You know that scene in movies where the good guy thinks all is lost? He screams, fires his gun in the air, knocks everything off his desk, etc. That was me when I saw that Jimmy Kimmel did an update to his gaming piece by sitting down with Markiplier and MissesMae at Maker for a little friendly gaming. My rage wasn’t over the cringey video, which by most accounts it was, it was because that very same day I had done an interview with MatPat of The Game Theorists (and The Film Theorists) channel, who had also reached out to Kimmel. And I didn’t have the story ready in time for publication yesterday. I was like, “Oh no big deal, it can run tomorrow!” And then Kimmel had to go and do his thing:
That above video shouldn’t even exist because it was awkward and didn’t do anything to smooth the rift. At this point, Kimmel should just move on — it clearly isn’t going to get better. Yeesh.
But then I have this amazing set of smart and well-reasoned answers from MatPat, whose gaming/theoretics channel just recently reached the 5 million subscribers mark. Clearly he knows a little something about what makes people want to watch YouTube gaming. Normally, I would just sit on this interview because it’s a “non-story” at this point. But I didn’t want to do that because MatPat, as always, gives such sound logic to everything he does. So I decided to release the interview anyway as a sort of bootleg bonus to you Game Theorist fans, who have been so great about supporting all MatPat’s interactions with NMR.
MatPat, my apologies on this one. We’ll always be left to wonder about the video you would have done with Kimmel. For those of you unaware of this story, you can start here. But we’ll embed Kimmel’s initial and much maligned videos in the body of the interview below.
What was your stance when you found out about what Jimmy did? Were you pissed or did you write him off as “old-world” or is he right?
MatPat: Honestly, I understood where he was coming from. From the outside looking in, watching someone else play a video game seems absurd, but when you actually take the time to think about it, it’s not all that different from watching a sport or TV show — in all three cases, you’re watching a piece of entertainment where you feel connected to what you’re watching in some way. It’s generally accepted to watch sports and root for your favorite team even though you sitting there on the couch doesn’t change the outcome of the game. You watch TV because you’re invested in the characters and their stories. And you watch Lets Plays for all those exact same reasons: because you love the game, you appreciate the skill of the player, or you care about what they player thinks and how they’re experiencing it.
However, I will say I was a bit upset by the way Jimmy and the team approached the issue. It’s fine to say you don’t understand it. But to then make comments about this phenomenon as “we failed as parents” and to have a skit in which God says “I’ve raised a bunch of idiots” — that’s offensive and just mean-spirited. And it’s worth noting that it came BEFORE he received any mean comments. It’s a bit of a double-standard; Jimmy and his team in his second and third videos hand-select the worst comments to lump gamers into this hateful, immature group, but they were the ones to start name-calling to begin with.
And, as a funny side note: Jimmy equates it to going to a restaurant and watching someone else eat your favorite food. Well, if watching people play video games confused him, introducing him to mukbang, which is literally watching videos of other people eat food, THAT will BLOW HIS MIND!
What would be your strategy for getting Jimmy on board with Let’s Plays?/Is there a particular channel or game that would be a great introduction course?
What non-gamers often misunderstand is that “Let’s Plays” is a category just as broad as “Comedy” or “Drama.” Just like you have Dark Comedy or Melodrama, you have different flavors of Let’s Plays. So I would show him a sample of the different types to really highlight the fact that it’s not just about someone playing a video game, that there are different ways to appreciate gaming.
I would start with the speed runners and competitive esports scene, since those are probably the most outwardly impressive. Just seeing a League of Legends or Starcraft player’s fingers fly across the keyboard is incredible, whether or not you understand the action on screen. And speed runners? Whether or not you know the ins and outs of the game, their mastery of the mechanics is instantly apparent. Then I’d move on to the SUPER creative uses of gaming — things like Automated Mario where gamers craft levels that use in-game physics to literally play themselves, where it’s less about the gameplay and more about the artistry of level design. And finally, I’d close off with some personality-driven Let’s Plays like Markiplier and Pewdiepie who use the game as a medium for humor and a sense of community with their audience. Because at its core, that’s what this is all about — community, a shared language. Just like you have fans of sports teams gathering to tailgate before every match, wearing jerseys and facepaint, you have gamers coming together to engage in an experience around their favorite players.
(notice MatPat suggested looking at Markiplier, so at least Jimmy Kimmel made a great choice in his gaming buddies)
Has there been any word back from Jimmy’s people yet?
There hasn’t yet. Maybe this article will be the thing that gets him to accept my invite 😉
(Argh, the Jimmy bit was likely already filmed before we did the interview, but still, I feel miserable!)
Why do you think there’s been so much backlash with YouTube-centric stuff lately? And is there a “cure”?
I actually have a theory video in the works about that exact subject now! But long story short, it seems to be a combination of factors. First and most obviously, insulting YouTubers or YouTube communities is an easy way to get views on your video/article as fans rush to defend their favorite pastime or digital celebrity. I mean, just look at the Jimmy Kimmel channel — these three videos bashing gamers are three of his most-viewed videos in the past month…I mean they’re no Fallon numbers, but still 😉
But also, I think there’s a growing rift between traditional media and digital. Look at the news and you see stocks for traditional entertainment brands dropping across the board as viewers “cut the cord,” especially when it comes to viewers between the ages of 18 and 24. Here’s a chart:
And that’s scary for them, especially when the personalities and shows that are taking their place look like Pewdiepie, Joey Graceffa, Tyler Oakley, SuperWoman, or Jacksepticeye — they can’t wrap their head around it. So rather than spend the time understanding this new wave of entertainment, they dismiss it, belittle it, in an attempt to make it go away. They write it off as “niche” or immature in the hopes that their audiences will adopt that same belief.
Not to be that guy who cites Gandhi, but I honestly think this quote from him sums it up: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” We’re in that second phase now. But give it time. The “cure” is patience, not reacting in a knee-jerk manner or calling people names, because in doing so you give them fodder for a fourth and a fifth video reading mean, nasty comments. You feed into the stereotype. Instead, stay patient, stay smart, and help to educate. I equated the problem to a “rift” before, but it honestly doesn’t have to be. It can be a temporary misunderstanding. That’s why I reached out to Jimmy and the team in the first place.
See? Great stuff? Anything would have been better than the video that now exists of Jimmy asking Misses Mae if some Oculus Rift screams are what her mother’s orgasms sound like. This could have been glorious. Instead, there will be no peace.