Web 2.0 has drastically changed many aspects of our lives since its introduction in 2004 by the O’Reilly Media Group. The Web shifted from a heavy focus on the hyperlink and hypertext in web browsers in order to obtain not as interactive content to focusing on the “killer app” that makes you a participant in the media you are consuming (Jenkins). Consumers are rarely sitting back to the media they look at but can now create their own media or change the media. Web 2.0 has become an integral part of our day as many of us cannot go a whole day without checking our apps on our electronic devices, I know I cannot. The app in particular I cannot go without checking is YouTube. Write now as I am typing this up, I am watching YouTube videos from my favorite channels. YouTube has reignited my gaming passion as most of the channels I follow are gaming related. I have watched the shift of YouTube from being a simple video platform to a complex business structure where people are making millions of dollars.
YouTube has been instrumental in the popularization of gaming culture. This culture was previously a small community of people viewed as nerd and outcast during the 20th century when gaming was new. Hackers even touched on this aspect as gaming was seen as an integral part of the hacker community. I grew up with games my whole life; my household has had every PlayStation model that there has been. However, there was still this stigma in my school community that it was not a popular thing to do. I went without even looking at a video for a couple of year but I discovered YouTube’s gaming community. I started watching Markiplier videos and discovered the Let’s Play community. I could not believe there was a whole group of people that loved just watching video games. I have moved through different phases of when it comes to gaming channels. I discovered comedy gaming channels, video game journalism, and even ASMR video gaming. My navigation through the YouTube gaming community re-sparked my love of video games. I have seen the gaming community grow into an integral part of YouTube platform and I have also watched it become an advertiser mine gold.
YouTube in its earlier form was just a website that where you could find videos involving cats to people blowing up stuff in slow motion. However, YouTube became part of the new widespread culture and companies noticed. The gaming community became one of the largest business markets. One of the channels I have watched for years now, Vanoss gaming, went through this same transformation. Evan (Vanoss’s real name) started off just making comedy gaming videos with his friends but as the years went by he started to get sponsorship from computer tech companies. He started making specifically sponsored content whether it was short commercial at the end of a video or making whole video about the sponsor. He even started to sell his own merchandise created through his sponsors. Evan has now become one of the most successful YouTubers making millions with his partners and even has an animated series on YouTube Red.
Still, YouTube is a new territory for many looking to advertise or make business connections or create business in general. There is a major controversy now with the most popular YouTuber and gamer, PewDiePie. The Wall Street Journal published an article about Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie’s real name) connecting him to Anti-Semitism through a series of his videos where he made Hitler and Holocaust. The fallout has been quite substantial for Felix as he has lost business, the biggest being Disney terminating their sponsorship. This fallout had me thinking of the “always-on lifestyle” talked about in Danah Boyd’s article “Participating in the Always-On Lifestyle”. She puts an optimistic view of having a highly public life but she acknowledges that there
are “severe personal or professional consequences” (Boyd 75). Felix is a perfect example of this; he is constantly pressured to make comedic content though he is not considered a comedian. His content must always be on point as others comb it through with a fine toothcomb for the sole purpose of ruining reputations.