I'm certain that it was my brother that introduced me to Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin'? a video series that started on Destructoid and then branched out to Youtube and beyond.
He definitely tried to get me to watch Red vs. Blue on Roosterteeth, and that just wasn't my jam. But Hey Ash, he promised, was a little different. For one, it featured a woman, Ashly Burch, who served as the manic id to her brother Anthony's calmer superego. Moreover, she wasn't a supporting character; the show was named after her, after all.
At the time, it was the early late aughts there was a huge internet video hole in my heart (Homestar Runner was on what seemed like a permanent hiatus), and I was looking for anything to fill that spot.
And, at the time, Hey Ash suited me just fine.
Truth be told, I've stayed pretty caught up with Hey Ash over the years; they've continued to put out videos pretty regularly. However, I sometimes wonder if I'm looking at them through a hazy nostalgic love: a lot of the early videos featured jokes that were 100% not-in-best-taste and reflective of some of the grosser sides of gaming culture (misogyny, homophobia, racism... the usual players).
But, while keeping that in mind and keeping accountability in tact, I'm trying to keep in mind that they were literal kids who were making videos for the internet in a time when that was still new. It doesn't excuse everything, but it gives it context.
We all made some comments on Livejournal that our adult selves regret. (By "we all" I obviously mean "me.") (Jesus.) (I wish I could burn my Livejournal.)
Since then, it's apparent that Ashly and Anthony's hearts are certainly in the right place. For example, they went back and put trigger warnings/retractions on their videos.
But they've also gone on to larger things, professionally. Anthony writes for video games, most notably for Borderlands 2. Ashly worked on a number of smaller projects, has gone on to create quite an impressive voice acting resume, and has given a number of talks about the social aspects of gaming (for example: "Curiosity, Courage and Camouflage: Revealing the Gaming Habits of Teen Girls").
But why does Hey Ash hold such a place in my heart to this day? Is it that Ashly plays the right sort of off-the-wall maniac? Is it that Anthony sets her up perfectly?They obviously are having fun with it. They both so deeply love gaming and also each other. It's dumb. It's (sometimes) thoughtful. It's two people who aren't white dudes doing a thing that usually is centrally controlled by white dudes.
But WHO AM I KIDDING. I hope that I know better than to try to make this into a thinkpiece:
These make me laugh. Hazy nostalgic love or not.