By Michael Varrati
While few would deign to disrespect baseball’s longest held title, those born into a post-Nintendo world know the harsh truth: The greatest pastime of this generation isn’t going out and having a catch, it’s flexing the thumbs for an afternoon of all-out console warfare.
With a seemingly endless cycle of new releases, platforms, and expansions, it is truly hard to remember a time when video games didn’t dominate both the mainstream zeitgeist and greater geek subcultures. Appropriately, the rise of the digital world has only furthered the gamer-centric hype machine, allowing the dialogue on the latest and greatest video games to be taken to the next level. Companies and channels like Machinima, Rooster Teeth, and the ever-present behemoth that is PewDiePie have proven there is an endless dialogue to be had about gaming, and that audiences are always clamoring for more.
Certainly, there are those who are able to devote themselves fulltime to covering the gaming world and never are at a loss for words. For a medium so vast, the dialogue around gaming carries on 24/7 for individuals on both sides of the screen. More than a mere hobby, for a certain subset of society, it’s an entire lifestyle. The appeal of stepping into the shoes of a new identity and losing oneself to another world is considerable, and for the ardent gamer, it’s a reality made possible with the push of a button.
However, for most of us, gaming simply can’t be a full-time gig. No matter how much we’d like to go full-tilt boogie and devote all our time to our favorite game (“Chrono Trigger,” I miss you), the demands of the real world just don’t allow this to become reality. It’s a truth that even extends to YouTube, where gamers rule the school. For every Rooster Teeth or PewDiePie, there are content creators whose main gigs don’t have a lot to do with their favorite console system. That being said, many of these creators share an intense passion for video games, and have launched second channels completely devoted to the medium. Like us, many of our favorite YouTubers love to play. But, being who they are, also want to share that experience with the world.
As part of VideoInk’s “Game On” special issue, it made sense to me to take a moment to shine a spotlight on some of these creators. It’s easy to get mired in the minutia of a medium when you’re delving into in-depth discussion of that world, but I maintain it’s important to never forget it is our baseline fandom of something that allows it to become truly special. Luckily, these YouTube sensations have proven to be some of gaming’s most fervent fans.
In putting together this piece, I jokingly referred to the fact that I felt like I was Nick Fury assembling my own YouTube Avengers. Glancing across this list of gamers, you’ll find that analogy isn’t really a stretch. When I put out the call to the YouTube community to talk about secondary gaming channels and the fire that fuels them, the response was amazing. From all corners of the digital space, I gathered together a crew of superstars that include the dynamic guys from Smosh, the incomparable Jimmy Wong, the always delightful Joey Graceffa, and the multi-platform force of nature, iJustine.
I sat down with each of these electric personalities to get a sense of why a content creator might be driven to go the gaming route, and what transpired is a series of interviews that portrays a passion for playing that is instantly relatable.
And since I’m always one who loves to celebrate according to theme, I’ve decided to make a little game out of the proceedings. So, watch out, because I’m about to go straight up Jigsaw on you guys.
Offered to you, dear reader, are my interviews with these amazing YouTube superstars in a “Choose Your Own Adventure” format. You get to pick where your investigation of gaming channels begins. Now, there’s no right way to start this journey, but I think you’ll find that, while everyone offers their own unique voice, the fullest picture can be achieved by reading them all.
Do you want to know which YouTuber’s mom used their video games as leverage in punishment?
Or would you like to know who has the largest female gamer demographic? (Hint: It’s not who you think!)
Or perhaps you want to know who giggles like a schoolgirl every time they watch PewDiePie?
There’s only one way to know for sure. Let’s play.
Select Your Player:
This article is part of “Game On,” VideoInk’s first special issue on the relationship between the gaming industry, its fans, and online video. Come back all week as we tackle other interesting facets of this world.