If I could look back on how much time I’ve spent watching individual YouTube channels, NakeyJakey’s videos would take up a disproportionate amount. Even with his sparse uploads compared to other YouTubers (he’s posted about 20 videos in the last three years), I still find myself cycling through his video essays — maybe “rants” describe them better — every few months. They’ve become a sort of comfort food for me, like I’m feeding my brain a Little Caesars five-dollar Hot-N-Ready in bed on a Tuesday night.
Jacob Christensen, otherwise known as NakeyJakey, started his channel in 2015 with a video series titled “GAMES THAT SHOULD BANG.” In these videos, he imagines how his favorite elements of two different games or movies could function together as something new. Early in his career, he also experimented with other styles of videos such as his “rap reviews” of video games, which feature his own original music. In addition to these raps, Christensen has also released several more serious songs under the name Jakey, and he even announced an upcoming EP in December. The variety of content that he has experimented with is a strong suit of the channel, and it allows him to show off his knowledge and talents in many things.
There’s something joyous about listening to a friend geek out about something that they care about, even if that means sitting through one of their 45-minute summaries of the “Call of Duty: Zombies” storyline. Jakey’s videos have the same feeling as them. Although his main focus is on video games, he also covers topics such as Scholastic Book Fairs and online dating. I’m not even old enough to remember some of the things he talks about, like early music pirating or the heyday of Disney Channel Original Movies, but his passion is so strong and well-presented that I can’t help but feel excited about them too. One comment on “Pizza Hut PS1 Demo Discs” puts it best: “It’s like watching an overconfident 14-year-old giving a presentation about his favourite thing in the world.”
The style of Jakey’s videos tends to be pretty simple. Most of the time he’s sitting on a yoga ball in front of a green screen while footage from whatever topic he’s ranting about plays behind him. He often uses a keyboard for little musical interjections, and once for a sick rap over video game sound effects, which is undoubtedly one of the best intros to a YouTube video ever. These touches make each video feel casual, like you’re just hanging out in the living room with one of your friends. His video titled “Dark Souls Saved Me” perfectly encapsulates this casual approach, as it is just him lying in bed, talking to you about how the video game “Dark Souls” helped him get through a period of depression. Seeing the ways in which he is able to convey his feelings really moved me when I first found his channel — it’s why I’m writing this article right now. Knowing that so many people loved hearing him share his experiences with different media encouraged me to find ways in which I could do the same thing.
Although most of his video game–related content praises things such as loading screens and music, his two longest videos are in-depth critiques of “Red Dead Redemption 2” and “The Last of Us Part II.” Rather than adding to the garbage dump of negativity around these games — especially the hate for “The Last of Us Part 2” — he takes a critical approach, looking into what these games are missing, or, more specifically, how the developer’s design doesn’t work as intended. For “The Last of Us Part 2,” he looks at how the game’s themes of violence and hate don’t agree with the gameplay, creating a dissonance that left him feeling disconnected from the story. His “Red Dead 2” video explores the conflict between open-world exploration that developer Rockstar Games is known for and the strong narrative they aim to create with their more recent games. Although not a game designer, Christensen proposes ideas ranging from a decreased focus on linear missions to a better integration of the game’s many simulation systems to fix this awkward blending.
His passion for game design makes these videos enjoyable to watch, but they’ve also taught me that sometimes criticism is a way to show your love for a piece of media. There are movies, TV shows and games that I love dearly, but analyzing them the way Jakey does helps me to understand why exactly I enjoy them and in what ways they could improve, which I believe is the best way to love. Because of his videos, I feel like I am now able to take a more balanced approach in my appreciation of the media I consume.
When people geek out about something they love, it can open up a side of them you don’t normally see. When my mom starts talking about the viability of different standardized testing methods or one of my friends waxes poetic over car parts, I am reminded of how our interests shape the different people we are. Sharing about these passions is a way of expressing a part of ourselves that we might not share otherwise. NakeyJakey’s videos give me this same satisfaction, and when watching them, I am reminded of the ways in which we show how much we care about the media that shapes us. Thank you, Jakey.
Daily Arts Writer Hunter Bishop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.