Radio 1 shone its spotlight on YouTube gamers on Monday 25 August in an hour long documentary hosted by games journalist Julia Hardy. TenEighty weigh in on the Rockstar Gamers show, which featured Yogscast, KSI and Ali A.
It seems BBC Radio 1 can’t get enough of YouTubers these days. Just last week the public service broadcaster announced a new show featuring YouTubers, and games and tech presenter Julia Hardy has continued the trend with (for want of a better phrase) a complete idiot’s guide to gaming on the internet.
The programme features interviews with Ali A, Olajide Olatunji (KSI), Yogscast CEO Mark Turpin (Turpster) and content producer Martyn Littlewood (InTheLittleWood), as well as Radio 1’s own Dan Howell and Phil Lester. In addition, YouTube’s head of global gaming, Rodrigo Velloso gives a corporate angle on the topic.
Rockstar Gamers starts promisingly, drilling into how the gaming genre grew into the juggernaut it is now. Sadly no mainstream coverage of YouTube is complete without throwing around estimates of earnings and this documentary is no different.
Martyn Littlewood voices his frustration at this trend. “Felix [PewDiePie] is all over the tabloids with his supposed numbers being printed as fact, that does get a bit annoying,” he says. “People don’t earn as much money as people possibly think. It tends to get peoples back up but it’s business at the end of the day.”
Kaeyi Dream, half of YouTube channel InTheLittleDream with Martyn and their two cats, opens up about turning views into money. “To get £1000 a month you need one million views a month,” she says. “And revenue alone won’t equate to a full-time job for me, but brand deals and other opportunities can.”
Rodrigo Velloso then adds his two pennies of Google wisdom. “The majority of revenue comes from advertising,” he says. “We have a partnership with creators and they receive the majority of that revenue.”
The documentary also brushes the surface of YouTube celebrity culture, a hot topic within the community at the moment. Ali A shares an experience from a gaming convention. “One minute I’m talking to a friend and the next minute I turn around to find 50 people are waiting for a photo,” he says. “I’m just normal. Luckily most of my fans are good and realise I need some privacy too.”
Internet cult leader Phil Lester chips in on the current situation. “My rockstar moment was receiving a chunk of someones hair in an envelope,” he says.
Presenter Julia then wastes no time explaining that although reaching a massive audience can bring success, it can also open creators up for criticism. She tells of how KSI was banned from a YouTube convention for posting an offensive video and bluntly pulls him up on it. “People were angry because of the way I talked to the women there,” he says. “I also talked to men like that but the feminist people just thought ‘Oh you hate females, you’re misogynistic, I hate you’. I even asked one of the girls if she wanted to to be in the video and if I could motorboat her and she did say yes.”
The documentary reveals the lack of female content creators is strongest within the gaming community. KSI goes on to say that because football and FIFA are so masculine, it can be hard to implement girls into it. “I made a Q&A with my girlfriend to try and show that I’m not just a guy who doesn’t care about women,” he explains.
Aside from the usual going on about making money and barely scratching the surface of several pressing issues within the YouTube community, Rockstar Gamers does present YouTubers in an honest light without judgement. Looking to the future of the platform, Phil Lester jokes at the prospect of becoming a mainstream rockstar. “I really want a rider where I could request things like all of the green M&Ms or a single swan without a beak,” he jokes. “Do you think PewDiePie could do that?”
To close the documentary each content creator shares their advice to budding YouTubers. Rodrigo believes gaming is already a huge part of the community and the opportunities are there just waiting to be seized. “Once the mobile capture methods have been overcome, that’ll really open up opportunities for new creators,” he says.
Mark comments that Yogscast were an exception to the rule and most creators will start out making as little as 20 cents a month. “If you have passion for YouTube and want to share it then go for it, there is nothing stopping you,” he explains. “Setup and costs are so minimal you can at least give it a go.”
Ali A explains the importance of using forums and alternative platforms to support YouTube. “Live streams are a great way to build up an audience and Twitch is a good tool to do that,” he says.
Many YouTubers work for years to build their audience, but Martyn says it can take off with a viral hit. “All it takes is one video to go big,” he says. “For example, I started off with 200 subscribers in five months and then I released a Lady Gaga parody and it blew up massively.”
Phil Lester offers a final tip that TenEighty have heard time and time again, but it still rings true. “Make videos you want to watch yourself,” he explains. “It’s about content over production values”. Dan Howell also reveals another key to being a YouTube star. “Cats,” he says. “More important than equipment or humans, just get a cat”. The secret is out.
Listen to Rockstar Gamers in full on the BBC Radio 1 website.