What’cha Watchin’?

Screengrabs from the Chronicle staff


Monster Factory's Borth Sampson. No relation to Bart Simpson.

Decades of playing video games have ruined me for noninteractive entertainment. My Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO GO accounts sit largely unused, opting instead for more agency in the narrative on my screens. Even my non-game viewing skews toward play these days.

Harvey Relief Done Quick (Twitch)

Miraculously put together in 48 hours, this marathon livestream collected $225,000 for the Houston Food Bank. The Games Done Quick organization biannually hosts weeklong events whose viewers donate millions to charity. This past weekend's event was unpolished and lacked the live audience, but the focus was the same: Gather the best speed-runners to complete video games with mind-boggling quickness. The depth of the speed-running rabbit hole makes explaining the subculture impossible without an academic paper's worth of exposition, but many people describe it as "ruining" or "breaking" the game. Google the name of your favorite game and "speedrun" and prepare to have your notion of being "good" at a game shattered. The donation period has ended for the event, but you can still watch the action on Twitch and donate to Harvey relief efforts and it's like you were there.

Monster Factory

Character-creation technology brings the dream of putting yourself in the game to life. The days of choosing a hair and shirt color have been replaced with myriad sliders that let you set everything from eye depth to hand thickness. The results are uncanny as hell. McElroy brothers Griffin and Justin create sweet abominations and set them loose in their respective worlds in a video series for Vox Media's gaming arm, Polygon. The results are equal parts unsettling and incredibly funny. Highlights include a Cro-Magnon Angela Lansbury solving mysteries among dinosaurs and "The Final Pam" set loose on Fallout 4 to make friends with massive roaches and inanimate tin cans. The duo – two thirds of the My Brother, My Brother and Me podcast – have an undeniable chemistry that makes gaming knowledge unnecessary. Find a trove of Monster Factory videos on Polygon's YouTube channel.

– Web Editor James Renovich

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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