Reviewing The Welfare Gamer DVD feels a little useless since it was released a couple months back in a limited run (which has since sold out) and all of the episodes have been removed from Youtube in order to make this release feel important. It’s kind of a strange decision to make all this work completely inaccessible to people. Oh but hey, don’t even worry about it because believe me you are not missing out at allllllll.
I’m not even going to bullshit around, I barely made it through this DVD. It took me several sessions over several days to make it to the end, often only doing one video at a time. This is the best example so far of not being familiar with a show beforehand completely biting me in the ass as I likely would not have purchased it, and willingly left a gap in this feature where this DVD would go.
Let’s back things up a bit and give a slight overview. So the Welfare Gamer is a creation of Ed Findlay, formerly (maybe still currently) known as Retrogamer3. I actually do have his previous DVD but have not yet finished it for review. I don’t remember being particularly appalled by anything I had watched on it though. This one though, sweet Jesus.
The Welfare Gamer character lives in a shed, is often depicted sleeping outside and is constantly disheveled looking and covered in filth. This all leads to the first issue - this dude is homeless, not on welfare! This is somewhat corrected in the later episodes where he makes reference to getting a cheque in the mail and sometimes seems to be living in a house, so I guess by that point the title is a little more apt but for the majority of the running time, this dude is clearly homeless. He also murders people and insinuates at least once that he has raped someone (fun fact - this character was originally The Gaming Rapist for one episode) so he’s not the most pleasant fellow to watch.
The Welfare Gamer subscribes to the classic theory that just because you’re calling games “pieces of buffalo shit” and saying the word cock a bunch that you are automatically hilarious. This is very much not the case, especially here. Granted a good deal of the reviews are positive ones so there is less of that, but there is definitely an abundance of “hey guys I’m swearing! Funny right?!” Incorrect sir.
That’s not my biggest issue with the humour though. A few years back, a friend and I had the idea of starting a show where we played classic games drunk, since we thought it would be hilarious. Of course we were drunk at the time and when we sobered up we realized that would be the worst idea ever since sober people don’t want to listen to drunk assholes who think they are being hilarious. Welfare Gamer did not get to that second stage. Several videos are nothing more than listening to him play the game while either actually drunk or just playing drunk, I’m honestly not sure which. Doesn’t matter either way because it’s a fucking chore to sit through it. He just drunkenly yells nonsense (I’m serious, sometimes it’s straight gibberish) and laughs at himself and it’s excruciating! My wife was in the room when I was watching the Demon Sword video where this is at its most prevalent, and she actually asked if I could turn it off.
That’s not to say the rest of the humour works better. The gag of drinking Listerine to get drunk is used constantly, there’s a sequence where a stolen car becomes a Decipticon that just goes on and on and on, and the rest is just the aforementioned drunk nonsense and random cursing. I’m not going to say there aren’t people out there who will think this is funny (the show does have fans) but I was certainly not one of them and at times was physically pained watching it.
So that’s the humour side of things, how does the review portion fare? Eh, better but only very very slightly. To the show’s credit, it’s not just shit talking games and much of the discussion is positive, including a review of Duke Nukem Forever that takes the stance of the game getting a lot of undeserved shit (a stance I happen to at least partially agree with). The problem is that clearly none of these reviews are scripted, and that definitely hurts them overall. This ends up making the reviews ramble on, with a lot of disjointed thoughts, the same points being made numerous times, and just overall creates a lack of flow to the proceedings. He often makes valid points, I’m just not a fan of the framework they are presented in.
If I had to point to one video in this set that absolutely represented everything I dislike about the show, it’s the Black Ops review. After an opening scene of him robbing a green screen image of Gamestop goes on for several minutes, it becomes clear quickly that this review is going to take the “controversial” stance of saying that Call of Duty is garbage. I put the word in quotes because at this point, it might be less controversial to say you really like Call of Duty. Have you been on the Internet? That series gets shit talked constantly! And look at how many upvotes a negative COD comment gets, I guarantee it’s a lot. Yes this video is a little old at this point but these sentiments have been around since at least Modern Warfare II. So to have to listen to someone go on and on about how they dare to talk shit about Call of Duty in an effort to get people riled up, is pretty goddamn silly. You want to really get people talking then talk shit about Chrono Trigger or Mario 3 or Skyrim or any number of widely loved titles.
I’ve always had a problem with reviewers talking shit about something purely to get a rise out of people and get them talking. It’s very possible that Ed genuinely doesn’t like COD, and that’s completely fine, but his points for backing this up are terrible. The only review portion has him making statements like “oh it has grenades, how original”, “oh look at that, a crosshair, never seen that in a shooter before”, etc. No, he really says those things. So I guess his issue with Black Ops is that...it’s a video game? I don’t know. I guess he’s trying to say it’s no better than any other shooter out there but he does a bad job at relaying this thought. He then goes on to praise Halo, which also features crosshairs and grenades, so I can’t accept this is anything but troll bait. Oh and as if the whole thing weren’t bad enough, you have to deal with him yelling “it’s sooooooo epiiiiiiiic” into the camera every 30 seconds. If this wasn’t one of the last videos on the set that I watched, I doubt I would have even continued on.
And that’s The Welfare Gamer in a nutshell, I had to force myself to get through it. There’s also a couple bonus features in the form of a music video (which is just...strange) and a short documentary about the creation of the show. As I said in the beginning, this DVD and the episodes that make up its run time have essentially been erased from existence. The good news is though, you should not be upset about that at all.