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YouTubing Real Life
Kevin M. Scrima
Ethnic Fiction—Professor Murabito
YouTubing Real Life
Max went to his work studio—his room—just a half-hour before midnight to prepare to make another video. An expensive, $500 Sony camera is set up about ten feet away from a green screen against a wall. Fluorescent lights were set up near the camera for lighting purposes. In a corner was a mahogany desk with a $1,200 Lenovo laptop on top of it.
Public Speaking is everyone’s number one fear—people would rather go through many hells than speak in public–but Max had learned to get over that with repetition. He needed his own private space, and for his family to not be home so he can be fully energetic, otherwise they’d hear him, and he doesn’t want to be heard, or he’ll feel stifled. It’s not like standing in front of a group of people in the room: It’s talking to a camera, an inanimate object, as weird as it can be, it doesn’t seem weird to him at all, so that reduces the fear down. Also, he doesn’t need to plan a script, and he can mess up as many times as he wants thanks to editing programs, and then he can put those funny mess ups at the end as bloopers.
Against another wall is a fifty inch flat screen TV., and thankfully, he didn’t have to buy that, his mom did one day for Christmas. Under it is an Xbox One, connected to an Elgato HD 60, a game capture card that allows him to record gameplay. A Blue Spark microphone sits on a white desk next to Turtle Beach headphones. This was his “Let’s Play” setup, where he entertains others while playing video games.
Max couldn’t believe how expensive this hobby was. At least the expense part was pretty much over with. He’s been watching a shitload of YouTube videos, learning from the greats, learning from other people’s styles. And he couldn’t believe that schools didn’t have a class on YouTube. Not only would it be a fun class, but it would actually be relevant to one of his interests. Schools need to catch up with the times, he thought.
Max did all of this pretty much on his own—the script, recording, editing, publishing—it was a lot of work at times. Sometimes he collaborated with his Italian friend Jeremy, and that was a lot of fun. Because they shared a channel, subscribers and viewers from their channel came to that channel, pretty much doubling their numbers.
Max recently gained over a thousand subscribers on his two channels. He was pretty happy with himself. But many were from sites like Subexcess, where everyone would click on another YouTuber for points, then other YouTubers would click on them for points, so everyone gained subscribers, even though he realized that some of them start to unsubscribe after they get their subscribers.
Everyone wants to be heard and watched. He’s just one of millions who are trying to gain a following, and hopefully make some money, just by making YouTube videos. What he learned, is that subscribers do not necessarily correlate with views. He knew he had to find his niche and the certain kinds of videos his audience would demand for. The ones that received the most views were videos that gave his audience the most value, or were immediately relevant, or they were the ones when he entertained his audience the most and made them laugh, like when he played the most popular video games.
He had found a bunch of businesses that teach others to freelance and make money online, and was able to bring in a steady stream of income. He couldn’t believe it, but he found a way to make money by making websites—do some freelancing—and make his own where he would combine the top three searched terms on a subject, use Google AdSense and Amazon Associates, and use keywords to drive traffic to his site. He mainly wrote reviews of products or compared them. To his surprise, yes, people click on these ads, and he gets paid for them. Suck on that college and work, he thought.
And when he made enough money each month through his online income, he could quit work, exit the bullshit system society forces him into, making him work a crappy job for cash. He had plenty of skills that he could use at a less crappier job. But no, society makes him wait until he has a college degree before he can make any advances on a decent job. Fuck the system, he thought. And that’s what this video thing was, so he could make money doing something he loved. Heck, if people would watch channels about people talking about petty shit or summarizing their day, like this couple did, surely people would watch his channels.
Only if he was a sexy girl and could do cam shows, he thought, or be with one and do cam shows. He had a friend back in Europe who was a cam girl, and couldn’t believe how much she made. What a nice rack could do for a woman, he thought. And she had over a hundred thousand followers on her site. Over a hundred thousand people who just want to watch her be sexy on camera. He just had 1/100 of that, 99,000 less, and at that thought, jealousy invaded his chest, as if it was going to war.
He once saw a YouTube video titled “Twitch Bitches,” and these girls were attractive, had no idea how to play a video game, and showed as much as their breasts visibly as legally possible while playing, and from that, they received thousands of views and followers. Now, that made him mad.
But Max thought using his brains was better and more honorable. Through Bluehost, he had been able to host as many sites as he wanted with WordPress. So he made a site, Max-imumGamer.com, learning how to brand himself and take a more professional route to advertising himself and his videos.
Now, his value was comprised of numbers. Number of views. Number of subscribers. Number of likes. Number of positive comments. Number of followers and posts on all of his social media. The number in his bank account. Numbers, numbers, numbers. He tried not to think about the numbers—he did everything to have fun—but the numbers would always come back. A bunch of data he had to somehow make sense of and wasn’t allowed to ignore, because if he did, then he’d be going nowhere. He always had to strive for higher numbers. The numbers had to grow. If they didn’t, then he wasn’t growing. And no matter how high the numbers got—maybe excepting the million mark, hopefully—he would never be satisfied, because they determined his worth.
Making videos was by no means easy, as the obsession over the numbers goes to show. The YouTube commenters could be some of the toughest, non-empathetic, and meanest people on the internet, or perhaps in the world. Fortunately, he drew a vast majority of good or decent commenters, and only had a few bad ones so far. Even seeing thumbsdowns on a few of his videos were tough—were they jealous, just in a bad mood, or was that thumbsdown legitimate? He wondered what life would be like if everything had a subscriber button and a like and dislike button and a comment section. Life would be a harsh world, even more so than it can be.
Tonight at midnight was the release of a new DLC, downloadable content, for a popular video game, which meant he needed to be on that shit like Donkey Kong, because it meant more subscribers, and more views. It was a game he liked, anyways, and he was a night owl, anyway, but he would have to pull an all-nighter, play from midnight until the morning, and be one of the first to stream and upload all of the game’s new content and features. Then, he would sleep like a rock. Or maybe he should make a review of the new content too before he sleeps, or should he make one after he sleeps like a rock? Hell, conflicting decisions.
The videos where he brought all his energy too were the best, and being tired or exhausted when he went to make them were not an option. That would make for crappy videos. But his family would be sleeping, and he wouldn’t be able to bring his full-on energy without waking her up. That’s why he can’t wait until he can be independent and have his own place.
And there’s the work aspect of making the videos, too. Being first is one of the most important things when it comes to making YouTube videos, especially gaming videos, at least, for the underdogs, who are already trying to gain an audience when thousands of popular subscribers already have a good portion of that audience.
One of the cool things about making YouTube videos, Max thought, was being in control of the content, able to make anything he liked, and pretty much without any restrictions. But that meant he needed a lot of discipline. Sometimes, he spent more time playing video games than making videos, and that wasn’t good. Being a YouTuber meant making videos.
His YouTube career is a distal goal, where he’d reap the fruit only years from now, hoping with all hope that he founded the great video series, or that he got good enough, or that his brand was developed enough, or that he just happened to get enough subscribers somehow. He knew about self-limiting beliefs, where the person believed he couldn’t grow anymore, and thus, would quit or give up. He would keep going, no matter how hard he had to try.
But all in all, being recorded was when and where he could be himself. Well, his video personality was different than his real world personality. He felt like a different person behind the camera. He was more smiley, too. He could sometimes be himself in the real world, but felt most comfortable while making a video. He thought it was weird.
After moving to America from Europe, it’s been his only connection to a normal routine. It was the only place where he had friends or people to socialize with. He had no luck making any friends in his area, or at his work, or at his college. He spoke to a few online, some of them his old friends from home or ones he meant through his videos or gaming session, but not much face-to-face interaction. He rarely had a chance to see Jeremy. There was a girl he hung out with at and after work, but in terms of having many friends, he didn’t have any. Based on all the videos he made, he was his own friend, forming a special relationship with himself through these videos, editing them and making them.
Max set up the laptop and microphone at his desk, grabbed the Xbox One controller, and pressed the guide button to turn the console on. He flipped the laptop lid up where the XSplit window was on screen, recording his face in a corner and now also showing the screen of the game on his t.v. He signed onto Twitch and placed his Android phone next to his laptop where he could chat with his streamers live.
Well, here we go, Max thought, and then he entered a different world.
If you want a real YouTube channel, check me out on Scrima Games: http://www.youtube.com/user/KevinScrimaGamez?sub_confirmation=1 or Scrima Talks: http://www.youtube.com/user/KevinScrimaTalks?sub_confirmation=1