Follow TV Tropes


Web Video / Jimquisition
aka: Jim Sterling

Go To
Thank God for Them!

"The video game industry is full of bullshit."

James Stephanie Sterling (born 1 January 1984) is the host of the web video series known as The Jimquisition. Sterling is an independent video game pundit (formerly of Destructoid and The Escapist), known for their tendency to stoke controversy and frequent examination of the video game industry's seedy underbelly.

Sterling's on-screen persona is a sarcastic and egotistical caricature of game journalists who engages in various entertaining antics, but always has something important to say about how people play and relate to video games, what goes on behind the scenes of game development, and how the exploitative and abusive practices of companies involved with video games are often manifestations of social, economic, and political problems facing society as a whole. Episodes can be found here and here.

Steph's show comes in the following major formats:

  • The Jimquisition: Steph's main show, where they editorialize about current events and trends in the gaming industry. Sometimes the main subject is followed by one of their company-specific short news updates, of which there are three:
    • "Oh Ubisoft!" - Discusses Ubisoft's most recent action that has managed to piss everyone off or royally fuck up. Quietly retired after the massively abusive culture at Ubisoft came to light, rendering Ubisoft's incompetence not funny in the slightest.
    • "Fuck Konami" - The same, but for Konami, though they mostly just piss everyone off. Formerly "FucKonami News".
    • "Bethesda is Bethetic" - Yet another, this time for Bethesda, usually when Bethesda really screws up, pisses everyone off, or both. Usually heralded mid-segment instead of post-credits, with Steph dancing to the Pokémon Sword and Shield gym music like so.
  • Spray n' Play: Here, Steph takes a game and does a blind, 10-40 minute playthrough on it, commenting on its gameplay, graphics and such and, at the end, decides whether they recommend it or not. It includes many, many titles in Early Access. Formerly known as "Jimpressions" and "Squirty Plays".
    • Jimpressions: Based on the less popular format of what was formerly called Jimpressions. This series has Steph doing post-commentary about their first, and consequent, impressions of a major title they played recently, with the game's footage in question being in the background.
  • Commentocracy with Duke Amiel du H'ardcore: A spin-off show where Duke Amiel, the painted-up aristocrat, reads YouTube comments portraying "Elite Gaming Wisdom" after popular demand and positive reception from his first appearance in May 2017.
  • Industry Bullshit: While not exactly a series, it is a weekly feature with Steph taking a gander at recent controversial or notable enough gaming news - and stating their opinion on the subject matter.
  • Direct To Video: In which Steph plays, and naturally rips to shreds, the utter dreck that gets on Steam via Steam Direct - a system that is somehow even less limiting than the defunct Greenlight.
  • Podquisition: A podcast under the Jimquisition brand where Steph chats with their friend — originally Laura Kate Dale and Gavin Dunne, with Gavin being replaced by Conrad Zimmerman in late 2019 — about gaming news, the games they have been playing recently and any other topic that might come up.
  • The Spin-Off Doctors: A podcast released every couple of months where Steph and Conrad Zimmerman summarize and review movies and tv shows spun off of or somehow about video games. well as retired or rare series, such as:

  • Best Of Steam Greenlight Trailers: Here, Steph takes a look at terrible, provocative, and/or absurd Steam Greenlight trailers, while offering constructive criticism and advice to the developer as to how they can improve it. Retired due to the discontinuation of Steam Greenlight.
    • Greenlight Good Stuff: A spin-off of Best of Steam Greenlight Trailers, which features positive coverage alongside the ones of which they were critical. Here, Steph looks at the genuinely good games and explains why those games look appealing. They may even play them for a Jimpressions segment when the game is approved for Greenlight.
  • Nitpick Theater: Here, Steph does a short, angry rant about some small gripe with a game or game company in which they blow the problem ridiculously out of proportion. This can range from a small plothole or a company's obsession with an annoying (but not necessarily harmful) practice.
  • Tasty: Here, Steph inputs a certain keyword into the search bar of the games website and handpicks the most interesting games that come as a result of this and gives their thoughts on them.
  • OH MAH GAWD HYPE!: Steph takes footage of video game trailers designed to hype people up and completely snarks at them, which is doing the complete opposite of other YouTube celebrities where they hype the hell out of a game based on the trailer alone.
  • Video Game Show What I've Done: Rory Fingers, a young and mostly-ignorant child, attempts to review games while clearly having no idea what's going on, usually commenting on the way a game is perceived in the process. Originally credited to Steph Sterling themself, while the show still was on Destructoid.
  • Jimquisition Reviews: These were to replace the text review format of with a narrated one, game footage playing in the background included - but after a few of these, Steph laid off reviewing the games the old-fashioned way entirely, so now the part is filled by Jimpressions, giving games a good or bad review without giving out a numbered score.

Steph Sterling announced on November 14, 2014 that they would go crowd-funded via Patreon, so none of their anti-corporate videos would be powered by corporate-sponsored ads. Thus they are now free of editorial oversight as well as any hypocrisy. Donate to them yourself if you like.

In 2020, Steph came out as a non-binary transwoman. Steph's pronouns are she/they.

They're also the "Loremaster" for Vampire Survivors, specifically writing descriptions for the bestiary and other narrative text.

In 2022, they started a wrestling promotion, Spectrum Wrestling with their husband Phoenix. They appear both as the promoter, and as their character Commander Stephanie Sterling.

Don't confuse them with Jim Starling.

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes Used in The Jimquisition 
Born different, born innocent, born perfect, I'm not like you...

Tropes featured include:

  • Accentuate the Negative: Although they're willing to expound on it if they feel it's truly negative.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • In their episode on the disastrous Tales of Symphonia PC port they give a shout-out to someone who called them "the most obnoxious fat lesbian I've ever seen."
    • They admit this about a single joke in Candice DeBebe's Scandalous Secrets, a game that had, earlier in that episode, forced them to ask whether the definition of "joke" in England had changed since they left.
  • Affectionate Parody: The Stephsaw episodes parody the Saw movies, both with the Jigsaw-esque Chessmaster Death Trap enthusiast who is in fact neither very good at chessmastering or designing death traps and with the fact that his would-be victims spend more time querulously complaining and challenging his 'games' instead of playing along like the victims in the movies do.
  • And Another Thing...: "Oh and fuck Konami."
  • And That's Terrible: During the Squirty Play of Playing History: Slave Trade, an incredibly ill-conceived Edutainment Game about exactly what you think, the game's mascot (an incongruously cheery Off-Model cartoon mouse) finishes a description of the horrific treatment of slaves with "this was certainly not nice". Steph references the Trope Namer in response.
  • Appropriated Appellation: After the "epic meltdown of the Slaughtering Grounds developer", Steph started calling themself "Jim Fucking Sterling, Son", which was an insult thrown at them in the developer's review of their review. ("I don't need to fix that because I'm Jim fucking Sterling, son!") They've since made it into a Catchphrase.
  • Arch-Enemy: Hoo boy, where to start...
    • Ubisoft has become one of Steph's two most utterly reviled enemies come The New '20s, and even before then, with eight episodes about them in 2014. Steph frequently lampshades this. Like Konami, Ubisoft has earned the 'honor' of also getting special post-episode segments dedicated to especially notable blunders by the company every now and again, called "Oh, Ubisoft". This really hit its nadir in 2020 when reports came out that Ubisoft actively protected high-ranking executives who abused and harassed their employees for years, culminating in the video "I Really, Really Hate Ubisoft". Their hatred is so great that they actively refused to cover their games ever since the news broke.
    • Fellow game industry giant Activision Blizzard has become another one of Steph's two most hated companies from The New '20s onwards, and much like Ubisoft, has been one even before news broke of their crimes. Before then, Steph Sterling loathed how predatory their games' monetization systems were, and the plentitude of shameless tactics designed to extract as much profit for as little effort as possible infuriated Steph Sterling. From putting in microtransactions after the reviews have come in, to a tax evasion basement in Holland, to grossly underpaying and cutting off employees to boast of "record revenue", and to shitty, predatory games, there seemed to be no low too low for Activision-Blizzard and their relentless lust for profits over people. This is a case where Steph's Arch-Enemy is also a personal affair, as Activision CEO Bobby Kotick is especially singled out by Steph for maintaining an ironfisted rule over the company and being one of the most overpaid and exploitative CEOs in all of America, with Steph having repeatedly called from Bobby to be fired from his position for his gross negligence and incompetent malice.
    • Before they came to be dethroned by Activision-Blizzard and Ubisoft, Konami was the most prolific punching bag of Steph Sterling for most of The New '10s. They were blacklisted by Konami for their video on them back in 2012, and their relationship with them has only gone downhill since then. It reached new heights when Steph's anger towards Konami explodes in "The Silent Hell that is Konami", telling the company how much they hate them while also telling them to fuck off multiple times. This utter contempt has only worsened in light of the shadier revelations about Konami. It seems any mention of them is enough to prompt Steph to proudly say "Fuck Konami." In fact, their hatred of them exceeds their persona's own narcissism, as they end their "Fee 2 Pay" video with "Fuck Konami. And thank God for me. And hit the lever. But most importantly, Fuck Konami." To put things in perspective, Steph no longer has full episodes about the screw-ups Konami makes. They dedicate entire post-episode segments to a feature called "Fuck Konami News" whenever there's any negative buzz about them.
    • Digital Homicide has been getting on Steph's case ever since the fiasco the two sides had during The Slaughtering Grounds meltdown. Things have only escalated ever since, to the point of DigiHom attempting to sue Steph for $11 million. However, Steph doesn't seem to view them as arch-enemies, stating that a lot of things involving Digital Homicide were brought to their attention by other people.
      • The two have talked over the phone before. If you think flying accusations, taking Steph's Large Ham persona seriously, and reductive logic bombs make for humorous conversation, it's available in the Podquisition catalogue.
      • On February 21st 2017, the lawsuit has been "dismissed with prejudice" or, in non-legal terms, the judge said they were stopping the process and Digital Homicide can't start a new lawsuit about the same thing.
      • Early 2020 had Digital Homicide making a return where they posted games on and a blog explaining what happened to them since the lawsuit fiasco. The very first thing Digital Homicide did was blame Steph Sterling for their troubles. Even years after the lawsuit was dropped, the Romine brothers are still giving Steph grief.
    • Warner Bros. is starting to look like one as well. They consider the company one of the trinity of dickish publishers (along with Ubisoft and EA) and are particularly exasperated that they get away with much worse behavior because people don't consider them a game publisher (since they're primarily thought of for movies and TV.)
    • Randy Pitchford is an uncommonly personal one for Steph due to Pitchford having lied in front of Steph's face at a face-to-face interview in regards to certain content in Aliens: Colonial Marines. It only escalated further when Randy made some passive-aggressive quips at Steph and, at one point, pretended to forget Steph's name during a recorded interview.
    • Steph's relationship with the entire "Triple-A Industry" has always been strained, but over the course of 2017, "the Year of the Lootbox", it has devolved into outright enmity. Between Electronic Arts, Warner Bros., and the aforementioned current worst of the lot Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft, Steph has nothing less than absolute hatred for almost the entire mainstream game development industry, considering them soulless, morally bankrupt, sleazy, dishonest rip-off merchants for whom there is absolutely no depths to which they will not sink in their never-ending pursuit of more money at the expense of their customers. They no longer have any benefit of the doubt left to spare for them and sees no reason to believe anything they say. Electronic Arts is a particularly notable one for the utterly repugnant stunts they have pulled and their tendency to devour and destroy smaller video game companies. Steph has taken to calling them "Unicronic Arts" because of this.
      • Steph now considers themselves the enemy of the entire "triple-AEYYY" video games industry among Western spaces (and Konami), regarding almost all members of it as irredeemable, amoral slime who are raking in huge profits by abusing their employees with tactics that would be self-defeating if the system weren't rigged for them to succeed, while actively making games worse so as to psychologically manipulate vulnerable people into spending money they can't afford in order to compensate. At the end of "The Addictive Cost Of Predatory Videogame Monetization" they finished by declaring "You damn right I'm anti-triple-A."
    • That said, however, Steph Sterling subverts this trope with some companies:
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: At the end of "Piracy - Trying To Kill It Makes It Stronger":
    Nobody's ever going to beat piracy. You can't stop people from wanting stuff for free, just like you can't stop people murdering, taking drugs, robbing houses, or watching Jeff Dunham shows.
  • Artifact Title: Despite Steph phasing out their deadname when referring to themself, their website and show still keep the "Jimquisition" brand, and their merch store is still called the "Jimporium".
  • Ass Shove: In "The Game Industry's Performative Concern for Children", this is the gist of Steph's response to the people behind the "Get Smart about PLAY" campaign:
    Today's video is dedicated to all the game industry executives out there, especially those plucky little guys sitting right at the top of the corporate structure. I'm talking about such "adorable" characters as Bobby Kotick, Yyves Guillemot, and—a-ha-ha-ha, of course—"Android" Wilson! To those hardworking cats with such thankless jobs, I say SHOVE IT UP YOUR ASS! Like, just shove everything up your ass! Your companies? Shove them up your ass—your disgusting business models, shove them! Up your ass! This Disney Parks commemorative Mr. Potato Head mug? Right up the ass, right into the hole of it!''
  • Author Appeal: Steph has an open and unabashed love of the Spider-Man villain Mysterio. When asked about why they liked him, they explained that Mysterio's use of illusions and mind games is a cool supervillain gimmick and he can be genuinely dangerous if a writer invests in him. They were very enthusiastic indeed about Mysterio's appearance in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
  • Author Filibuster: The entire series is just one Author Filibuster after another, though it's tongue-in-cheek.
  • Backhanded Apology: After Steph's call for calm discussion in "Dragon's Frown" backfired spectacularly, Steph decides to "apologize" for the backlash they incidentally caused.
    It is entirely my fault that the tumult was as tumultuous as it was, because I, in my blind foolishness, appealed for calm. I appealed for reason, and for that, I am truly, utterly, deeply sorry. And for that, you have my word, on my honor, as a brilliant game-talky man, that I will never, never be reasonable again. Thank you.
  • Badass Boast:
    • At the end of their "Skate Man Intense Rescue: A Steam Spite Story" video, Steph tells Digpex Games that Steph now owns them (in a metaphorical sense) because whenever people think of their shitty game, they'll only think about how Steph tore them down after the studio tried to silence their criticism and are now just another example of other indie developers who tried to pull the same stunt before.
    • At the end of "When Steph Sterling Was Sued For $10 Million By Digital Homicide", their overview of their legal dealings with Digital Homicide, they note that they've received messages from Trolls threatening to try hitting them with spurious lawsuits en mass in an attempt to silence them or even destroy their health... and promises that if the Romies try, they'll really take the gloves off, since despite how some may spin it they were actually remarkably lenient in allowing the Digital Homicide matter to be settled as it was.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "GTA: Garbage Takes Aplenty", Steph spends most of the video criticizing fans of then-upcoming Grand Theft Auto VI for a leak which showed pre-alpha footage. Steph took such fans to task for saying that the footage looked unfinished, because it was pre-alpha footage that was never intended to be seen by the general public. Steph builds up to what they say is the ultimate point of the video: Bridget is trans, and "we're not giving her back" now that she's come out as transfeminine.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Steph's "apology" for the Nigel Farage comment in Exposure.
  • The Barnum: Steph's carnival opening after switching intro music shows them as the owner of a more-than-questionable fair featuring characters and running gags from previous episodes.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Steph's assistant Chip (SHUT UP CHIP!), who has only ever been seen in some context where he is being tormented by Steph.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The "you didn't play the game correctly" argument as a response to not liking a game. Also see Cluster F-Bomb and Everyone Has Standards.
    • Now added to the list: Aliens: Colonial Marines, or more accurately, developers bold-facedly lying about their games in order to grab money from unsuspecting gamers and run before the bad press hits. When they addressed this in a video, said video opened to them battering a copy of the game with The Penetrator from Saints Row: The Third.
    • Discrimination is a frequent topic, specifically homophobia and sexism (in both gaming and in general).
    • The belief that "real gamers" are invariably cisgender (non-trans) heterosexual white males, as shown in this Stealth Insult saturated video.
    • They spit the words "Appeal to a wider audience" with dripping disdain. The Golden Mean Fallacy drives them up the wall.
    • They also rail against the anti-consumer practices of the industry, such as "Fee to Pay" gaming. Full priced video games adopting the free to play model to create games that players pay up front for, and then try their hardest to make players pay for more stuff afterwards. To this end, they gave Final Fantasy: All the Bravest and Dungeon Keeper Mobile their "Worst Game of the Year" awards for 2013 and 2014, respectively, because of both games' overuse of microtransactions.
    • The concept of pre-orders. While they make an exception for games that would go out of stock easily by studios such as Atlus and NISAmerica, they're against developers making certain parts of the game pre-order only, saying that: 1. It's almost impossible for the game to go out of stock, 2. The hypocrisy of AAA publishers decrying the used games industry, yet willing to work with Gamestop to make exclusive material, a chain that encourages said used games market. and 3. Cutting out parts that should be on the games proper or as DLC.
    • The mere idea of the "AAA games" industry is so offensive to Steph, they can barely bear to even say it without sneering sarcasm. The idea of "games as a service", even more so.
    • Customers who believe that since appealing to a wider audience via social issues makes them uncomfortable, developers should restrict their artistic pallet to cater exclusively to them, and then claim they're being "reasonable."
    • Disregarding one's own legacy and history, especially with their intellectual properties, angers Steph to no end due to how utterly fucked a franchise and/or game company can become with such an attitude and having little hope of recovery.
    • Unaltered storebought Unity assets. To clarify, they're completely fine with developers using storebought assets as a basis for their own original work, but they have spent a good bit of time railing against developers whose games consist largely of storebought materials that were left unchanged, the reasons being that the assets tend to look terrible next to each other and that it showcases a general lack of effort. It gets even worse when the game is entirely something the developer bought and resold. They've gone so far as to say that the people who do that shouldn't even be considered game developers.
      • The Minecraft-inspired Unit Z asset pack in particular deserves special mention. Steph was utterly flabbergasted at the sheer volume of Steam users who were just buying the pack and trying to resell it with no changes at all.
    • The idea of a "crunch period", when stressed developers spend insane hours working to finish a game before its release, possibly even staying overnight and sleeping at their computers. They made a whole episode on the subject, in which they lambasted it for benefiting only the people on top, who only care about the finished product and not how it's made.
      • Furthermore, companies that try to justify firing developers by saying that people who can't keep up with unreasonable schedules, refuse to or can't work unpaid overtime, demand employee benefits, or demand time off "aren't passionate enough" to work in the games industry.
    • The thought that entertainers on YouTube who rely on living off their channels doing videos that they enjoy making aren't working "real jobs".
    • As of 2017, loot boxes, which Steph describes as being one of the lowest attempts by AAA developers to monetize games via what they call "glorified gambling". It is such a point of contention for them that they not only have vowed to never stop bring them up and criticizing them (even as fans and critics alike tire of it), they have been begging for government regulation to come to the games industry specifically to halt the practice, celebrating when Hawaii was making a bill to get rid of them, and celebrated once more when Belgium officially classified the lootboxes in Overwatch, FIFA 18. and Counter Strike: Global Offensive as Gambling. Interestingly, Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) avoided this verdict as a few months beforehand, EA removed the lootboxes from the game specifically to avoid any more bad press.
    • As a longtime Dynasty Warriors fan, they were particularly upset about Dynasty Warriors 9 and what it DID to Zhang He, to the point where it started to sour their opinions of the earlier games as well.
    • They absolutely despise game segments where you have to look for something via a "hot or cold" style mechanic, claiming that the only video game trope worse than it is the Escort Mission.
    • The fact that Ubisoft's physical and sexual abuse scandal is actively being swept under the rug not just by Ubisoft itself, but most of the games media and press as well is one of their biggest ones yet, not just because of how horrific the abuse was, but because they are personally acquainted and friends with several of the victims. In the episode "Just a Pog in the Machine", they gave a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech towards the games media industry for being willing to forget about the very real, very horrible crimes Ubisoft's upper management committed just so they can be excited about a Star Wars game not made by EA. They later made a much more quietly furious rant calling out how Ubisoft received so much favorable coverage during E3 2021 despite virtually nothing about the company changing and none of the perpetrators being truly punished.
    • Excessive monetization, whether from microtransactions, loot boxes, or other sources anger them immensely, as they see it as exploitative and predatory towards players. Instances of this in games that are clearly marketed towards children, such as Pokemon Unite and Chocobo Racing GP, especially enrage them.
  • Blatant Lies: Played for Laughs
    Randy Pitchford: (in a past interview) That British guy's got a hard-on for me.
    Steph Sterling (holding a dildo bat) I have no idea what would give you that impression.
  • Blessed with Suck: "The Episode About Unity Engine Being Good" discusses how Unity is a free, powerful game engine that can easily be used to make games. The problem is, this is why so many people will try to use it to make asset flips. It also points out that to avoid limiting the free engine too much while still gaining enough money to continue development, the main thing buying Unity engine use gets you is not having an obligatory 'powered by Unity' logo when you start the game — which means that it is always made immediately obvious that Unity asset flips are made in Unity, while professional Unity games tend to require looking it up.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Happens to Steph in "Content Divided: Death To Pre-Order Culture" after they see the trailer to pre-order Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Nintendo in Steph's eyes makes so many decisions off in their own corner that comprehension is often difficult and their own antics are good and bad in Steph's eye in very different ways from the other major game companies (and keep Nintendo off Steph's list of arch enemies despite multiple videos).
  • Blue Blood: Duke Amiel du H'ardcore, the central character of Commentocracy, is an 18th century aristocrat projecting gaming wisdom as told by elitist gamers across the internet.
  • Breakout Character: Duke Amiel du H'ardcore, who appeared to read Youtube comments as an 18th century aristocrat, and was so popular, he spawned an entire sideshow reading "gaming wisdom" on a regular weekday.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: Steph's best games of the year list are never ordered in any way, they consider the games to be on a more or less equal level to each other rather than ranking them. This is subverted in 2020, since they consider Hades just that good, in every aspect of it, from its gameplay and the fact that it had a very humane development process in a moment where worker's rights in the industry is a hot issue, and proving the capacity for a humane method to produce amazing games.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In "Relitigating Steam Refunds", They note that both sides of the argument on how a refund on Steam games should work for indie studio's all have valid arguments, and that there is precedent (which they curiously did not elaborate on) for refund rates being higher for indie developers. However, having a one-refund-policy-fits-all system is simply the best possible scenario as it's the least discriminatory option available; the great majority of Steam games are over two hours, and the ones that aren't are few and far between. Even Steph’s takeaway from the episode is essentially telling people to not refund indie games unless it's for a good reason, encapsulated in one exasperated sigh. It's worth noting that in different video years prior, when commenting on initial refund rates on indie games appearing high, Steph countered by saying that the data isn't helpful until several months later, not the following week. They also said that the games which are under two hours are probably going to appeal to niche audiences anyway, and those audiences aren't going to be as motivated to request a refund simply because it's a short game.
  • Book Ends: Steph notes that their first episode about Square Enix was before their back injury and when they just found out about their problem with Square Enix. Their (hopefully) last one has it after they found out just how bad the situation with the company was, and after their back operation.
  • Bring It:
    • At the end of "When Steph Sterling Was Sued", Steph has this to say in response to an alleged Greenlight developer's threatening comment about multiple developers joining to harass them with simultaneous frivolous lawsuits:
      And if anybody, if any fffucking idiot thinks they can repeat what James [Romine] did, and somehow succeed, well you're welcome to try. Because I won't show mercy next time. And you will break yourselves upon me.
    • Steph normally doesn't taunt people to try and attack them, but after many of their videos were Content ID'd by Nintendo, they posted a video from Hyrule Warriors Legends with a Pixellation filter on it, taunting them to try and Content ID that.
    • As of "Copyright Deadlock", they've extended this along with a massive middle finger to anybody who tries to wrongfully content ID them. When Steph knows that a company is going to try and profit off their videos, they put in multiple sources of content ID-alarming content so the multiple copyright claims cancel each other out and none of the companies get any money and no ads can be put on their videos. Just to be safe, any video using Nintendo footage includes the Erasure song "Chains of Love".
    • For the Chains of Love usage, it's now averted. Steph found that in their usage of Chains of Love prior to 20 February 2017, that it no longer triggered the Copyright Deadlock. Interestingly, they did find that a clip of North American Nintendo footage, and a clip of Japanese Nintendo footage do cancel each other out...
    • After Randy Pitchford tried to pin the blame on Sterling for Aliens Colonial Marines' failure and critical reception, Steph was rather forward about how far they are ready to go if Randy were to continue with the slander. Special mention goes to Steph replaying Pitchford's interview, where Pitchford says "That British guy has a hard-on for me," and then cutting to Steph holding the dildo bat, and replying "I really don't know what would give you that idea."
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • The whole gaming industry to Steph; they used to admire it, but repeated transgressions by virtually every major company on the map have left them jaded and cynical.
    • One specific straw that broke the back of the camel that was Steph's trust in the video game industry was Aliens: Colonial Marines. As a diehard fan of the Alien film series, it was the one game Steph was most hyped for. After it came out, however, the blatant lies the trailers presented about the game that would be released, as well as Randy Pitchford's own untruths about the game (some of which Pitchford told Steph personally) would make Colonial Marines the last game Steph would ever be excited for pre-release, and destroy any trust they had in pre-release marketing, or Gearbox and Pitchford in general. Even years after, they hold a massive grudge over it.
    • Steph says they used to like EA, but now they think they're one of the worst companies in the industry.
    • While they liked amiibo initially, Nintendo's repeated failures to produce enough to go around, led to them throwing all their amiibo off their lectern, saying Steph was done with them.
    • Spelled out when Overkill Software added paid Microtransactions to PAYDAY 2, when they had previously said the game would never have it. Steph felt ashamed that they previously used Overkill as an example of a company that didn't rip off its fans; and summed it up as "Never make me regret loving you." Thankfully this has gotten better in 2016, when the devs purchased full ownership of the game and the first thing that they did was remove the microtransactions. Steph was very pleased when they heard the news.
    • Their view on Konami can be summed up as massive contempt. They loved the company back when they were actually making good games, but then swore off Konami due to their complete disregard to their IP's histories and how shady their business and ethical practices had become over time.
    • Steph once championed the mobile gaming market, taking to its defense against critics who considered it to not be "real" video games. As the mobile market became increasingly saturated with cookie-cutter games, many of which played themselves and almost all of which including rampant microtransactions, they have changed their tune and has now condemned the mobile gaming market.
    • Before Call of Duty: Ghosts was released in 2013, Steph proudly declared themself a fan of the series and defended it against invokedIt's Popular, Now It Sucks!. Beginning with Ghosts, however, Steph finally began feel It's the Same, Now It Sucks!, in addition to being turned off by the series' increasingly aggressive monetization strategies. The final straw was Modern Warfare Remastered, which Activision (a) "held to ransom" by initially only making it available through the Special Edition of Infinite Warfare, (b) added Microtransactions to shortly after the launch of the Remaster and nine years after the original game, (c) didn't bundle all previously released DLC with, but instead sold it separately again for a higher price than the original DLC was, and (d) finally released as standalone product after promising that they wouldn't, screwing over everyone who bought an expensive special edition of Infinite Warfare because they were told it was the only way to get the Remaster. Needless to say, this shattered what little faith Steph had left in the series and made them swear to never let Activision live down what they did with Modern Warfare Remastered.
    • They have disowned the Dynasty Warriors series as of Dynasty Warriors 9. In The Dismal Degradation of Dynasty Warriors, Steph admits that this particular pedestal had been cracking for a long time, but they'd been letting the publisher get away with a lot of shady stuff because they still loved their games. The catastrophe that was DW9 was the tipping point, and Steph no longer wants to have anything to do with the series until it redeems itself. Steph was so angry at the whole thing that not only did they have a Stephquistion made for it, but also made another video before it ranting about how badly Koei Tecmo screwed up.
    • While Steph once appreciated Valve Software for their high quality games and pioneering Digital Distribution service, their relationship with the company grew very strained over the years due to it doing very little to curate content being published on Steam and having next to no communication with anyone, along with their steadily declining game output over the years. The resentment finally boiled over in mid-2018 where Valve announced they would no longer curate any game and would instead let the community filter out content they don't like. Steph was incredulous, believing that a problem they felt was already bad was only going to get worse.
    • Bethesda used to be one of Steph's favorite AAA publishers for sticking to its guns in making single-player games and refusing to copy gaming fads like microtransactions and online-only multiplayer. This all changed with Fallout 76, which was a broken, derivative survival game with microtransactions and online-only multiplayer, causing Steph to lose any confidence in the company's future installments. This really came to head in "Bethesda is Officially Obsolete"; not only did Steph find The Outer Worlds by Obsidian Entertainment to be better than Bethesda's Fallout games in every way, Steph says Bethesda's sheer number of mistakes and inadequacies is actually starting to make Konami look good by comparison.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When they included Middle-earth: Shadow of War in their "Shittiest Video Games of 2017" list, it was because of its inclusion of Microtransactions allowing the player to simply buy an army of Orcs, rather than play through the game and building an army through the Nemesis System. When they finally faced their nemesis at the end of the game, it was a random Orc that they only just met; the Orc acted like he was Steph's rival throughout the game, but Steph outright said "for me it was Tuesday".
  • Butt-Monkey: Chip, the new head of research, who only exists to be yelled at and to be blamed for mistakes. This even extends to the new (as of mid-2017) intro sequence, in which the attraction named after him is the "Chip Memorial Porta-Potty."
    "SHUT UP, CHIP!"
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes":
    • Steph states in their first video about the Xbox One that they were very annoyed by all the tweets asking them to make a video against it. They said they were not the public's "performing chimp", and they weren't going to "tear it a new one" just because their fanbase wanted them to. Then they add that well, they were going to tear it a new one, but not just because people wanted them to.
    • From the Jimpressions video for A Hat in Time:
      I always say: A Jimpressions is never late, nor early. It always arrives exactly when I mean it to. Unless it... goes up late. They're never early! They always... go up late, if they're gonna go up at all.
  • Call-Back:
    • In "Why Square Enix Is Carving Its Games To Bits", Steph showed that they had predicted a video game publisher dividing their game up back in mid-2013 by showing a clip from their earlier episode "Fee 2 Pay".
    • In "Where's the Fair Use", Steph points out that Nintendo's habit of content ID-ing their videos that don't actually break copyright laws removes any incentive to respect the copyright laws, because it wouldn't make a difference. In "Newtendo" Steph puts in footage from several different games that don't belong to Nintendo in an attempt to make Nintendo fight with other corporations, since multiple corporations could exploit the copyright system.
  • The Cameo:
  • Canon Welding: Virgillio Armarndio is a carryover from their Destructoid show "The Videogame Show What I've Done."
  • Capitalism Is Bad: This is a major theme of the Stephquistion. Steph is not a fan. Starting in 2019, their critism of the AAA game industry is frequently framed within the context of the wider capitalist system.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Everything in their "100% objective" review of Final Fantasy XIII. "Final Fantasy XIII is a video game. It has graphics, and sound. When you turn on the game, the graphics and the sound start at almost exactly the same time, and that is the signal that the game has begun."
    • In "Let's Talk About Troy Baker's Weird Dismissal Of Games Criticism", Steph mentions that a Theodore Roosevelt quote was not originally about video game development or games being too long.
  • Cassandra Truth: Steph has a rather long (and mostly sad) story of foreseeing both major and minor video game trends correctly. They've also got a lot of apologists trying to disprove them and call them out on overreacting - at least, until things go from bad to worse. Case in point, in "Turning Players into Payers", they outright call themself The Cassandra of Video Games.
    • Steph made a video concerning the utter disregard for quality control for non-Valve Steam games way back in 2014 while they were still working for The Escapist. As much as people didn't care before, the amount of subpar games on the storefront grew exponentially each and every year - to the point where 2016 saw Steam's already massive library increasing by a whopping *forty percent*! Naturally, it was far from the last video Steph made about Steam, or anything closely related to it, not even after Steam Greenlight, an already notorious service, was succeeded by much less restraining Steam Direct.
    • In 2015, worried assumptions were made about Visceral Games, of Dead Space fame, that they would eventually be shut down by Electronic Arts, after a string of really short-sighted business decisions. On October 17, 2017, the studio was disbanded in the middle of developing a linear story-based Star Wars title.invoked
    • The immense popularity of Overwatch and its lootbox system is not the first time the publishers were charging some extra cash from the players, either for virtual consumables or for a chance to win a unique skin - Team Fortress 2 did this a few months before it went F2P, but unlike TF2, Overwatch has gathered a lot of defenders who consider its microtransaction system to be the most consumer-friendly out there. Steph, as much as they liked the game, really didn't think so. Fast forward a few months, and it's topic of mass controversy, as nearly every big-name video game publisher features a variation of a business model which discourages playing the game directly to progress - and encourages using your wallet instead.
    • In The New '20s, Steph called out companies, especially Square Enix, for making multiple "live service" titles, both free-to-play and full price, which relied on daily quests and microtransactions to keep people hooked. Steph argued that such titles were never going to work in the long run, since people only have enough time and money to play one or two such games, rendering the revenue model nonsensical and unsustainable. Come early 2023, and Square Enix had to shut down multiple such titles, such as Babylon's Fall, Chocobo GP Racing, Marvel's Avengers, and FINAL FANTASY VII: The First Soldier; the following year, one game's release and EOL dates were announced simultaneously.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "And thank God for me!"
    • "Wrong!" (Said in a manner of increasingly silly ways)
    • Blending this with a variety of Overly Long Gag, they also have a tendency to at least once in a video (usually during the closing) draw out a word. Particularly "Fffffffffffucking."
    • They sort of have visual catch phrases too; whenever they about certain things, they usually shows stills or clips from certain sources, again and again. Greedy capitalists get one or a slideshow of Cyril Sneer from The Raccoons, Claudaine or his pet kitty Fat Cat from Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, for example. Also there is usually at least one picture of a shrimp per episode.
      • Any time they come close to saying the word "cunt", it gets interrupted by a clip of the Skeleton Warriors title sequence.
      • Rahaan the Barbarian has become the show's unofficial mascot - all thanks to his rage-induced yet goofy face - used either as a "wait, what" reaction for someone releasing unbelievably dumb statements or as a censor for video watermarks.
    • "I'm Steph Fucking Sterling, Son." See Appropriated Appelation.
    • "Fuck Konami!", done in various ways, after the cancellation of Silent Hills and the removal of P.T from the PlayStation Store was the last straw for them. They've even started randomly saying it at the end of episodes that don't have anything to do with Konami at all! For example, The Stinger for "The Asset Flip" is simply the words FUCK KONAMI in giant Courier font.
    • "Helps to have a map!" Said for any game with said map as a jab towards Guise of the Wolf, which had a rather not so helpful map and guards who said little else other than it helps to have a map.
    • "Hoy there, small fry.", said as an opener to any episode of Tasty. Lifted directly from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.
    • "Is this memes?" Said for games where the developers seem to have focused on cramming in as many memes as possible rather than making a good game.
    • "Cheesed my onions" is Steph's favorite go-to phrase when something really bothered/angered them.
    • When the subject turns to matters of an X-rated nature, Steph will often end up inviting the audience to imagine them in some kind of graphically-detailed debauchery involving someone "POUNDING IT... POUNDING IT... POUNDING IT..." in some way, with a suspicious smacking noise in the background.
    • [Condescending chuckle] "Oh, Ubisoft."
    • "just look at it!", to underscore the fact that a game is not only bad, but obviously bad.
    • "Video games!", either muttered darkly or loudly shouted, to express dismay at the state of the medium as a whole, and how a particular game reflects it.
    • *snide, pinched nose voice* "Triiiple-AAAAAAYYYYY", normally used whenever a game starts indulging in hated developer behavior for no apparent reason other than every other big-name game is doing it, such as season passes, microtransactions, or a game's price going up to $60 for no real reason. Steph has admitted they actually have trouble even pronouncing "AAA" anymore without a nasal vowel drag as a habit of saying it like this so much.
    • They often describe greedy triple-A developers who sell full-price games then try to milk their players for as much extra cash as possible after the initial sale as "trying to have their cake and fuck it too".
    • "It's... fine." Their go-to description for So Okay, It's Average games, where they can't dismiss it as total rubbish but won't recommend it either.
    • "Companies don't want some money; they want all of the money, all of the time." Steph has used this for what they see as predatory business practices in the game industry, and why companies would do it.
  • Category Traitor: Steph is especially disgusted with the use of DMCA takedowns to try and silence critics of the game Fur Fun, since the developer is a YouTuber himself and would know firsthand how annoying and harmful false copyright claims are to YouTube content creators.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: Their appearance and even their voice are quite similar to that of Garth Marenghi, which they even lampshaded on a podcast.
  • Characterization Marches On: Shortly after the show began, Steph settled into a dictator-like persona, complete with black gloves and banner, as a way of comedically "owning" criticisms that they came across as a self-important opinionated Know-Nothing Know-It-All. As time went on, they added more wacky Running Gags to the schtick, which took it in an ever more bizarre and flamboyant direction. In 2017 they finally dropped the dictator routine and shifted into more of The Barnum, as a proprietor of a carnival of the strange, which by that point was not much of a stretch from the earlier persona. Steph thought that the original gag had gotten a little old, and that given the state of world politics at the time, even comedic faux-fascism felt a little too uncomfortably close to real.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Near the end of "A Quiet Conversation", they joke that saying "I breathe through my skin" can be used to justify anything, no matter how heinous or ridiculous it may benote .
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Steph hardly backs down from obscenities, but it was Dead Space 2's crappy multiplayer and online pass system that drove them to previously unseen levels of profanity.
    As a new, paying customer, I hate, hate, HATE that barrier being put in front of me, where I can't just hop into an online game on a whim, instead of having to redeem a fucking 21-digit redemption code on a fucking controller using the Xbox 360's fucking laggy input just to play Dead fucking Space fucking 2's fucking multi-player that wasn't even fucking any fucking good in the fucking first fucking fucking place, fuck!
  • Companion Cube: Miniature Fantasy Willem Defoe
  • Commander Contrarian: Steph will occasionally take up controversial point of views specifically for the point of antagonizing people into rethinking their positions... or at least getting pissed off about it.
  • Constructive Criticism: Steph uses this in their Squirty Plays/Jimpressions of early access games by pointing out the things they like, what they don't like, and what they think can be improved upon. They use Brutal Honesty a lot (although they have made an attempt to be less brutal), which has caused many indie developers (including the infamous Digital Homicide) to lash out against Steph with Disproportionate Retribution since the majority of them Can't Take Criticism. Steph will drift into Caustic Critic territory if the game is really bad.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: According to Steph, Square Enix needs to stop announcing games all the time or Yoishi Ada needs to get kicked in the ass with steel-toed boots.
  • Couch Gag: In the "carnival" intro animation that debuted in May 2017, a wall on the background always contained a different message displayed in graffiti each episode.
  • Country Matters: Initially, but Steph has since made it a point not to use gender-specific slurs (though they're still happy to use "cocking", "cunting", and "clitting" as stand-ins for "fucking"). Eventually they got into the habit of cutting off the C-word with the opening theme to Skeleton Warriors.
  • Critic Breakdown: While they're generally less prone to giving this sort of reaction than several other online Caustic Critics, they have had more than one such outburst over the years.
    • Had a screaming fit over Pixel Rising on finding that it is yet one more UnitZ asset flip; they had reviewed seven versions of the same game with different names uploaded by different 'developers' by this time, so a degree of outrage was called for.
    • Was sent into a state of existential despair by Digital Homicide's E.L.T.: The Extra-Large Testicle.
    • During their "Squirty Play" (Let's Play-style playthrough) of Zen Fish Simulator[1], they mused first whether they were 'on some secret drug [..] like some government shady psychotropic test', then whether they were trapped in a Jacob's Ladder-style dying hallucination and really 'on a stretcher in Vietnam or something'.
    • Alternated between devolving into child-like gibberish ("it's bad time game, game bad!") and scenery-chewing ranting in their review of Contra: Rogue Corps, which they describe as being the antithesis of a Contra title.[2] Admittedly, this was a Konami title made after the departure of Hideo Kojima, which automatically makes it a something of Berserk Button for Sterling.
    • Skatebird sent them back over the Despair Event Horizon (the video is subtitled "Everything I Love Turns To Ash") because Steph had been looking forward to it after first seeing it, thinking it'd be a nice little bit of fun, only for it to be clunky, awkward and incredibly dull. You can almost hear the tears choking Steph's voice. They promised to never get excited about any upcoming game ever again, only to fall even further into despair on realising that there was no way they were going to be able to keep that promise, and messed up while attempting to open a bottle of wine they were planning on draining for a joke by mangling the cork trying to get it out.
  • Crocodile Tears: At the end of Goodbye Greenlight, they invite the viewer to cry with them over the death of Steam Greenlight. Said crying is obviously insincere and devolves into insane cackling after a few seconds.
    Thank God for me.
    Oh, hold on, I'm gonna cum as well! UURGH
  • Cuckoo Snarker: They are a very snarky eccentric.
  • Curse Cut Short: while they normally have no issues whatsoever swearing without filters, they cut off a certain c-nuke with the intro to Skeleton Warriors. They extended the joke to their blog in the new comments system where anyone who posts the "c" word gets replaced with [♪SKELETON WARRIORS♫]
  • Damned by Faint Praise:
    • Steph's second look at Digital Homicide's Deadly Profits has them pointing out the one or two extremely minor details that were changed for the better (such a boss fight having its exploitation fixed) and that the game itself was worth buying due to the $1 sale the developers were promoting.
    • "It's... fine." Steph's go-to phrase for "Jimpressions" when reviewing games that they consider average fare.
    • In 2021 they were so burned out by the horribleness of the industry and the general mediocrity of the year that, instead of having a "Best Games" award video, they instead posted "The Video Games I Didn't Completely Hate This Year Awards 2021".
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Combined with You Keep Using That Word, Steph's counter to the "Video Games Are A Luxury" justification for bad business practices is that luxuries are, by definition, inessential goods that people will forgo if they can't afford them. Thus, by thinking that the price of its products have no upper bound, the video game industry is setting a course to drive itself off a cliff by alienating huge portions of their customers.
    • In "Unity Has An Image Problem" Steph says this about the Unity Engine's policy of forcing developers using the basic editions of Unity to display the engine's logo at their games' startup, while giving those who pay for more premium versions the option of not doing so. This results in Unity becoming associated with low-quality and low-budget amateur Shovelware, and not the numerous high quality and professionally-made games which have in fact used Unity.
    • In "Of Course There's a Game With a Mass School Shooting In It on Steam," Steph argues against the game being published not for its content, but because they worry about what will happen when "powerful people get offended", citing the reactions to the first Mortal Kombat game, which led to the creation of the ESRB. Steph says whatever value one might get out of "pwning libs" or "triggering snowflakes" won't be worth it if it means it leads to actual censorship.
    • An example that applies to Steph themself: During a bit as Cucumber Succulence in "I Won't Be Sponsored By Your Trash Product", Steph pours several pumps of hand sanitizer into their mouth to "disinfect their lungs". Later in the video we cut to a shot of Steph hunched over the sink, weakly trying to justify doing so and attempting to scrub the taste from their mouth while another person asks in bewilderment "Why would you do that??"
    Steph: Because it was funny! I had to disinfect my lungs...
    • In "Patenting Game Mechanics: a Worse Idea Than Stadia", Steph uses Warner Bros' attempt to patent the nemesis system from Shadow of War as a springboard to argue that patenting game mechanics is a bad idea on multiple levels. First, every company that wants to patent a game mechanic seems to think they’ll make money by keeping a monopoly on having that mechanic in their games, and charge other companies royalties to license it for their game, but that for some reason other companies aren’t going to do the same to them. New video games rely on the tacit understanding that nobody "owns" the game mechanics they create, and as such developers liberally copy and incorporate them into their own work. This provides a reliable framework on which to attach new ideas and saves a developer the cost of having to reinvent the wheel every time. Games are an artform, and part of art is inspiration and using one technique in your own work. However, if everyone started patenting game mechanics left, right and center, every dev would be in a Mexican Standoff, where no one studio can afford to license mechanics that are owned by so many different parties, and good ideas which could have improved the game or experience by the player could be hoarded by entities which exist solely to deny others from using them if they find it profitable. And second, developers may just workaround the patent anyway; A positive example would be Bandai Namco, who held the patent to loading minigames until 2015, which forced other companies to improve hardware and loading speeds on PC's and Consoles with developer trickery and better optimisation, and nobody took a license from Sega to add in minigames because the alternative was much more worthwhile to the gaming space.
  • Different in Every Episode: Starting from A Bitter Post-Mortem Of Modern Warfare Remastercarded, the intro has a unique message written on the wall every episode, usually commenting on the episode's topic.
  • Disapproving Look: According to Visceral's John Calhoun, people expect mobile games to have Freemium content in it, so a console horror game must include it as well. Steph tips down their glasses and sighs.
    • In general, this is their reaction when words fail them.
  • Dissimile: In the "digital games" episode:
    You know, some weeks I finish a video, and I think "That was righteous! That was glorious! That was the truth! You sir, Steph Sterling, are Hitler!"— (pregnant pause) But a good one, obviously. I'm a good Hitler. The good Hitler of videogames.
  • Divide and Conquer: In "Newtendo", Steph puts videos from several other games studios because they (including Nintendo) abuse YouTube's copyright system and try to claim ad revenue on any video containing their content. By putting several different games on one video, they find the copyright holders get stalemated as trying to put ads on the video draws the attention of the others and leads to conflicting copyright claims.
  • Don't Try This at Home: During Steph's playthrough of Radiator 2, they warn viewers to not try what they were about to do to a male character in game and proceeds to spank said man's ass over and over again until the guy passes out.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The motivation for Steph moving away from their original "dictator" persona, since they felt that with the state of world politics it was no longer funny or amusing.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Acknowledged by Steph in "How Publishers Exploit Your Confusion and Your FOMO". Steph admits that while they don't think highly of Dilbert creator Scott Adams on the whole, due to the latter's advocacy of right-wing conspiracy theories, Steph does think Adams has had some good ideas over the years such as his concept of the Confusopoly which Steph applies to the AAA video game industry in the video.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The beginnings of the Duke Amiel du H'ardcore persona actually took place during the "Mario, Take the Wheel" episode - when they mocked a person bashing the inclusion of White Tanooki Suit in Super Mario 3D World. Royston, Amiel's right hand, gets a name just one episode before his master does.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The earliest episodes (available on Destructoid's Youtube channel) did have their fair share of differences from the usual format:
      • The opening sequence changed more often, lacked the "Truth, Pride, Garme Jurnalizm" motto and usually lasted longer.
      • The episodes mostly showed Steph talking, with video game footage being played in a corner of the screen, as opposed to current episodes, which show either Steph or video game footage in full screen, but never both at the same time. They also weren't structured with an introduction or a conclusion, Steph would just get to the main point the moment the episode started, and the episode would end as soon as they were done.
      • Steph didn't have a podium and a backdrop, and simply stood in front of a white wall with a microphone in their hand. The miniature fantasy Willem Dafoe didn't exist neither.
      • Steph didn't have their Small Name, Big Ego persona yet, and was more of a (moderately) angry ranter. Instead of self-congratulatory quips, episodes ended with Steph dropping their microphone in annoyance and walking away.
    • Steph's "Best of Steam Greenlight Trailers" was mostly just them giving their reactions and impressions of bad or potentially bad games on Greenlight while having a good snark. They later adopted a critique style where they give their criticism of the trailer and read the game's description on its homepage. Ironically, this effort to be more constructively critical coincided with a decided increase in harsh, snarky reviews, though this was in part due to the growing number of poor games coming to their attention, mostly via fans who loved watching Steph tear them to shreds.
    • Steph's first yearly "sh*ttiest games" list had three games on which they didn't elaborate, insulting them or reacting to them instead, then promptly moving on to the next item. This would persist as a gag throughout the years, but dialed back to only game per video.
  • Enemy Mine: Steph has backed some Kickstarter projects purely out of spite. They backed Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night as a Spiritual Successor to Castlevania, which Konami had screwed over, and Yooka-Laylee as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, which Microsoft Studios had screwed over.
  • Enforced Plug: Parodied. Steph themself tries to market Mountain Dew, taking a sip... which makes them go blind.
    "It tastes like sugar and hedgehog piss!"
  • Epic Fail:
    • In the episode "How Do You Fuck Up Tetris?", they are so flabbergasted at how Ubisoft and EA managed to fuck up making a simple game like Tetris. In Ubisoft's case, the game is riddled with bugs, frame rate drops, and forcing users to use Ubisoft's intrusive uPlay application. For EA, they filled the game with microtransactions, DLC, and a subscription service.
    • In Steph's Halloween specials, Stephsaw's plans always culminate in the trap failing.
    • Steph admitted on Facebook and Twitter that playing against bots in a game of Paladins and not realizing it was one of the stupidest things they have ever done.
      Steph: I've done some stupid things in my job, but playing against bots and not realizing it and thinking I'm great? I out-DSP'd DSP on that one.
  • Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: In this episode, Steph is dressed up in a gimp mask for the intro and only able to speak through a built-in kazoo, supposedly as 'punishment' for 'bollocksing up [their] biggest show of the year'. The skit is accompanied by captions translating their unintelligible kazoo speak, but at one point:
    Seriously I forgot what I said.
    I feel sexy(?)
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • They may be a monstrous ball of rage with a god complex, but woe betide those who spout sexist or otherwise discriminatory bullshit. And any game that treats rape and misogyny lightly will get heaps of scorn (why they listed Duke Nukem Forever as the worst game of its year). After "Mass Effect 3: A Gay Erotic Love Story," they did a 'normal' video tackling the subject for everyone who found the previous one too subtle, during which they goes increasingly berserk as they address each point brought up in the arguments people make against Mass Effect 3's Gay Option.
    • They're against the antics of corporate executives, but they respected Satoru Iwata decision to cut his own salary in half instead of firing his employees, in order to keep company morale up. Similarly, they take pains to point out that Square Enix of Japan is a different wheelhouse when it comes to corporate dealings and behavior, even distancing them from criticism they've made of their US and European branches, treating them as a whole different entity that don't really act the same way their western counterparts do.
  • Every Episode Ending: Steph telling the public to thank God for them.
  • Evil Laugh:
  • Exact Words: Steph says that they had several good opportunities to take a shot at David Cage in their "Irrational Decisions (or Freedom in Chains)" video, but wasn't going for the easy shot because they're mature. In the video, they don't mention Cage once; instead they wait until the closer and hammers him there.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Despite Sterling's fondness for both the film Aliens and their constant pointing-out of "borrowed" assets, they completely fail to recognize a Conestoga-class starship in Desertland 2115, despite spending at least a minute running up to it and past it.
  • Fiery Redhead: Already having the attitude for this trope, Steph started regularly wearing an auburn wig after coming out as nonbinary while their hair was growing out, which was teased in a Jimquisition video shortly before that.
  • Flowery Insults:
    • Steph, showing that this trope and Cluster F-Bomb are not mutually exclusive, composes this gem for "AAA" game developers who try to make loot boxes sound like something good for customers. In the style of the Star Wars Opening Crawl, no less:
      FUCK YOU
      Fuck you, you predatory, exploitative, callous, audacious fucking scavengers.
      You duplicitous shovelers of digital filth, you can fuck right the fuck off with the insincere slime that dribbles from your decaying mouths whenever you try to validate the harmful business practices and your decision to steadily erode the value of your games while asking for ever more money.
    • In "Is Loot Box Regulation Censorship Of Art?":
      It's no secret by now that yours truly utterly hates loot boxes for these reasons and more: They're an exploitative polyp dangling from the milky anus of the "AAA" game industry, and if they were to be scrubbed from the game industry overnight I wouldn't shed a single goddamned tear.
  • Foil: In "The Artistic Arrogance Of A Horrible Hollywood Hedgehog", Steph makes two sets of contrasting comparisons.
    • The X-Men Film Series and the Marvel Cinematic Universe: The former was a textbook case of an early comic-book movie that was ashamed of its source material's goofiness, resorting to Movie Superheroes Wear Black and even adding a line about the traditional yellow spandex that read like an Author Tract against the same. Meanwhile, the latter's gleeful embrace of the visuals and concepts of the source material no matter how goofy, with the odd tweak to better fit the movie's purpose, has legitimized such goofiness through Marvel's dominance of the international box office — up to and including the arrival of a live-action Mysterio in a comics-accurate costume and his signature fishbowl helmet, which Steph sees as proof that anything is possible.
    • Pokémon Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog (2020): The former film received widespread acclaim for invokedits beautiful CGI recreations of Pokemon, keeping the proportions of the games with furry and scaly textures as a compromise; some might look a little creepy, but for good or for ill they were true to the original designs because the film's creators trusted Pokémon's developers had nailed the designs long ago. By contrast, the latter film was widely decried for its CGI version of Sonic, which Steph decried as atrocious, high-end Accidental Nightmare Fuel that made them want to be sick, and which the film-makers had pursued against the advice of Sega itself, even though SEGA were the ones who had kept the Sonic licence alive for almost thirty years, although this critique of the movie came long before its overhauls.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: They were nonchalantly threatened by Digital Homicide to be sued for slandernote  and tried to force them into signing an agreement with their lawyer saying that they would stop dragging their name through the mud. Steph casually mentioned that they would need to talk to their own lawyer before signing anything, which made Digital Homicide extremely upset. They eventually actually followed through with the their threat, but the case was dismissed with prejudice. note 
    • In "PUBG Makers Start Suing Over Copyrights And Frying Pans", the news is that Blue Hole Entertainment is suing Chinese mobile game developer NetEase for making Rules Of Survival and Knives Out, which copy the formula and look of Blue Hole's PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and PUBG Mobile. PUBG was not the first Battle Royale format videogame, Steph notes, but it was the Trope Codifier that put that genre on the map, and immediately other devs started to Follow the Leader. Epic Games' Fortnite has since overtaken PUBG in the Battle Royale genre's top spot, and while PUBG is still popular and profitable, it's understandable that Blue Hole would feel a little peeved. What's really not cool, Steph says, is that after eroding the community's goodwill by making threatening noises towards Epic Games, they went and filed a lawsuit against NetEase in the Northern District of California, which makes nitpicky and ridiculous arguments about how all sorts of game mechanics and features can be found in other games, which are somehow copyright-able in the battle royale genre. Things like the shrinking playing arena*, having a frying pan as a weapon*, the phrase "winner, winner, chicken dinner" is apparently "iconic" to PUBG*; “The total look and feel of Battlegrounds", they claim, "constitutes copyrightable subject matter.” This just reinforces what Steph said in their previous video about PUBG, "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Is A Successful Failure", in which they show that despite succeeding in creating a fun and popular game, the PUBG team made the mistake of releasing a very nondescript and generic-looking game with hardly any costumes, weapons, character designs, set pieces, or other assets that are really memorable, original, or subject to copyright—things which Fortnite, for example, has in abundance. Since the features that made PUBG successful are ones that are broadly understood in the game industry to be fair game for imitation, they think that PUBG hasn't got much of a leg to stand on.
  • The Ghost: For all the... "trouble" that James Romine has caused, Steph has never so much as spoken to him, let alone met the man; The "interview" was with Robert, James' brother, and James himself only communicated with Steph through legal documents and other written correspondence.
  • A God Am I:
  • Godwin's Law: Steph considers themself "The good Hitler of videogames," being one of the few cases of a Hitler comparison not being used to condemn the person compared.
  • Greed: Along with Complexity Addiction, their central thesis about the modern triple-A gaming industry. They argue that a lot of the problems facing the industry stem from the publishers and corporations behind the games having let their greed spiral completely out of control, causing them to lunge wildly into ill-advised, ridiculous, desperate and damaging behaviour, as Steph frequently puts it "they're not satisfied with making a lot of money when they could make all of the money."
  • Gushing About Shows You Like: In-universe. Steph loves the Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare games, and sighs resignedly when both games instituted microtransactions a month after release, when normally they'd rage about it with other games.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: On Konami after the company announced it wanted to win back the trust it lost with its fans. Steph rejects the notion, saying that Konami is only crawling back to the gaming public because its grand gambit of refocusing on glitzy pachinko machines and mobile titles has been an unmitigated disaster, and that talk is cheap and they'll need to take action. They also claim they'll never forgive them for the personal and professional mistreatment they've experienced at their hands.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: In "Genitalia" when talking about the fully-rendered vagina that had slipped into Watch_Dogs 2 on one of the female NPCs, Steph used every single slang term for female genitalia they could possibly come up with, such as snatch, clamshell, muff, twadge, sugar-notch, flap-dragon, quim and bookbinder's wife. Apparently they googled them. In the same video they also used a variety of terms for penises, although not to the same extent.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Quite often.
    • When clarifying their views on Chick-fil-a, they said they believed that no religious statements should be made outside of a church or religious discussion, right before saying their Catchphrase.
    • Whenever they correct a previous error, it's presented as "Only a complete idiot would have done this very specific thing by accident, and I never make mistakes! I did it on purpose, obviously!"
    • After chewing out publishers for exploiting business models they used to like, they'll pretend to use the same business model themself (often to illustrate their point).
      • Their video about "early access" is unfinished
      • In their video about Evolve and its saturated pre-order bonuses Steph advertises that next week's video has pre-order bonuses.
      • Their video where they oppose whole games being arbitrarily split up into episodes abruptly switches over to a Rednex music video ("Old Pop In An Oak") three times and ends with a sudden cut to black followed by a fake On the Next teaser.
    • In "A Tale of Casinos and SEO Juice", Steph's criticism of critics who take payments from representatives of online casinos to mention and link to them in reviews in order to increase the casino's search engine optimisation is interrupted every so often by gushing plugs for Juicy Slots, a parody of online casinos. They admit that they were tempted to go even further and sign up with one such service in order to expose and slam them while at the same time getting paid by them, but decided against it on the grounds that (a) after researching it they were so disgusted by the practice it was beneath their dignity and conscience to do so even for the purposes of irony, and (b) they were only offering them $100 anyway.
    • This is part of the humor of their Duke Amiel H'ardcore character; he complains about there not being enough Testosterone Poisoning in games while wearing a giant wig and garish makeup and crying for "Mumsy" and "Sir Teddington" when upset.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: At the start of their video on Gearbox Software developer Randy Pitchford, who still defends the awful Aliens: Colonial Marines. Steph wants him to just give up and admit the game sucked, and then points out the irony that they are still hung up on how terrible the game is.
  • I Meant to Do That: Steph took some cell phone video at SGC 2015, but held the phone upright instead of sideways, so the video was tall and narrow instead of in widescreen. Steph says they don't make mistakes, and they were doing it deliberately.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
    • In a conversation with the founder of Digital Homicide, Steph was accused of rallying their audience to attack his games. The 'evidence' of this: a video clip where Steph talks about growing a genetically engineered army with mad science.
    • DigiHom also attempted to paint Sterling as someone who exploits their fans by quoting a completely unrelated joke from a video about a terrible game when they were mocking "game jurnalizm" and its tendency to say things that get a buzz out of fans, without even accounting for the obvious sarcasm in their tone.
    • They liken Nintendo's given explanations on why they can't have Zelda as a playable character to them claiming that they wear a red tie because a blue tie would make their opinions less valid.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Steph has taken to referring to some companies (such as EA DICE and Activision-Blizzard) by their full name. This is probably to remind people that certain companies who are regarded as Sacred Cows by certain portions of the gaming community, or as above, the typical industry shenanigans, are in fact Not So Above It All by virtue of both their own practices and their connections to other companies with lesser reputations.
    • In this episode Steph explains why they dislike the word "Consumer", and why they always replace it with the word "Customer" instead (even "Consumer Advocate" is a phrase they don't like using, but they do use it sparingly). Steph points out that "Consumer" means an audience that consumes a product, without feeling or emotion. Customer, however, is a word that feels more personal, and one that treats the person buying the product as a human being, rather than a mindless sheep as above. They admit that while to the majority, both words have the same word inflictions, they feel that using "Customer" instead of "Consumer" is much less degrading term as a whole.
  • Insult Backfire: In "Objectification And... Men?", Steph takes up accusations that they're too smug and smarmy by making a wordless noise, combined with a series of facial expressions, that can only be described as smugness personified. The Stinger revealed that the noise is them stretching out the word "me" as long as possible.
    • When the Slaughtering Grounds' developer used the phrase "I'm Steph fucking Sterling, son" as an insult against them, Steph declared it one of the best things they'd heard in a long time and adopted it as a regular Catchphrase.
    • Similarly, in "So Let's Talk about Mods Being Sold On Steam", Digital Homicide saw fit to take yet another shot at Steph with a "Zombie Troll" card, featuring a fat zombie performing the Russian Roulette pose that Steph did in their Youtube profile picture at the time. They found the card quite amusing, and declared that whatever profit that Digital Homicide made on the card would be thanks to Steph Fucking Sterling, Son.
  • Internal Homage: Steph's new circus intro is a nonstop Continuity Nod to the show's running gags, including the Skeleton Warriors riding a roller coaster, the Pogchinko machines with Pog-Fucker's mask on them, a poster of the Steam Cleaner, Pyramid Head from "Fuck Konami News", Rahaan the Barbarian running a dart game played by Skeletor (with apple-shaped TVs and ninja blocks as prizes), Stephsaw and the Scarecrow in the House of Horrors, the Cornflakes Homunculus as a sideshow, the Chip Memorial Port-A-Potty, and a trash can featuring games they love to hate.
  • I Warned You: Steph has made several warnings and admonitions over the years that, though they may have been mocked or criticized when they first made them, eventually turned out to come true.
    • In 2014, they were attacked for saying Valve's policies were too loose, allowing too much shovelware into the online store. In 2016, they noted that 40% of Steam's entire library was released within that year, and that those critics are silent now.
    • Given EA's history of shutting down studios after their games under-perform (typically because EA's Executive Meddling adversely affected their quality), Steph predicted that Visceral Games was next on the chopping block, given what happened to Dead Space 3 and Battlefield Hardline. Sure enough, in 2017, their prediction came to pass and EA shut down Visceral.
    • Steph predicted and warned many times that if the AAA gaming industry kept pushing with their microtransactions and loot boxes, governments from around the world are going to take action and regulate gaming due to the implications of gambling. It got to the point where several countries and a U.S. Senator wanted to pass a bill that would ban microtransactions and loot boxes, which caused Steph to say "I told you so" towards everyone who claimed they were making a big deal over nothing.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Noticed just how cynical they had become while watching the latest Star Wars: Battlefront trailer, and kept thinking how much EA was going to screw it up. They used to be much more positive over the game industry, but the years of crap that the industry pushed out has worn them down to this. (Ironically, they wear red - that is to say, rose - colored glasses on the show.) By the end of 2021, Steph Steph has become so cynical towards the video game industry (largely because of the ever-increasing reports of horrific abuse inflicted on developers) that they ended the year with "The Video Games I Didn't Completely Hate This Year Awards 2021" instead of their usual "Best Games" list, because they simply had no real passion left to actually admit to really liking anything.
  • Large Ham: As a persona.
    • They went Visual Pun by depicting Reggie Fils-Aime with an actual large ham in "Nintendo of America."
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: They've heard this line before, and their response is that they're not a game developer, so they're not going make a crappy game of their own and try to sell it.
  • Laughing Mad:
    • After it was taken off of Steam, Steph decided to do a live-stream of Five Nights at Freddy's World (since they still had the game loaded on their computer). After a full hour of playing (and dying many, many times), they finally snap and start laughing uncontrollably... which turns into screams as the live-stream ends.
    • The unveiling of Konami's Silent Hill Pachinko machine also provoked a bout of this.
  • Loony Fan: In "Guns Blazing", Steph notes that, whilst their fan base is generally friendly and even buys them gifts of their online wishlists, they inevitably attract the occasional creep. Cue Steph revealing that a fan had bought them numerous sex toys and pornography that Steph never even asked for. All of these gifts have been featured on Jimquisition episodes.
  • Leitmotif: Did someone include a predatory microtransaction system into their $60 game? Cue the MIDI of ABBA's "Money Money Money"!
  • Loophole Abuse: They invented the "Copyright Deadlock" technique to avoid copyright claims on their videos. How it works is that you put in a bunch of gratuitous footage from all kinds of different companies, videogame related or not. And because of the amount of Content ID claims, no single company can actually make money via ads on the "offending video", since that would mean they all own it, and yet only one of them can legally make money off of said video. Meaning, rather hilariously, their work remained ad-free due to no one company getting ad-revenue from Content ID. It's taken to another level with Nintendo where Steph is so fed up with Nintendo's shenanigans on YouTube and in the gaming industry that they insert video content from Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Japan so that both companies, despite being basically the same company, claim the video and are unable to make money from it.
  • Madness Mantra: When Steph did a Squirty Play of Air Control, they already started to see the mess of problems the game had. After playing the "complete" version of the game, they see a mess of organs strewn all over the place and see how huge the brains are and could not have possibly fit in the heads of the character models sitting nearby. The whole sight sent them into a short raving fit as they kept looking between a person's head and the loose brains.
    Steph: Why are the brains that big!? That's a head! That's a brain! Head! Brain! Head! Brain! Five dollars! Five dollars everyone! Attention all surgeons on deck! This game costs five dollars! Brain! Head! What the fuck!?note 
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase:
    • "Hello, you (incredibly silly yet sleazy insult to the audience), Steph Sterling here, and this is (name of the game in question)", whenever a Squirty Play is released.
    • "This is a Steam Greenlight trailer for (name of prospective game in question)", whenever they look at a Steam Greenlight trailer.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Whenever they bring up NFTs, they will either say the abbreviation in a mocking fashion or call them Nasty Fucking Things.
  • Manchild: As an exaggerated stereotype of gaming elitists, Duke Amiel du H'ardcore gets into emotional fits and temper tantrums over gaming, and calls upon "Mumsy" and "Sir Teddington" for comfort.
  • Manipulative Editing:
    • In "Nintendo's Virtual Console Is Trash Garbage", Steph cuts an episode of Best of the Worst so that it seems like Rich Evans is saying "Thank God for Steph".
  • Mic Drop: Done twice so far (since it stopped being a regular thing, that is) :
    • Played straight in "Free-to-wait".
    • Another episode parodied it, with Steph forgetting to unplug the mic or even turn it off, so the mic just swung back and forth making noise each time it hit the podium.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Steph has noticed this trait among Steam developers. When Steph does a video Squirty Play or Best of Steam Greenlight Trailers video, some will use a copyright strike against them over their video of their content. However, when Steph files a counter-claim, no developer actually follows through, as the next step is an actual trial, and they would probably be laughed out of court.
  • Mockumentary: "Thank God For Me: The Jimquisition Story."
  • Motor Mouth: Some of more long-winded rants might make you stop for breath in sympathy, because they don't appear to.
    • The end of the video "Batman is Everything Wrong With Square-Enix" has them rattle off a list of increasingly desperate pleas for Square-Enix to stop making everything it does so damn weird and complicated.
  • Never My Fault: Steph's old response to small factual mistakes in videos was to say they did them on purpose. Their new response is either to blame Chip or to claim that it was a result of them breathing through their skin.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe. During "The Survival of Horror" special, Scarescrow unleashes some of his fear toxin on Steph and we see what Steph is most fearful of: Making out with a copy of Aliens: Colonial Marines.
    • On the Podquisition, Steph's story about the "Black Widow Motel" (from the episode of the same) is nothing short of terrifying.note 
  • Noodle Incident: Most episodes of The Video Game Show What I've Done include off-hand references to absurd or horryfing details from Rory's life, from Rory being suspended from school for some incident involving glass and having at some point found his uncle's corpse to his father being in jail for a hate crime.
  • Oh, Crap!: When they thought they didn't have to discuss something controversial, and then was told the week's subject was art games.
  • Once an Episode:
    • Steph's squirty plays always begin with "Hello you [adjective] [noun]!"
    • Nearly every episode of the Podquisition has included them railing against Ubisoft for one reason or another. This wasn't planned, Ubisoft just seems to screw up that much.
    • Every Greenlight trailer starts with "This is a Steam Greenlight trailer for [game's name here]!"
    • Every Nitpick Theater ends with "That mildly annoys me sometimes."
  • The One Thing I Don't Hate About You: Steph spared the infamous "Air Control" from being any further than 7th place on their list of the shittiest games of 2014, despite it clearly being the most broken and half-assed game on the entire list, because they admitted it was at least funny in its particular brand of shittiness.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • "The Addictive Cost Of Predatory VideoGame Monetization contains a lot more malice and anger than a regular Jimquisition video and is noticeably devoid of the normal humour seen in Sterling's other videos. Most notably, it's one of the few times Steph says 'Triple AAA' without speaking in a condescending & sneering tone.
    • "A Truly Fucked Up Industry keeps the same humorless, coldly furious tone throughout the video while discussing the abuse of employees promulgated and covered up by Ubisoft.
    • "Shut Up, Stop Thinking, And Play Games Guilt-Free!" may have written like a gag, but Steph is obviously genuinely furious as they point to all the hypocrisy and evil in the video game industry in response to a person telling them to not be a downer. At the end of the video they can't stop themself from rambling on about how furious they are and sound on the verge of crying.
  • Orphaned Series: Steph did two episodes of a new show in collaboration with Cultaholic, "WreSterling," focused on wrestling instead of video games, but abandoned it shortly thereafter due to Creative Differences. Issues included Steph's decision to stop watching any and all WWE programming out of disgust at WWE continuing to put on shows in Saudi Arabia even after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the order of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: An episode in January 2023 covered the controversy over Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro trying to change the Open Gaming License of Dungeons & Dragons, which is a tabletop RPG instead of a video game. Steph noted that while tabletop gaming was outside of their usual wheelhouse, covering corporate greed and anti-consumer practices very much is in their wheelhouse, and noted many similarities between that OGL controversy and the topics they usually cover.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • At the end of the Amiibo episode, Steph repeats the infamous Splatoon "You're a kid now, you're a squid now" line on a loop for well over two minutes.
    • In "A Quiet Conversation", they go on a tangent to say how much they like to watch genitals "Pounding it... Pounding it... Pounding it... Pounding it...". Shows up again in "Fallout 4's S.P.E.C.I.A.L Relationships".
  • Overused Running Gag: In "Fallout 76 Players Were Getting Remotely Robbed By Hackers This Week", they explain that they had intended to use the "Bethesda Is Bethetic" rave Running Gag only every few months or so, but Fallout 76 has made the news for its bugginess so frequently that they had already used it four times in just a few weeks. So as a compromise between those who wanted to see it because it was expected, and those who didn't want to see it because it was getting old, they played it at double-speed.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: In Babysitting the Survivor, Steph starts referring to games that were "launched" on Early Access as "blaunched".
  • Phrase Catcher: "SHUT UP, CHIP!"
  • Poe's Law: Apparently, some people didn't get that Steph Sterling's persona on the show is intentionally abrasive and narcissistic. So they decided to point it out as blatantly as possible without breaking character.
    Instead it should be more ironic... I don't know, just pulling this at random, some fat blogger with a whiny English accent, dressed up in a trenchcoat with glasses like he's some sort of rock star, with a background that makes it look like he's in a bad production of V for Vendetta. You know, something so blindingly, obviously ironic that only a fucking idiot would take it as a genuine persona.
    • When Steph searched for a strong female video game protagonist, one that wasn't a player avatar, was of an alignment lower than "mostly unambiguously good", that was unattractive, that had goals other than stereotypically girly things, and didn't depend on men; they come up with Vertigo from Primal Rage. They add that they are not joking, they seriously went looking for a playable female video game character who fit all of the above criteria, and a giant, blue, snake-headed, poison-spitting dinosaur was the best they could find.
    • This was the big reason they gave for abandoning the Norsefire bit in the Retool. In the mid-2010s real would-be fascists embraced hiding behind "ironic" fascism as a standard tactic, so it really wasn't obvious that it was a joke anymore.
  • Promoted to Scapegoat: After getting the wrong price on a game in a previous episode, Steph announces that their assistant Chip is the new head of research, and while they take full responsibility for the previous error, it really falls on the research department and the idiot rookie running it.
  • Properly Paranoid: During their interview with Kinda Funny Games' Colin Moriarty, Colin was impressed with Steph's ability to predict the worst abuses of the games industry before anyone else. Steph says that they're a natural worrier, and that when they see something (like day one DLC, season passes, etc...), their brain jumps to the worst possible conclusion. Eventually, someone takes the idea and proves Steph right.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • Their closing words for the "Online Passes Are Bad For Everyone" episode: "How. fffffffffFUCKING. Dare. You."
    • In Mass Effect 3 And The Case For A Gay Shepard, they were alarmed at how often people thought, "If Bioware should start catering to everyone by catering to homosexuals, they need to represent pedophiles as well". To which Steph replied, "Pedophiles...FUCK...KIDS!". Twice.
    • Exaggerated in their "Winner and Losers: E3" video for 2018 when they were ranting about Ridley being announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate but not Waluigi:
      (while pounding on their podium) "But! Ridley! Is! Not! Wa! Lu! I! Gi! The! Most! Beau! Ti! Ful! Boy! In! Nin! Ten Do! His! To! Ry!!!"
  • Putting on the Reich: In "Review Scores Are Not Evil" Steph contemplates their new black leather gloves, and they comment that they make them look like a fascist dictator, and that they don't enjoy this fact (although the tone of their voice and their Evil Laugh indicate otherwise). This would later be cited as one of the reasons for the retool; when actual Nazis started getting popular (and as they put it "beyond parody") the joke had outlived its shelf life.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Steph arguably owned up to hitting theirs in "The Addictive Cost Of Predatory VideoGame Monetization" in response to a critic on Reddit accusing them of "not [being] pro-consumer [but] anti-triple A".
    I say this not with affected "internet outrage", but with a genuine. Understated. Ice. Cold. Fury. I genuinely hate most video game publishers, their executives, and every seedy, slimy, corrupt thing they've done, to both the industry at large and, more importantly, their many victims. You damn right I'm "anti-triple A".
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": When they were told that week's subject was the controversy of "The Definition of Art Games".
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: When Steph joked that EA was responsible for all human deaths past, present and future, they follow it up with a statement prepared by their lawyer saying that it was a joke and that EA is not responsible for human mortality. They continue to read the letter through the part where their lawyer asks if they wants to get sued again.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "When Steph Sterling Was Sued For $10 Million By Digital Homicide" is a big one against the Romine Brothers of Digital Homicide infamy, where Steph spends over half an hour detailing the epoch of the Frivolous Lawsuit leveled against Steph for criticizing their games and lack of ethics as developers. Having been legally unable to discuss the matter until the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice (read: case closed, never to be reopened), Steph took great pleasure in tearing the Romines a new one.
  • Rebuilt Pedestal: Overkill, the developers of PAYDAY 2, when they purchased full ownership of the game and the first thing that they did was remove the microtransactions. Steph was very pleased when they heard the news.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In the video, Copyright Deadlock, Steph explains a way to counter a Content ID claim, which is to make it so that your video has multiple Content ID claims. This creates a conglomeration of claims and if one says no monetization, no ads play, thus, no one earns anything. Steph proceeds to mock the claimants and YouTube for the train wreck of the Content ID system literally making additional violations easier and more attractive than honest attempts at compliance.
    • To further highlight how broken the system is, they would discover that they could get Nintendo to make conflicting claims against itself by using footage from both the American and Japanese branches.
  • Retool:
    • In 2017 they dropped the Norsefire inspired pseudo-fascist bit in favor of a carnival showman persona. They explain the reasons for it here.
    • Later the same year, they announced that they would forego doing reviews in favor of making criticisms and analysis of video games a part of their other videos, citing reasons such as gaming journalism reviews being too ingrained in a Four-Point Scale and focusing on content that people enjoy more.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The main gimmick behind Steph's Tasty series is seeing what strange games they can find on the titular website by putting in a search term related to a recent news story or video game release. Past search terms have included Hello, Superhero, Star Wars, Trump, Warfare and Pig.
  • Running Gag:
    • Steph's obsession with Willem Dafoe, as represented by Miniature Fantasy Willem Dafoe.
    • Any one of their many catchphrases.
    • The appearance of a shrimp picture in every episode.
    • "Because Konami is Konami," to explain whenever Konami screws something up. Sometimes extended to "Because Konami is Konami and Konami is the worst."
    • When playing a video game that allows Steph to enter a name for the character, their hands-down favorite is "Chungus". Steph will invariably present this as though they've just thought up the name for the first time.
    • Whenever Steph makes a video about Amiibo (2 so far), they regularly intersperse clips of them holding two amiibo (which they rapidly switch out) and moving them like they're performing sex acts on each other.
    • They frequently speak the phrase "Triple A" in a condescending, faux-whiny way, more so when one commenter complained that he found said gag "annoying."
    • Due to the ubiquity of first-person horror games on Steam, whenever they play one they'll say that they'll play from such a genre "to try something a little bit different."
    • "Pounding it".
    • After the CS:GO Gambling Scandal, Steph began frequently mentioning a website called "Pogs for Boglins" that they definitely do not own.
    • As mentioned above, any time Nintendo is mentioned or their footage is used that video will also feature Steph dancing to Erasure's song Chains of Love, just to screw with YouTube's Content ID system.
    • The angry (and easily mistaken for confused out of context) facial expression of Rahaan that they found absolutely hilarious during their review of Age of Barbarian Extended Cut has repeatedly been used in the thumbnails of their youtube videos and occasionally appears during their reviews as well.
    • The Silent Hill Pachinko trailer, especially the "HIT THE LEVER!" audio has been widely used in their show. Especially during Konami related news, along with the "Erotic Violence" scenes from the Castlevania Pachinko trailer.
    • Cutting off an utterance of the word "cunt" with part of the opening to "Skeleton Warriors".
    • The Kellogg's Cornflake Homunculus, a faux corporate Mascot originally introduced as a Take That! regarding the repeated appearances of the Schick Hydro Man during the 2016 Video Game Awards show.
    • Paul Ryan, owner and editor of the scandal-plagued website Brash Games, happens to have the same name as 2015-2019 U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Whenever Steph speaks the Brash Games owner Paul Ryan's name, they display a picture of Speaker Ryan, and almost immediately add "not that one", upon which googly eyes or some other silly modification is added to the Speaker's picture to show they're not talking about that Paul Ryan. Similarly, during "Gaming Disorder" they eventually shorten the World Health Organization to The WHO and follows it with "not that one". (Along with pictures of the band.)
      • It is then applied to Starr Mazer: DSP in a later video, sharing part of its name with DarkSydePhil, aka DSP. The same silly modification was applied to DSP's face.
    • Any time they talk about Dynasty Warriors 9 they'll mention "what [Tecmo Koei] DID to Zhang He", their favourite character.
    • After joking on The Podquisition about Black Mirror's premise being "What If Phones But Too Much?", Steph has become fond of describing other story premises in a similar manner, e.g. describing Detroit: Become Human's premise as "What If Robots But People?".
    • Each "Top Ten Shittest Games" list will include an entry where either not a word is said by Steph, letting the footage speak for itself how terrible the game in question is, or they sum it up in a single pithy line.
    • When talking about developers they have an issue with, Steph sometimes puts up footage with captions claiming it's from one of that developer's games, when the footage is actually from an unrelated, cheaper looking game.
    • Claiming that Jeff Bezos owes them a million pounds.
  • Sanity Slippage: In the video that has them watching the trailer for "the new Silent Hill game", only to show it's a slot machine, Steph starts crying pathetically, followed by maniacal laughter and ending with them chugging a bottle of pills.
  • Sarcasm Mode: Happens occasionally, but rarely do entire episodes get made out of pure sarcasm. A good example is "The Good Boys of YouTube" which praises TMartin and ProSyndicate, the infamous undercover owners of CS:GO gambling sites, to heavens - at least, until Steph gets to discussing PewDiePie who... yeah.
  • Sarcastic Clapping:
    • Steph's response to the Xbox One being an overly restrictive gadget aimed at privileged consumers with lots of money, who already have other gadgets that do what the Xbox One can do, only better.
    • In the FucKonami News segment at the end of "Stadia, Subscriptions, and the Death of Game Ownership" they sarcastically applauded Konami for making a new Contra game where the guns have cooldowns that regularly force you to stop shooting. In a Contra game!
  • Schmuck Bait: Their "Best of Steam Greenlight Trailers" and "Squirty Play" series have become popular enough that some developers are now creating "Sterling Bait" to deliberately antagonize Steph. The first obvious example of this was Poxel Z, a UnitZ asset flip that had Steph's face plastered over the faces of all the zombies. It gotten to the point where Steph hates it when someone puts out absolute trash in the hopes that they will cover it. In the "Call Me Skyfish - On the Subject of Sterling Bait" episode, they tear the author of a poorly-made game apart not just for purposely making something bad as bait material, but for also clogging up Steam with yet another shitty product when a legitimate good game could have been on the front page.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Steph reveals in the "A Tale Of Casinos And SEO Juice" that one of the online casino websites that contacted them was willing to offer them money as long as Steph uses their blog to connect it to casinos in some way. Steph thought about taking the deal and using the money to complain about shady casino affiliates as irony, but decided to not go for it since they felt that they could get the point across without taking money from the same people they were complaining about and said people only offered Steph a paltry $100.
  • Self-Deprecation: Whenever they want to highlight the absurdity of their persona, they engage in a little self-deprecating humor, though without completely breaking character.
    We all know why ["Gamer Guys" pretend to like videogames], don't we?
    To get the attention of women and gay men and people like me who'll bang anyone thinking that they'll impress me.
    • It's far from the only time. In their episode about Duke Nukem they not-so-subtly implied they try to make their persona come across as much as a complete tool as possible so that no one will think for a second they take themself seriously.
    • They also tend to make fun of their own weight (eg. mentioning that they're "too fat to walk over there and show you" when mentioning that something they're holding is too small to be seen from the camera.)
    • Invoked when Steph compared themself to Boglins in that they're both Ugly Cute and didn't make as much money as they'd intended to.
    • Lampshaded (and then immediately subverted) at the start of "Shadow of Warner Bros":
      Today's Jimquisition touches on some heavy issues, and I'm not just saying that because I'm fucking fat! Haha! Self-deprecating humour. Which is very hard for me to do because I'm so great.
    • Steph describes State of Decay's Bloater and Juggernaut as 'a zombie that looks like me in the morning'.
    • In "Mister Negative" they say that while the Jimquisition channel skews negative in general, it at least tries to be funny and entertaining, "and every so often it almost is".
  • Serial Escalation: One video has Steph explain how, after they uploaded a review of "The Slaughtering Grounds", the angry developer made a review of Steph's review, where he constantly insulted Steph. Steph genuinely thought the result was hilarious, and made a review of the developer's review of their review where they recorded themself laughing over the developer's video, which was their original video with added text. The developer then made, in Steph's words "A review of my review of their review of my review".
  • Serious Business: For Steph, all of video games counts, but rental games and the problems surrounding them seem to be their biggest pet peeve.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: This is used as a basis for an episode, where Steph gives each sin to a AAA company:
    • Greed: Activision-Blizzard who pump pay-to-win microtransactions into their game and partially for what they did to Modern Warfare Remastered, where they initially tied it to a special edition of Infinite Warfare, added pay-to-win monetization, and resold the DLC at a higher price.
    • Sloth: Valve for their refusal with quality control regarding Steam, where they became complacent due to their success and lack of competition. The result of this has been a shovelware problem basically amounting to the Wii's problem times a billion and, even worse, a wide range of homophobic and hateful games being allowed on the storefront of these once-esteemed developers.
    • Lust: D3 Publisher for creating games that all involve females in minimal amounts of clothing, with its most notorious game series Onechanbara featuring girls wearing bikinis fighting zombies with samurai swords.
    • Envy: Bethesda who put out Fallout 76, a broken and embarrassing attempt to cash in on the Live Service trend, despite having no place in this area. Outside of the game, they botched the Collector's Edition (with flimsy nylon bags instead of the advertised canvas bags) and leaked sensitive customer info trying to fix it.
    • Gluttony: Ubisoft due to the sheer amount of special editions they have (at least 6 for each game), putting microtransactions in their games which can sometimes enhance gameplay, food promotions for unique in-game equipment and even a tie-in with the Alexa Echo speaker.
    • Wrath: Konami for basically everything they've done over the past 4-5 years. This includes slamming anyone who criticizes their games, having a PR department that doesn't market their games and their year long battle with Hideo Kojima, who got banned from receiving an awards at the 2015 Game Awards because of Konami's vindictiveness.
    • Pride (and Accomplishment): EA for constantly disregarding customers and the manipulative gambling schemes in their games, instead acting like the company isn't doing any wrong. So far, EA has killed over 15 studios (who have all been forced to make games outside of their specialties, which were always inferior to their typical fare for much the same reasons Fallout 76 was a disaster) and at the time was fighting Belgium to keep gambling in the form of lootboxes in their games.
  • Shaming the Mob: Steph once had to make a video asking their fans to stop attacking developers that make terrible games. They say that while it's fine to call a bad game absolute shit, calling the developers themselves shit or making threats to them is not cool at all.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Their "100% Objective Review" of Final Fantasy XIII, in avoiding all subjective descriptions of the game, resorts mostly to tautologies, such as "You will like Final Fantasy XIII if you like Final Fantasy XIII".
  • Shoot the Messenger: "Delayed Reaction" was all about Steph's incredulity that some gamers have a tendency to do this for any bad news. As an example, Steph brings up a journalist who broke the news that Final Fantasy XV was delayed by two months and subsequently got accusations of a conspiracy, questions to his integrity, and even death threats from more rabid "fans". This is despite the game, in Steph's eyes, having a good reason to be delayed: to put all the features on the disc that Square Enix wanted to avoid a large day-one patch.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: "Virgillio Armarndio's Art Hole," which is also another case of Stylistic Suck
  • Sidekick: Steph has one in the form of Miniature Fantasy Willem Dafoe, who usually yells outrageous things at the top of his voice.
  • Sincerity Mode: In their 100th episode, their satirical "thank God for me" running gag is changed to the completely sincere "I would like to thank God for me".
    • In "Exposure" Steph drops every bit of sarcasm and talks with utmost sincerity, seething with anger and disdain towards the sites and people who use "exposure" as a form of "payment" for aspiring reviewers.
  • Signing-Off Catchphrase: "and thank God, for me!" If they don't say it, it's usually either for a joke or because they're really angry. Or doing an In Memoriam episode for a person they respected.
  • Slash Fic: Steph wrote, and did a dramatic reading of, a story about a gamer turning gay because of Mass Effect 3 to make fun of the controversy (and often latent homophobia) surrounding the game's Gay Option.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: They parody this trope by comically acting as though they're a gift from God, sent to grace the audience with their presence. Though a couple times they have mocked people who think they actually mean it. They use the same gag for their wrestler character Sterdust; the whole bit is that they strut around like a supervillain but devolve into a whimpering mess who doesn't even fight back when actually called on to wrestle.
  • Smug Smiler: Steph was criticized for attacking Microsoft over the DRM in the Xbox One, and accused of ignoring Sony who would almost certainly follow suit; Steph was withholding judgment until Sony clarified its position on the used game market, as only Microsoft had jumped into the phone home DRM market. You couldn't find a more smug dance when Sony announced at E3 that they would not block used games on the PS4.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": They make it very clear that the Jimquisition website's URL is They have uncharacteristically humble reasons for this.
  • Spit Take: When asked to do an episode about Microsoft offering $100 for PS3 trade-ins on an Xbox One Steph said they wouldn't because the video would consist of nothing but them drinking coffee and doing this.
  • Spoofed with Their Own Words: Their Commentocracy series made concise, where Sterling reads out comments from elitist gamers word-for-word, while dressing and acting like a snobby aristocrat.
  • Springtime for Hitler: In an interview with Colin Moriarty of The Kinda Funny Gamescast, Steph says that the Jimquisition only started being popular after they tried to actively sabotage it. People hated their original Escapist videos, and they decided that, since they were probably never going to have their contract renewed at that rate, they might as well go out gloriously. Ironically, the more they tried to get people to hate they character, the more they loved the show, and the rest is history.
  • Squee: Upon learning of (and defending) the upcoming Dynasty Warriors/The Legend of Zelda mashup, they excitedly describe it as "game of the year game of the year." The complete lack of punctuation is audible.
  • Start X to Stop X: Steph tried to abide by the rules of Fair Use on their videos, but they would always get hit with a content ID claim from various corporations, which also places ads on their videos when they were trying to avoid having ads in the first place. What does Steph do to stop the ID claims? Put in more footage in their videos to make even more ID claims pop up. Since multiple entities can't claim the same video, no one will make money off of Steph's videos and said videos remain free of advertisements.
  • Stepford Smiler: In the opening of Crying Through the Laughs.
  • Stock Footage: Steph tends to use a lot of clips from the games they're talking about, voicing over the footage to fill up time.
  • Stopped Caring:
    • Discussed in the "Enjoy The Silence, Feel The Noise" episode where Steph notes how consumers and gaming media becoming more apathetic is the very reason why publishers get away with shenanigans like on-disc DLC and microtransactions. Steph believes that publishers bank on people giving up and stop caring about such issues so that the publishers can continue to screw people over and they also rely on people becoming aggressively apathetic where they tell people like Steph that keep complaining to stop whining.
    • Steph admits to feeling this way in "Konami is Konami" where they nearly stopped caring about Konami constantly screwing up and killing their franchises because if Konami doesn't care, then they believe they have little reason to care either.
  • Straw Character:
    • Steph doesn't exactly go out of their way to use fair representations of the people they're arguing against. Their persona is also set up as one, to an extent, but of course with the intent that Strawman Has a Point.
    • invoked Strawman Has a Point is the crux of their on-screen persona. In one episode they call themself a madman, but then points out that the games industry is so messed up that madmen like them are the only ones speaking any sense.
  • Stunned Silence: Steph's reaction to Digpex Games' broken English-riddled response to Kotaku wanting their side of the story regarding the conflict with Steph.
  • Stylistic Suck: All original artwork for the show is done by Steph themself in MS Paint. They admitted on Desert Bus for Hope that the MS Paint art style amuses them, and that they'd never hire an actually good artist to do intentionally bad artwork.
    • In "Early Access," they decry game developers and publishers that choose to release unfinished, glitchy software to the public while charging for a full price game. So, of course, the episode is full of lazy editing, misstatements, inexplicable blank spots, and Steph even forgot their Catchphrase.
    • After Microsoft reversed their always-online DRM policies with the Xbox One, Steph made an "emergency video" released the same day the announcement was made. The theme song abruptly cuts off with a Record Needle Scratch, Steph runs in with the lights off, and at the end of the video, they run through their Catchphrase very quickly.
    • The show within the show The Video Game Show What I've Done is made to look like someone just got their hands on their very first video editing software, along with gratuitous transitions and even more gratuitous video filters for the game footage. Said footage is also of a game in question being played badly. Or not the game in question at all.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Steph makes it clear they are not funneling the money from their Patreon to write a novel, the novel is not about Corey Feldman's bus pass coming to life and falling in love with him, and it is not called "Romancing the Bus Pass". It doesn't even have a publisher. They also do it in another video, this time about an accusation that they've been buying rare exotic black market cheeses (and name drops a French dealer as a hypothetical, allegedly rhetorical example and then adds that said person doesn't work on Tuesdays); they're later seen eating cheese.
    • In "Konami Takes The PES, Armors The Horse, And Needs To Fuck Off", where they deny the claim that they've been buying Pogs using their Patreon money, and then said that even if they were, they certainly weren't engaging in "semi-sexual, ritualistic worship of said Pogs. That's a very specific, and steeeeeupid, allegation!". Steph then immediately puts on a ritual mask and begins having sex with their collection of Pogs.
    • Or, from The Great Atari Ransack:
      Steph: There's some rumors circulating that I don't know how to film things on a cell phone, because last week I showed a little bit of some stuff that I've been filming at SGC, and it was filmed vertically on my phone. Now, only an idiot would spend an entire weekend filming vertically without thinking about what he's doing, hoping to use that footage as extra footage when Jimquisition Live is finally uploaded, only to realize his mistake after they looked back at the footage and found out they'd fucked up, and ended up using a bit of it anyway and just hoping they could get away with it, and then finding out that they couldn't get away with it at all. Only an idiot, okay, would do that, and Steph Sterling isn't an idiot, is he? No, last time I checked, he's a fuckin' genius.
  • Take That!: Steph very commonly takes potshots at all and sundry to the point that a list of all the times they do it would be longer than the rest of the page. Frequent targets include...
    • Major developers Konami (Fuck Konami News segments), Ubisoft (Oh, Ubisoft! segments), and Nintendo (Steph has devoted multiple videos to bashing Nintendo's eccentric business decisions).
    • Small Name, Big Ego developers in general. Digital Homicide is the most notable, as seen all over this page.
    • The more rabid and immature fans of any particular thing, as shown in Sky Hype and Weapon Durability, Fanbase Fragility.
    • UK and US political figures including Nigel Farage, David Cameron, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, and Donald Trump supporters.
    • Snobby and hardcore gamers. They use their Duke Amiel du H'ardcore character to impersonate and mock this type of gamer.
    • Companies that use unscrupulous measures to monetize games and players. For Halloween 2017, Steph took a big pot shot at these, in particular the company Scientific Revenue, who offers services to game developers for "turning players into payers".
    • Sterdust was originally nothing more than a Take That! leveled at WWE as a rather petty revenge for the company very pettily content claiming one of their videos for briefly using a small part of an image of one of their more ridiculous promotional posters (an image of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's head warped in a silly-looking manner). They made a blatantly-obvious parody of Stardust/Goldust with the specific point that, obvious as it was, it was also parody and therefore protected speech. It was actually quite surprising when they actually started making wrestling appearances as the character.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • One instance of this is combined with Self-Deprecation. When criticizing Nintendo's plan to "share" in YouTubers' ad revenue when they upload Nintendo related videos, Steph says the audience is there for the YouTuber, not because of Nintendo, so Nintendo deserves nothing. They explain it thus:
      People subscribe to Angry Joe because they're fans of Angry Joe, they subscribe to Boogie because they're fans of Boogie, they subscribe to me because they don't have better things to do.
    • In Steph's Shexy Shelob video, they have a trigger warning at the start that parodies trigger warnings, telling viewers that the video contains spiders and gender discussions which are two things that certain game playing audiences have a phobia of. Many of the replies in the video's comment section came from people who didn't get the sarcasm.
  • Take That, Critics!: On the occasion of their 100th episode, "Bullshit in Sheep's Clothing," Steph takes the opportunity to look back at all the criticism they received when they first started, especially calling out those that expected their series to be short-lived.
    When the Jimquisition first debuted on the Escapist, the initial response was spirited. "Who is this fat douche?" "Is he on drugs?" "How can we get rid of him?" "He's like Moviebob, but shit." "I can't believe the Escapist got rid of Lisa Foiles for this guy." "I do hope they cancel him soon."
    (Evil Laugh, with dramatic turn around)
    Here we are, 100 Mondays in, and it looks like the Jimquisition is here to stay... you lucky, lucky people.
  • Tastes Like Purple: They eat a Chik-fil-a sandwich before spitting it out and yelling "It tastes like hating gay people!"
  • Technically a Smile: Steph forces themself to maintain a smile in the intro of "Crying Through the Laughs".
    I'm SMILING!
  • Technology Porn: Combined with a bit of Hypocritical Humor; in "The Irony of PC Gaming," Steph spends a great deal of time talking about all the good games you can play without needing a $2000 state-of-the-art computer. However, they note that they still have a pimped-out rig to play the latest games because "I'm a video game reviewer and we need that shit."
  • Tempting Fate:
    • At the conclusion of "Hate Out Of Ten", they nervously ask "At least we're not criticizing 9's, at least now. Right? Yeah?" Cue a blog criticizing Games Radar for giving The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword a 9, and a poem by them on Steph And Yahtzees Rhymedown Spectacular called "Whine out of Ten".
    • In another episode, "Previewed, Preordered, Prescrewed", they worry that publishers will attempt to sell the right to preorder a game, a "preordering the preorders" if you will. Cut to a developer that's trying to collect preorders on a game that hasn't even been announced yet.
  • That Poor Cat: When throwing the chalice that they're holding in "When Publishers Kick, Developers Start", a yowling cat can be heard as it hits the floor.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: During Steph's "The Reason You Suck" Speech at the end of the episode about Skate Man Intense Rescue, the usual background music is replaced with the theme song.
  • Theme Song: "Born Depressed" by Drill Queen until the end of May 2017, at which point it was succeeded by "Stress" by Steph's Big Ego (yes, that's the actual band name).
    • However, just as people got used to the new tune, Randy Pitchford had a rather embarrassing interview concerning Aliens: Colonial Marines, in which he pretended to not remember Steph Sterling at all - and thus, The Jimquisition went back to "Born Depressed", with occasional returns of "Stress" and, as of October 2017, a special theme song for Sterdust's debut.
    • The songs accompanying their rants vary by time period. Early Jimquisition videos use "Jesters of the Moon" from Final Fantasy IX, then for the Majority of the time Steph is working for "The Escapist", they move onto using a specially-written tune made by Danny Baranowsky (of the since-replaced The Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy soundtracks) for the show. The third tune was made by Carl Catron, and was titled "March of The Sterling Jester", which they started using from July 2016 - May 2017. Carl also has the honour of having his Jazzy Rendition of "Born Depressed" being used as the "Bonus Episode" theme tune.
    • In one episode, they go on to explain that on reglarly scheduled Monday Jimquisitions, "Born Depressed" is their intro while "Stress" is their outro; on surprise or unscheduled Jimquisitions not released on a Monday, the order is reversed with "Stress" as the intro and "Born Depressed" as the outro.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Lampshaded; during the opening credits after the carnival-themed retool of the show and the introduction of a different opening theme, the wall graffiti (that changes every episode) actually read "They Changed It Now It Sucks", as Steph had presumably anticipated this exact reaction to their new direction. They even dedicated an entire blog post to explaining the reason for the new theme.
  • Tough Love: Exaggerated. Steph insists that they are "the world's only real Nintendo fan" because they are the only one to criticize the company. In the episode "Switch Online Makes Nintendo Look Weak," they start off saying legitimate critiques ("the Switch could do better, even if it had a good year"), but eventually go into outright lying and disdain ("Breath of the Wild was the worst game ever" and "Nintendo has never made a good video game".)
  • Tranquil Fury: In their video covering the allegations of abuse and rape within Ubisoft, Steph is clearly pissed at the lengths Ubisoft went to cover up the allegations and telling people to keep it separate from their games. Steph was also pissed at everyone who ignored (or outright blacklisted them) their many years of coverage regarding abuse in the gaming industry, feeling like they were screaming into a void and smashing their head against a wall trying to get their point across to someone. Steph doesn't raise their voice beyond a harsh tone, but their utter contempt at the people covering up the incidents and those being complacent shows just how massively angry they are and they don't even do their catchphrase at the end of the video nor do they care that anyone would be bothered by such a trivial thing.
  • Tricked into Signing: In their rundown of the Frivolous Lawsuit brought by James Romine, this was something else Romine tried to pull on Steph. When Steph's lawyer convinced Romine to settle out of court, the latter tried to edit the agreement before sending it to Steph to sign.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: Steph is fond of this as a Played for Laughs Verbal Tic, especially when they want to emphasize the pompous and vaguely posh persona they use on the show.
  • Troll: Steph loves to provoke people into overreaction, especially so they can mock them later for it.
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: invokedSteph brings it up during their look at the trailer for Chipper & Sons Lumber Co., noting how all the animals had dead and fixated eyes that seemed to stare at you no matter where you looked. note  Steph brings mention to the uncanny valley again with Lucky's Tree of Puzzles where they note how the squirrel looked like an old man with big eyes.
  • Unishment: After Steph screwed up by saying Middle-earth: Shadow of War was published by Take-Two Interactive instead of Warner Bros., they punish themself in the next episode by wearing a bondage mask and speaking through a kazoo. They find that they like it.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Everything in "Mass Effect 3: A Gay Erotic Gay Love Story".
  • Upper-Class Twit: Duke Amiel du H'ardcore, the gamer aristocrat from Commentocracy (Steph's take on poking fun at the elitism of hardcore PC gamers in general). The Duke offers his insights of the privileges of the ruling hardcore class over the majority of n00bs, while often voicing his contempt and disgust for the "dirty console peasants".
  • Visual Pun: In discussing the assertion made by EA's Kerry Hopkins that their loot boxes are not gambling but "surprise mechanics", Steph introduces a character called the Surprise Mechanic who wears a welding mask with googly eyes on it. Just like the games he represents, the Surprise Mechanic suddenly attacks his unsuspecting victim from behind and then helps himself to the victim's wallet.
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Occasionally they'll end a comedy bit with open bewilderment at whatever they just did.
    Steph: Thank God for Baron von Breadknife what the fuck am I doing?! ("The Political Agenda of Dark Souls")
    Steph: Even more important than that, my Ekans can shoot lasers! Laser! Laser! Laser! Resal! [Beat] They're called resals when they come out of an Ekans! [Beat, shrugs] What?
  • Wild Card: Steph discovers that the reason most publishers refuse to give them review copies of their games is because they consider them to be too much of a "wild card" to rely on, as in they don't consistently give games praising reviews. Steph finds the wild card accusation funny and takes it in stride.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Thinks the main character in Hatred needs to have a good wanking session to get rid of his anger instead of killing people.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Sterdust, Steph's wrestling persona, was made mainly as a reply to WWE's draconian levels of copyright protection on YouTube. Knowing Steph, it's worth noting that, while they've got the looks of a wrestler (with lots and lots of spandex), but none of the moves. Not like they ever considered training and shaping up anyway. However, since they got involved with Mississippi-based wrestling promotion Pro Wrestling EGO, they've wrestled a few (tag) matches as Sterdust, and have even performed a few actual decent moves!

    Tropes Discussed in The Jimquisition Episodes 
I'm addicted to stress, that's the way that I get things done...

Tropes discussed in their reviews and videos include:

  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • In "Guns Blazing", they talk about how Namco Bandai hasn't learned a thing from the Dark Souls series' successes by focusing the game at a certain audience (much like the Follow the Leader entry further down), and is now dumping a AAA budget on the sequel and "hop[ing] to God that it works" in reeling in Skyrim's audience as well.
    • Steph brings up what they called "The Molyneux Cycle". Peter Molyneux has a bad habit of overhyping his games way beyond what he and his team are able to deliver, apologizing after the game is released and missed the goals he alone promised, and then promising the next game will live up to the hype while insulting his last project. The new game inevitably doesn't live up to Molyneux's new promises, and then the cycle continues.
    • Steph had previously criticized Square-Enix for changing the Final Fantasy series away from the traditional turn-based gameplay it was famous for, only to be surprised by the success of Bravely Default, a traditional turn-based JRPG, and to acknowledge their mistake. "Active-Time Prattle" revisits the issue by highlighting Final Fantasy VII Remake would do away with the classic Active-Time Battle system with a more action-based battle system.
    • In "Delayed Reaction", a particularly bitter-sounding Steph notes that customers have repeatedly been misled and negatively influenced by hype culture, and yet a vocal and damaging portion of gamers are unwilling or unable to learn from history.
    • In "Electronic Arts "Disappointed' by 7.3 million Battlefield V Sales", Steph wonders why game publishers like EA have time and again made wildly optimistic or even impossible promises to their shareholders about how many copies their next big game is going to sell. What happens each time is that the game sells loads of copies but still not quite as many as the publisher's inflated goal, which leads them to announce that it sold "below expectations" and causes the share prices of the company to drop on the "bad" news. They then announce that the shortfall will have to be made up by firing and laying off the developers while increasing monetization in the game and future releases, and the cycle repeats. The publishers have gotten burned so many times before, and the investors should also know by now not to believe such unrealistic promises, but they keep doing it. Steph can't figure out whether it's the publishers Believing Their Own Lies, the publishers deliberately lying to the shareholders, or both sides having tacitly agreed that this dysfunctional cycle is somehow the new normal.
  • Allegedly Free Game: Steph has referenced the psychology of "free to play" games, which are given away for free, but are designed to entice the player into spending money for extras during play, calling it "psychological warfare". While it's bad enough on its own, and Steph thinks it's not too bad since they know that free games will be trying to make money somehow, Steph rails against the industry playing the same mind games with full priced games. Games that cost full price should not be trying to beat players over the head to pay even more.
  • Analogy Backfire: In "Is Loot Box Regulation Censorship Of Art?", Steph digs into David Jaffe’s comparing the potential regulation of loot boxes to regulation of alcohol and traditional gambling, pointing out that those two industries are prime examples of things that are heavily regulated due to their proven harmful effects.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Invoked according to Steph's sources. The reason why Square Enix and other developers were screwing up their PS4 and XBox One games was because they thought console gaming was dying and that mobile and PC were the future.
  • Appeal to Novelty: In "Innovation: Gaming's Snake Oil", they don't criticize innovation, but they do criticize when change is made for no good reason other than to change something. Steph reiterates this in their Follow the Leader rant when they point out innovation is good when differentiating products from competitors, or exploring new markets.invoked
    • They also accuse SEGA of thinking this, due to their insistence on making wide-scale redesigns for each Sonic the Hedgehog game, rather than sticking to what worked in previous games and building on said games' good ideas.
  • Appeal to Worse Problems: After a developer of Ooblets went on a snarky tirade against entitled gamers and suggested they're going Epic Store exclusive wasn't a big deal compared to bigger issues like climate change. Steph turned it back at them by asking why are they making video games instead of fighting climate change.
  • Asshole Victim: In "EA versus Zynga — The Lesser of Two Evils," Steph reminds us that, just because EA had a legitimate grievance against Zynga doesn't mean we need to feel sorry for them. It certainly doesn't mean they've become the good guys.
  • At Least I Admit It:
    • In "A Quiet Conversation", they criticize Quiet's Stripperiffic design in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain because they felt the game's explanation for why she dresses like that was a Hand Wave. They add that they don't mind Stripperiffic characters in some games because those games at least admit that they're fanservice, instead of trying to come up with a flimsy justification.
    • In the "Oh, Ubisoft!" mini-episode attached to "A Cautionary Post-Mortem of Evolve", they note that they might respect companies who use microtransactions just a little bit more if they admitted that they were trying to get some more money out of their consumers instead of trying to pretend that the microtransactions were only there for the consumer's benefit, which Steph considers disingenuous. Steph has also previously noted that while they'll never be a fan of the practice, they feel that a free-release game that includes microtransactions has at least some justification since the developers have to make money somehow, but this excuse does not work with a AAA game producer who will already be charging the player money to purchase the game in the first place.
    • Steph feels that if a game developer is going to exclude female protagonists from their games, that they should at least be straightforward with it and defend such decision based on artistic merit, like Rockstar and Square Enix did for Grand Theft Auto V and Final Fantasy XV respectively, instead of coming up with nonsensical excuses like Ubisoft and Nintendo did for Assassin's Creed: Unity and The Legend of Zelda.
  • Auteur License: In "Creative Freedom, Strings Attached", Steph says that developers should be able to make the game they want, and that gamers cannot tell them how to make their video games. In this case, they were defending the makers of Puppeteer (2013) and Grand Theft Auto V because they have male leads, denying fans who were asking for a female option. However, they also pointed out that creative freedom does not mean freedom from criticism; the audience may not be allowed to force the developers to do anything, but it's their choice on whether or not to buy a game, and they can withdraw their support when the developer doesn't listen to them.
  • Breakable Weapons: In "Weapon Durability, Fanbase Fragility", Steph declares, with some sarcasm, that "Weapon durability systems should fuck off out of video games forever and never come back, because they're not fun, they're a pain in the ass, and I personally hate them." They refute all the arguments for having breakable weapons in a game one by one:
    • Firstly, it's almost never realistic or immersive because games tend to depict weapons as being far more fragile than they actually are. They use Breath Of The Wild as an example of this, as it has each of your weapons survive only a few blows, before falling apart in the middle of combat, and you are constantly having to pause the game to equip yet another disposable weapon from your inventory.
    • Secondly, they have a rebuttal for those who say that collecting and managing your weapons adds a challenge, Steph points out that it's not a fun challenge, but an unpleasant chore that takes time away from the fun of fighting, with the only game genre where they think it might sometimes be fun is Survival Horror, in which part of the fear comes from the player being intentionally underpowered.
    • Third; to those who say that weapon durability encourages you to try different types of weapons, they say that then the game isn't giving you the option to use what you like best, but forcing you to switch all the time whether you like it or not.
    • And finally, because it causes players to perverse incentives. In Breath of the Wild Steph eventually started avoiding combat because they knew that enemy drops wouldn't be good enough to justify the effort and damage to their equipment. Whenever they got a weapon they actually did like, it would be Too Awesome to Use and therefore neither a satisfying reward nor a good investment.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Steph will tear people a new one if they try to silence them on their criticisms of their games, since they feel that anyone that lashes out can't own up to their own mistakes or shortcomings when they're pointed out. They have contrasted this attitude with Scott Cawthon, who took criticism of his early games to heart and has since gone on to massive commercial indie success.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: invokedArgues that this is what caused the death of Telltale Games in "Tellfail Games." The developer had a smash hit with The Walking Dead in 2013, and a few decent successes with The Wolf Among Us and Tales from the Borderlands afterwards. However, Steph says that doing next to nothing to improve upon the formula and taking on more projects than it could reasonably release left the studio with Creator Breakdown among its staff with a lot of overworked, underpaid, burnt out employees, all of whom were making games on the same tired engine that was showing its age. By the time the final season of The Walking Dead was released in 2018, the franchise had gone from "one of the best-written games ever" to "something I couldn't even be bothered to watch a trailer for."
  • Cash-Cow Franchise:
    • Made fun of in "In The Hall of the Mountain Dew," specifically mocking Halo 4 having tie-in promotions with Mountain Dew, Doritos and 7-11.invoked
    • Steph mocks Take-Two Interactive's CEO Strauss Zelnick when Zelnick was said to be "disappointed" by the lifetime sales of Grand Theft Auto V. As Steph notes, GTA V is the most profitable piece of media ever released in history, so they wonder what else Zelnick could possibly want.
  • Complexity Addiction: Their central thesis about the modern AAA gaming industry is that it's essentially suffering from a bad case of this:
    • In their "How Do You Fuck Up Tetris?" video, they argue that the modern gaming industry is so bloated and obsessed with forcing the pointless inclusion of extraneous features such as DLC, subscription services and proprietary software that they can't even produce an updated version of Tetrisnote  without turning it into a broken, buggy and overly convoluted mess.
    • In another example, in the "Batman Is Everything Wrong With Square Enix" video, they use this statue of Batman as designed by the designer of the Final Fantasy series to argue how it represents the ridiculous levels of complexity, clutter and over-design prevalent in the series. There's so much unnecessary detailing that it ironically becomes difficult to make out any actual details and, in trying too hard to be badass and loud, just becomes forgettable instead.
    • Steph tackles the topic again in "The Joykilling Culture Of 'AAA' Games", wherein they discuss what happened to We Happy Few after it went from an indie game to a game with a AAA publisher in Gearbox Software. Namely, it got all of the things Steph doesn't like about modern video game "pre-order culture": a jump from thirty dollars to sixty, DLC, a season pass, a Collector's Edition, and pre-order bonuses. They spend the episode not being angry so much as disappointed, wondering if AAA game publishers simply can't help themselves, as if this is the new normal.
    • They argue that the inverse happened with Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice in "Indie AAA", where the developers cut out all of the unnecessary stuff, up to and including the publisher, and just focussed on making a good game, with the result being a deserved success (in spite of the problems they had with the game itself).
    • Square Enix come in for another bollocking on this matter in "Kingdom Hearts Is Stupid Gibberish", in which Steph takes the company to task for taking what should be a simple kid's story involving a crossover between Disney characters and the Final Fantasy universe and making it ridiculously over-complicated and impenetrable to the casual player. Steph argues that Square Enix is in a prison of their own creation by making the series' overarching plot completely impenetrable thanks to unnecessary spin-offs and a pretentious Kudzu Plot that relies too heavily on Sequel Hooks.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Steph points out that they have donated to several Kickstarter campaigns, and there is debate as to whether or not reviewers are in a conflict of interest if they have backed games they are covering. Steph doesn't believe it's a conflict, because it's not a business or personal relationship, and since it's the reviewer sending money to the developer, it's an affirmation of the reviewer's existing beliefs, as opposed to the developer trying to influence the reviewer..
  • Continuity Lockout: invokedDiscussed in "Kingdom Hearts is Stupid Gibberish", in which they examine the Kingdom Hearts franchise and argue that the series is full of stupid gibberish. Steph points out that in addition to the three main installments, there's a series of tie-in games which are hard to access due to being on older game systems. Furthermore, there's uncertainty as to how many games there even are — Steph incredulously notes that while they literally can count ten games, other sources cite eleven or twelve games. Nevertheless, it's essential to play every single Kingdom Hearts game if one wants to have any clue about what's going on. And even then, it's all mostly incomprehensible thanks to the franchise's Complexity Addiction-riddled Kudzu Plot. As such, Steph argues that anyone who simply wants to play a fun children's Eastern RPG about Disney and Final Fantasy characters will likely find these games utterly impenetrable, confusing, and not worth bothering with.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: invokedCourtesy of News Nine Adelaide not only failing to do research at all, they went to great lengths to point out just how wrong they got everything related to Grand Theft Auto, including not even bothering to find out who the main publisher is, or even reaching out to the publisher behind the "Adelaide shoot-em-up" for any kind of comment, instead choosing to pretend he had no comment at all.
  • Darker and Edgier: In the episode "Overwatch Porn," they refer to an industry practice that they call "fusing," so named after the game Fuse went from a bright and colorful team-based shooter to a dark, grim, realistic, military-themed one, a change Steph absolutely felt was for the worse. Conversely, a "reverse fusing" is when a game becomes more bright and colorful, as Doom (2016) and Battleborn did.
  • Developer's Foresight: Steph loves E.Y.E for this reason.
    You can hack doors, turrets, guns... but if you fail, the doors can hack you back. It's a game where you can get too scared to shoot... there's 32 player co-op, which is broken as fuck, but have it, just fucking have it!
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil:
    • They maintain that pirates need to stop dressing up their activity as anything other than stealing. However, in 2012, they put up a video saying their views had changed a bit: They still think it's a crime, but the more they examine copyright laws, the more they realize (in their words) it's less about protecting the rights of artists and more about protecting the executives who bought the rights from the artists and are making money off them. So getting upset at pirates is like getting upset at a thief stealing something that was stolen in the first place. (They put in a caveat that this does not apply to self-published creators, in which case they still get on people's cases to actually buy the product and give them the money they deserve.) They also tend to play middle-man too, also saying that there are no real good guys or bad guys in the piracy issue after 4.5 million copies of The Witcher 2 and a 90% piracy rate for World of Goo.
    • They actually got in a bit of trouble for their definitely-not-endorsing piracy of old Nintendo products through emulation, arguing that Nintendo's stubborn refusal to port popular older titles to their existing online services is a rod the company's made for its own back. However, they are very quick to point out that "stealing" something a company is outright refusing to provide is very different from something having a price but the consumer just refusing to pay it.
  • Discount Lesbians: Bordering on Berserk Button. While defending the availability of gay and lesbian romance in "Mass Effect 3 and the Case for a Gay Shepard," they mention how certain fans make the argument that since Liara is an asari, she doesn't "count" as a legitimate Gay Option. They absolutely eviscerate this idea, saying that Liara may be "genderless," but given her feminine appearance, if FemShep is attracted to an alien who happens to resemble a human woman, then she just might be attracted to women to begin with.
    Steph: Grow. Up. It is a ludicrous argument to fuckin' say that Liara "doesn't count" because she's an alien without a gender. She looks like a woman. If another woman is attracted to her, she might have some gay tendencies. It's that simple.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Calls out publishers for adding DRM to their games and trying to hide it as a feature. When EA said that SimCity didn't have DRM and that it was an MMO, Steph said that the whole point of making it an "MMO" was to use the always online aspect as DRM.
  • Don't Like? Don't Read!:
    • Steph says that if people somehow "know" a game that has yet to be released is going to suck, they could just not buy it. They cite the hate for the Water Temple changes in the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake, which several people were ranting about in spite of the remake not being released at the time of the video being published.
    • Steph invokes this trope when they discuss why boycotts from gamers never tend to have an impact. Mainly, it's because the people who say they're going to boycott a game or a company never follow through with it. Steph frequently brings up an image of a Steam group that intended to boycott Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, with more than half the people in the group playing the game they insisted that they weren't going to buy.
    • Steph discussed why this excuse doesn't work when companies defend the inclusion of microtransactions. Many developers and publishers keep saying how microtransactions are optional and players have the option of skipping them. However, Steph keeps pointing out repeatedly their inclusion would alter the game economies and progression, meaning that players would have to either buy them or slog through an unrewarding grind, making player agency seem meaningless. After all, why bother including microtranactions when no one is going to buy them?
  • Double Standard:
    • Steph points out a pretty arrant Double Standard surrounding a lot of retro games and Dynasty Warriors. Dynasty Warriors is constantly criticised (Especially by IGN) as being too "button mashery" and "simplistic", whereas people talk about games like Golden Axe and Final Fight and hold them in high regard...when Dynasty Warriors is more or less a spiritual successor. They also point out another Double Standard when Hardcore Gamers criticise games as being too simplistic, when of course, games that are often still held in high regards were no more complex than the games they hate on.
    • Also a more traditional double standard in "The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists," where Steph notes that women in games seem to not be allowed to be protagonists while expressing any desire for physical intimacy or impetus towards a personal goal. One of the only times it gets close is in Fahrenheit, but even then the sex is initiated by the male protagonist.
    • From the same episode, Steph cites an interview by the Penny Arcade Report where the creators had to fight with their publisher to have a female protagonist, because female protagonists don't sell. Except it turns out that publishers tend to give games with female protagonists less funding and marketing, and even refuse to put them on their own box covers.
    • The gender divide is called out again in "Objectification and... Men?", where Steph dismantles the claim that video games objectify men as much as women. Steph counters by saying that males are idealized, not objectified, and are put in so that male gamers can take on the role of these characters to play out their power fantasies, instead of a piece of beefcake for women gamers to drool over.
  • Dueling Games: invoked Steph's review of The Outer Worlds made the obligatory comparisons to competing game Fallout 76, coming down strongly on TOW's side in the competition: they praised Obsidian Entertainment for "actually making a really good game" in comparison to Bethesda's microtransaction-riddled mess.
  • Easier Than Easy:
    • Discusses the use of this in their "Zero Difficulty" episode where they feel games that include an easy or God Mode to appeal to new players don't harm the hardcore players since said hardcore players aren't forced to use them. They also pick apart the fallacies that are commonly used to criticize easy difficulty levels, such as the game being made easier as a whole or how people won't get better at the game if they stick to easy mode.
    • Discussed again in "A Difficult Subject". In addition to repeating many of the same points from "Zero Difficulty", Steph argues that a game appealing to more people should be a good thing, since it means good games will sell more copies. But "Hardcore Gamers™" criticize people who use easy modes and mods out of a misguided desire to "hoard games to themselves like a dragon on its mountain of treasure", and that said gamers don't get to complain if people don't buy these games because of all the Double Standards they employ in their arguments.
  • Environmental Narrative Game: They examined the genre in detail here, a quote from which video provides the page quote. They're rather ambivalent towards the genre, pointing out how it can be done well and how it can be done badly, and concluding that the standards really need to be raised for them because at the moment the majority of them are pretty bad and a lot of reviewers are giving them a free pass simply for being "different" (despite Dear Esther being seven years old at this point and The Stanley Parable, in their opinion, setting the gold standard in 2011).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In their video asking why people hate EA, Steph referred to Activision as satanic, and follows it up by giving them the tagline "Hey, at least we're not EA!"
    • Also, in their video When the Starscreams killed used games they referred to big companies as Starscreams pretending to be friends with retail stores until they can cut them out of the loop entirely. Steph then voices Starscream himself and has him yell "How DARE you!? Starscream may be many things, but he never put microtransactions in Dead Space 3!"
    • In the first "Fuck Konami News" segment of 2019—the first in months due to Konami's lack of relevance in the video game industry—Konami did something right for a change. When Belgium denounced loot boxes as a form of gambling, Konami didn't protest or fight back, and instead promised they would remove the loot boxes from Pro Evolution Soccer in Belgium. Steph pointed to the game industry as a whole, and to Activision-Blizzard and EA specifically, and told them "Konami is better than you".
  • Fake Difficulty: In "Samael The Legacy Of Ophiuchus - The Worst PS4 Game Ever Made (Jimpressions)", Steph is furious that Gilson B. Pontes had the gall to write "Prepare for the hardest game ever made" on the PSN store page as if the game were legitimately Nintendo Hard instead of merely broken and unplayable.
    Fuck off! Fuck off! "Hardest game ever made." It's bollocks is what you've made—this isn't hard, this isn't difficult. It's just meandering to a vaseline-covered, shitty little monster, to be killed in one hit, and then start again! Over and over again! That's not difficulty—that's not difficulty by design, that's a mess! What you've made is a fucking mess and you're marketing it as hard. Fuck you! Go get fucked, and fuck off while you're doing it! Jesus Christ!
  • Fan Dumb: Invoked. Steph frequently mocks the overreactions of angry fanboys.
    • They especially take this type of fan on in the "BOYCOTT!" episode. "Delayed Reactions" and "Sky Hype" also primarily focus on the reactions of the Fan Dumb.
      • Steph took on the idea of video game boycotts in a later episode. They mocked the idea, showing a memetic image of a Steam group dedicated to a boycott of Modern Warfare 2 with most of its members playing the game. Steph says that threats of a boycott have become a joke in the game industry and its fanbase because of how ineffective these boycotts are, and that it gives more power to developers by letting them think they can get away with anything because no one takes these boycotts seriously.
    • The character of "Duke Amiel du H'Ardcore" was created to mock rabid fanboys. The titular duke reads Fan Dumb comments in an overly pretentious, snotty, holier-than-thou voice, as if to say "this is what the Fan Dumb really sounds like to everyone else."
  • Fan Hater: Invoked. Steph condemns this type of mindset as being the lowest form of selfish on multiple occasions:
    • They specifically cite that they have received criticism for not bashing Dynasty Warriors or Dm C Devil May Cry, or not bashing them hard enough.
    • Steph frequently targets fans of Nintendo, calling them spoiled brats who "sing the song that ends the universe" every time that a Nintendo game receives a 9 out of 10. "Nintendo Fans Love To Troll Themselves" is Steph calling out Nintendo's fans for a specific instance in July 2020, where Nintendo announced that a Nintendo Direct Mini was going to be short and feature low-key games. Some hardcore fans were angry after the Direct Mini that it was short and featured low-key games, despite Nintendo saying up front what the Direct was going to be like. Steph argues that Nintendo has an Unpleasable Fanbase who love to get themselves excited for things on the most bizarre of clues which require Insane Troll Logic in the first place, then get angry at Nintendo when their unrealistic expectations aren't met.invoked
    • In "The 'CD' Stands for 'Crunching Developers'", Steph notes the alarming tendency for Fans to defend companies with prior track records of being pro-consumer, even when the company in question does something wrong. They give the example of "CD Projekt Red", who despite having goodwill among gamers for creating GOG as a hub for DRM-Free games, actively rallying against microtransactions, lootboxes, and other nasty predatory business practices, and making critically acclaimed games, CD-PR fully admits to abusing its workforce in crunch periods to get games made. After promising to not do crunch at the start of 2020 for the remaining time to make Cyberpunk 2077, CD-PR went back on its word nine months later, and announced that it was forcing crunch for the last month of development. Steph then received premeditated excuses from fans of the game before making a video on them on said practices as to how CD-PR were not like other companies, and that their goodwill outweighs their recent transgressions, apparently applying a literal case of My Rules Are Not Your Rules when it comes to scorning companies. As Steph notes; people don't mind Steph scorning EA and Activision-Blizzard for their predatory practices, but as soon as the tables are turned and Steph attempts to criticise CD-PR, Nintendo, or indie developers in general; there's immediate backlash as apparently in the gaming space, they're off-limits for criticism, which is based on the false assumption that lots of good things make up for one horrible thing. This line of thinking is purely for the fans own selfish reasoning of course, wanting to purchase the game they were excited for without any guilt or shame that they bought it from a once-respected source that are practising whatever misdeed in the meantime.
  • Faux Horrific: Steph refers to the 2010 Konami E3 Press Conference as "One of the most perverse displays of human indignity known to man".
  • Focus Group Ending: invoked In "Damn Fine Coffee", Steph criticizes the use of focus groups and how they are driving game development; while focus groups are a useful tool, they have problems and can be abused. Some focus groups submit to peer pressure and say what they think people want to hear rather than their true opinion, which does come out when you study their buying habits. Other times, the researchers are creating focus groups with a built-in Confirmation Bias who only tell them to stay the course instead of pointing out problems that proper research would reveal. And there's the Follow the Leader issue, where companies competing against an established game will create a focus group of fans of that game, who tell them what they liked about the game and they copy it; but the game fails to sell because the fans of the first game already have the game in question and don't care about a knock-off.
  • invokedFollow the Leader:
    • In "Perfect Pasta Sauce", they chide the industry for its attitude of copying the most successful formulas instead of trying new or different ideas to seek a broader audience. They compare it to Prego pasta sauce who beat rival Ragu, not by making a better pasta sauce, but by making several varieties of sauces that could reach different markets, all while actively searching for new, untapped niches. And in the DAMN FINE COFFEE episode they eloquently put it thus: "The people who like [Game X] already have [Game X]. They don't need your shitty version of it!"
      • Revisited with "A Frustrated Post-Mortem of Lawbreakers, Radical Heights, and The Culling", where Steph takes a look at the three aforementioned games in the video's title, and how all three of them chasing trends ended up getting them shut down due to being unprofitable. Steph is especially incredulous when Boss Key Studios, the maker of the first two games, shut down the hero shooter Lawbreakers because nobody was playing it... only to announce the battle royale game Radical Heights a mere four days later, which met the same fate.
        Steph Sterling: We've talked about "follow the leader" game development and why it's a bad idea before, but lately, these companies have gone fucking bananas in doubling down on mistakes that were cemented long ago as historic mistakes!
    • At the same time, following the leader doesn't always have to be a bad thing. In "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds Is A Successful Failure", Steph looks at how Fortnite actually eclipsed the popularity of the game it copied, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, because in addition to PUBG's successful gameplay formula it added a bunch of colorful and original content that the makers of PUBG never bothered with. In "PUBG Makers Start Suing Over Copyrights And Frying Pans", Steph talks about the inevitability of a successful game attracting imitators for better or worse, and how Blue Hole Entertainment is being totally ridiculous by trying to claim legal damages from another game imitating its formula.
    • In "Announcellation: Entertainment Media Is Losing Its Mind", they point out how this went wrong in the case of the "live service" craze. Attempts to copy Destiny led to a proliferation of games designed to suck up people's time and money, which was never sustainable because both people and their time and money are finite, and doing this was, in Steph's words, "essentially strip-mining an audience". The end result was an alarming number of games sunsetting in 2023 and 2024 due to insufficient playerbases, including a game that hadn't been launched globally yet, leading to the titular "announcellation".
  • A Fool for a Client: James Romine, of Digital Homicide infamy, attempted to represent himself in his Frivolous Lawsuit against Steph, as detailed in their video on said lawsuit. It did not end well for Romine.
  • From Bad to Worse: After nixing its Greenlight program, Steam introduced "Steam Direct", a streamlined system for putting games on Steam, in the hopes of stemming the tide of shovelware that came from Greenlight. It accomplished the exact opposite: approximately 6000 indie games have been published via Steam Direct, the vast majority of which makes the trash released through Greenlight seem like quality games in comparison. The situation has gotten so bad that Steph was left gobsmacked.
  • Franchise Original Sin: invoked Discussed in two videos in 2018 "The Dismal Degredation of Dynasty Warriors" and "Six Times Bethesda Was Massively Incompetent. Steph says that their negative reaction to Dynasty Warriors 9 and Fallout 76 made them rethink their praise of prior games in the Warriors series and from Bethesda, since they realized all of the flaws that brought down those two games were present in earlier ones, only to lesser degrees or overshadowed by more positive aspects. In their review of Samurai Warriors 5, they admitted that although it was a perfectly fine game, the bloom was off the rose after this analysis and all they could muster emotionally was a tepid, "It's another one..."
  • Game of The Year Edition: invoked Blames them, multiple store-exclusive Pre-Order Bonus, the Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition, and constantly discounting games soon after they come out for the reasons publishers have trouble selling games new. The die-hard fans feel cheated for buying the game when it came out rather than wait until the "complete" games comes out, and other consumers don't know which version to buy or just wait until the price drops.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The episode "Lugoscababib Discobiscuits" is mostly about people who don't know what "ludonarrative dissonance" actually is, but it does point out a straight example. As a show of solidarity that they aren't trying to outright shill Bioshock Infinite, they complain that the game abuses the Take Your Time trope, that no matter how urgent the story claims to be you always have time to stuff your face with cupcakes you dug out of the trash.
  • Gameplay Roulette: In "Creative Abandoned: Why Sonic Has So Many Bad Games", Steph examines Sonic the Hedgehog and why so many of the franchise's games end up with such a divisive reaction. Essentially, Steph argues that it's because no Sonic game builds on the ideas presented by the last one, instead constantly making changes and innovations to the formula rather than trying to refine what was already there. Steph argues that Sonic should follow in the footsteps of Mario, in that Mario's games tend to build on previous entries and/or refine the gameplay to create something both fresh and familiar, whereas Sonic's games do not. Steph ends the video by noting that there are a few Sonic games that they genuinely like, such as Sonic Lost World and Sonic Mania, but it's impossible for Steph to get excited about any upcoming Sonic title because of Sega's refusal to stop throwing everything out and starting from scratch with every new game.
  • Girl-Show Ghetto: In-Universe. The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists is all about this trope on the industry.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Between AAA studios and indie devs. Steph points out some big companies like EA, Microsoft and Ubisoft as lying, truly irredeemable companies obsessed with anti-consumer practices, but wind up shooting themselves in the foot. That doesn't mean indie companies get a free pass. While they generally support indie gaming as an outlet for new and unique ideas, they call out some companies like Dark Energy Digital and Wild Games Studios for their bullying tactics and constant abuse of YouTube's flawed copyright system in Corrupt, Censoring, Suicidal Indie Devs.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • In "Children of the Resolution", Game companies that once pushed the graphical envelope ahead of gameplay, like Square Enix, are getting what's coming to them as the graphical arms race is running them into bankruptcy, bringing them backlash from gamers when they can't keep up the pace of graphical advancement, and being overshadowed by games focusing on gameplay first, like Minecraft and Stardew Valley.
    • In "The Diablo Immortal Backlash Fun Parade", Steph says that Activision Blizzard should have known better than to cultivate a PC-centric hardcore fandom for the franchise, and then make the main announcement of BlizzCon 2018 that, instead of a Diablo PC game, they'd be getting Diablo Immortal, a mobile phone MMO produced in association with NetEase. Steph says that it's rich to hear that after encouraging that level of devotion and enthusiasm, Activision Blizzard turned around and said its fans are too whiny. In a broader sense, Activision Blizzard and the whole "AAA" game industry are at fault for the gaming community's lack of enthusiasm for mobile versions of their beloved franchises, since instead of producing high-quality games for the mobile market back in 2013 or so when mobile gaming seemed like a promising new field, these "AAA" companies succumbed to greed and helped bring about the oversaturation of the mobile market with derivative, grindy, pay-to-wait, excessively monetized trash, which has given consumers good reason to regard mobile games in general with apathy and skepticism.
    • In "Below Expectations", Steph talks about how the stock prices of "AAA" game companies take a dip whenever the latest games in their Cash Cow Franchises fail to exceed the numbers of their previous bestsellers, despite still making eye-watering levels of profit by any objective standard. This is because they have led investors to expect constantly increasing profits even when such growth is impossible to sustain, to the point that a franchise game not making more money than the last one is seen as disaster even if it's still one of the top-selling games of the year.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Called out Ubisoft for the graphics in Watch_Dogs, and other developers who promote their games with better graphics than they can realistically deliver and then try to say "graphics don't matter" when they downgrade the graphics for the final release.
    • "Maybe The Wizard Game Just Wasn't Very Good" calls out the hypocrisy of people who tried to use Doublethink about Hogwarts Legacy. When the game came out, Steph was told by some fans that all of their complaints about J. K. Rowling being anti-trans weren't valid because the game wasn't that important in the grand scheme of things, and that it was "just a video game" and therefore not worth getting upset over, regardless of what its creator said. Fast-forward a few months, and these same fans were angry that Hogwarts Legacy received zero nominations at the 2023 Game Awards in any category. Steph calls them out for saying the game wasn't important enough to worry about suddenly turning around and saying it was important enough to be recognized with awards.
  • I Am the Noun: They don't say that Resident Evil 6 is about Survival Horror. They say that it is Survival Horror. That is, Capcom is terrified of losing money so they made the game a hodgepodge of so many different types of games that it resembles a soupy sludge. They will do anything to survive!
  • Iconic Item: Steph tore a strip off Ubisoft in "Ubiconic" for constantly trying to market accessories owned by their characters as "iconic" in order to offer them as preorder bribes when there was nothing iconic about them, such as Aiden Pearce's dopey black baseball cap with a barely-visible logo stenciled on it or the generic leather jacket worn by the operatives from The Division.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: Showed a picture of Tetsuya Nomura's take on Batman as a sign of everything that is wrong with Square Enix. Nomura's designs are a clutter of details with no overall philosophy, and are immemorable due to the confusion, whereas the most iconic characters in video games have simpler, easier to identify designs. They extend this to whole games: Final Fantasy IV may have been trite and silly, but it was memorable for sticking to its plot, while Final Fantasy XIII is a mess of plot details that just confuses people rather than crafting a world that people can get into.
  • Inherently Funny Words: "Chungus." Originally comes from Steph's Destructoid podcast and YouTube channel.
  • In Name Only: invoked Mocked in "The Great Atari Ransack", where they cite the most egregious example of Alone in the Dark: Illumination, a co-op game where you have a flashlight, and are therefore neither alone nor in the dark.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Steph's impression of David Cage in "Emotions, Polygons and Ellen Page," mocking Cage's idea that a game is more capable of expressing emotions when it has a higher polygon count.
    If polygons equal emotions, and video games are made of polygons, then video games is emotions.
  • Ironic Echo: At the end of "Why An Always-On DRM Console Would Be Dumb Dumb Dumb", Steph chastises the industry for not trusting gamers and sticking all sorts of anti-consumer behavior on them, telling them to "deal with it"; Steph believes that soon the gamers will get tired of this and abandon the big publishers, and when they wonder what happened, the gamers will tell them to "deal with it".
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Steph explains that the Steam community forum for Predator Simulator had a thread wherein users were wondering if Steph would be summoned by the game.
    Steph: Someone in that Steam thread said: "Why would you want to summon that fat, unfunny, balding, short, British fuck?" or something like that. Now, I take great offence to that, because I'm not short, okay? I'm about 6 foot 1.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: invokedSterling largely discourages this line of thinking. Generally, the position Sterling takes is that the more people can play a game, the better it will sell, and the more market appeal it will have.
    • They've repeatedly stated that they wouldn't mind if Dark Souls and games like it had an "easy mode" for people who don't want the punishing difficulty of such games. This is despite Sterling admitting they they wouldn't use such a mode; it's more for the sake of inclusivity.
    • Their video on Street Fighter 6 discusses this with regards to the "Modern Controls" scheme, which requires pushing simplified controls over "Classic Controls" inputs. Sterling calls out players who insist that "Classic Controls" is the only correct way to play, since it explicitly denies a large portion of the playerbase from playing the game. Also, Sterling calls such players Hypocrites, with Sterling arguing that these players are accusing those who use Modern Controls of being pandered to, while at the same time insisting that developers pander to those who use Classic Controls.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: invoked They call it "Call of Duty Syndrome". While Steph themself has rather mixed feelings on the franchise, they chastise people who hate the series for no reason except that it was really popular.
  • It's Short, So It Sucks!: invokedSteph would rather play short excellent games rather than long boring ones, but as a professional video game critic, they play dozens of games throughout the year, and they get review codes, so they don't pay for all those games. However, they note that for average gamers who have to buy all their games, there is a value vs. cost judgement to make, so for someone who could only afford one game at a time, it's hard to justify buying a 5-hour shooter like The Order: 1886 vs. a weeks-long epic like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Ultimately, they believe it's about how well the game is paced and the ratio of good content to bad, not just a simple count of hours.
  • It Was His Sled: invoked As part of a rant about spoilers in general, Steph points out that since everyone's level of knowledge is different from everyone else, there are bound to be people who didn't know it was his sled. They refer to one of gaming's most well known plot twists, saying there are people who are now playing Final Fantasy VII Remake who haven't played the original, and don't know that Sephiroth kills Aerith.
  • Jump Scare: "Scare Tactics" was dedicated to defending this Trope from the criticism that's usually thrown toward it, namely that it's "cheap".
  • Kudzu Plot: "Kingdom Hearts Is Stupid Gibberish" is all about how Kingdom Hearts is complete nonsense, and how Square Enix seems to love relegating crucial plot points for their games into media outside of the games themselves. During the video, Steph attempts to summarize the plot of Kingdom Hearts, only for multiple video/audio files to take up the screen before Steph decides "screw it" and stops trying.invoked According to time stamps on the clips, it takes them almost ten minutes to get through enough prequels and spin-offs to actually start summarising the first main game, and about half an hour before they finally reach their breaking point.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The ultimate fate of Digital Homicide: while trying to sue Steph and silence them, the Romine brothers continued to release shovelware onto Steam until they escalated their vitriol to the point where they were de-listed from Steam before ultimately going out of business, all while Steph continued to build their brand in spite of being unable to talk about the case until it was dismissed and becoming increasingly successful as the Romines were driven out of the games industry for good and all.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: The episode "Attention To Detail, Obsession With Detail" discusses the practice of game studios adding unnecessarily complex gameplay mechanics, focusing on minute world-building details, or defying many Acceptable Breaks from Reality that other games use because doing so is more "realistic". Because of this, the studio starts favouring realism over gameplay convenience just so the developer could show off for a minute or two. Steph highlights Red Dead Redemption 2 in particular, saying that while it might have several details that are realistic, they also make the game more tedious and frustrating to play. They also had similar issues with Death Stranding, specifically addressing the game's "Grip for Balance" Quick Time Event mechanic as a realistic detail that added nothing fun to the game.
  • Lazy Artist: A frequent problem on Steam. They coined the term "asset flip" for when developers take a generic stock asset and throw it into their game, as-is, without any alterations, and then make their game revolve around nothing but that. They also hate it when a developer makes it obvious that they don't care about their quality of work by not only doing the above, but taking other shortcuts to quickly pump out their game. note 
  • Lesser of Two Evils: Discussed in "Casinos and Video Games, Together At Last!". While discouraging gambling altogether, they nevertheless note that if faced with a choice between going to a real casino or using the virtual casino introduced into Grand Theft Auto Online in 2019, you might as well just visit the real one. Both use psychological manipulation and various shady tricks to try and manipulate their guests into recklessly spending unsustainable amounts of money, but at least in the real casino there's still a slim possibility you might win something of actual worth, unlike the useless virtual currencies and in-game items that video game gambling mechanics "reward" you for spending actual money on. They also note that in a real world casino there are ways of gaming the system for your benefit while spending as little as possible, which are not offered by a virtual casino; the example they provide is going to a local casino and filling up on the free drinks and buffet crab provided while spending only the bare minimum amount in the bar jackpot machines.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Discussed in "Only the Lonely", about the gradual increase in both forced multiplayer aspects and social networking of games impacting on the experience of those who play games to get away from other people for a short while. They criticize developers and publishers who cite this trope as an excuse to bash single-player games and those who enjoy them, saying that there's nothing wrong with wanting to get away from other people sometimes.
  • Lying Creator: invokedDiscussed in "The Business of Lies", in which they talk about how pre-release misinformation has become so routine these days that you can't trust anything that creators or publishers say about which games they're working on, when and where they will give certain announcements or previews, or what features and content are going to be in the final version of the game.
    • One kind that may sound relatively harmless is the "little white lie" told to keep fans from guessing some surprise that's scheduled to be revealed with great fanfare on a certain date, which may extend to denying leaked information that is actually correct. The problem is that creators who do this habitually lose all of their credibility, since the fans and journalists will inevitably find out what they lied about, and if they have any sense then they won't take the creator(s) at their word ever again. Hideo Kojima is a cautionary tale, as he pulled a legitimately brilliant misdirection on the audience with the Never Trust a Trailer marketing for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but since then he has remained so addicted to pre-release stunts that everybody is expecting him to pull a trick on the audience, and it doesn't work like it used to.
    • Besides that, creators telling lies can have serious consequences for other people who are depending on them to be truthful: it's kind of a dick move to deny leaked information brought forward by a fan or journalist, only for it to be revealed as true a week later, since that's basically throwing that person and their reputation under the bus just so the creator can keep their surprise. It also makes the creator(s) look rather foolish when they resort to Blatant Lies about something that everybody has already found out about.
    • "Little white lies" are supposed to be okay, but exactly what things it's 'okay' to lie about and for what reasons is so vague and undefined that many creators think they can excuse or get away with anything, such as knowingly misrepresenting the graphics or gameplay in demos, or lying about whether things like DLC, DRM, and microtransactions will be included. They're so used to lying that they don't see how they're doing anything wrong, and they're going to keep doing it for as long as fans and the press keep giving them a pass.
  • Meaningless Meaningful Words: David Cage and "emotion," as discussed in "Emotions, Polygons and Ellen Cage." As far as Steph can tell, David Cage doesn't even know what emotions are. Ubisoft also has one in 'Iconic,' which Steph discusses in "Ubiconic."
  • Misaimed "Realism": Talks in various videos about how the fetish for "realism" has led to some ironically unrealistic game mechanics, such as "Weapon Durability" in which purpose-built weapons are ridiculously fragile compared to real life. In "Blood, Guts, And Video Games" they also talk about the skewing effects of obsessing over one area of realism while ignoring others, such that while games go to disturbing lengths to depict a realistic hanging, hardly any of them know how to depict a sex scene without it being total Narm.
  • Mirroring Factions: AAA studios and indie devs. Both groups have a tendency to lie, make shoddy products for a quick buck, generally treat the customer like crap and threaten to crash the industry as a whole.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Discussed in-universe in "Toxic". Steph says that getting angry at anti-consumer behavior is justified, and that negative backlash can result in positive change, but it needs to be aimed correctly. Many decisions come from Executive Meddling, while community managers, and specific developers are in the cross-hairs as they are the most visible. Instead of picking on a single individual within a company, gamers should be aiming the blame at the company as a whole.
    • Discussed in-universe again in "Blaming Games For Mass Shootings Is A Disgusting Distraction", in which Steph grumbled about how American politicians and disingenuous journalists blame violence in video games for America's problem with mass shootings. Firstly, any allegations of such are nonsense, and in general are knowingly so, with video games making a good scapegoat for distracting people from the real causes of gun violence (like firearm availability, radicalization of people through white supremacist rhetoric online etc.) particularly because they have no intention of actually doing anything about them so they can keep doing it. Meanwhile, the Triple-A game industry benefits from this as well, because time people have to spend defending them from things that are not their fault (which Steph points out, but is tired of doing so) is time not spent discussing actual issues in the game industry like abuse of employees, predatory business practices, acts of incompetence and so on.
  • Motion Blur: invoked A frequent problem on amateur Steam titles, so much that it often functions as a Camera Screw. Motion blur done poorly or in excess makes Steph feel ill, and bad cameras also gives off the same effect. Needless to say, they don't like it when game developers use motion blur for the sake of it, or don't know how to make a proper camera.
  • Moving the Goalposts:
    • The theme of "Below Expectations" is about how companies keep saying that a game "sells below expectations" whenever their completely unrealistic sales goals aren't met. Steph mentions how Grand Theft Auto V is the most-profitable piece of media ever released, and how it's made Take-Two Interactive billions of dollars. And yet, Take-Two's CEO Strauss Zelnick was disappointed by the game's sales figures, with Steph citing that reaction as proof that game companies will never be happy with their profits.
    • "The Game Reviewer Who Hates Games" sees Steph taking gamers to task for the idea that Steph hates video games. Steph starts with a rambling post from someone who criticized Steph on their review of Dead Island 2 for a 6.5/10, saying that Steph hates all video games. When Steph points out that they like several video games — including the two previous games they reviewed getting good review scores — Steph noted that the commenters either changed the definition of what a "game" meant, or just outright ignored them. Steph cites this as something of a "Eureka!" Moment, where they realized that these commenters genuinely think they're being clever, and that their stance is completely sincere. In the same video, Steph deduces that commenters criticizing people for "not liking video games" are actually criticizing people for "not liking video games that I like". Steph argues that this attitude necessitates people doing mental gymnastics to avoid having to be self-critical, which includes changing the definition of a video game to not include something which the commenter doesn't personally like.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The shortage of amiibos is hyped up to lead to an Amiibogeddon that leads to an eternal and deadly Black Friday.
  • Murder Simulators:
    • The episode "Desensitized to Violence" was about this. To prove their point about how people aren't stupid enough to not tell the difference between real violence and video game violence, Steph showed graphic video of Budd Dwyer's public suicide. Steph did this in order to demonstrate that realistic violence, while more understated than video game violence, is often too gruesome to be entertaining. By contrast, violence in games is far less desensitizing precisely because it's so over-the-top.
    • In 2020's "Blood, Guts, and Video Games" they revisit the issue, in response to reports that game developers are pressuring staff to watch graphic footage of real life violence and gore as artistic reference without any system to protect them from mental trauma, and trying to make the violence so lifelike as to disturb the player. For all their talk about trying to show the real horror and consequences of violence, Steph notes how creepy it is that these companies want a player to feel like they’re actually murdering someone, and how ironic it is that game devs denied during past controversies that they were making "Murder Simulators", yet now feel it fashionable to advertise that yes, they kind of are.
  • Network Decay: While Steph doesn't like it, they understand why a lot of video game news blogs would occasionally cover other topics, (like TV shows, movies, and Internet culture). They're trying to stay relevant and possibly feed off some of the popularity of big entertainment pieces so that they don't disappear into irrelevance. At the same time they note that YouTube channels seem less susceptible to this phenomenon, and that the most successful channels tend to focus on one thing and stick to it.
  • Never My Fault: invoked Steph points out that the game industry always blames its internal problems on external sources: it's not the fact that their product quality is declining as they try to buy their way out of problems caused by bland, homogenized trend-chasing and corporate-mandated design without artistic merit, marketing and graphical budgets growing out of control, monetization overload, and the management and marketing departments getting too much power and say in how the game is made at the expense of the actual designers, no, they're not making money because of piracy/other forms of entertainment/used games/not enough Revenue-Enhancing Devices! And, as each external source peters out, but the same problems remain, the industry never does any soul-searching and instead starts looking for another scapegoat.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Another thing which is pissing Steph off, especially since they were a victim of it.
    • Aliens: Colonial Marines: A game with an infamous trailer showing one of the developers playing a heavily scripted version of the game, suggesting it was representative of the real thing. It wasn't. Steph made two videos covering this game: a break down of the phony Marines trailer, pointing out how much of it was or wasn't in the game, followed by one talking about people who watch phony pre-views and buy pre-orders are getting "pre-screwed".
    • Watch_Dogs: Another game that used prerendered graphics in a trailer, only for the real in-game graphics to not be as good. This was exacerbated because Watch Dogs was promoted as the next evolution of video game graphics, so even though the game still looked good, it was considered crap by comparison to the initial videos.
    • E3 2014: As far as Steph is concerned, Nintendo won E3 purely on the basis that they showed more gameplay videos and more live demos than anyone else.
    • One form of misleading advertising they're getting sick of is something they dub "The Mic Trick", where game footage is accompanied by voice chat that's way too civil and organized to be realistic.
    • "Liar's Year" calls out the tendency of developers and console manufacturers to use unrealistic trailers to build hype in the lead-up to the new generation. Aside from pointing out the not-actually-gameplay trailers from Ubisoft and the impossible expectations of the new Unreal engine, they also give a montage of multiple games used to hype previous generations that either looked worse or never came out.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Brings this up with Ubisoft and Sega's usage of post-release review embargoes to try and delay criticism of Assassin's Creed: Unity and Sonic Boom. Post release embargoes might result in more sales, but they end up doing very little to silence bad publicity, and do much more in associating the developers and their game with more than just the games problems.
    Thanks to Ubisoft, Unity is now synonymous with bugs and shady review embargos, so good job breaking it, hero.
    • Also brings up the irony with Glumberland's Epic Store exclusivity annoucement of Ooblets, which sounds like an attempt to prevent backlash from Steam users, but was so snarky and tone-deaf that it created more of the very backlash they were worried about.
  • No Export for You: The source of rage against Nintendo of America and its refusal to export a number of cult hits from Japan.invoked
  • Nonhumans Lack Attributes: When talking about Quiet's Stripperific outfit and the justification for it, Steph says that if they made her slightly inhuman like Mystique from the X-Men movies, she could parade around completely nude and no one would bat an eye.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Steph points out in their shittiest games of 2015 that because Alone in the Dark: Illumination is a co-operative game where you use light to fight your enemies, you are neither alone nor in the dark.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity:
    • invoked They feel that the vitriolic (and often sexually-charged) backlash against Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has not only given her views more publicity than she could've dreamed of beforehand, but has inadvertently proven her point about sexism in gaming.
    • invoked Deconstructed in "The Rise of YouTube Fodder". Steph points out that developers who intentionally make bad games, in the hopes that YouTube celebrities will give them free publicity, will fail because their audiences are either too young to buy the game (fans of ranting YouTubers) or too smart to buy it (fans of more analytical YouTubers).
  • No True Scotsman:
    • In "It's Not a Video Game!", Steph points to two groups who arbitrarily categorize specific video games as not being games. First are people who are trying to dismiss games they don't like, as if changing the label can remove them from discussion. Second are "artists" who view their artwork as something beyond normal video games, and thus immune to criticism from reviewers and critics.
    • Steph has stated in videos on microtransactions that the accusation of a game not being a game is legitimate when it's aimed at "Free To Wait" exploitative microtransaction games, as they aren't so much entertainment as engines of extortionist psychological abuse.
    • "The Game Reviewer Who Hates Games" sees Steph noting that people who claim that Steph hates all video games keep changing the definition of what "counts" as a video game when presented with contradictory evidence. In every case, this changing definition always excludes games they tend to like, such as indie titles or even triple-A titles that aren't mainstream.
  • Not Me This Time: There was a doctored screenshot saying that Steph had given Super Mario Odyssey a 7/10, with many people calling for their head. Steph took great pleasure in debunking it, saying they no longer gave reviews with scores at the time the screenshot was made, as well as mocking the condescending tone of people who dismissed them.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Steph had this trope leveled at them by Indie Developer Digital Homicide, claiming that they're no different from them. Steph mentions this trope by name.
  • Obvious Beta: invoked Discussed in the "Early Access" episode; this being the Jimquisition, the entire video is half-assed and clearly not up to scratch. It even culminates with Steph revealing they take serious flak for releasing joke or filler episodes when the show can't meet deadlines, yet people are happily paying full price for widely disappointing and unplayable alphas/betas.
  • One for the Money; One for the Art: invoked Discussed Trope in "Game Journalism of Thrones", where they discuss the idea that news sources who produce otherwise legitimate and respectable journalism still have to indulge in short, low-quality clickbait articles, advertorials, and coverage of somewhat-off-topic material in order to stay relevant and keep their readership up. If it wasn't for the latter category of material, the former wouldn't exist.
  • The Other Darrin: Invoked, Discussed and criticized in "Revolving Door Vocal Cords". Steph criticizes video game companies for treating voice actors like they're expendable while neglecting their importance in a character's portrayal, and argues that characters cannot develop an iconic and recognizable personality and portrayal if their actors keep changing.
  • Pandering to the Base: invokedSteph doesn't consider it to be a bad thing at all, if done the right way. Their big example of this is the Dark Souls series and '"Soulslike" genre, where the gameplay has continuously catered to its core fanbase, rather than try to appeal to a wider audience, and in doing so, it remains a top-selling game with a dedicated and growing playerbase, and has inspired no shortage of imitators. In contrast, while they don't believe that appealing to a wider audience is a bad thing at all, they have noticed a growing trend of games stripping beloved-but-niche features for the sake of trying to appeal to a wider audience, and it just leads to games feeling generic and losing that factor that made fans fall in love with the series or genre to begin with.
  • Parody Retcon: invokedIt really "cheeses their onions" when developers make a game terrible on purpose, and then try to claim it was a joke or satire. Steph feels like anyone that makes a shitty game on purpose has still made a garbage game that is taking up space. They also call out people that push out crappy games out of cynicism and contempt for similar reasons.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: "Fear and Fury" is all about this attitude at Rockstar Games. According to anonymous sources within the company, every higher-up is allegedly a Manchild with a Hair-Trigger Temper who will go off on people for the smallest of infractions. Even trying to improve something in a game is seen as "not toeing the line," and can get someone fired. At the same time, every higher-up is a Slave to PR; they don't care about mistreating their employees as much as they care about getting called out for it. Also, going to strip clubs and excessive drinking is one of the few ways to get ahead in the company. Steph calls Rockstar's bosses out for all of this, putting on their "serious face" for it, lamenting how this sort of attitude is seen as normal because "everyone else does it."
  • Poison and Cure Gambit: What Steph calls "Solution Selling"; it refers to game companies who deliberately hinder their own games and have fixes that they sell as DLC. For example, in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), the flawed Kill-to-Death ratio tracker from the previous games was removed and the developers created a better version of it note ; but instead of just adding the new version to the game, Activision is selling it.
  • Praising Shows You Don't Watch:invoked In "That Time The Last of Us 2 Was Compared To Schindler's List", Steph points out that in the mid 2000s, many video game pundits were very eager to make Citizen Kane comparisons despite never having watched the film and not knowing why it's considered so amazing.
  • Public Medium Ignorance: According to some industry insiders, a lot of the executives and marketing heads running the game industry were pulled from "packaged goods" industries, and have no idea how to operate in a content industry like the video game business. One e-mail said of marketers that if it wasn't Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, or Call of Duty, then they hadn't heard of it.
  • Railroading: They mention that if you want to tell a story, you more or less have to do this, or else people will just ignore it.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Discussed in the episode "Rape vs. Murder". They conclude that the reason why rape is treated as more evil than, say, murder is because the latter action has societal justifications for it (revenge, paying evil unto evil, the glory of war and the military, etc.), while rape, which involves dehumanizing an (often) defenseless victim, almost never does. In addition, while all of us are eventually going to die, and very few of us face the threat of getting brutally murdered, rape is a very real threat for almost anyone and sexual violation is hardly a guarantee in the same way as death.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Heavily analyzed in "Blood, Guts, and Video Games", in which they analyze the abusive practice of making artists and devs watch real life violence in order to get references for video games violence without any kind of psychological help. They mention the fact that real life violence is not as dramatic or cinematic, it's the reason why it's not used so much, and even punches themself in the head to show that the sound of a punch is not very audible or dramatic, compared to the sound of punches in movies. They point out that, because most people have actually never seen gruesome real life acts of violence like people being decapitated, hanged or exploded, but are familiar with the stylized violence of movies and games it's more likely that this kind of overly-realistic visuals will fly over people's heads and come across as anti-climatic or unrealistic because it's so out of most people's frame of reference.
  • Refuge in Audacity: invoked The reason why their episode on abusive behavior in the gaming community is called "I'm Going to Murder Your Children." This is because an actual threat to murder a woman's children was made shortly before the episode came out, years after the game that so offended the death-threatener came out.
  • Rewarding Inactivity: In "PS4 - Doing Nothing, Meaning Everything", they're mildly disappointed that everyone treats Sony like heroes for not blocking used games on the PS4, when it means that they are essentially doing nothing different than before. However, they go on to state that with Microsoft and several high profile third parties (EA, Activision, Ubisoft, etc...) going the DRM route, that doing nothing probably did take some fortitude and courage, and that gamers are right to praise a company that isn't shifting towards anti-consumer behavior, as sad a statement as that is about the state of the industry.
  • Romance Sidequest: Steph savagely goes after the entire concept (and its sister trope, the Optional Sexual Encounter) with a knife between the teeth in "Sexual Failing," mocking the way most games choose to handle them as juvenile at best. They even go so far as to argue that the Dead Or Alive Beach Volleyball games are more respectable, since, as Steph puts it, they are at least open and honest about their nature as wish-fulfillment.
  • The Scrappy: Invoked, Steph discusses how Duke Nukem would probably be far more likable as a character if they stopped trying to play him so straight.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: A lot of their Squirty Play videos end suddenly when they can no longer tolerate how bad the games are and just stop playing.
  • Sequelitis: invoked Steph lambasts cowardly publishers like Ubisoft who only want to develop games they know are capable of churning out more sequels, with no compromise for one-off titles. It's gotten to the point where some developers call the first game in a series a loss leader which the profit from the sequels would cover. Publishers don't get all the blame, however; they criticize the audience as well for constantly demanding sequels, even if the game ended perfectly as a stand-alone title, which often forces the hands of publishers seeing easy profit.
  • Self-Deprecation: At the start of "A Post-Nuclear Post-Mortem Of Fallout 76" Steph took umbrage with Bethesda director Todd Howard making a joke about how terrible Bethesda had been over the last year because, despite how truly farcical their performance had been, they didn't think Bethesda were in a position to be making light of it.
    Steph: You don't get to make the jokes about this, Bethesda, you are the joke.
  • Shame If Something Happened: At the end of "Homocide", used in describing the Microtransactions in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain where Konami is selling insurance on in-game assets, because in the online portion of the game other players are able to invade your base and steal your resources.
    Steph (as Konami): Hey, that's a really nice forward operating base you got there, shame if anything bad would happen to it.
  • Shoot the Money: invoked In "The Manhog Is Horrifying, Jim Carrey Is Jim Carrey (OMGH)", Steph takes note of this.
    You gotta have that in films, where, like, for a scene or near the end they look like the counterpart from the licensed property, but only for a bit, because they paid for that actor's face, and by God they're gonna get as much out of that actor's face as possible. That's why in all the Marvel films they spend most of the time actually out of the suits that the characters are famous for, because, you know, they paid for Robert Downey Jr. You'd better sure as hell not forget that it's Robert Downey Jr. Let's keep having a camera inside the Iron Man helmet, so we can see that beautiful, expensive face!
  • So Bad, It's Good: invoked The voice acting from the Dynasty Warriors games, especially the earlier ones.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are X: When reports of David Cage's studio Quantic Dream being a hostile work environment came out in early 2018, Steph called out Cage for using this defence, in which the latter claimed he could not be sexist, homophobic or racist because he had worked with Elliot Pagenote  and Jesse Williams. Steph listed all of the usual problems with this defence, but added that it particularly rings hollow in the case of Cage and Page, since they had a falling out after Quantic Dream made a nude model of Page to use in a game without his permission, and potentially in violation of his contract.
  • Sprint Meter: Another frequent offender from the Steam garbage heap. They despise sprint meters when not used properly, since most bad games that use a sprint meter usually either throw them in for no reason, or the meter drains insanely fast and recharges incredibly slowly.
  • The Starscream: Steph compares the game industry to the infamous Decepticon in "When the Starscreams Kill Used Games". The game industry panders to used game shops like GameStop for exclusive promotions, while blaming the used game market for their own decline. If the used game market was hurting the industry so much, then why would the industry even work with GameStop?
  • Sturgeon's Law: When criticizing something on the Jimquisition, Sterling sometimes mentions it can actually be really good, but most of the time it's done very badly, to the point where the entire idea starts to look irredeemably bad. They specifically cite the Unity engine, which has made some very good games, but is used so often as a shortcut that any game seen using the engine is viewed negatively by default.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys:
    • Discussed in the "Dumbing Down for the Filthy Casuals" episode. They also identify people who complain about easy modes and functions in games like Dark Souls, Star Fox, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as this, since, in Steph's view, they're essentially raging and whining about purely optional game modes that enable other, less-skilled players to enjoy the same games that they enjoy, and trying to force everyone else to "git gud" at playing their favourite games the way they play them because they feel it's the only correct way to play them.invoked
    • "A Difficult Subject" mocks the "hardcore gamer" tendency to engage in Easy-Mode Mockery of people who play on easy mode or mod a game to make it easier. While mocking the attitude, Steph also clarifies their point that they don't care if games have easy modes or not, and doesn't see why anyone would. In Steph's mind, it's really not their business how someone else plays a game.invoked
  • Strawman News Media: Their depiction of the news media as completely uninformed about video games, who react hysterically to any violence or sexuality in a game. Usually, the media operates under the assumption that video games are for kids, and therefore anyone who puts violence or sex in a game is trying to market sex and violence to kids. Steph suggests a way to fight back: Be as childish and relentless as the uninformed critics.
  • Streisand Effect:
    • Discussed in "Corrupt, Censoring, Suicidal Indie Devs", where Steph brings up the attempted removal of reviews and commentaries done by them and Total Biscuit. Namely, how attempting to censor negative criticism on the Internet never, ever works, and that any indie publisher who tries it will quickly disappear forever under a counterattack of mass proportions. invoked
    • Discusses this every time a developer tries to silence them for criticizing their work. Every time one of Steph's videos gets removed for "copyright infringement", Steph's popularity just increases while the person behind the strike gets bad publicity.
    • In "Oh Atlus, Honey, No," Steph brings up the effect by name when discussing the streaming controversy surrounding Persona 5. When Atlus warned players that they were not to livestream anything past 7/7 in the game, Steph decided to give Atlus the benefit of the doubt and say they just wanted to avoid spoilers. However, Steph then points out the Irony that by saying that, Atlus spoiled that something big would be happening when a player reached 7/7.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: Invoked. What Steph calls "asset flips," where developers make games entirely out of pre-made assets purchased from the Unity store and resold as an original product. The most extreme examples of this involve entire pre-made games being resold as original products, with the "UnitZ" asset pack being the most popular target of such reselling.
  • Ten-Second Flashlight: invoked They really hate it when a game has flashlights that drain the batteries far too quickly for the sake of "difficulty" and/or scares, feeling like it adds nothing to the game. They also don't like it when a flashlight barely lights the area in front of the player for the same reason; Steph showcased how a real flashlight looked in a pitch-black room just to point out the absurdity of it. Most of all, they claim these things are done just because other games are doing them, meaning, on top of everything else, they're artistically-bankrupt design choices.
  • Theme Music Powerup: Happens at the end of Skate Man Intense Rescue: A Steam Spite Story. Steph's theme song, "Born Depressed", starts playing as they viciously and mercilessly hammer in the point that they now metaphorically own Digpex Games, just like they own Kobra Studio, The Slaughtering Grounds devsnote  and all other corrupt small-name indie devs who tried to take down their reviews of their shitty games and failed, only boosting Steph's popularity in the process.
  • This Means War!: At the end of "PS4 - Doing Nothing, Meaning Everything", they say that Microsoft has declared war not on Nintendo or Sony but on the consumer for its used games policies.
  • The Problem with Licensed Gamesinvoked: Steph states that the problem with licensed games, worse even than the fact that the majority of them are phoned-in crap, is that even when they're good, they're never available for long in the modern digital age because licensing issues mean they're eventually pulled from digital download or, for older licensed games, never put up there in the first place.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • With the success of Bravely Default, Square Enix admitted it made a mistake in trying to reinvent Final Fantasy instead of sticking with the traditional JRPG stylings that made it famous in the first place. In "An Industry Of Pitiful Cowards", Steph chastises the big publishers who try to remake classic game series in an effort to chase popular trends, with no real evidence that there's anything broken.invoked
    • The same video also points out the opposite trope, It's the Same, Now It Sucks!, and that some publishers endlessly rehash the same idea over and over again until they run it into the ground. Attempting to avert this fate is one reason for running straight into They Changed It, Now It Sucks.invoked
    • The point of "Sonic Gloom." Steph posits that Sonic has had a few legitimately good ideas with Sonic Colors and Sonic Lost World, even saying that Sonic Generations was a good game. However, SEGA choosing to change Sonic every time a new game comes out stagnates and damages the franchise, even saying that the "Sonic Cycle" — the self-perpetuating idea that a Sonic game is going to suck before it comes out — is the company's own fault.
    • Steph overhauled the Jimquisition starting from the A Bitter Post-Mortem Of Modern Warfare Remastercarded episode in May of 2017, including a new intro & theme song and a revamped outfit, lectern, and background. They anticipated some people would have this kind of reaction, referencing this trope by name during the intro's first usage.
    • "The Artistic Arrogance of a Horrible Hollywood Hedgehog" is about how Hollywood movie studios apparently have no faith in the very licenses they buy and try to make movies out of. Steph uses the initial design of Sonic the Hedgehog from Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) as an example, saying that it's rooted in a mindset of "we're Hollywood, we know best." At the same time, Steph criticizes the people creating the movie for Sonic's design slamming headfirst into the Unintentional Uncanny Valley out of a misguided attempt to "improve" a design that didn't need to be fixed. They also acknowledge, however, that as horrific and ill-advised the change was, it at least gained their interest (albeit in a "horrific trainwreck" sense) and that the studio's rush to correct it upon receiving an intense backlash both ensures that the movie will likely just be "bad" instead of "must-see unimaginably bad", and demonstrates the studio's ultimate lack of artistic integrity and interest in the film beyond potential merchandising profit.invoked
  • Too Awesome to Use: They feel that the weapons in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild break so easily that it would be just easier to avoid combat as much as possible in order to preserve the weapons. They compare it to hoarding Elixirs in Final Fantasy where you always save them "just in case" and then beat the game without ever using them.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring:
    • invoked Discussed in their "Crying Through the Laughs" video, where Steph says that a story's sad moments have more meaning, and are therefore more memorable, if things were happy first. They use Zidane from Final Fantasy IX as an example, saying his late-game Heroic BSoD had more weight because of his earlier characterization as a Chivalrous Pervert.
    • invoked Discussed in regards to Final Fantasy XVI in the episode "Final Fantasy XVI's Magical Misery Tour", where Jim talks about the main character Clive is constantly discriminated against by Muggles because he is a Bearer, who are basically a slave class in that universe. Steph points out that while it can be quite interesting to play as an underpriviliged character, the problem is that its the rule rather than the exception that every NPC will make bigoted remarks about Clive and his status as a Bearer whenever he speaks to them or even just passes by them in the street, and Clive just passively accepts it, making him coming across as an Extreme Doormat. Steph notices that they find it really rather hard to keep being motivated to help anyone in a world where the average person ranges somewhere between Colonel Volgin and Ramsay Bolton in personality and general likablity.
  • Trapped at the Dinner Table: In "You Didn't Finish The Game", Steph recounts how the one time their asshole stepfather tried to make them eat liver and onions, Steph sat at the table all night rather than eat it. After their mother had a long chat with the stepfather, the family never had liver and onions again. This segues into the episode proper, wherein they argue that being forced to play an entire game that clearly sucks (and you can tell five minutes in that it's garbage) in order to validate your criticism is just as asinine as forcing someone to sit there until they've eaten their liver and onions. Steph also argues that this not only wouldn't make the person in question like it more, it'd make them like it even less. Steph has never eaten liver and onions again since that faithful night, and likewise argues that forcing every reviewer to play a game to completion would make review scores go down, not up.
  • Tropes Are Tools: For Halloween 2015, Steph criticizes several recurring and badly used Horror Tropes, such as Blackout Basement, Ten-Second Flashlight, Jitter Cam, and Implacable Man.
  • Trrrilling Rrrs: While Steph themself sometimes uses this trope for emphasis, it's a staple of Duke Amiel's comically exaggerated aristocratic accent.
  • The Unapologetic: In "Tomopolgy Life", Steph brings up Nintendo's apology for not considering gay players when they put a marriage event in Tomodachi Life, and then apologized themself because the deadline for their videos meant they didn't have time to include it in the first video, and their rushing also misrepresented an aspect of the debate, painting Nintendo to be worse that they actually were. The rest of the video talks about this, how some people believe in never apologizing, compromising or admitting you're wrong; as some viewers saw Nintendo's reversal as a sign of weakness.
  • Unintentional Uncanny Valley: invoked
    • Called out Team Ninja, makers of the Dead or Alive games, for making (and then defending) "sexy" characters that they find to be downright hideous due to this trope, particularly with their ludicrous Jiggle Physics.
    • Shudders at the overly realistic and human-like redesign of Sonic the Hedgehog in the 2019 movie trailer, questioning whether kids this year will really be begging their mothers to buy them a "Sonic the Manhog" doll.
      I'm not joking, it genuinely makes me feel queasy. It looks like some sort of sick freak! It does! It looks like fucking... it looks like a monster! It's a little horrible elongated monster!
  • Unpleasable Fanbase: Invoked.
    • They have called the Zelda fanbase the "spoiled brats" of video game fandom, since they had Nintendo putting out new ones every couple years that were always well-done.
    • "Delayed Reaction" is all about Steph's incredulity over fan reaction to a two-month delay of Final Fantasy XV. To Steph, the reasons for the delay sounded rather reasonable. Steph sounds genuinely astonished that people would resort to death threats for a journalist just reporting that the game was delayed, saying "things didn't used to be this bad."
  • Values Dissonance: invoked In response to criticism over the use of Jiggle Physics in Dead or Alive 5, the developers defended themselves by saying that it was popular in Japan and that complainers from the West should just deal with it. Steph said it would be acceptable if the game was intended for Japan only, but since the game was made for an international audience, they have to conform to the social norms in foreign markets as well.
  • Villain Protagonist: invoked Steph likes games where they play a villain, partially because of how horrific it is to play a character of such opposite morality, and because villains are more interesting. In "To Play the Villain", they point out games like Kane & Lynch and Saints Row 2 for putting players in the shoes of truly horrible people, while criticizing Overlord and later Saints Row games which pit the protagonist against people who are far worse, and come out looking like Anti-Villains or Anti-Heroes by comparison, thus losing the nastiness of proper villainous characters.
  • Waggle: invoked They despise games that shove in motion controls as a gimmick or tech demo, especially when they don't actually serve the game or a more-traditional control scheme would've served the player better. Nintendo in particular is often singled out for this, though the crowning example is Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, which they outright called for a recall of, being almost completely non-functional thanks to its Kinect controls, and named as their worst game of 2012.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: Steph was pissed off by gamers and journalists actually giving praise to game studios who decide to be less of a Jerkass than usual. In "The Trap of Gamer Gratitude", they point to EA adding microtransactions to Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare because people were having trouble unlocking things, pointing out the game was designed from the start to be tedious to play for free to coerce players into spending money.
    • However, they actually do give Loadout praise for decency themself in the "Free to Wait" episode.
      Steph: That this game, a humble little game from a humble little studio can provide a genuinely quality shooter — and it really is a fucking good game — without perverting the free to play model, is worthy of applause. I mean, well, it shouldn't be worthy of applause, but in this world, unfortunately, it is.
    • They made a similar argument for praising Sony's decision to support used games on the PlayStation 4, arguing that while Sony wasn't bringing any new benefits the consumer and was in fact maintaining the status quo, they were still worthy of praise since in the current customer-hostile climate that pervades the game industry Sony's decision likely took a lot of consideration and courage.
    • In "So Are "AAA" Lootboxes Done?", published in the wake of the lootbox controversy, they have noted how publishers started to advertise their removal of or promises not to include lootboxes because of the good PR that they receive, but in particular lambasts certain developers (particularly Warner Brothers Interactive for Middle-earth: Shadow of War) for only doing it after including it to grab the easy good PR, when they shouldn't have done it at all.
    • When EA announced in 2019 that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order would be a story-focused, single-player game without any sort of microtransactions, Steph reiterated their distrust for EA and felt disgusted that they were proudly this for one of their games after having done so much to the contrary in the past.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: Invoked and played with in "The Political Agenda of Dark Souls"; after delivering a lengthy analysis of the anti-capitalist themes of change vs. stagnation in Dark Souls, they pull the rug out from it by remarking that it's "bollocks", and that everything they've said, while something they genuinely believe about the game, is merely their own personal interpretation of the game rather than something that is fundamentally present within it and might be challenged by the creator or other players. Their broader point is not that their way of reading the game is automatically correct, but that all works of art fundamentally contain ideas and messages about the world and that creators and readers alike bring their own ways of interpreting a text when engaging with it, so it's useless to try and argue that a text is "non-political".
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: In "The Exploitation of Apolitical Politics". Steph criticizes game developers (focusing on the then-recently released The Division 2) for claiming that their work "isn't political" or "isn't trying to send a political message", even when their games deal with subjects like war, government, religion, gun ownership, patriotism, inequality, and racism that are inherently political. Such denials treat the audience like idiots while deprecating the artistic and social value of their own work. Another aspect of this that bugs them is illustrated by David Cage, who deflected comparisons of his game's robots to real exploited and scapegoated groups such as immigrants by insisting that Detroit: Become Human is just about androids who want to be free. To Steph this sends the cynical message that oppressed groups in real life can be a profitable source of inspiration for games that want to be topical, but do not deserve any acknowledgement or solidarity from the developers since that would mean the company taking a stand about something and thus maybe—possibly—offending some subset of the game's potential customers.
  • Why the Fandom Can't Have Nice Things:
    • While Steph describes themself as a defender of gamers, they are disgusted by the personal threats towards game developers like Jennifer Helper and David Vonderhaar. The hateful response towards developers will only overshadow legitimate criticism and discourage the industry from being creative.
    • Steph expresses annoyance and anger towards PewDiePie and his fallout for his use of the "N" word during a livestream. Steph was angry at Pewd's irresponsibility with racist quips and explained how it could cause advertisers to clamp down and demand regulation on Youtube, which would screw over everyone.
    • invoked When discussing the fact that Waluigi was not a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Steph noted the vitriolic reactions of a Vocal Minority who wanted Waluigi to be included as a playable fighter. They cite the constant abuse towards series director Masahiro Sakurai, and argues that such a level of abuse is the quickest way to not get what you want.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: Their main criticism towards We Happy Few and other survival horror games is the reliance on this trope. They find they can't do anything in the game because they're continuously being harassed by their own character's need to eat, drink, and sleep, and that constantly having to keep the rapidly-draining meters full becomes a chore rather than a pleasure if they're too intrusive.
  • Word Salad Title: Calls Square Enix out for their insistence on giving their games these in "Square Enix Has Stupid Game Names", in particular focusing on the handheld Kingdom Hearts games.
  • Workaholic: Discussed in "Look After Your Workers Or Get Out Of Games". Steph says being a workaholic is not a good thing and should not be seen as a positive trait, because being a workaholic can have a severe impact on a person's health.
  • X Meets Y: Invoked by Steph as they chew out video game companies' social media presence, chiding them that they're being called on their bullshit by "someone who looks like Porky Pig joined a steampunk Green Day."
  • You Keep Using That Word:
    • In "Lugoscababib Discobiscuits", Steph is annoyed by everyone using "Ludonarrative Dissonance" just because it sounds cool. In particular, they say that people are using it to criticize violence in games, when it really means a disconnect between the narrative told in gameplay, versus the narrative told by cutscenes. They looked at Tomb Raider (2013), in which Lara Croft is supposed to be an archaeologist who hates guns, and yet spends the game killing people like a pro; and compared it to Bioshock Infinite, which also has lots of violence, but stars a violent person, being dropped into a city that looks peaceful but is really hiding a violent underbelly. Both have been criticized for ludonarrative dissonance, when only Tomb Raider is a true example.
    Just being violent is not ludonarrative dissonance; not when the story and world themselves are supposed to be fucking violent.
    • They direct this at Ubisoft at the end of Ubisoft - A Sad History of PC Failures. Ubisoft's constant use of "iconic" had gotten on their nerves, applying it to things like Aiden Pearce's attire or an Assassins Creed character's pocket-watch. It got to the point that the episode "Ubiconic" was all about Ubi's misuse of the word.
    • In their INNOVATION- GAMING'S SNAKE OIL video, Steph stated that they feel that critics put higher stock into "innovation" over actual quality.
    • "Censorship" for whenever a content creator cuts or changes anything, with the Fan Dumb invoked automatically believing someone else forced them to. Content creators should be free to edit their work as they see fit, and cutting things out is as much a part of creative freedom as adding things in.
    • One early episode ("YOUR REVIEWS ARE TEH BIAS") discusses this by showing how often people complaining about their reviews keep misusing the word "bias" to describe any reviewer they vehemently disagree with.
    • People calling any of their opinions they don't like "clickbait". They don't even have ads on their website or videos (unless Content ID is involved), so the accusation doesn't make any sense.
    • Steph criticizes people who demand reviews be "objective" without knowing what the word means. The "100% objective" review of Final Fantasy XIII showed what a review that was completely objective would look like, consisting only of Captain Obvious statements like "Final Fantasy XIII is a video game." To this point, Steph argues that anyone who demands a video game review be "objective" actually means "I want this review to contain an opinion I agree with."
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Steph is quite disgusted with how companies like EA only hand out to review copies to critics who are going to praise their games. They take pride that the company has since labeled them as a "wild card," and notes that they'd be more insulted if EA were actually giving them the games, meaning they saw them as someone who would blindly praise their games.

    The Podquisition 

Tropes featured on the Podquisition:

  • Author Filibuster: When not opening the show with an Orphaned Punchline, Steph usually opens with whatever opinion is at the forefront of their mind at the time.
    • Of special note is the opening of Jeff Beezos where Steph briefly pretends to talk about Silent Hill before starting to criticise Jeff Bezos and billionaires in general.
    • Please Remove Yourself From The Internet begins with Steph doing a dramatic reading of a ranting comment spammed on several of their videos.
    • Similarly,Gamers Rise Up begins with Steph doing an energetic dramatic reading of a very lengthy example of a titular comment during a discussion of "gamer cringe".
  • Butt-Monkey: Gavin, who often gets made fun of by the other co-hosts (mainly for his love of Ubisoft) and gets known as "the slow one" by the audience.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: They consider Nintendo as a company to be one, as they put out competent games consistently but also have a tendency to make weird decisions.
  • Catchphrase: "[A show about] whether your favorite video games are great or perfect".
  • The Cast Show Off: Gavin would occassionally get out a guitar and sing a song or two when he was on the show.
  • Couch Gag: Beginning with episode 19, each episode started with Steph off-handedly mentioning a new symptom of Gavin's "illness". It began with a real-life incident where Gavin had his foot stood on by a high-heeled shoe, but has since gone on to include rotting flesh, egg-laying insects and crows nesting in it. They eventually stopped. When a listener asked why in one episode, they answered that, essentially, they thought it had run its course. Steph then started adding an Orphaned Punchline to an unheard anecdote at the start of each episode.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Gavin talks about having one in "F*ck Live Services". Having been much more optimistic about the AAA game industry than the other two hosts for a long time, he claims that the downfall of BioWare with the disastrous launch of Anthem, their first live service game, as well as the news that the upcoming Dragon Age 4 was going to be Retooled into another live service, had caused him to lose faith.
  • Developer's Foresight: Referenced by Steph in episode 205 in reference to the responsiveness of NPCs in Red Dead Redemption 2.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Steph has noted that they try to ignore their birth name of "James Stanton". They've only mentioned it once on The Jimquisition, when it came up in Digital Homicide's Frivolous Lawsuit against them. Steph clarified on the podcast that they would legally change their name to "Steph Sterling" if not for the legal issues that would arise if they did so.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Steph immediately told Gavin to shut up when Gav made a joke based around hatred towards Millennials.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: One episode is an interview between Steph and the infamous Digital Homicide.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-universe; in the early Podquisitions, Steph and Laura are positive about amiibos (with Steph even defending them in a Jimquisition). Later on, they're much more pessimistic about them, mainly due to constant supply problems and influx of rare amiibos.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episode titles are usually either a quote or a reference to a topic discussed in the episode, usually being taken from that week's opening Seinfeldian Conversation.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise: Gavin's final appearance as a regular member of the trio included a live accoustic guitar version of the Podquisition theme song.
  • Only Sane Man: Laura is the show's cat herder, who puts together a topic list and tries to make the other two talk about video games. Downplayed, as she is still entirely ready to join in with hijinks and gags.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Steph has a tendency to open the show with one, which often spirals into a Seinfeldian Conversation.
  • Overly Long Gag: Their intro as a wrestler has added more and more nicknames to the point where their name graphic is just a scrolling wall of text.
  • Running Gag:
    • As always, the utter disdain for Ubisoft. Invoked though, considering that Ubisoft keeps giving them reasons to talk about them. A sub-running gag is that Gavin, who has on occasion worked with Ubisoft and doesn't want to burn bridges, adamantly does not participate in Laura and Steph's needling of the company. (It's to the point where it's a non-gag, i.e. they're entirely serious, when they say to the audience not to bother Gavin about this on Twitter or other social media, and for God's sake not to tag in Ubisoft's official accounts into the conversation.)
    • Around the time of Bloodborne's release and after, it keeps getting brought up, even when they're trying to dodge the topic.
    • The supposed Unresolved Sexual Tension between Steph and Laura.
    • Steph facetiously blaming "liberal arts students" for various things.
    • The specific way Steph will say "What they DID to Zhang He" when talking about Dynasty Warriors 9 and Gavin's utter delight at it.
    • They also have a habit of going on a minutes long intro tangent, then remembering they haven't done an intro and doing it belatedly. (Amplified when Laura is absent as Steph and Gav seem to rely on Laura to keep them on topic).
    • Since Conrad joined, they have come to describe the purpose of the podcast as "telling you whether your favourite video games are great or perfect" to make fun of people who complain when the podcast gets political or get overly upset at criticism of the games they like.
      • Steph and Conrad trying to jokingly avoid the subject of video games entirely, only for Laura to drag them both back.
    • "Let's do some slander", a segment where the cast discusses completely accurate and not at all false information about what an unpopular figure that week does in their spare time — because it's not slander if you admit it's untrue by ''saying'' it's slander!
    • Steph's fondness for an Orphaned Punchline to open the show.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Their topics often spin off into bizarre tangents, such as Kirby amiibos devouring other amiibos to explain amiibo shortages.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: They speculate that Reggie fils-Amie is out to get Laura after several odd problems involving Nintendo games.
  • Special Guest: Whenever one of the trio is absent, the other two try to bring a guest on. Most prominent during the weeks Laura was in recovery for surgery, where they had on, among others, Justin McElroy and Holly Green.
    • Parodied in one early Conrad-era podcast, where Steph spends the opening pretending to be a snooker player more interested in making trick shots the audience can't acctually see.
  • Take That!: Various powerful people get made fun of frequently, especially those in the video game industry known to be liars or who are leading companies known for labour violations. Many right wing political figures are also frequently satirised.
    • The "great or perfect" Running Gag is one aimed at gamers who take a review rating a game as anything less as a personal slight.
  • Take That, Audience!: Steph often makes fun of listeners who don't want them to get "too political" on the podcast. See Running Gag above.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: One episode has the very final topic being the unexpected return of Digital Homicide. Steph is outright floored by the fact that the news that week had been so bad that their return had completely slipped their mind.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Referenced by Steph and jokingly invoked with them and Laura.
  • We Didn't Start the Billy Joel Parodies: In Episode 238 "Surprise Mechanics", Gavin makes a "surprise summary" to the week by singing the song to the events of E3 2019, EA calling lootboxes "surprise mechanics", and clickbait.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Jim Sterling, James Stephanie Sterling


"Why Should I Care?!"

James Sterling asks this question in regards to Outriders when realizing that Square-Enix is just cancelling games left and right, even comparing them to Netflix and their handling of shows (using the Dark Crystal's sequel show as an example).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheFireflyEffect

Media sources: