I like to call myself a ‘starving artist’, since I once really tried to make freelance illustration a living. I’ve since tried to take illustration commissions when I can spare the time. Been an artist who primarily works in the manga style for about 11 years now.
Favorite game genre:
My default answer is J-RPGs, though that’s with the caveat that I think the genre has a laundry list of longstanding issues that need to be addressed. I also really love racing games, golf games… I’ll really play anything you throw in front of me, whether it’s some random, dime-a-dozen sports game from 2003 nobody remembers, or the newest triple-A shooter. I just love experiencing new games, since you never know what you can learn from them.
It’s a tie between Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. These three games were what made me realize this medium could do more than just allow me to fill time with friends. I played games a lot before that, but I don’t know that I truly cared about them until I first played FFVII. The breadth of the world, the cinematic flair, the music, and the depth of the narrative changed everything for me. Games suddenly felt like they could contain alternate realities where anything was possible. After that I spent years playing those three Final Fantasy games nonstop, drawing imaginary Final Fantasy characters for imaginary sequels, playing ‘Final Fantasy’ with friends in the back yard, etc.
Systems you play:
The only current-generation console I own is a Playstation 4 Pro. I don’t value handheld gaming much anymore, so for me, the Switch would be little more than an underpowered version of what I already have. I would own a One X if I could afford it. Otherwise, I still play games from older consoles, from the PS3 and 360 down to the PS1 and older, fairly regularly. Meanwhile, I don’t play games very often on my laptop, but it has a 4gb GTX 1050, 8gb of DDR4, and an I5 7300HQ, so I can play modern games on it at medium-ish settings if/when I want.
Recommended Content Creators:
Gonna try and stray away from content creators that were shared by WizFish so that we can keep the variety up and maybe help some people grow!
AJG: AJG was one of the earliest creators who I met through our similar content. AJG’s content is hyper-focused, and a lot more bite-sized than mine, however. Each video is made for a reason, and all of them explore the topics at hand in a succinct manner. If you like things like Game Maker’s Toolkit, this should be your jam.
Stiles’ Reviews: Stiles generally makes longer content that’s super comprehensive. While he generally explores a game as a whole -often J-RPGs- there’s still often an overarching point that his video centers around. He and I don’t agree about, well, a lot of things. But Stiles is also always willing to listen and learn, which is incredibly valuable to content such as his.
stareanddream: The stareanddream channel is probably the most unique out of all of these since the content has a wide range of topics, from Nintendo games to Taylor Swift album reviews, to Dead or Alive retrospectives, to footage from EVO every year. You somehow never know what you’ll get from Christian’s work, and yet still know exactly what to expect, in all the right ways. My favorite part of Christian’s work is simply the personality and charisma he has. Watching stareanddream videos just… kinda makes me happy.
Blok Head’s Game Reviews: This is by far the smallest channel here, and that’s an absolute shame. Content on this channel doesn’t come out often, but when it does, there’s a good chance it’s a video on a game you’ve never played… maybe even never heard of. Once again, charisma is the name of the game here. But, particularly for how young he is, the writing in these videos is also amazingly focused and engaging. This is a channel that I think could be taken astronomically far if only it could find an audience.
EmceeProphIt: From there, we’ll close out with the biggest channel here. This is a channel that always has something interesting to say, peppered in with some of the best, most biting dry humor I’ve personally found in YouTube games critique. There’s a good mix of longer content, shorter content, general theory content, and analytical deep dives. And the same goes for topics. You can just as easily find a multi-part exploration of a game as big as Mass Effect, as you can a video discussing one of the most underappreciated games of all time, Guardian’s Crusade. This channel has more than paid its dues and put in the effort. It deserves to grow…
Started making content:
I started making content on this channel in December of 2014. I’d uploaded some original music, and vocal covers of songs from bands like Kamelot on another channel as early as 2008 though. Those are long gone now.
Platforms you share content:
I really only create content for YouTube. I don’t have any interest in streaming currently, nor do I feel I’m popular enough to justify a Discord channel or anything. I use the LibraScope Twitter quite regularly, I guess.
How did you get into Content Creating?
For the last two decades, I’ve had an extreme passion for games as art, design, and technology. I was originally going to go to school for game design. I got accepted to Full Sail and everything, but the plans fell through and I could never quite pick them back up. Fast forward to 2012, and I started jumping on some Final Fantasy related forums because I wanted to make a guide for the terrible Slots minigame in Final Fantasy XIII-2; spare people from the pain it caused me. It was then that I truly realized the scope of hate for FFXIII, and I just couldn’t understand it. That really pushed me to start breaking down why I enjoyed a game so many others despised, and whether that came down to the game’s design itself, or purely my personal preferences. It pushed me to grow my knowledge base a lot.
At that point, I wanted to start writing for a major online gaming publication but obviously couldn’t get my foot in the door. Fast forward a couple of years, and a close friend one day randomly asked me if I wanted to make a YouTube channel to talk about the Souls series, which I’d recently introduced him to through Demon’s Souls. Suddenly it all clicked together… that would be my outlet.
The channel (which used to be called 2nd Opinion) was originally supposed to be me and that friend, reviewing games together. The gimmick was that I was really into the technical aspects of games as an art form, and he was much more of a casual gamer who just played for fun. So you’d kind of get two different perspectives on each game. However, by the time we got all the prerequisites in order, like a capture card, editing software, microphone, etc. some things had come up, and he could no longer take part. I’ve been doing it myself ever since.
Have you run into any obstacles when it comes to creating content? If so what did you do to overcome them?
As far as general obstacles go, the biggest one has simply been growth. I caught the tail end of the era where channels like mine really blossomed. So naturally, I had a big enough head to assume I was good enough to at least reach like 10,000 subscribers in the first year. Nearly five years later, and I’m only a quarter of the way to 1000. Then you have the fact that YouTube started restricting monetization, the everpresent copyright abuse (and particularly the fear of Nintendo), video suppression, and it often seems to feel like for every step you’re able to trudge forward, the goalposts move a hundred steps further away.
Because of this, a longterm goal of mine is to serve as a beacon for other hardworking creators to slingshot from. I watch a lot of YouTube myself. So if my audience can ever grow big enough, I think I could offer genuine support for creators simply because I’d be willing to watch their content and see what truly makes it tick. Knowing why someone is worth watching goes a long way toward properly sharing them with your viewer base.
Other than that, my biggest personal hurdle is trying to maintain the integrity of my content itself. Nobody is perfect. But I strive to create content that is informative/educational and creates a genuine conversation. I want my channel to be a place where we can grow as game design enthusiasts together, and raise average game literacy levels, both for the benefit of the medium and ourselves as individuals. So I’m always striving to create a balance between the technicality of my scripts, the personality of them, and their ability to create a conversation.
One of your favorite videos you created and why?
I’ve been doing this long enough that there are several videos that I would love to pick from. Some are better written. Some have stronger editing. Some really get to the heart of things I never hear anyone talk about. But if I had to pick one that’s probably my highest quality video in terms of ‘the whole’, it would be “The Status of Accessibility in Games” which I created in response to all of the vitriol surrounding Sekiro and the idea of it needing an easy mode.
So many people were coming from very black and white perspectives in this discussion and refused to truly think about where others may be coming from. So I decided to really dive into the nuance of the topic, defy my own biases, and be fair to designers while still making sure I was respectful of the huge community that really needs accessibility options. I wanted to try and make a video that didn’t talk down to developers and undervalue the difficulty of their work. I wanted to try and make a video that showcased why some people – even those without disabilities – might need accessibility options, and it’s not for us to decide whether they’re ‘worthy’ or not. I wanted to try and make a video that made people come together, even if only under the idea that accessibility and difficulty balancing is incredibly complicated, and there’s no one right answer. My only regret with it is not using VR as another example of accessibility that far transcends niche disabilities since so many people are highly susceptible to VR Sickness.
What type of things do you do when it comes to creating content that makes you unique?
If I’m honest, probably nothing really. There are channels that are more educational… channels with more personality… channels with significantly sleeker editing. There are channels that combine these three things incredibly well; much better than I do. I still think I’m probably part of a smaller niche since a lot more people do consumer-oriented buying guide reviews, let’s plays, top 10’s, challenges, etc. There aren’t as many channels that will do 2+ hour deep dives on something like Final Fantasy XII, or spend over 40 minutes discussing why a game like Skylight Freerange still has merit despite coming off as a cash grab. But I still don’t think that’s wholly unique.
I suppose if there was one thing that’s truly unique to my content, it would simply be me, and the ideas I bring to the table. The act of having unique insight on a topic isn’t itself unique. But I still think the contents of my insight is often one-of-a-kind.
What do you believe has attributed to your success when it comes to Content Creating?
Obviously, I’m not actually particularly successful in terms of numbers. But my comments, like-to-dislike ratios, engagement, and (hopefully) respect I’ve earned from fellow content creators still show me that I’m doing something right. And I think most of that comes from a willingness to be open-minded and respectful with others, explore topics thoroughly, and just be genuine with people. That’s not to say that I won’t argue my ideas fiercely. But I always strive to not dehumanize or belittle people who disagree with me, as long as they show mutual respect. I think that goes a long way to building a reputation for being fair and honest, which I think has been the most valuable thing to me thus far. I know the feeling of genuinely wanting a fellow creator to grow, purely for the happiness of seeing them succeed. So I try to earn that from others.
Any tips or advice for other Creators?
By and large, you are not special. But that doesn’t mean you’re not valuable. A lot of luck goes into being successful on YouTube, and anyone who says otherwise got lucky themselves and don’t recognize it, or are lying about the fact that they got lucky. Skill, hard work, and a responsibility to your audience can go a long way. But never assume that chasing trends or finding a ‘special gimmick’ will lead you to success. It might. It works wonderfully for channels like Girlfriend Reviews. But that’s the exception; generally, it will be a lot more fragile than success earned through lust for self-improvement, whether that success comes quickly or slowly. So stick to what you love, and always try to make your content better for the sake of being better yourself. There’s no guarantee it’ll lead to success. But what success you do fine will more than likely be a lot more genuine.
Outside of creating content for YouTube, how are you involved in the gaming industry?
I’ve done some concept art for a few indie projects that may or may not see the light of day. Other than that, the rest is more goal-oriented. I want to help make the gaming population more design literate and respectful of the work that goes into the medium. And I also still want to eventually make games myself. I would love in particular to make a classic, PS1 style turn-based J-RPG, complete with pre-rendered backgrounds (go figure). But I would also want to heavily focus on game balance with the said project… something I think the genre still greatly struggles with today. Still, I have tons and tons of other basic game concepts written down that I’d love to explore one day as well.
What is your biggest prediction for 2019 in the game’s world?
2019 is almost over, so I can’t say I have any particularly interesting prediction for this year. But into the future beyond that, I think I can safely say that the Switch is going to end up going the way of the Wii. The Wii started with huge success in the core gaming market, and so many of the 3rd parties were willing to support it because of that. But as technology left it further and further behind, and the console continued to sell to incredibly casual consumers, it became extraordinarily difficult to sell legitimately artistic, bigger budget, or otherwise ‘hardcore’ gaming experiences on the console. The Wii sold well but was effectively dead for the second half of its lifespan (outside of Nintendo releases).
I think, due to how technology has been moving in games in the last year, and how big of a leap these next-generation consoles are going to be in terms of things like CPU power, the Switch will meet the same fate. It will continue to sell to casual consumers, and Nintendo will continue to support it with great games. But all of these 3rd parties currently releasing heavily modified ports of their big-budget games will reach the point where it’s simply too much of a headache and too expensive to keep it up. And so, the current Switch (in terms of hardware specs) will be stuck with almost nothing but Nintendo games and indies for the last half of its lifespan. Which isn’t to say that would make it a failure, so much as that it’ll no longer be the ‘modern home console you can take with you’ that it was originally marketed as.
A word from the Editor.
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