Being an online content creator of any sort has its difficulties, and being an online gamer is no exception. YouTube gamers face a unique set of dilemmas, risks, rewards and challenges, especially regarding mental health, finances and career paths.
Perks of Gaming vs. Vlogging
Gaming on YouTube provides a reliable influx of content choices without having to plan, write or brainstorm for every video. New games are constantly being released, meaning there are always plenty of options. There’s a benefit to having a niche channel, as people know what to expect when they come to your videos. This makes it more likely for them to come back. Plus, games are recognizable, drawing more people to watch related content. When more traditional YouTube creators begin a gaming channel on the side, sometimes this system’s relative creative stability will be appealing enough to have the creator give it precedence.
Kassie from GloomGames started as a vlogger on CloudyApples but enjoyed the freedom of just getting to have fun playing a game so much that she made it her primary channel and stopped posting on what used to be her main. However, she still manages to make time to integrate sketches into her videos. Overall though, the stress of coming up with a script or an outline for a video on a vlogging channel is far greater than simply playing a game and providing improvised commentary on a gaming channel. In this way, a gamer might find it easier to put out consistent content than a traditional YouTube vlogger.
But the arena of YouTube gaming is not without its dark side. Glorification of overworking yourself is all too common in the modern mindset. Many of the biggest names in gaming describe working tirelessly, obsessively, taking up all their time in pursuit of their channel’s success, and it’s often lauded as a goal to admire — that’s what worked, after all.
Putting your mental and physical health aside is a competition of sorts nowadays. I find myself falling into this pattern, too. We practically brag about staying up all night to do homework or cram for a test. We claim that, in order to be successful, you have to set aside concerns for your health. We do this, and it kills us. And the sad thing is, it’s possible that’s becoming more and more true. The demands of the YouTube algorithm are rapidly shifting, requiring more content in less time.
Putting your mental and physical heath aside is a competition of sorts nowadays.
Many famous gamers work through holidays or weekends, only seeming to pause for breath when they realize they’ve been suffocating, whereupon they’ll make a video about how they have to take a break for their mental health. They apologize profusely for taking time to be mentally stable and happy, and after the break, they throw themselves back into the same exact loop — because if you’re not all-in, the algorithm will drop you.
Of course, on the other hand, there are plenty of opportunities that present themselves to popular creators. Many people have found the platform to be an excellent way to branch out into new areas of interest, and even careers. Let’s-Players commonly read character dialogue aloud, giving them experience with voices, accents and diction, as well as a way to demonstrate voice acting ability.
Arin Hanson of the Game Grumps, for example, has extended his talents into professional voice acting, landing roles both in video games and large-scale mainstream media productions such as “Rick and Morty,” “Mighty Magiswords” and more. He and his gaming partner, Dan Avidan, have each also grown their music careers, using their online presence to showcase their bands’ new songs and music videos. This, in turn, has lead to acting opportunities. Other YouTube gamers like NateWantsToBattle or Cryaotic have been part of the development process for new games, which is yet another incredible way a gaming channel can offer related job experience. The gaming community provides a tight but extensive network for creators and can be extremely helpful in kick-starting a career.
Back to Reality: The Cost
All that aside, we have to remember that success stories are no indication of the ease of pursuing a successful gaming career. As is the case with most big YouTubers, starting early on is massively different to starting now. Advice from those who began their channels in the early stages of YouTube is incomparable to what is currently needed to gain an audience.
Success stories are no indication of the ease of pursuing a successful gaming career.
Financially, it’s not common to attain enough income from a YouTube channel to fully support a YouTube creator. The biggest channels are exceptions, and now more than ever, smaller creators will struggle to make enough money to even dent their living expenses thanks to the new monetization requirements.
I can’t afford to keep up with games or post regularly because I lack the money to buy the latest games and need my jobs to get it. Paradoxically, jobs take away time — the counterpart of money. Games and consoles are extremely expensive, and purchasing them at the rate necessary to stay relevant is more than the average small creator can fund, especially with the expectations for higher quality equipment. These costs create a massive deficit that could deter newer creators from sticking with their channels and significantly narrows their options.
It takes extreme dedication and commitment to be a YouTube gamer. You’re expected to be punctual and reliable, like clockwork, but at the same time energetic and entertaining on top of all the exhaustion that comes with the demanding schedule. Gaming channels also tend to be held to a higher standard of consistency, with the algorithm basically requiring one or two videos per day. There’s also a huge pressure among YouTube gamers to play new games instantly; they all want to be the first to corner the market on views for that game. It’s an incredibly fast-paced and competitive field. Time is the puppeteer and executioner of the YouTube gamer.
One way a gamer can get more time is by hiring an editor, since that cuts a lot of work and leaves more time to do other things. But that requires they make enough money in order to pay the editor, so the growing channels are at yet another disadvantage. They can’t get an editor until they’re more successful, but need more time and energy in order to reach that success and still be healthy.
The Balancing Act Continues
YouTube gaming offers up myriad advantages and pitfalls. The most important thing is to remember that health, both mental and physical, is more important than burning yourself out to appease an unforgiving algorithm. No amount of hard work is worth putting yourself at risk.
Costs, health issues, and time limitations are all things to be cognizant of in maintaining a gaming channel, but when these are well-balanced, the gaming world has tons of opportunities for passions and interests to thrive and grow into careers. You just need to stay balanced.