that he considers this a bad thing. He feels that while it doesn't advance the plot a whole lot or explore the game's themes much, the Immersive Sim gameplay is still solid and engaging, and the parts that do explore the game's themes are interesting, if a bit undeveloped.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Riffin' On An Old Universal Promotional Video Because I Need A New Creative Outlet is, well, a riff track of a short film advertising Universal's Islands of Adventure. There's not much in the way of critical analysis (and it's not trying to be one), and aside from a short quip about the Poseidon's Fury segment looking like a questionable BioShock remaster, it's not even about video games.
  • Game Mod: Does an episode about these expressing mixed opinions. He appreciates that players can tweak the game design to suit their preference but also feels its hard to review a game when most play it modded and that in some cases, players undermine good design decisions.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: He used to like to use the proper term ludonarrative dissonance, and he generally prefers games where the gameplay reinforces the story or the gameplay justifies itself. While he still believes in this idea of gameplay and story acting on the same note, he's shied away from using the word ludonarrative dissonance itself as he feels it feeds into the false dichotomy of the ludology vs narratology non-debate as he explains here.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Praises Sleeping Dogs for its take on this trope, particularly how it asks the player to wrestle with the duality of being a cop who stops crimes and a criminal who causes it rather than making the player chose between the two.
  • Mood Whiplash: He notes that one of the biggest problems with Valiant Hearts is how it's trying to tell two stories of conflicting tone: Emile and Karl's story of how war destroys families and Freddie and Anna's action-packed story of vengeance against a cartoonish villain.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The subject of his "Adventures In Advertising" video, which touches on the ad campaigns for Halo 3: ODST, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and, especially, Dead Island, among others that exhibit this trope. Interestingly, he takes a balanced, sort of Tropes Are Tools stance regarding this trope. After all, while these trailers might not accurately represent the game at all, they're not bad ads in their own right; they tell a memorable, compelling story that has something valuable to say, and, most importantly of all in the realm of advertising, makes people keenly interested in the product. He argues this trope occurs because unlike in advertising, the medium's various systems don't prioritize having artistic merit in a game. While advertisers get actively rewarded for making meaningful ads, even if they're rather deceptive, game developers are expected to just make a game that looks good and plays without issue, with having meaningful themes or a compelling narrative being an afterthought.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Criticizes the use of the Doom³ Duct Tape mod note . He feels that having to switch to darkness to fire your weapon adds to the tension and atmosphere of the game.
  • Old Shame: invoked He's frequently noted his extreme embarrassment at many of his earlier videos, and uploaded a video in which he offered a running commentary on his video about the Half-Life series, cringing all the while.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: Believes this to be the key to Fortnite's mainstream success versus other Battle Royale Games. In practice, going for the Victory Royale is just one of many ways to play and have fun, with various sidequests and challenges encouraging players to goof off and rewarding them for doing so. As a result, compared to other multiplayer shooters that involve a lot of serious gameplay and demand that players earn their fun, Fortnite is highly accessible for newcomers and a perfect game to put on when one just wants to chill out (even if it comes at the cost of being seen as a "kiddie game"), with a feel more comparable to a block party than a competitive shooter.
  • Real Is Brown: Praised Bastion for averting this trope.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: He claims that Baron Von Dorf had skulls on his uniform to make him look more cartoonishly evil than he already was, until someone pointed out that Totenkpfs were a common military symbol for the Germans.
  • Self-Deprecation: Tends to be self-effacing and apologetic about perceived failed attempts at humor and, sometimes, the highbrow terminology he likes to use. According to him here, he uses it as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress or anxiety that he picked up years ago.
    • The The Beginner's Guide review went heavily into this, ending with a rant about his inability to read the game's theme without a Morton's Fork which references Narrator!Davey's meltdown during the climax of said game.
    • In his video on Oxenfree, when he describes the game's scare factor as coming in somewhere between Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Scream (1996), he notes in a subtitle on the video that he's probably revealing just how old he actually is.
    • In the fifth Blips Video, he notes that the game Dujanah's five openings that explicitly tell the player what the game's about is a direct Take That! to a prospective audience of "Bad" youtube analysis of the game...while the Errant Signal title card is lightly superimposed over it.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: Argues that In the Kingdom is one to Silent Hills. While Silent Hills creates horror in part through graphics of unprecedented high fidelity and photorealism, In the Kingdom does it with graphics that are deliberately low-fidelity and almost unrecognizable, so as to invoke Nothing Is Scarier.
  • Theme Naming: Radio transmissions. Besides his channel name being "Errant Signal", there's "Blips", an on-going series of videos where he reviews a small selection of various indie titles. A similar experiment into randomly-picked games was called "Signal to Noise", and some of his shorter, older videos analyzing one particular theme in one particular game are titled "Short Wave Transmission" (SWT).
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Franklin considers Max Payne 3 this to the 2004 Tony Scott film Man on Fire. He drove this point home by simultaneously summarizing the narratives of both works with matching footage.

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