Nick Robinson is the best storyteller on YouTube

Nick Robinson makes documentaries about things I’m not very interested in (like Mario’s hair, Domino’s App feat. Hatsune Miku and Super Monkey Ball), so how come I just watched them all?

Because he’s an amazing storyteller! Buying a “Wrinkly Pikachu” sticker doesn’t sound very intriguing, but when you get to follow Nick Robinson’s journey to find it, hear him talk passionately about it and watch him dig through trashcan after trashcan in search for it while he slowly loses all hope, then it’s suddenly one of the most intense things in the world! Nick turns small details into epic stories, and stories are the best way to make information fun (or accessible, or captivating, or memorable, which I’ve said before). Numbers and data may give a correct worldview but humans don’t like that, we like stories about things happening to humans (so we can prepare for when those things happen to us, I guess?), and Nick is so good at stories that he can make me care about anything.

Scott Oelkers.

But how does he do it? Here’s a quote from a guy quoting another guy that I want you to remember to later:
“What’s happening now in your story should not be as exciting or interesting as what may or may not happen later”

Now, here’s how a Nick Robinson video works:
He starts off by giving you a short background, hints at something interesting coming later, builds up an emotional tension, and ends with revealing something that blows your mind. In broad terms. For example: Nick talks about a game developer he likes, introduces a mysterious question which he assures you he’s going to try to answer, and reveals that he has come in contact with some crazy nerds who’ll help to solve the mysterious question. Then he runs into some obstacles that make him doubt the whole mission, gets hope back again due to something (then back to doubt, and repeat a bunch of times), and when hope is at its lowest, he surprisingly and excitedly reveals that he has actually just received an email from the video’s main character – the actual game developer – and tells us that he’s now going to Japan to meet them in person. The rest of the video is an interview with said game developer where you get all the answers and a bit more.

People in general may give things a try, or even a couple of tries, before giving up, but Nick would never give up. He wouldn’t settle with just talking _about_ a person, he wants to talk _to_ the person. And find every piece of trivia about the person. And talk to everyone who potentially could know a little bit more about the person. If he wants to find out something, he will, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it! And he’ll go unreasonable lengths to do so! Nick puts in real effort, delivers over the promise and never half-ass anything, which makes him the realest and his work the heaviest in the game. That’s why he stands out. His mission would be interesting even if no videos were made, but he makes them, and he uses all the tricks in the book to squeeze out the last tiny emotion out of your pathetic body while you watch them.

So funny. Many laughs. Hideki Kamiya is such a character.

Let’s revisit the quote from earlier: “What’s happening now in your story should not be as exciting or interesting as what may or may not happen later”.
(quote: guy quoting guy)

That’s how I feel watching Nick’s videos: Every single minute I’m curious about the next minute. Whenever something drags on for too long he always adds a twist, drops new information, reveals something surprising, or turns the screen pitch-black and stops the music to ask an over-dramatic rhetorical question, creating a feeling of: “Oh, you thought I was done? Think again! We’re only getting started…” (translation: creating a feeling of wanting to know more, and continuing to watch with an increasing excitement and anticipation). He tosses your feelings around with the unreasonably effective power of music (slow piano = you’re sad now) and his signature dramatic curve (from hope to doubt and back to hope, then repeat infinite times), and this combined with the realness of his missions and the overall weird vibe, where the fun sometimes is just watching Nick spiral into insanity because of his intense passion about trivial things, makes you attached.

Summarized: The stories are good by themselves, but he also excels them by telling them well. I came to the same conclusion in my text about K-pop videos: That technical skills and just pure personality and creativity are equally important to create something good, and they both need each other.

Be sure to watch his documentaries even if you’re not interested in the subjects, because they aren’t really about video game stuff, they are about passion, adventure and people. Nick Robinson digs up cool information through his research but it’s the bumpy road to get there that’s fun. It’s the journey and not the goal!


My favorite Nick Robinson videos:
• BLOCKED: The Hideki Kamiya Story (2019)
• Can we rescue a deleted Pokémon – 15 years after its death? (2022)
• The Problem with Luigi’s Mouth (2020)
• I found the guy from the「Domino’s feat. Hatsune Miku」video (2021) & My 8-Year Quest to Find SCOTT, PRESIDENT OF DOMINO’S PIZZA (lost media documentary) (2021)
• The best game Ubisoft won’t let you play (2019)
• Mission in Snowdriftland: Nintendo’s forgotten Flash game (2020)
• “MICHAELSOFT BINBOWS” isn’t what you think it is (2021)

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