Clint Basinger of LGR (short for Lazy Game Reviews) is a dynamic Youtuber with not only one, but three successful Youtube channels. Clint’s flagship, LGR, became the channel we know today in 2009, just four years after YouTube began. Despite the G in the LGR name, the channel covers more than just retro gaming. On LGR, you’ll find hardware, software, oddware, vintage cameras, restoration/build videos and a whole lot of The Sims.
Video Views: 362,680,325
Channel Type: Games
User Created: Mar 9th, 2006
Clint has been creating so much content recently that he’s branched out into two new YouTube channels. Named appropriately, ‘LGR foods’ hosts video recipes of delicious looking snacks. It’s mainly sandwiches and noodle bowls at the moment — foods that pair nicely with a few hours in front of a computer or console. ‘LGR Blerbs’ was created, in Clint’s own words, “mostly so I can upload random crap that pops into my head.” This includes everything from “chonky power cords” to unboxing pillows printed with SimCity Classic landscapes.
Although he’s modest about his success, the main LGR channel has racked up over 364 million views and a steadily increasing 1.3 million subscribers. LGR also has an active following and presence on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Patreon. And that’s not to mention an awesome website made to look and function just like the classic MS-DOS operating system.
Creators Handbook got the chance to sit down with Clint. We asked about his seriously impressive collection of vintage technology and how he has been able to take his passion and turn it into long-lasting YouTube success.
The early days of YouTube
It’s always fun sitting down with someone who has been creating on YouTube as long as Clint Basinger has. Sitting down with him was extra special too because his passion for his subject is so obvious. Right off the bat, I had to ask about his enormous collection of vintage and obscure pc and gaming technology and the brand he created over the past eleven years.
“So what came first the collection or the Channel?”
“I started the actual channel that I’ve got now in 2009 but I’ve been using YouTube since 2006 and that was just, you know, a few years of just trying to figure out what in the world to do with this new platform. The video world we see today was pretty much nonexistent then. YouTube was just like one of the many different video platforms I was trying.”
“As for collecting, I’ve kind of always just been doing it. In high school, I was in a computer lab and all these different old things just started coming through from the eighties and early nineties that I remembered from childhood. That was the beginning of that, just bringing stuff home that was junk to other people but I thought would be fun to mess with. Now I definitely get more things sent to me than I seek out.
“The past couple of years especially, just a snowball of people have found the channel and sent in things they have found in their closet or attic. It’s just escalated into this thing where I have more stuff than I know what to do with now. So I don’t really do too much seeking out anymore unless it’s for something so obscure or something so common that I thought I had it and I just don’t, like a cable or an adapter. Those actually are the little things that I’m always looking for. I’m always needing a cable.”
“When you were trying out different video platforms did you have your current niche or did it take a while to narrow down the focus of your channel?”
“Oh, yeah, at the very beginning it really was just I just wanted to create stuff and post stuff for my friends and I was looking for a platform to just share things. I was making things for college classmates and work friends and was just looking to host it somewhere online for free. That was the only thing I was looking for. And it wasn’t about old computers or technology at first, I was doing skits and stop motion videos and my own music videos to my favorite artists and all sorts of copyright-infringing stuff. The system was a lot more lenient back then, but as soon as content ID came out, all of that sort of thing was taken down. That was like half of my videos then though so I’m like, I should probably start making some original stuff.”
LGR and finding a niche
Nowadays, if you search for anything along the lines of “vintage gaming” on YouTube, a slew of different channels will pop up focusing solely on the topic. But when Clint started he was one of only a few creators talking old tech.
“Did you naturally gravitate to vintage gaming and technology when you first started?”
“Yeah, I kind of did. It was one of those accidental kind of things where it fell into my lap. I just posted something every month and it was just a topic that I was interested in. I was into anything, whether it be a console or something musical or some kind of a game or just whatever. Eventually, one or two of those did well and I was like okay, that just tells me to do more of that. It was never really a conscious decision to pursue a certain direction; it was just fun. I just keep going and it just never stopped.”
“Did those first videos that did well give you the sense you were beginning a dialogue with your audience?”
“Yeah. In a way. The whole dialogue with the audience thing is hard to get a read on though. Every time there’s an algorithmic change, I have to question whether it’s the audience or the algorithm. YouTube seems to always have a flavor of the month, so I don’t really know. I try to pay attention to more direct feedback as opposed to just numbers because the numbers just don’t tell the whole story. I used to ask the audience a hundred times over what they want and then you post something, and the numbers just didn’t match.
“It’s a tug of war, deciding what actually matters to me as a creator and what actually matters to those that are watching and if they’re being listened to. There’s all sorts of different variables that I still don’t quite know what to do with. I feel like it changes what I value in terms of audiences every few weeks. But, you just have to shift with the tides.”
Taking care of your Ride-or-Dies
“Was there ever a time you followed the numbers a little too closely and that lead you astray?”
“Yeah, that’s dangerous, a dangerous path that I’ve been down a time or two myself. By which I mean getting rid of one type of content or series that I do and then getting nothing but backlash. I thought they weren’t watching based on the numbers, but it turned out they were. It just so happened that the ones that were watching were the very vocal, smaller subset of people who follow me closely and you don’t necessarily want to anger those people. They’re the ones that are going to push your stuff out no matter what it is and push it out the hardest.
“So it’s like a balancing act of appeasing the smaller, a more vocal minority as opposed to just everybody and deciding if you want to reach all the people I need to or do you want to reach your core people that just absolutely love your stuff. My core audience are the folks that I’ve really been trying to focus on more in the past couple of years. The folks that really enjoy the nitty-gritty, the history-based deep tech niche stuff. Those folks, they’re like ride-or-die. If you make sure to have stuff that they’re into, they’re never going to go away because they feel like nobody else can fill that need.”
“Gotta take care of your ride or dies.”
“Definitely. Yes. And instead of just trying to chase the whole ‘you got to grow every month’ type of thing, I feel like if I can keep a steady little level growth and make sure that the folks that really, really care are happy, then I’m happy. Those folks that have been watching you for a long time, in my case for 12 years, have been watching for a reason. So I really value their opinion.”
Focusing your main channel
“Tell me more about your separate channels: LGR, LGR Blerbs and LGR Food. Did you make the separate channels to distinguish the content so that you can appeal to different groups, or was there a different reason to branch out?”
“Yeah, that was definitely a conscious effort to try and not oversaturate the main LGR channel. That’s a mistake that I made in the past where I had like ten different series going on at one time. That completely cut apart my subscriber base and people were getting increasingly divided. When you have that many different ongoing shows, you know there are some folks that were only there for oddware, some folks were only there for me rambling or unboxing things and they would all constantly shift around and compete.
“I found that I ended up getting lower viewer counts overall and kept losing subscribers for every other video, even though there was always a subset of people that wanted one thing over another. So yeah, it was an attempt to balance that out a little bit. Focus the main channel and then also do some fun stuff on the side.”
“What is your production process like? With three channels going at once does it ever get a little confusing?”
Well, they all look a little different but I use pretty much the same setup for all my channels. I have a couple of Lumix GH5s cameras and I shoot in 4K at 60 fps. I shoot in 60 Ffps because most of what I shoot either has gameplay footage or computer monitors in it. Gameplay runs at 60 fps and monitors refresh at 60 Hz which syncs up so it makes editing much easier when I get to that point. So that’s just one of those decisions. Some people don’t like it. I think it’s kind of cool and really saves time converting footage to and from different frame rates.
“Mostly what I worry about is audio. All my shots are just on tripods and I have a few arrays of different battery-powered LED board lighting setups. They’re pretty cheap but they work perfectly for what I’m doing. I have a small army of zoom microphones though. I have an H2n, an H4n and an H6 and all of the attachments and things. Depending on the room I’m in or the situation I’m in, that’s my biggest struggle: audio. I’m constantly dealing with outside noises, hums, ground loops and things with this old tech or the area that I happen to live in. It’s a constant thing, just trying to readjust. Every time I set up, something else changes the audio profile of the room and then that makes my voice sound terrible. So most of my production time goes to perfecting the audio. “
The LGR perspective
“In most LGR videos, we’re seeing from your perspective with your arms also in frame; do you have something like a mounted GoPro somewhere in your process or are those also shot with your Panasonics?”
“No, it’s actually all just the Panasonics, just a normal tripod. I just put it directly in front of me as I’m standing there. It gives that first-person perspective and it’s completely stationary. It is also kind of awkward though — it would be really funny if you were to look at it from the side because I’m just literally there and my arms hugging this tripod and camera set up. I’d rather have that than have the cameras facing me though. Unless I’m addressing the audience for something generic, I want to focus on the tech, piece of hardware, software or food and not me. I like the way it looks, even though after too long I might end up with a bad back or a broken neck.”
A constantly evolving process
“Have there been any unexpected challenges along your YouTube journey? Any humps to get over or gear challenges?”
“Oh yeah, of course. I’ve been doing this for 12 years or so. Definitely been a lot of challenges, especially early on. One of the biggest hurdles was just technical because I started off simply with a VHS camcorder and no money, no lights, nothing. That was really early, the dark ages, but people still watched!
Those folks that have been watching you for a long time have been watching for a reason.
“I did that for a couple of years and then YouTube started supporting a high definition format. That was a definite hurdle; I didn’t even know how to edit any of that. The file formats were different so I had to switch video editors from Ulead Videostudio over to Adobe Premiere. Then after all that, my upload speed didn’t quite match; it took like a day and a half to upload one video, so it was internet upgrade time.
“HD camcorders pick up a lot less ambient light than VHS camcorders do, too, so then I had to upgrade lighting. At that point my room was completely full so I had to find and rent a facility. I still film in that facility today. It’s been, on a technical level, a constantly evolving process and it still is. I don’t think I’ll ever stick with just one set up for too long; I’ll always be changing something.”
“The other struggle all this time has just been trying to balance home and work life since I do both in the same area. That’s something that I’ve been trying to get from in the past few years. I want to completely separate work and home life because I have found it was incredibly difficult for me to turn off the work brain. For a few years I didn’t focus on that and it was not mentally stable. It’s kind of like being crushed by my own ambitions. That’s when I ended up renting the facility to do my filming in and keep the collection in.
“I now try to keep home and work as separate as possible. The only thing that I do here at the house is editing, but I have a separate office that is just dedicated to that and I keep it locked off for the rest of the day. For me that room is only for LGR stuff, nothing else, and that helps mentally separate out the whole homeworking thing even though it’s in the house.
All of a sudden i was in a pile of computers and hardware and cameras and lights, and it was not okay.
“Anything else related to the channel like making a video go live or looking at the comments or answering emails I try to keep away from home. Whether it’s a park or a cafe anywhere to get me somewhere else. Otherwise, I’ll just hole up in the office for a year.
“It took me a long time to figure all of that out. When I finally started making a little bit of income on YouTube and quit my day job, that’s when I fell into that really vicious cycle of just nothing but work all day long, every day. I thought it was great but it wasn’t until looking back a few years that I was shocked. All of a sudden I was in a pile of computers and hardware and cameras and lights, and it was not okay. It turned into a thing before I realized and it occured to me that I should have made some changes a little bit earlier. Just a little bit.”
Taking a leap of faith
“You mentioned quitting your day job, were you pretty stable on YouTube at that point or was that a leap of faith for you?”
“It was definitely an attempt to build the community. There was a, a bit of a following, but I only had around 40 or 50,000 subscribers at the time. I wasn’t making much but I thought, okay, I’m making at least the same amount as my day job and I think I could actually turn this into a real career or whatever, so I went for it. My hope was if I were to put the kind of time into it that I put into my day job I could grow it into an actual community, like a selection of people that are going to be with me all the time.
“Back then it was wild to me that anybody could make money on YouTube much less build a group of people that literally wanted to watch every single thing, so it was a gamble. But also I was completely fed up with my day job. As soon as I made a dollar more on YouTube, I was like, ‘that’s it, I’m leaving.'”
Retroactive Success on YouTube
“Most of your videos are longer, and YouTube has been favoring longer formats in the recent past; have you felt that preference within your relationship with YouTube?”
“It’s not a relationship so much as it is almost like a Stockholm syndrome kind of thing. It’s been interesting to ride it out and see what happens because I don’t think that I’ve ever really been in line with what they’re pushing. I’ve certainly benefited from them making the switch to more watch time, for instance, because a lot of my videos are just long by nature. I was doing fifteen, twenty, thirty-minute videos years before YouTube cared about watch time. And now, I started finding a lot of my older videos are getting pushed for the first time ever.
“It’s like, all right, I want to make the best of this. I like [the algorithm] when it’s on my side and when it’s not, I don’t. Recently, out of the blue some of my really old videos started getting pushed out to Recommended. Now some of my videos from years back are getting way more engagement levels than ever before and are being sent out to people that had never seen my stuff before. And that sort of started a snowball effect of people checking out my back catalog.
“It’s definitely proven beneficial but frustrating at the same time. I don’t really know what to make, I just make stuff that’s interesting to me and hope that somehow it catches it onto whatever YouTube wants to push. Thankfully, right now they seem to be pushing my older stuff pretty hard.”
“That’s great, your videos are kind of like YouTube wine. They need to age a little.”
“More like a nice stinky cheese. That’s a great analogy for content.”
“You have quite a large community online outside of YouTube; how do those other platforms fit into your overall process?”
“Patreon is definitely the best platform outside of YouTube in terms of getting valuable feedback. And of course, the monetary support is nice, but really Patreon gives me the most valuable feedback out of everything. I like posting things early there so there’s sort of a back and forth between me and the viewers. We nail down a video and sort of whittle it down into something really good. It sucks when I post a video and people give me the feedback that this is wrong or you can do this better. I never expected that with Patreon; I didn’t join it for that reason, but it’s proven very beneficial to post things early there and get feedback before it goes fully live.
“My subreddit is a fan run thing too — I don’t even moderate that. I do look at it every so often, and it’s super cool and I try to answer questions anytime I think about it. But I mainly stick to YouTube and Patreon. A lot of people have asked me to do Discord or Twitch, but I just feel like maybe I’m not the right generation for that or something. It doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t know why. It seems a little too active or something. I’d rather just be able to answer things at my own pace. I prefer emails instead of whatever other direct options are out there. Most of what I do is research and scripting, and so without that, it almost feels, like, naked going out there.”
A final word on the LGR community
“Before I let you go, has your Youtube community ever surprised you in a profound way?”
“It always surprises me what catches on. For a long time there, I thought that they only wanted a specific type of video regarding old games or something. Then, I threw something out there just answering a comment question about why old computers used turbo buttons. That was it. It was a simple, simple question I had gotten a good number of times in the comments, and it quickly turned into one of the most popular videos on the channel.
“That sort of opened my eyes up to the whole educational side of YouTube. Just sort of asking a question and giving the answer and how ridiculously popular those are. That led me into exploring other possibilities. I did another video about why those Texas Instruments calculators that you got in high school were so expensive. That was something I never would have done had the audience not asked about it so much. I’ve never really thought of my stuff as shareable but the audience turned me on to those very shareable topics. That’s been fun to experiment with.”
Clint and LGR’s success is proof that every niche has an audience. Instead of playing the algorithm, listen to your viewers. In the end, it comes down to making content you can be passionate about — and finding balance along the way.