April Cools Thread - Shout Out Underappreciated Creators

In parts of the world, April Fools Day is celebrated this time of year. While kindhearted pranks and jokes can be fun as the seasons change, sometimes what we really need is something more edifying. Welcome to the April Cools thread, inspired by similar discussions on the Discord, where we all come together to shout out cool stuff that we feel deserve more attention, with a focus on marginalized creators.

Do you have a favorite YouTuber who doesn’t get the views you think they should? Is there an underrated designer on Itch.io whose work you love? No matter what medium your favorite niche creator works in, shout them out here! We’d love to keep this going all month, so feel free to keep coming back and posting more.

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I’ll probably pop in with others, but a few things I’ve been enjoying recently.

I like Huntress X Thopson’s vids, leftist takes on video games and film. Solid criticism, and a nice presentation, she deserves more views. I enjoyed her Dwarf Fortress video:

This is a neat Pico-8 game about a train I’ve been playing while listening to podcasts.

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Melos Han-Tani and Marina Kittaka, the duo behind games like Anodyne and Even the Ocean aren’t exactly unknown in indie game circles. But beyond their lovingly crafted games they also write everything from interesting development blogs [1, 2, 3] and Twitter tidbits to longer form writing.

Here’s Melos discussing a future of games that we didn’t get:

What is interesting about hearing Horii and Miyamoto talk, is their youth and candidness. If we get an interview nowadays, it’s usually in vague, marketing-safe terms. You can actually see some of their anxieties, doubts, and design conundrums in this interview. Horii is in his mid-30s, Miyamoto his late-30s.
Lost Futures of Miyamoto (The Ghost of Ys I) (the blog is regularly updated)

And Marina about working towards a different games industry:

In answer to this perceived scarcity, The Industry swoops in with a promise that technological and design mastery can “make” people feel. It does this not only blatantly in marketing copy or developer interviews, but also in unwieldy assertions that games can make you empathic, or through the widespread notion that games are an exceptionally “immersive” art form due to “interactivity”. Embedded in this promise is the ever-alluring assumption that technological progress is linear: games overall must be getting better, more beautiful, more moving, because that is simply how technology works! Or perhaps it is the progress itself that is beautiful — each impressive jump towards photorealism delivering the elusive sense of wonder that we crave.
Divest from the Video Games Industry!

They’re very funny, often writing with a warmthness that makes its way into their games. Absolutely two of the most interesting people working with games right now.

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Chinese Cooking Demystified is one of my favorite recipe channels. The videos are short and to the point. They have a lot of interesting asides about the history, science, and culture of Chinese cuisine. The recipes include easy substitutions for those outside of China and they have a nice mix of simple and complex dishes.

This recipe for “Fry Roast” chicken has entered my regular rotation of weeknight meals:

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i’ll second the chinese cooking demystified rec and add in a comics podcast that started in 2020 via cerebro a character by character analysis from a queer leftist perspective. great guests along with interviews with current x-office talent. i’ll just put their twitter. @cerebrocast long live the maddie hive. she deserved better as a character from editorial

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I will third the Chinese Cooking Demystified rec! The closest Chinese supermarket is about half an hour away from where I live, so I haven’t had the chance to follow any of their recipes all the way through. However, I have taken some of the broader lessons and techniques from the channel and applied them to my own cooking, with excellent results! The trick for scrambled eggs that they showed is incredible, and I’ll never go back to making it the way I did before!

My first rec is a critic who is well known around these parts, but whose YouTube lets plays are criminally under viewed. Dia Lacina is currently running at least 6 concurrent let’s plays, and they’re really great! Her Dark Souls series has been really damn good so far. She’s great at explaining both the mechanics and lore of Lordran, but what I find eye opening is her ability to tease out the story of DS1 while playing. Anyone who has played that game before knows how easy it is to just play the game without ever thinking about the narrative. What has been surprising to me is how coherent and compelling that story is when you have someone guiding you through it! Anyways, here’s the first episode of that let’s play:

With Love from Lordran (A Dark Souls Let’s Play) - Episode 1 - YouTube

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Maybe a weird thing to recommend, but I have played so many more indie games since subscribing to itch.io’s YouTube channel. Someone on the team plays, like, the first ten minutes of a game to show a bit of it, and I have heard of maybe one in twenty of the games they make videos for. So it’s nice to get a look at a whole load of games that don’t get GB Quick Looks or anything.

Also, since notanimal brought her up, Dia Lacina was just on an episode of Glass House Games, a great games crit podcast. Loved her commentary (the episode is on the end of the PS3/P/Vita stores):

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I had no idea itch had its own YouTube channel. That does sound really useful!