Back in 2012, I was doing a lot of bar hopping and drinking. I was also just getting back into retro gaming after finishing Super Metroid on the SNES. It was one of the few cartridges I still had from my formerly vast collection of games. I had sold everything at one time or another to pay for newer games. I watched a lot of Angry Video Game Nerd and through his channel, found Pat the NES Punk. After seeing their incredibly large collection of Nintendo games, I knew I had to reclaim the games from my youth. Needless to say, nights at the bar became more and more infrequent and were replaced by nights playing games at home.
I started collecting video games at a time when prices were starting to increase. Games were hard to find at reasonable prices, but I bought what I could and my collection started to grow. I started watching other channels on YouTube, and even started reading articles on sites like 1MoreCastle and Gaming Rebellion. I was inspired and wanted to challenge myself to do better than the media I was consuming. Whether or not I actually met that goal is irrelevant…
Here’s the thing: I’ve NEVER been able to start a creative project and stick to it for very long if I wasn’t being motivated along by someone other than myself. Everything I’ve ever done on my own was planned to be some gigantic insurmountable task that I only got about a month into, then dumped for lazier pursuits, like professional couch sitting. I could talk about video games all day long, but I didn’t want this to be one of those projects that I invested a ton of money into, only to leave remnants of it forgotten in some dark corner of my hard drive right next to the web comics and fan games. Spending as little money as possible meant that I wouldn’t have a ton of sunk costs if I were to give up. I purchased a $7 EasyCap capture card on Amazon and waited impatiently for 2 months for it to arrive from China.
I recorded my first video on Super Mario Bros 2 after watching one of the thousands of “angry” YouTube reviewers lambaste it for no other reason than it was different from the other NES games in the series. I played through the game as I always had, after installing the obviously ripped off software that I had purchased. I wrote a heartfelt gush-fest over the first video game I had ever played, and recorded voice over using my laptop microphone. I pulled everything together in Windows Movie Maker, which is included in Windows for free. Sometime in May of 2014, I released it to the world and started spamming it on Twitter and Facebook.
This was incredibly nerve wracking to me. I had seen the awful comments on other people’s YouTube videos and I REALLY didn’t want to get called out on something I had missed. It was an incredible effort to step outside of my comfort zone and publish this video, but all the comments I received were positive. I started making friends on YouTube and Twitter who all held similar views. If someone had something negative to say about my video, it was done in a polite and helpful manner. Looking back at that video now, it’s pretty poorly produced, but I still like what I had created with the experience and skill level that I had at the time. I still have a ton of room to grow, but it’s neat to see how far I’ve come in a little over a year’s time.
One of the points I would like to make about creating video content for video games on YouTube is that you DO NOT have to spend a lot of money to make quality content. Over the course of this year, I’ve spent the following on equipment and software for my videos (not counting costs of the video games themselves).
- $7 on an EasyCap capture card on Amazon.com.
- $120 on an Elgato capture card to replace the EasyCap.
- $50 on a Blue Snowball microphone.
- $50 on Sony Movie Studio 13.
- $10 on a tripod adapter for my smartphone.
That’s it. That’s an approximate total of $237. Now, you may think that’s quite a bit of money, but when you compare that cost to some of these bigger name channels who use $3000 cameras and other ultra expensive equipment, $237 seems like a drop in the bucket. Say what you will about guys like PewDiePie, but they’ve made successful YouTube careers only using cheaper equipment rather than spending a fortune on high quality stuff. I’m not saying that I’ll ever be THAT successful, but success is really in how you define it. I’ve got a smaller subscriber count, but I’ve made a lot of incredible friends and had some really great conversations, and that seems like a success to me.
The money I’ve spent wasn’t all spent at one time, either. I started with the $7 EasyCap and a laptop I already owned, and went from there. Most of these purchases were spread out over time, except for the Elgato and the Blue Snowball, which were purchased around the same time, and contributed to the bulk of the expense. Making smart and cheap purchases was essential for my channel, namely because having responsibilities like a mortgage, utilities, debt, and other “adultly” things obviously come first.
After a few months of creating videos, I started just posting written reviews to Gaming Rebellion in their community section. These were reviews of games I had played, but didn’t record. I was given a chance at writing features for the main page, and I’ve loved it ever since. I was never much of a writer growing up. I remember specifically telling my mom in high school how much I HATED having to write. It was one of my least favorite things to do in school. Luckily for me, my high school hammered grammar into my head, and when I finally went to college YEARS later, I had to refine my writing even further. My school enforced a “three fatal error” policy that meant a 0% for any written documents that exceeded that count. I unconsciously started implementing what I had learned into the writing I did about video games, and I learned how much I loved putting “pen to paper”.
Writing for Gaming Rebellion was far more nerve wracking than posting videos to YouTube. Gaming Rebellion has a broader reach, especially with people who value written articles more than video content, and having my opinions and research put on display for an even larger audience was intimidating. Honestly though, it’s been awesome. There are a few comments here and there about something I got wrong or forgot, but usually it’s just a lot of new friends and great conversation.
The main drawback to all of this is that it takes a LOT of time to create content on a regular basis. If you’re like me, an all-or-nothing type of person, then you’ll struggle with managing enough time for your content, your day job, your family, and your friends. I feel like I put just as much time into content creation as I do my 40 hour a week career. This leaves very little time to relax, and spend time with loved ones. I’m striving to learn to better maintain a work, content creation, and life balance. It can really be a full time job, if you let it.
The moral of this story is that there is a whole world of awesome people out there, and you’ll never meet them if you don’t break out of your comfort zone and post that piece that you’re nervous people will disagree with. There’s a risk of investing time and money, but if you’re smart about it, you won’t regret the sunk costs if you choose to take a long break or quit altogether. Watching my channel and reader base grow, watching my skills improve, and making a LOT of new friends have been the undeniable highlights of the whole experience. Even if I choose to quit tomorrow, I’ll never regret taking that step into the unknown.