For my 100th published article I wanted to do something special. I thought about which games and topics I could potentially write about, but nothing seemed to be that incredibly special or big. I’ve already written tons of articles on my favourite games so I didn’t want to beat a dead horse at this point. The idea hit me a couple of days ago when I was watching YouTube. I want to write about my favourite show, Madness, by the NormalBoots channel. I want to talk about why it’s my favourite show, how it really mirrors why YouTube is so great, and address some of the criticism that the show unfairly gets. I remember Furst, the manager of NormalBoots, once tweeted that when talking about their favourite games and such, people always feel a need to bring up the negative aspects and that it can be unnecessary. I’m just doing that now because I think some people really go into each episode of Madness with completely the wrong mindset.
One YouTube channel that is entertaining, funny, and downright controversial to fans who are in love with any game. Today, Sterling Guilherme will see why this group of YouTube Gaming’s finest personalities make some of the best content, and THIS is Madness.
For anyone reading that doesn’t know, Normal Boots is a channel managed by Forrest Lee that is a culmination of Youtubers such as Peanut Butter Gamer, ProJared, The Completionist, DidYouKnowGaming, Continue? And Satchbag’s Goods. Their channel consists of different shows like Did You Know Movies, Worlds Within Worlds, another hilarious series where they explain the plot and mechanics of a game while being severely drunk, and of course, Madness. Madness is their main gig where fans of the show get to vote on the best games on a certain system, and then the top 12 games are randomized into a bracket and the panel of NormalBoots members and usually a guest or 2 debate on which game is better (The same also goes for their second season where they debate the best 90’s cartoons). Things get extremely heated as you can tell each member put their heart into every episode.
So what exactly makes Madness so great and unique? First of all, the general idea of debating about which games are better in a bracket form is just really entertaining. As stated in the first episode, we all have debates with our friends about which game is better, so why not make a show out of it? Whether you’re there to see one of your favourite games win or lose, see friends get into a heated discussion, or just get a different perspective on a game, Madness is the right place to be. Now, I don’t exactly scour YouTube night and day but I haven’t found a video series quite like Madness before. I mean, obviously people debate about which games are better in a series, or about like-minded games in general, but I’ve never seen anything in the form of Madness or something that is done as consistently as they do it. On top of just listening to a debate about video games, the arguments can often get comical since everyone on the panels are great friends. There have been more times than I can count where I’m doubled over in my chair from laughter because Jirard is staring at the camera in frustration or Peanut Butter Gamer and ProJared are arguing with one and other just to get on each others nerves. It’s funny, heart-warming, and just entertaining to watch.
The second thing is that if you’re a fan of the guys from NormalBoots, Madness is like a dream come true. If I’m being quite honest, I only really knew who Jirard The Completionist was beforehand. I had heard of mostly everybody else who was featured on the first season, but I hadn’t watched much of their content (now I’m subscribed and watch all of their videos daily). After the first episode of Madness aired, I had to get acquainted with everyone and learn about who they were, what content they made and what games they like. Overall, it’s just really nice to actually see all of these guys on one platform at the same time, showcasing their knowledge and personalities. Also to further that, is the fact that they bring on Special guests. Each season is different, with different members appearing in different seasons, as well as a special guest or two. They have had special guests like Alex Faciane from Super Beard Bros, Barry Kramer from barryisstreaming, Jim Caddick from Caddicarus, and Jeff Fabre from SpaceHamster. The guests really keep the panels fresh and opinions varied. The Playstation 1 season was especially interesting because someone like Caddy is known for loving the PS1 and its library of games, whereas Barry has no nostalgia whatsoever for PS1 games. It led to two very different perspectives and I think it makes the show much better.
The final thing is something that I’ve already mentioned previously and that’s everyone’s knowledge and preference of video games. If the match up for the episode is a game that someone on the panel is really passionate about, you know they are going to try and defend it with everything they’ve got and also try to convince everyone else to vote for it to win. Things get even better when 2 different people try and champion each of the games going up against each other because things get incredibly hectic and usually lead to a lot of laughs. If you also know the guys in the show, you know about their tastes in games. For example, if Paper Mario comes up, you know Shane Gill is going to fight to the death over the fact that he thinks it’s one of the greatest games of all time. Or if a JRPG is in the bracket, Jirard will most likely like the game, but Lee will not. But sometimes, some of the panellists do such a good job at explaining why one game is better than the other, that they actually change the minds of some of the other panellists, which can lead to some surprising outcomes. Most of the time the game I expect to win does not and I find it thrilling.
I want to talk about some of the criticism that Madness gets that you can see in almost every comment section of their videos. There are two different kinds of critique on Madness videos: people who are clearly just pissed that their favourite game didn’t win the match up, and those who are mad at the formatting of the show and opinions of the NormalBoots guys. The later is pretty frustrating to see and the NormalBoots guys have also expressed their frustration with it. The main thing I see people saying is that everyone on the show needs to be more “objective” and that they need to stop bringing their personal opinions. I don’t understand how people do not understand that there isn’t a lot of things about video games that you can be objective about. Some games can objectively control better, look better, and be less buggy, but things like music, tone, art-style, story, gameplay, genre, and to some degree, voice-acting, cannot objectively be better and are thus up to preference and opinion. The person who is writing the review for that new game that your’re thinking of buying? They also have personal preferences when it comes to things like gameplay, art-style and genre. It is impossible to entirely remove these things and I think the show would be much more boring if they did. It doesn’t matter who it is on the panel of the show, they have played the game, have had separate, personal experiences, and they all respond to different things in different ways. THAT is what makes Madness so fun and interesting to watch.
The other complaint I see is that the show should be better formatted, as in talking about specific aspects of each games in a proper order. Maybe people are suggesting something else but this is what I imagine when they complain about this. The problem about that is things would start to sound very scripted which would come off as sounding just like a review and unauthentic. It’s called Madness because it’s supposed to be crazy, unformatted, arguing, shouting, something crazy every time. I certainly think if it was formatted to be the same every episode, it would not be as fun to watch and less original. The NormalBoots guys have also acknowledged this by saying that not having a format is just the reality of filming. They only have so much time to film, as they have said they film a season is 3 days, which may also include travel for a lot of them since the first three season were filmed in L.A at the TOVG office. Everyone that is involved in filming and producing Madness has their own lives and channels to worry about, so going through each factor of a game every single episode would take far too much time. Sometimes some things that should be mentioned get swept under the rug, but I find most things are argued fairly and games are represented fairly.
If there is just one last point I can make, is that to fully enjoy Madness, you have to go into it with the right mind set. Even if you truly believe a game on the bracket deserves to win, do not expect it to. Don’t think that if your favorite games lose that you’ll stop watching because that’s almost unsportsman-like? If that’s even possible. Realise that these guys probably appreciate different things than you and it’s just a show, not the end of the world.
NormalBoots and Madness are a fantastic channel and show. I look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday, every match-up, the poll results from each season, and seeing who’s in each season. The content is original, it’s fun, it’s funny, and honestly, it’s just pure Madness. You can tell these guys love what they do, and that’s how art is made. This is the kind of content that YouTube should promote, but they don’t because it’s fucking YouTube. It’s the greatest YouTube crossover event, it involves video games, and there is tons of arguing, what else could be more YouTube?! If you love video games in any capacity, go watch this show and then come back and thank me. I’m glad I could talk about something that makes my day every Tuesday and Thursday, thank you so much for reading and thank you to those who have kept up with my writing career so far. It has been absolute Madness.