The shelves of the Giant Robot store are brimming with brightly colored plush animals, designer toys, and stacks of folded retro t-shirts. The West Los Angeles storefront seems like the perfect place to hang out with Adam Montoya aka SeaNanners. The blend of vintage video game style, art, and skate culture on display at Giant Robot overlap perfectly with SeaNanner’s unique brand of entertainment. Originally known for his video game commentary, SeaNanners has branched out into becoming much more than a one-note artist. Talking with SeaNanners, it’s clear that he is ready to show the world that he is more than headshots and killstreaks. I spoke with SeaNanners about Machinima, landing hardflips, and the future of video games on YouTube.
What takes up most of your time right now?
SeaNanners: Answering emails and returning phone calls takes up a lot of my time. I would like to spend my time playing games, however, I spend most of it doing other things. I think I’ve been branching out a lot, so a lot of my attention has been focused on other things which is hard because when you have your fingers in multiple honeypots it’s kind of hard to narrow your focus. I think it’s always the very mundane that takes up most of my time, like getting back to people saying, “Hey, do you want to do this or play that game or go here?” I’m like, “Ahh, it’s crazy!” It’s the day-to-day stuff that takes up most of my time.
You’ve built this entire channel based on playing videogames, but it’s not taken up most of your time. How do you balance playing games and also having to do mundane things like answering e-mails?
It’s unfortunate because I would like to spend most of my time playing games but depending on what projects are going on, where I’m at, or what trips I have to take, my time spent playing games has shrunken quite a bit. I think that the days of just playing “Halo” until 4 o’clock in the morning–you would think it would be the case–but the more this has kind of become my job and/or lifestyle, I spend a lot of time working on a variety of different things. I now have responsibilities, and now it’s not just playing–like I said–”Halo” until 4 o’clock in the morning, because there’s always something that has to be done.
Pet peeves and guilty pleasures?
The other day somebody asked me, “Are you a gamer?” The idea that you have to be this one specific thing seems a bit odd to me. I always get kind of mad when people try to narrow down like, “Let me define you in one word.” It’s like, “You’re a try-hard,” or “You’re a gamer,” or “You’re a fan boy,” or whatever it may be. I don’t like words used to sort of pigeonhole someone. It bothers me that people often forget that just because you play games it doesn’t mean that is your world and everything you care about. There’s tons of things that I’m interested in, and I’m always kind of off-put by the notion that someone who plays games is sort of “That is all they do;” it’s definitely not the case.
Perfect segway. People also know you skate – what’s the hardest fall you’ve ever taken skating?
My hip is all jacked up. It’s like scab after scab after scab. My hands are kind of alright. As far as hardest fall, I fell on my face once, but that’s when I first started. I was just clumsily like, “Yeuuuhh,” but I’ve never gone to the hospital, I’ve never broke–oh wait! Never mind. My leg; I landed on a bar, and I had to get two stitches, but other than that I didn’t break a bone. As long as you don’t break bones you’re OK. That’s always very awkward. I remember when I was in high school, and I went to a skate competition, and this guy was off in the back just by himself. Nobody was watching except for me. I think he was trying to do a backside flip or something. He just – boom! – and his hand was all, “Eeaah!” He looks at me, and I look at him, and then he looks at me, and no one is around. I’m just staring at this kid like, “You should get this fixed. This is not good for your life! This is bad!” But I never suffered anything traumatic or life altering. I’ve never broken a hip or a leg or arms.
What’s the best thing you’ve landed?
It’s always the stuff you don’t quite land but you feel really proud about. I remember when I was first getting started we went to Carlsbad. It was the Carlsbad Gap, which I think is demolished and gone now. I remember there was a bunch of pros that were shooting that day. My friends were like, “You got to try to do something.” I’m like, “What do I do? I got to do something!” I remember trying to hardflip. I didn’t hardflip the Gap, but the 11 stair next to it, and it was like, “Oh my god! This is going to be my big day!” That was a huge thing because you had all these people watching you. I didn’t land it, but I got really close, and I was like, “Oh my god, this is one of those days where it could have been something awesome, but at the same time you’re a young kid trying to impress the older folk. Just being in that environment with people that are like, “Yeah!!!” I just watched a video with this guy in it, and I was like, “Wow, this is crazy.”
Do you remember what pros were there?
Back in the day, it was a bunch of like, “I know you, but I don’t know you. I know you’re important, so I must do this.” We just went to Atlanta, and my girlfriend and I we saw some dude at his hotel, and I was like, “I think he was on Girl [Skateboards Co.], but I can’t remember his name exactly.” You see him all the time, and he was vaguely familiar but you don’t know. As far as, “Is there a trick that I’ve landed that is my best?” I don’t think there really is the best. That’s the thing in skateboarding; there’s never set tasks of “I would like to do this.” If it takes me a day, a few days, a few hours, or a couple of weeks; it’s really just random. I think that the things that stand out the most are the things that I get super passionate about, but again it’s a very creative activity so there’s not really too many set objectives. It’s just like, “This seems right for right now.”
*Want Call of Duty SeaNanners on your desktop? Click below for a free wallpaper:
Your favorite park?
I don’t like parks to be honest, because you have to wear pads, and there’s these little kids. It’s best to just find your own thing.
The YouTube and gaming communities are almost synonymous with each other; they’re so intertwined and really interconnected. Why do you think there’s such a connect there?
I don’t know. It’s a very hard thing to sort of define, why the space is so enticing. It’s hard to define why it’s taken off so quickly, but I think what has happened is there’s been a lack of–I mean–there’s so many different people who play any type of games; it’s like my mom plays video games, my sister plays video games, I play video games. I think slowly but surely the pool of people that are engaged in this type of activity is growing. I think there needs to be a group, community, an organization of people that are all like minded and enjoy similar types of things. Obviously, my interests are not just about gaming but also skateboarding, music, and film. I think that this community was going to begin somehow, and I think YouTube is probably the best platform because it is very easy to connect with others that enjoy whether it be “Call of Duty” or “Minecraft” or even share like-minded position on this or that. I think it’s great to have a bunch of people have this outlook. I don’t know why it works, but it does. Over the last couple of years, it’s been more about people’s personal lives and less about gaming, which is interesting. Initially, what happens is that people will jump on YouTube to complete some level or get tips or tricks on some game that they enjoy. With time, they’re like, “Wow, this guys is kind of interesting. I’ll just stick around and see what he has to say.” That’s how I originally started. Back in the day when I started my channel, it was for fun, and it was something that seemed like something I wanted to be a part of. It was very much about tips and tricks like, “Alright, use this gun. This is the type of things you need to remember on this map or what have you.” It was mainly “Call of Duty” back in the day. “World at War” was the game that everyone played at that time. Then, over time, you just slowly but surely integrate yourself into the content more and more like, “Oh, I just saw this movie,” or “This song was really cool,” or “This is what I did today.” What happens is that more and more frequently you find yourself wanting to talk about your life and not so much the game you are playing, which is a very odd thing because you think that most people go, “Well, if you’re putting up this sort of video content, wouldn’t you refer to it to some capacity?” People have already played “Call of Duty.” There’s like 5 big titles, and they know how this game is played. There are newcomers to the series, but for the most part it’s definitely more about just connecting with people that are similar.
And discussing your life within the context of that film or movie or music or what have you.
I think that what happens is it’s a good way to start the conversation. If you don’t know somebody, getting to know them online is a bit easier. For instance, if somebody comes to my channel and watches my videos it’s much easier to digest who I am as a person through the exchange of a video commentary or a game play commentary, because they have that background. Like, “Alright, our common ground is ‘Call of Duty.’ From there, let’s see where that takes us.” I think that’s definitely easy to digest, and you’re not just some random person on the Internet where it’s like, “What’s this guy all about? Oh OK, he likes skateboarding, and he likes the movie that I like. Let’s see what else that we share in common.” I think it tends to work, and I think that gaming is a good way of starting the conversation, because let’s face it, if you don’t know too much about something, well, it’s a very strange thing. Sorry, I’m rambling [laughs].
Your videos started as video game commentary. Did you contribute the fact that you were opening yourself up and being open with the public on the Internet to the success of your videos? What do you contribute the success of your channel to?
I would have to say that the success of my channel revolved around the willingness to be open. I remember the first time I told my friend that I was going to appear in front of the camera, he was like, “I don’t think you should do that. The Internet is kind of mean. Why would you subject yourself to something like that?” I just took a leap of faith. It was like, “Alright, this sounds like something that I want to do. Why not?” What do I have to be scared of–I guess–is the question. A lot of people tend to see this platform as a very confrontational, negative one, and it is for the most part. If you do some videos, it is kind of difficult to want to be a part of it. There are a lot of people like me, and there’s a lot of people who are willing and are interested in what I have to say. If you’re not transparent, and you’re not open, then what’s the point? It seems like YouTube is an excellent outlet for transparency, and that’s something you don’t see too often, especially when it comes to television and film. Everything is very controlled and micro managed, and everything must be a certain way. It’s cool because YouTube is random. I can do and say whatever I want, and I don’t have to be subjected to standards from someone else.
Did you have a formula that you wanted to stick to immediately when you started making videos, or did you experiment with what worked and what didn’t work?
It was weird, because the initial formula for my channel was I play a game and get a good match playing “Call of Duty” or whatever the game may be. It was “Call of Duty” when I first started. Then it was pretty much talk for 5 to 10 minutes. I tend to ramble, so this platform definitely makes a lot of sense because I can basically talk about whatever the topic may be and just explain at length. I think there was never any real plan; it was just “This makes sense, and I want to do this now.” The best part of the Internet is if something doesn’t work then you can just change it. I think that it made sense to simply have voice-over and gameplay, because it was the easiest. It was just a way to put yourself out there.
Do you remember what game put you in the direction of playing games for the rest of your life?
They always ask that, and I’m like, “I don’t remember if there was that one game.” It’s hard because I don’t think I really invest myself, story-wise, in a game. Multiplayer makes the most sense to me. The first game I really got into was “Halo 2.” That was the first time I got Xbox live, and myself and my two buddies played it all the time. That was the game. Of course, there was Nintendo 64, which is a huge platform as well. “Super Smash Brothers” for Nintendo 64 was the game that me and my friends always played. It’s hard to say what game is the jumping-off point for my gaming life, but I would have to say probably “Halo 2” was the biggest title for me.
Do you feel that there’s this whole idea of games that are more focused around story that are trying to be cinematic events, and where do you sit on that? Do you feel that stories belong in games to be this driving point for games like “Heavy Rain” or “Mass Effect,” or do you feel like it just needs to be strictly a player’s experience, and the story can just stay out of it?
I think to each their own. Regardless of what you enjoy, either multiplayer or single player, it’s just based on the person. People ask me, “How do you select the games you play?” It’s just on a whim. It’s your mood. It’s like, “I feel like watching a horror movie,” or “I feel like watching a comedy.” I think that’s just definitely on a case-by-case basis. There is a lot of strength in the narrative structure, but myself personally, I just engage in that space in that way. I’m a person that just wants to create my world and play it how I want to play it. When it’s laid out for me, I don’t have interest in taking that journey as it were. I want to go here, and I want to see that. I don’t want to be pushed down a path.
Do you think that’s the success of games, that they kind of let you create your own narrative in a sense?
Yeah, I think that games that allow you to take different paths are the ones that will. It depends; a “Final Fantasy” is drastically different than a “Fallout.” It’s two different games. I think definitely allowing player to custom-tailor their experience is where you’re going to find the most success in a game.
In terms of maintaining your work schedule, a lot of your work has to do with playing games and doing commentaries. How do you balance playing games with your everyday life, like doing things like skating and that kind of thing? How do you section that time off?
It’s hard to balance, because I think when you’re producing–I try to make a video about every other day–that’s tough because you try to balance quality and quantity, and you never want to be in a position where you’re just spamming the Internet with stuff. I find that if I’m not having a good time doing what I do, I probably should reevaluate what I’m doing because this job is not a job. It’s like putting a video up, “Yay! We had a good time!” I know it is a paid position, but you are allowed many more freedoms, and I think that it’s tough to balance here and there, because obviously I don’t want to be playing games all day. I have family, friends, and girlfriends and things that I need to do. I can’t just play “Warcraft” for 15 hours. That’s not reasonable. That just doesn’t make any sense.
How do you know which content you’ll be putting up? Do you just pick the best matches in “Call of Duty” or really good dungeon crawls with “Skyrim”?
It just varies, to be honest. It’s hard, because people will post based upon what is popular. I like “Call of Duty.” I’ve been playing “Call of Duty” for a long time, same with “Halo” and “Minecraft.” It’s really subjective. If you’re playing a first-person shooter, it’s good KDR [kill/death ratio]. I think that it’s case-by-case depending upon the game I’m playing. A “Call of Duty” game that I post on my channel will probably consist of either dying once, if not at all; just kind of my own level that I kind of set for myself. Games like “Minecraft” or this open world “do whatever you want,” it comes down to the way you interact in the space you have available. It’s more of that comedy angle. There is no method. It’s just kind of like, “Hey, this game is free to play, and it just came out! I’m going to give it a shot.” Or you hear someone say, “This game is great. You should give this a shot.” Oh, OK cool. It is just random. I know that there are certain channels on YouTube that are very specific to what they do, but I like to think of my channel as more or less grounded in gaming, and it just goes wherever. I think what happens is that if people follow your channel for you and not so much your content, then you have the ability to do whatever feels right. I think that people will respect and/or do respect the fact that you do what your heart tells you and not what an income and/or the pressure of X, Y, or Z, and I think that’s how it should work. It should work case by case. I feel like it’s my place to do what I feel is right and what make sense.
YouTube is one of the biggest areas to receive feedback. You can get critical feedback instantly in comments. How do you feel that should affect you as a creator?
It’s like a double-edged sword, because you want to pay attention to the comments you receive, but you have to sift through comments that are constructive, and then you have to sift through the ones that aren’t constructive. I think it’s very easy to get frustrated and be like, “Rawr! They’re saying mean things about my face!” It’s tough to not get discouraged. I personally look at it as a like to dislike ratio. I look at the general consensus and make a decision based upon that. I don’t ever find myself bending to the will of the masses. If I’m doing something that I know sucks, I should be willing to receive the punishment. At my standards, I feel like regardless if whether or not someone likes or dislikes something I do, I should feel good at what I’m doing. I think that the comments and the favorites and like to dislikes reflect that. It is very one to one. People aren’t going to lie to you and be like, “That was great. It was a great video,” when it was bad. People are just going to be honest, and it’s good and bad. As long as you have a thick skin, you should be fine for sure.
Where you do fall on that idea with the “Mass Effect” controversy where they are thinking about re-tuning the ending? Where do you fall on that?
I think it’s kind of silly, because this is somebody’s project. If you don’t like it, then don’t play it. If you go to a film, and you’re like, “Well, I would have really liked to see that,” well, you’re not the filmmaker.
That’s the same criticism that I made. You can’t do that. It’s just the fact that we have the open channel where we can now say it, but it doesn’t mean we should.
Yeah, it’s a very strange thing because you have to allow the director or the producer or the artist to do what they do. If you don’t support them, then you don’t support them. You don’t have to be a douche about it. If you were unhappy about the outcome of X, Y, or Z, then just go elsewhere. There’s plenty of games. There’s plenty of great games. Think about all the trilogies in history that may not have ended the way a lot of people would have preferred. You can’t just change everything because ten thousand or a hundred thousand or a million people don’t like it. It is what it is. You’re not going to change the fundamental aspect. To be creative, you should be given certain freedoms, and that is to make something you like. If people don’t like it, then so be it. Debating is almost kind of silly, because it’s a very subjective thing. For some people, it’s like, “This is fantastic.” Some people are going to say, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen.” Take the comments and concerns into account, but I think bending to their will is kind of silly.
Video game commentary is a new market on YouTube, and it’s growing larger and larger with a lot of commercial success because of your channel and everything from Machinima. How have you seen that area grow and change in recent history?
It’s a very strange topic for me, because when I started my channel it was the pursuit of happiness. It was for fun. I didn’t know I could earn money. I did it because I, like many other people at a certain point in their life, try to figure out where their life is going to take them and what they’re going to do. They pursue a lot of things, and I went to school for film. My goal–air quotes–was to be an editor. The idea of working on other people’s projects for the rest of my life just seems kind of tough to deal with. I think there’s always been some part of me that’s wanted my own thing and my own space. My YouTube channel is my little art gallery. I go there to put up my work as it were. I think it’s very hard when I see, with any amount of success in whatever field it may be, money tends to change that. I’ve seen my fair share of it. I started in ’09, and now within the three years I’ve been on YouTube I’ve seen how it was fun, and now it’s a money-making enterprise. I don’t know quite how to deal with that. It’s hard because I think that people, and I’m speaking in a general sense, I think that some individuals in the gaming space don’t know how to balance morality and currency. That really gets to me. Earning money is fine. I have nothing against people earning money. It’s the way they choose to go about doing it, as you’ve probably seen on YouTube from miscategorization and giveaways, thumbnails, to you name it. There are many sneaky ways, and although it’s technically illegal, you’re not going to be thrown in prison for doing these things. It’s hard, because there are a lot of people on YouTube that have integrity, and that’s very tough for me to see this gaming community start off so strongly and now you have young kids saying, “I want to put a down payment on HDPVR, so I can earn money on YouTube.” Well, hold on. That’s not how it works. You do something for fun; if money comes, then great. But the pursuit of the money before the entertainment, and I’m speaking specifically for whoever’s making the content, that’s just the backwards way of doing things. It’s a strange thing because I know the gaming industry is a multibillion dollar industry, and this is a very new thing, and developers and companies and advertisers are saying, “Wow, we can get this person to play our game or pitch our whatever or promote our product.” It’s very odd to see the evolution kind of go in both a positive direction and a negative direction. I worry that people in the gaming space will forget why they started this in the first place, and that was because you wanted to be a part of this big, awesome, cool thing. Now it’s changed. It’s definitely changed, and I hope that it doesn’t devour itself. I hope that people don’t get so money-driven that they don’t forget the importance of this group, this community. Unfortunately, it’s not in my hands. Only time will tell. I try my best, every opportunity I can, to be positive and fun and to not whore myself out. It is tough, because on one hand people are quitting their jobs to do this. It’s tough, because I get this gaming space is very attractive. It’s very attractive to say, “Look, you get to do whatever you want and play games and that’s your job.” That’s a very attractive thing to hear. Unfortunately, with great power comes responsibility. If people are not able to manage that power, it’s just going to eat itself alive, and I don’t want to see this space go away. I don’t want to see this culture go away because people are fed up with the sneaky, just douchey techniques on YouTube that everyone knows is there. It’s hard, because bad press is still press. People will still subscribe to your channel even if you’re a douche nozzle, unfortunately.
YouTube just announced that everyone can monetize, everyone’s a partner, basically. It’s gotta be tough for someone who’s been a partner when it was hard to become a partner. Where do you sit on this whole YouTube saying, “Hey, everyone has this title”?
I’m not going to be a hipster about it. I’m not going to be like, “I was cool before this was cool.” That’s just silly. If somebody wants to, and if somebody has great content, they should be rewarded. I just think my concern is that people see such an alluring thing and want to be a part of it, but don’t focus on integrity and don’t focus on brand and don’t focus on why they are here in the first place, and that really concerns me. I think that it’s tough. I feel like I have a pretty good moral compass. I’m not going to do anything I feel is wrong for the sake of a buck. The idea that anyone that has one video can monetize all of their content kind of concerns me, because I don’t want to see not only the gaming space but the YouTube space sort of devour itself. I don’t want YouTube to be a money-making enterprise. I’ve been wrapped up in this business world accidentally, and I’m trying to navigate it in such a way where I don’t feel icky. I worry about the ability for people to see this as like, “I want to be the next big thing!” That’s not how it works. Everybody who wants to be the next big thing will probably will never ever be the next big thing. Unfortunately, on the Internet they can read sincerity. It’s like film and television is different because you are paid to be someone else, but YouTube you are you, and it will shine, and it will be clear who you are, and people will take note. The idea that anyone can, “I want to go on the Internet and be famous,” is such a silly thing.
But it’s such a real thing now.
It is a real thing, but I think that my advice is that anybody that wants to be part of this community, be a part of this community first, and if anything great happens, then awesome; but do not pursue YouTube for the sake of “I’m going to quit my job, I’m going to be internet famous, and everyone is going to love me.” That’s not a good objective. That’s a horrible plan. You can’t make people like you. It doesn’t work that way. The idea that someone can simply say, “Because I want it, it will come,” is ridiculous. The need and the want to be famous and popular is not the path to be famous and popular. Being famous and popular is you have a talent or you’re interesting or you’re modest. It’s such a silly thing. I would love to see people pursue their dreams, and if their dreams secretly are to be internet famous, then great, but I don’t think it works that way. It’s equivalent to saying, “I want to be on YouTube and be famous,” as to say “I want to meet somebody and be madly in love, and that person will love me, and we’ll never get divorced, and we’ll be happy forever, and it’s going to be great.” You don’t decide that. Life happens. It’s not something that you can control. In the same sense, you can’t control if people are going to like you or dislike you. It just is what is it. I know people don’t like that statement because it’s so “durrr” but it’s like, you can’t. There’s certain things in life that you can’t change. Making somebody like you is not something you can affect or change or decide. It is or it isn’t. The idea that somebody would think that they’re so important or so funny or so whimsical that who wouldn’t like them, it seems like a weird stance. It’s bizarre to me. It makes no sense.
How do you handle that? When you joined YouTube it was already on its way to becoming this advertising giant, but now more than ever. They did some site with the “John Carter” ads, and they tapered the whole thing. That’s something that you cannot support as an artist, but you can’t do anything about it because YouTube is the host; it’s hosting you. How do you deal with that?
Traditional advertising will always be there. People will spend lots of money. I think–wasn’t the the head of Disney film or someone fired as a result of “John Carter” not doing well at all? It bombed?
It was the biggest flop in all of movie history. I think it cost $400 million to make and made $20 million. A lot of people had to lose their jobs.
That was as much as the first “Titanic.”
It’s hard, because people and organization will always spend lots of money on advertising whether it’s successful or not. We’ll see. “John Carter” is a good example because they put a lot of money into it, and it wasn’t successful. To be honest, I don’t even mind. I just glaze over the stuff you see tons and tons again. I’m not going to go buy a Gilette razor or eat a Klondike bar because somebody asked me to. I just make the decisions I want to make, and it doesn’t really bother me. If I had to watch a three minute advertisement then, “OK, this is ridiculous.” Luckily, there are ways to not being subjected to that, maybe not being around that programming because it’s heavily advertised. I think it’s hard on YouTube because there are content creators that pitched all kinds of things. I’ve been approached with all kinds of projects. The goal is to try to navigate that space in a way that doesn’t make you feel gross. If you’re feeling gross, you probably shouldn’t work with that company or that individual. I think that if something is integrated in a way that make sense, like if I play a game that I like, and someone wants to pay me for that, then it’s a win-win. This is a good game, I have no problem playing this great game. You’re receiving advertisement, I’m receiving money and/or exposure on my own channel. Everyone wins. I think there is this odd notion that if you’re paid to do something, you’re a sell out. I don’t think that’s the case. It depends on what you’re selling. If I sell tampons, I may be selling out because I’m not a woman, and why would I be selling tampons? That makes no sense. So receiving money for something like that would be absurd, but again, like I said before, if I’m playing a game I already like, if someone is like, “Hey, play ‘Minecraft,’ we’ll give you money.” I’m like, “OK I’m already going to be playing that.” What’s the point in having to fight something like that? It is a weird thing, because similar to my concerns, a lot of your audience wants to make sure that YouTube is pure; that it’s not taken over by advertisers, and it is something that is not controlled. People are very concerned that voices like mine will be tampered with, and the good thing is that based upon who I am as an individual it is not going to happen. I’m not going to whore myself out. I’m not going to be like, [in old man’s voice] “You should watch this really cool TV show because the narrative structure is really cool.” Of course, I wouldn’t name something because I wouldn’t want to make them feel bad, but there are television shows that I don’t like, and I don’t want to be a part of it, and if somebody was to say, “Hey would you like to be paid to do something for us,” I’d say, “No.” It makes no sense. I don’t support that. In the same sense, there’s tons of things in life that you choose, whether it’s “What bag of lettuce do I want to buy?” to “Who do I support politically?” There’s all kinds of ways you can be true to yourself.
Absolutely. In terms of joining Machinima and becoming a full time member, how has that changed? At a certain point, you joined Machinima and you had to start working within the constructs of having advertisers and having people who Machinima worked with…
I’m no longer a full time employee. I’m all independent now. So I didn’t know if you knew that or not. They would probably choose that you word it a certain way. I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me, and being transparent is fine. I’d say that the way in which you word it is tip toe-ish, I guess. Just to give you a background, when I first started YouTube, a couple months after they were like, “Do you want to join the Directors program?” which is you put videos on respond, and they pay you accordingly. Then after that, three months later, I got the job and worked there for two years, and then the end of February I started doing the Directors program again. Well, technically it’s the Partners program, and now I’m focusing my channel, and I’m not in-house anymore. That’s kind of how it is.
You’re kind of working with them but not in a corporate structure.
Not anymore, basically.
For anyone who would eventually be working into this corporate structure, when you go from independent to this corporate structure how do you balance that idea of keeping your integrity as a creator but also sometimes having to answer to Mountain Dew or something like that?
Prior to Machinima, I was in the Directors program for three months prior to getting the job. I’ve always been independent and always done everything on my own. I think the best thing I’ve received when I did get the full time with Machinima was the ability to learn how to work better in a team, because when you’re–air quotes–a struggling artist trying to find your way, you kind of do a lot on your own, and you’re forced to because you don’t have another option. I think that Machinima helped me navigate the space better, like navigate this business world better and understand it more, because prior to getting the job I was not a part of that world. I was just doing my own thing. You do freelance stuff here and there, but like you said, what is it like when Mountain Dew says, “Hey SeaNanners, we would like to work with you and Machinima to do XYZ.” I’ve never found myself worried about my integrity as it were because Machinima is very good at looking at something and asking me straight out, “Are you comfortable with this? Are you not comfortable with this?” and I would say, “Yes, or “No.” They don’t push, and have never pushed me to do something that I didn’t believe in and I didn’t want. They weren’t like, “You do this because we’re Machinima!” I think that Machinima is, and of course I have not worked with any other game company similar to this, but Machinima is very good in allowing me to be me. They don’t push me around, and they don’t ask me to do stuff that I don’t want to do, which is great! I think that’s how it should be. Even if there is some huge deal on the line, and let’s say I was a vegetarian, and we want to work with McDonalds, I’ll be like, “Well, I don’t agree with that. I can’t do that.” They’d have to be willing to say, “OK, we understand. You’re not the right person for this job.” That’s just how it is. They are a business, but they are not evil business-bad. “Ha ha ha ha! You will do this!” Machinima in a general sense is very good at taking each situation and analyzing it case by case and not just thrusting everything the same way on every individual.
The way that “Minecraft” and the way that YouTube is, they’re kind of similar where it’s this free market where you can basically get your content for free. Besides it being free, what do you think it is about that free market that appeals so much to people? There’s so much free stuff out there, but in these instances with YouTube and “Minecraft” they explode and become insane.
I would probably say that my demographic tends to be 10 to 35. It tends to be more so the middle school, high school age as opposed to the older crowd. A lot of these guys and girls don’t have a lot of disposable income. They are in school, and they don’t have jobs. The free to play and/or YouTube model makes sense because hell, when I was 16, I didn’t have a bunch of cash to throw around on different games or activities. The ability for all this stuff to be readily available seems to be best-case scenario because it’s great content, it’s fun, and I don’t have to pay for it, because I’m not rich. I think the younger demographic gravitates towards that model because–let’s face it–when you’re younger, you’re not rolling in the dough.
Your two biggest video series that you’ve done have been commentary where you weren’t seen, but you did the “Road Trip!”, and you recently did the live action airsoft thing where you kind of integrated into a “Call of Duty” match. Those did really well. The airsoft one did really well. What do you think about that kind of model of taking the camera away from a video screen and showing you and your personal life, and what about that inspired people and got people psyched about your channel?
In a general sense, I think people are always interested in going beyond just one initial hobby, and that initial hobby being video games because people who enjoy video games also enjoy this type of music or skateboarding or this culture or this film, music, airsoft. There’s a lot of things that people like myself and other people enjoy, and I think that I’m always trying to branch out and try new things, because I don’t ever want to be in a position where I’m known for doing one specific thing. I’d rather be an individual first and a guy that plays videogames second. I don’t want to be typecast I don’t want to be just one thing, because I don’t think that’s me. I don’t think of myself as a gamer. I think of myself as a cook, a gamer, a skateboarder, a musician, an artist, whatever. That’s how I define myself, and I think that I would like to go forth and try to do those things because it is kind of scary for somebody that has been known for something for so long to do other things, but I don’t care. I literally just do not care. I don’t need tons and tons of cash. I’m stable, I’m secure, I’m happy, I’m fine. My goal is not to be the most popular, amazing gameplay guy on the Internet ever in the universe. I have no aspirations to be the best anything, be the most wealthy or any of that. I think what it boils down to is, “Am I happy,” and if I’m happy, then I’ve made the right decisions.
You kind of already went over when people come up to you and say, “Hey, I want to be on YouTube,” or “I want to do what you do.” What kind of advice do you give people? I know whenever we ask this question the YouTube people are always like, “Don’t try to be an aspiring YouTube person.” Anything besides that you can tell people?
You got to be like Fonzie, basically. To be cool, you don’t just focus on being cool. It’s a weird thing. YouTube is strange, because you have to want it without wanting it. It’s a very strange puzzle to solve. Here’s probably the best example: YouTube is like a cat. Most of the time you have to allow the cat to come to you, because if you chase the cat–which is very relevant, because my avatar is a cat–but if you chase the cat, it will run away in the same sense that if you approach your audience like, “Love me! You’re amazing!” They will run away, and they will not want to want you because you have not allowed them to come to you. You have to start the conversation, and if people are interested, they will stay. If not, you have to be dealing with the fact that they will leave. You must allow things to just happen naturally. Just because you want something doesn’t mean it will come into fruition.
What’s next for you in the future? What are you doing with your channels?It’s funny because it’s such a broad question.
OK, we’ll narrow it down.
Like tonight, I’ll be going to dinner at this restaurant.
What can we expect to see from you on YouTube or other media outlets?
I’d say on YouTube and/or other media outlets you will most likely see me taking part in activities that are outside of the gaming world, just because there are many things I’m interested in. I would like to utilize this time to branch out and try new things, because I feel like if I’ve been given this opportunity I should utilize it to it’s fullest extent, in that I should have as much fun as I possibly can because we’re all going to get old one day and pass away.
So how do we stalk you?
Photography by Melly Lee
Graphics by Drew Rueda