Somewhere out there within the grand wilderness known as Canada is a Tuber of the You variety known as Kevin. Operating under the pseudonym of KBash, Kevin has been covering games on his chosen platform for what can be considered a while now, and over that time he has changed and developed as a coverer of games.
Recently I was afforded the opportunity to speak to Kevin about his work and how he approaches it.
Ez: Let’s kick it off. We’re gonna kick it off with a very serious image.
Kevin: Oh god. Okay.
Ez: Now what can you tell me about this image?Kevin: Um… Canada Bay. I don’t know? What am I meant to think? *laughs*
This looks like somewhere I live. It looks quite similar to the general geography, but I don’t even know… what… what’s the origin of the image?
Ez: Well it was taken at Canada Bay.
Kevin: Oh, Australia.
Ez: And you call yourself Canadian but you don’t know about Canada Bay.
Kevin: Truly criminal behavior *laughs*. I don’t know much about Australia in the first place actually. Hmm. Shouldn’t admit that.
Ez: Your credentials…
Ez: Now that the ice has been fully broken, let’s dive into the history of The KBash Show.
Obviously in the Persona 3 video (It’s actually the Persona 4 video) you of referenced how you were teaching in South Korea and you weren’t having a [good] time, and you told people that you were going to start a YouTube channel. Obviously there was some appeal for you. Do you remember what your thought process about starting [a channel] was at the time?
Kevin: Me wanting to start a YouTube channel actually goes back to third year of university – I think – and maybe even before then. At the time gaming was certainly… The comedic game review was a very popular format and I felt very much that I could’ve slotted into that era… at the time. I don’t think that now, but back then I definitely [felt that] this would be such a fun job because at that time I was going through to finish a degree.
The dream was collapsing. No longer was I going to be doing school. Eventually I had to join the workforce and be an adult, and that horrified me to no end *laughs* so YouTube [to me] was like “Wow a dream scenario. I can play video games and cover them. It’ll be fun. And do new skills. Green screen”.
It didn’t happen because I just had too much fear and I was sitting on my couch, depressed constantly, like “I’m not doing anything with my life, my time is slipping away, I’m playing games constantly”. Basically video game addiction, that type of thing where you feel like you can’t go to bed until you’ve played some video game or else you’ve wasted your day. That is not okay.
And so I kept this pain brewing in me for a very long time, like “I want to do something; anything at all”, and it eventually welled up because I’m not a very big risk taker. I don’t do a lot of investment stuff, I don’t spend a lot of money, so it was never going to be like “I’m doing YouTube. Screw it!”. It had to be a process.
So I went to Korea to use my teaching degree that I just acquired to be a responsible citizen and not waste my four years prior in school, but I wasn’t going to get a job right away. They weren’t hiring in my local area so I went overseas to Korea. I was like “I’m also getting married. This is like killing three birds with one stone. I can get a job in teaching immediately. I can plan for YouTube over the course of that year” which I did. After doing nine hours of labor per day, which sucked. But I definitely was diligent about it. I had the fire and I [could] get the money to get married. *laughs* So I did all those things.
I would say that defines my entire life, honestly. Meticulously trying to hit goals. Usually failing in some ridiculous stepping on rakes every step way, but then I did hit the goal! I still did it *laughs*. But the main thing was – again – not wanting to feel like my entire life was over, because that feeling…
I mentioned feeling depressed in school, but it came back to bite me. I went to get a teaching job after I had this Korea experience and they hired me on. It wasn’t an issue, but I was sitting there, doing a long-term contract which was a couple of months at the time, doing a local high school gig. It was the end of the day and sunlight was filtering through the windows. Wintertime sundown almost, and I just felt like, deep in my soul, “I could fucking die here”, genuinely, in the halls of that school and it felt so existentially painful I redoubled my efforts.
This was before Patreon, but it was one year before Patreon, I think. So I needed to get out, and I did *laughs* by getting really lucky, so yeah.
Ez: You started what like eight, seven years ago roughly?
Kevin: Same thing really. Seven or eight, it’s not ten.
Ez: You started a while ago. Did you have an idea of how you were going to set things out at the time? Or was it just like… ‘Cause I know you’ve talked about this away from what you publish, that your older videos are a lot more screechy than they are now.
So did you have a plan or were you running off influence?
Kevin: It was purely influence.
So – gee, I don’t even like name-dropping half the people who influenced me ’cause for god’s sake, every one of them ended up disappointing me in the end as I got older. But for anyone who has watched my old videos, you can tell where the sources generally come from. Just anyone who was doing incurious, comedic or highly negative “review content”. Just like “There is a game and I’m showing it on screen, LMAO”, like that type of business.
At the same time, back then I was much more immature and that stuff was fun and I was miserable at the time, so being highly negative about shit was fun. It was like “Damn, fuck Kirby 64!”. Obscene take. *laughs*
Kevin: But it’s still funny in retrospect I guess.
I did plan those out. Originally there were twelve or nine scripts that I did up in Korea. While recording the footage some of them didn’t make it. I had one on Custom Robo for GameCube. That was the first one I ever tried doing a script for and it didn’t work because I scrubbed through the entire footage. I watched all of it back and wrote notes on every single second and it was like a fucking cascade of notes that could never reach video form.
It could today! Because now days YouTube videos are so – in the game sphere – super stuffed, enormous marathons of like “I’m going to cover every event that happens in the game” and it would’ve worked but it was not meant to be back then, and my laptop would’ve exploded, so yeah *laughs*.
Ez: The last thing you want is a little boom with your gear.
Ez: So you had a plan but it sounds like it was emulation.
Kevin: Absolutely. And it failed for two years. It wasn’t worth it because that style of content, it had moved on and I was not aware of it. Like white, mediocre review bro died before I even started the show, so it was just two years of putting out trash that no one watched. It got me like 1,000 subs I think. Or 1,500 by two years’ time which is horrible, just to be clear. There are people who blow up to like 50k in one year, and higher nowadays, so… rough. *laughs* Or a work in progress.
Ez: Obviously it going slow were you still satisfied with the work you were putting out at the time? I know the answer’s gonna be eventually no, but…
Kevin: At the time – and I’ve said this before – You pick up taste faster than you can put it into practice, but even then I still thought highly of my work, ’cause you know, you’re attached to it. You did all this stuff out of whatever and you feel like you’re deserving of more reward which is of course wrong. But there is an element of pride you have to watch die year over year as you do this long process.
And to be clear, YouTube – at the time I hadn’t hit my lowest point when I started my channel and I hit it partway through. I mean in my life. So I experienced ego death in real life and doing YouTube, and I think that’s why the show is so weird now; how you watch someone become multiple different people over like seven years.
And I have never been set in easy and stable. For four months at the start of the show, that was the only time that I lived in my mother’s house. After that I was out paying rent every fucking month, like everyone else.
Ez: I also know that you’ve talked about numbers a lot and those can’t be ignored, but we’ll get to that a bit later, but what was it that led to you…
Your videos now are obviously very different to what they were, right?
Kevin: That’s true.
Ez: There certainly are still certain elements that have carried forward.
Kevin: Yep *laughs*
Ez: But they’re still very different. What is it that led to you wanting to change, outside of the need to hustle?
Kevin: There’s a whole bunch of answers to this so I’m going to stick with it as I go and hope I don’t drop the ball.
I could classify my show into a series of eras, but that initial two years is a whole separate era. I didn’t do videos with that cryptic thumbnail style. It wasn’t groups of reviews; it was one single game doing dumbass comedic whatever… schlock. But I changed because I did the Soul Calibur video and what did change in that moment was reinventing my style, incorporating multiple games, covering history at the time which I didn’t believe in back then. I didn’t care about dev history, and I didn’t really cover it at all, but I did at least touch on the community history and the competitive history of those games.
So there was suddenly more intention. Plus I actually love Soul Calibur. It’s one of the few times I covered something I deeply loved and didn’t want to talk shit about, and I still ended up talking shit! *laughs* ‘Cause I was so on that negativity train.
Eventually I got tired of being the bad guy around Ninja Gaiden – the first video of that – so my stuff kind of mellowed out a lot and I started considering other human beings’ opinions, how they’ll react, that people are really bad with tone and if you say anything kind of tonally dissonant they’ll be very upset at you personally.
After that we get to TWEWY (The World Ends With You). I started asking myself “What do I really care about in games coverage at all? Why am I even doing this show? Am I just doing shitty garbage game reviews? Am I just saying whatever without intention, or should I be doing this with intention?” So I started asking very intentional questions about what I was covering, which is where you see the stuff getting more curious and more full-bodied, and longer. Purely by incidental factors but also it’s kind of the meta too now, so *laughs*.
Ez: You’ve also talked about how, um… was Ninja Gaiden before, or after Dark Dawn? Just as a side.
Kevin: It was before Dark Dawn by a couple of months.
Ez: ‘Cause you also talked about in Dark Dawn: The Dark Dawn Video – Don’t worry, I’m not going to go “Why do you hate Golden Sun?!”
Kevin: *laughs* Goddammit.
Ez: I believe at the start of the Dark Dawn video you talk about how the numbers were dipping and you got into a car accident [which] made you reevaluate a few things, especially how you process videos. Without taking away from the trauma of something like that, which my understanding is it was not as bad as it could have been.
Kevin: Yes, very much so.
Ez: How did that have an impact on how you approached your “art”?
Kevin: I kind of want to pull up my channel to think a little bit about it so I don’t say anything stupid.
Ez: No no, you’re allowed to say whatever stupid thing you want.
Kevin: Or like, I don’t want to mischaracterize… Almost nobody at all knows about that period of my life either, like the functional reality behind a lot of it.
In fact, numbers were actually quite high, [so] it’s interesting that I said that.
Leading up to that car accident and Dark Dawn, I had hit all these bangers with Diablo, Darksiders, Dishonored. The Mana series flopped but whatever. Ninja Gaiden did great. Thief did great. Bloody Roar did great. All these things one after another were doing amazing and huge views, considering they were so disparate which is very peculiar for a YouTube channel.
It would’ve been a year or two years before that I’d done the car accident because that’s when I actually quit teaching, and that summer I was miserable and distracting myself from everything, and kind of just sitting at home and being a bum because I was picking up shifts and I hadn’t properly quit teaching. I did a soft quit. I shuffled myself out over time by taking fewer shifts and whatever, ’cause at that point I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life but YouTube wasn’t stable so I had to do the kind of quasi both thing and wake up miserable ’cause you don’t know if you’re doing this or that.
But yeah; Dark Dawn… That video is really interesting, isn’t it? ‘Cause like, I wasn’t known for the Golden Sun videos. That’s a common misconception I think. People think I’m known for them because they are some of the things my fans remember the most and a lot of people got on my channel for, but they actually did really horrible in their time and didn’t blow up until Soul Calibur and Fable and a bunch of other videos took off too.
So the conclusion I came to [with] that video I think is that I was trying to shed negativity at least somewhat because I was taking all these shots but they were at the wrong target. There was no reason to be assaulting Golden Sun over it’s writing necessarily, because this is a tiny studio where the devs were working multiple roles in the studio, and the game itself was a Nintendo handheld game and it was not going to be held to the same standard as a Ps2 mainline RPG from Square or something. I started thinking about these kinds of things about dev and whatever more intentionally over the course of the show and also since Ninja Gaiden when I started getting more positive.
I think I’ve gotten away from the question entirely. Bloody hell *laughs*
But yes; no that was a symbolic shift ’cause I didn’t want to talk about Golden Sun ever again. I wanted to bury it but I went back and did that video because fans had been asking me forever so I felt like it was a good time to do a symbolic letting go of the past a bit and moving on to the future.
Some people tell me that video’s one of my better ones. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I don’t really think so, but maybe some of that bled into it I hope. I guess *laughs*
Ez: Well obviously there’s a way that what the audience perceives as one of your better works and what you perceive as one of your better works.
Kevin: Very different, yeah.
Ez: And this also falls into a debate of the author versus authorial intent which we’re not gonna get into because I don’t think we have enough time. But the question was about how the car accident impacted your work, how you thought about your work.
Ez: I guess you did kind of answer it.
Kevin: I did answer it but I was very messy about the answer. It’s just that the car accident had recontextualized a lot of what I was doing. It happened to coincide with a very horrible period in my personal life and career. Had me sitting at home for a very long time, stewing, doing videos and thinking about where I should be going and where I fit into the broader ecosystem. So yeah. Yeah.
That’s a good question too! God. Wow. I didn’t expect like… oooh.
Ez: I gave you examples! I gave you “short” ones. Did you even read them? *laughs*
Kevin: I did, but still, it’s gonna get spicier, I’m sure – or maybe it won’t. That’s okay.
Now I am fearing for my life though *laughs*
Ez: Alright now it’s gonna get spicier. Who did you fuck?
Ez: It’s interesting how you talk about the negative thing [because] you do generally tend to err on the positive a bit more now which is fine. Do you have a concern that you’ve gone from being too negative to too positive?
Kevin: I do worry about that sometimes. ‘Cause my work is published through YouTube and you are publishing therefore to an audience, and the games coverage audience has shifted very much since I started.
Back in the day you could be an incompetent nitwit and an asshole and it would be celebrated, and nowadays it’s very much gone the other way. You will be openly dragged on Twitter if you say something half-uneducated, or you don’t know the full history of something. You’re done.
They’ll call you a dumbass. It’s amazing.
I saw another YouTuber in my sphere directly get dragged this week over a take they had in a video and it’s like “What the?” So there is much more incentive I feel to at least avoid public destruction to be palatable to a broad audience especially ’cause – I’m watching people who are palatable to a broad audience, who don’t shake the boat, get rewarded many times over for it.
I look at dudes like Scott The Woz – and this is not an attack on him – he’s not a strong stance taker often. I think his one Smash Brawl video was basically like “It’s okay” and that was rewarded massively instead of being like “here’s a strong stance” and that’s fine, but I do believe that that’s the era we’re living in currently.
I did get dragged so much for so much overt negativity over the years that it kind of made me never want to do it, though I have slid into it occasionally, but whatever.
Ez: It’s something that you have to try and justify, right?
Kevin: Yes, and overt positivity is definitely also a plague I find. There are too many people who are too – at least, if I am speaking truthfully – too willing to shlorp the corporate dong, uh, just freely and uncritically, and it hurts because *laughs* If you’re in the review space –
Ez: I’m sorry. Shlorp? *laughs*
Kevin: Shlorp. We’re going onomatopoeia time. I think. I guess. Sorry to just drop that mid-discourse. I’ve killed the interviewer. Sorry. *laughs*
Ez: Well, I think you’ve done it. But anyway, as you were saying?
Kevin: It is a plague that people are too willing to give free passes to corporate entities just because they like their favorite company and this starts to intersect with getting review codes…
I don’t want to become an a-critical dispensary of product placement for corporations and I think too many people are willing to get too close to that line, but! maybe not. I guess it’s hard to say. You can only do what feels right to you, so – and I’m also way more willing to be negative to counterbalance overt positive movements too if something I think is being endlessly paraded around as perfect has issues, or like…
I get bored, to be completely honest with you. Hearing repetitive takes ad nauseam about something. They exist, so if I’m gonna cover something at all and I’m already in the game with everyone else I’m gonna say something at least a little different, or try if I can help it.
Ez: If you can justify it.
Kevin: Right. Sometimes you can’t. If I covered Resident Evil 4 today I would definitely shlorp it and that’s just on me.
Ez: How do you process a script from before it starts to the point where you feel it is done, at least in draft state? How do you get there?
Kevin: I have a terrible answer which is that I just go and *laughs*
Okay. Let me lay out my process a little bit. It’s day two of the calendar month. It’s script day one. I have four to seven script days depending on how long it is. I write out a little skeleton for the major points.
I am in the game review space more than I am in the essay space in that my things aren’t flowing in an academic sense. It’s more like “Let’s talk gameplay, let’s talk this and that and that” point form basically, with paragraphs, and I then fill them out. And then I get to the end and do a quality check, and rewrite segments the day before I record or the day I record.
It would be a lot better and more smooth and opulent if I felt I had the time. If I felt I had the time to do more I would, but very often I have done two videos in a month and just written and let it fly, because frankly, to be completely honest the bar on YouTube writing in games coverage is basically on the floor. I’ve seen people who write dog shit walk away with 400,000 views, and it is not really my place to say what is dog shit and what is not, but to be clear, the actual functioning standard is very low.
If you’re writing very well, sometimes it doesn’t matter, but whatever. That’s like a whole other question.
One of my huge pet peeves is constantly going on Twitter and reading a screed about how this or that YouTuber had horrible audio so they clicked off, and I know [of] plenty of people with terrible audio who walked away with 400,000 views, shit-tons of money. Famous YouTubers in their comments being like “Great video man, really appreciate your video” and it doesn’t matter.
If you hyperfixate on individual aspects of production, you’re going to… I don’t know. Unless you’re making really fantastical academic work you’re in trouble already. Or people already have a very high standard, like HBomberGuy, Tim Rogers or whatever. He came out swinging high and it’s like “Man, What the fuck”.
Ez: So your process is essentially – when it comes to writing [your] script – you make out your points and you fill ’em out.
Ez: So, because you set yourself such a tight schedule, do you basically not have the freedom to go “I’m gonna keep working on this”? It’s like “I’ve hit the last day of script writing. I have to stop”?
Kevin: I definitely don’t feel like I have the freedom. I don’t know. A lot of my issues are my own, do you know what I mean? They’re in my head. Patrons have told me time and time again, “It’s fine if you take a break” and I’ve watched many people with Patreons be like “You know, I’ve hit a wall with this video. I need a little extra time” and then people are usually very accommodating, but regardless of patrons and being accommodated, YouTube doesn’t care about you, and certainly not your broader audience. The people who don’t pay you money on Patreon are mostly gonna be like “Channel dead question mark” if you don’t upload.
At least it is the public perception that my stuff is not of the same value as like HBomb, Tim Rogers, Noah Gervais, hence I feel like I’m kind of in the mill until I can take a ridiculous amount of time on a project like those individuals. That’s all.
Ez: You have talked about the numbers before. Does that affect how you approach your scripts as well?
Kevin: Yes, yes. For sure.
Sorry. You mean if numbers are low will I do something different in a script eventually?
Ez: Okay. So, publishing one’s own work or just having it published in any way, shape or form is an egotistical endeavour in some [way]; not that we think about it as bolstering one’s ego, but it takes, there is certainly a sense of ego in going “I’m going to put this out into the world”, right?
Kevin: Yes, for sure.
Ez: And your position is – and you’ve said this before – you’re not one of the mega successful YouTubers. You can’t lower down, right? So you have to much more often consider numbers. Obviously they do too, but your need to consider them – because this is your primary income, right?
Kevin: Yes, and people aren’t paying me $10,000 a month to make things. [It’s] still significant, but not rich money *laughs*
Ez: It’s enough to live off with a sense of comfort, but you’re still in a position where you have to carefully consider the numbers an you have to try and predict a bit more which is a very difficult thing to do when something like YouTube is [changing] slow and fast at the same time.
So when you write your script, are you in a position where you have to sometimes go “How do I write this so it gets me more numbers” rather than “How do I write this so it’s true to my intent”?
Kevin: Oh, I don’t resonate as much with that as a concept. What actually functionally happens is I’ve often been rewarded for making a shittier video over the course of the years.
Let’s go back to any of my stuff that was highly incendiary but popped off. Usually what happens – Actually I used to have a saying, that if a video had an 8% dislike bar, it was gold because that one would go to the moon. That would get 200,000 views plus because people were in the comments bitching endlessly, so it was often to my advantage to be very toxic, not that I wanted to be toxic. I happened to find it like “Oh this is like criticism. I’m doing something good” and it’s often not. Go back to Darksiders where it’s just me being an asshole for like two segments of the video until I’m nice about 3. That one did great.
Oftentimes what happens is I try to match what my audience would watch or what I think they would watch instead of screwing around. There’s a run where I did Monster Rancher. Persona 3, Medabots, Persona 4, Wizard of Oz, Persona 5, Axe Games, Viewtiful Joe; Almost all of those tanked in their time. Some of them have been redeemed with time but most of them just did not get views and I was heartbroken ’cause I was like “I’m sitting here just trying to make stuff and get any views” and it’s like “No”.
So what I did – ’cause I was miserable from the reception – was [go] “Let’s cover the stuff I know people are gonna watch. M-rated trilogies, blood, cool dude stuff, sophomoric, whatever”. So I do this GBA game ’cause that’s in my history but then I do Prince of Persia, 3D Fighters, Mega Man Zero and they all did well. And that’s the thing; sometimes I’ll course correct. Notice views are tipping, I’ll go back to what people know me for or what usually does well.
For example, if I were to have a dip right now I would probably go and do Sly Cooper or Jak and Daxter because I know people in the Ps2 era love their coverage and want those series covered in full, and they’re very popular. Yeah. That’s all.
Scripting though, I’m usually free to be an asshole or positive. It doesn’t really make a difference it feels like.
Ez: So that doesn’t factor into you trying to predict numbers or anything.
Kevin: I often don’t try to make people agree with my opinion and part of why is I’ll get dragged anyway. The only time I’ve accounted more for perspectives outside of my own are the Xeno games and specifically Xenogears because I have no real connection to Xenogears. I wasn’t following it at all.
XENO has this enormous community and people will be very upset if you cover it highly negatively or say something a little over the line or don’t consider every aspect that went into the dev history of it, so I made sure to run it by a couple of people who in the community, Xenogears in particular.
Xenosaga less so. I felt more free so I kinda like peeled back and didn’t worry about if people were gonna be mad about it. Um, yeah. I don’t know. I honestly hate showing people my work or having to stifle myself, though I have had to do it many times. I pulled punches in various videos just ;cause I didn’t want to start a fire. But at the same time I will equally like take…
Like I was nice about Kingdom Hearts to the point where I left out the story segment until the end because, I hate to say it; I like the games. I think they’re lovely games to play but –
Ez: Wait wait wait, hang on. Hang on. You hate to say it that you like Kingdom Hearts?
Kevin: No no. What I’m leading into the follow up clause.
Ez: Nooope. No, now we’re on the attack.
Kevin: Goddammit *laughs*
I don’t find the stories literature is what I’m getting at, and the reason I don’t find them literature is because they’re crossover fan-fiction. Yes, you can write art in that but it’s very fucking hard, so like *laughs* so I was trying to be nice in those games and people still came at me over that!
They were like “Oh, you liked this PSP game? You fucking dumbass, you idiot” and I’m like “It was fun! What?” Conversely, go to Mega Man Zero where I wasn’t digging the original games. I liked 4 ’cause I played it when I was young and it accounts for new players by having an easy and a hard mode built in and I didn’t care if people were gonna drag me, and some people did but in a Discord but who gives a shit? I don’t care; it’s a banger. it’s real *laughs*
Ez: But Kbash, why do you have a problem with admitting that you’re a fan of the je ne sais quoi of the kitsch of Kingdom Hearts‘ deep lore literature.
Kevin: Oh my god… What I love about Kingdom Hearts is the Kingdom Hearts aspects, and what I don’t love about Kingdom Hearts is when it feels it has to surrender itself to a corporate identity, AKA Disney and Final Fantasy crossovers because I think that guy could’ve just done his own work and people would’ve been like “Great”. Now I understand its conception came from wanting to do a crossover in the first place and I understand Disney informs its charm quite a bit, but I still think it would’ve been fine standing on its own to some degree.
It’s a weird series.
I do feel pretty confident and do have a vision of what I think works, and TWEWY was a good example of that. When I played it I was like “Wait, this is good video games story telling. This is using the mechanics to make a more meaningful tale and playing with the medium effectively” in a way that hadn’t felt with a lot of stuff I’ve covered. And we’re going from that starting point anyway; that’s the era we’re in now.
Ez: Alright, so kind of, kind of wrapping up, you’ve also implied a lot about overwork – and this is in part because of the position that you’re in, YouTube-wise – you don’t seem to have a problem with making longer videos, which is good, but at what point did you realise that you were burned out but you weren’t able to stop?
Kevin: I don’t even know if I am. It depends.
I have felt burned out at different times but it often feels like it goes away, like mid-schedule. Maybe that’s an unhealthy way to look at things.
There are many times. I hit burnout multiple times last year. Specifically during all the Xeno games. That’s funny. *laughs* I wonder how that happened.
But also God of War part 2 and KOTOR I was feeling it, because oftentimes I felt I had to make a video, I had to hit a timeline; I didn’t feel like I had a choice in the matter and then it just had to come out, and I wasn’t even really keen on it and I feel like it impacted the results some of the time but not all of the time.
I like the Xenoblade video until part 3, I think. I think that video is mostly good, or okay anyway. The part 3 coverage is much more unenthusiastic, and this happened with KOTOR as well, and God of War because they were things I put on a poll and people voted for so I had to honor the poll but I didn’t want to do KOTOR. I have no real history with Star Wars outside of watching films. That’s it.
I did not want to do Xenogears. I didn’t want to play it. Didn’t want to talk about it. People have already talked about it at length. This has been done. This is old hat.
Ez: It’s interesting what you said about part 3 of the a Xeno series because you made a point in the ‘Blade 3 video which I don’t completely agree with, but you were talking about cringe in jRPGS and the anime tropeyness and whatnot. I think that’s a good point. I don’t completely agree with it, but it is something that needs to be thought about. It still is a good point, and you’re saying that you feel your coverage was flatter at that point, but then you’re making this thing that’s quite salient.
Kevin: *laughs* I meant what comes after that. That segment is shorter, I had less to say overall. It felt mostly like I was regurgitating. The games are very similar, functionally, so there’s a point where you’re just like “And then you walk in the field and collect objects”. It’s like “great, fucken’ awesome bro. Tell me again.”
Ez: The thing is you also talk about covering things you don’t wanna cover but you’re trying to honour the poll. Do you ever end up trying to treat that like a challenge, to be like “Okay, What can I get from doing this?”
Kevin: Yeah, for sure. I don’t have a set “This video has to go like this”. When I start I usually let it take me somewhere and it usually ends up… sometimes it blows up, sometimes it’s interesting. That’s all. And sometimes I end up creating interesting criticisms that way, or inventive ones, that kind of spin out of the æther of what I’m writing and it’s like “oh, yeah, that’s true”.
It’s a good exercise I think, and that’s part of why I don’t mind so much doing things I don’t even want to do because oftentimes I can create or at least… even if I can’t say something meaningful I’ll at least flesh out my thoughts on something that I wouldn’t have otherwise, so there’s still value in that to a point.
Ez: It ties into something that I’ve kinda noticed ’cause you did talk about the Armored Core video not doing too well. For the record I am two of the fifteen views that you have on that one.
Kevin: *salutes* thank god. Someone saw it.
Ez: If I may drop the façade of professionalism for a moment, the thing with that video has a couple of things running against it. The first is Armored Core 6 has come out and FromSoft is this big name [now] but Armored Core‘s still is kind of niche somehow. Attracting views for anybody who’s not [like] Vaati is gonna be an extra uphill climb, but I think it’s quite clear when there’s something you’re not entirely into and trying to be into whilst also trying to cram all these things into it, versus say something like the Ico trilogy, which, without trying to be a fan here, I think is very clearly one of your best videos because it’s very tight and concise.
Kevin: I thought the same. Thank you *laughs*
Ez: Sometimes it’s harder to tell in writing, but because you’re using your voice, you can tell sometimes when somebody’s more into something, but even the editing on that is tighter and punchier.
Kevin: Yes. I really tried.
Ez: It’s about time you did. Seven years?
But yeah, it comes across clearer. Obviously there’s other intention in that video, but the editing is tighter, the jokes are more get in get out, linger where need be. Otherwise off, and there’s a bit more subtlety in some of them as well and you just kind of flow, right? Whereas Armored Core you have all those things but there’s a sense that you’re not into it so much, and I guess the question is, how do you feel about, even though you’ve agreed to do something like putting up a video, that you’re not necessarily sounding like or feeling like you’re into?
Kevin: It is honestly brutal and it’s a mistake I need to correct and this coming year I’m doing it, because I became aware of the problem when I started doing poll videos. There’s a point where you put out whatever on YouTube and it just tanks. Like something you did want to do and it tanks.
Parsing the passion thing… this is exactly what I keep talking to people about, where you mention me not seeming as passionate in Armored Core. The functional reality is Armored Core is doing better than the Ico video and worth more money. How fucked is that? Armored Core is like an hour longer. Has more ad space. Suddenly it’s functionally funding my existence more. Meanwhile the Ico video is tanking off a cliff to a surreal degree, and I’ve gone through this cycle so many times, for years, since getting even half successful that I am getting fairly cynical about it, where it’s like even putting in effort is usually punished directly.
We see it in the Steambot Chronicles video. I love that game to death. It’s [at] like 74k. It’s done. The algo does not care about it anymore. Go back to Xenogears which I did not want to do and people have told me is good but some parts are kind of phoned in. Doing better than Steambot Chronicles. Go back to Horrible Anime Fighters. 500,000, almost 600. I did two Kbash classics following it: Dragon Warrior Monsters 2, Crystal Bearers. Both hit 4k in their time, while this stupid thing I shat out in less than a week is blowing up to the moon.
I have learned this lesson so many times that I need to divorce myself from my content to a point, but I’m also getting tired of doing stuff that is poll-related and not stuff that I wanted to do in the first place, and will probably just be retaining creative control going forward into 2024. I disagree with people that [say] it will have a meaningful impact because I hate to say it; the numbers just don’t agree with most people. Numerically speaking, putting out shit does better than putting out something that does matter to you, at least with the minimal data that I have.
The WoW (World of Warcraft) video was originally 18k until I put a cringe, clickbait title on it and then it blew up, and it’s like “Fuck this, I hate YouTube”. It was like the worst tank in my history, and that one is so deeply personal and weird. I don’t even know what to say.
So yes; I really despise that there are times where I phone it in because it does make shittier product that I don’t even wanna look at. The fucking God of War part 2 one? The God of War: Ascension coverage is embarrassing, truly. I missed major mechanic. I never drop the ball that bad, what the fuck? *laughs* But I will be correcting that going forward, yeah, because I do think it’s a problem, to operate at my size and not care enough about those things.
Ez: Do you think you’d have less of a problem engaging with stuff you didn’t want to if you didn’t have to worry so much about numbers?
Kevin: If I didn’t have to worry about the schedule; that’s the main thing. Numbers, sure… actually it’s both. If I had like two months to make the Armored Core video it would have been significantly better obviously because I would have had two months to make it. I felt I had only one so I pushed it out. It’s really tragic, but what else can you do?
I’m patroned heavily, but not so heavily so as to just slough off my respnosibilites and needing to make monthly income. It blows so much because I do feel like I’m wearing the Goku training weights and one day I’ll be able to drop them. Maybe.
My channel is very strange. It’s [this] very messy, pastiche, kitsch thing. Slapped together with everything I have in my life that I can possibly put out there. I do work every day too. That’s the other thing. I take one day off completely a month, maybe.
It’s bad man. At the same time I’m so used to working in obscene or bad conditions, not giving myself a break just through my life in various venues. I worked in a coffee shop in grade 10 for 40 hours a week, 35, 40, after school. I would get on the bus to go home and get dropped off at the coffee shop, and just work until 11PM. I did that for a year-and-a-half.
Ez: Well, I guess that’s where we’ll call it. We’ll end it on a note that has nothing to do with the YouTube thing.
Kevin: *laughs* It’s just sad.
Ez: Well do you want to leave it on a happy note then?
Kevin: I should.
Get more curious about video games. Play stuff that’s really weird and not everything that is whatever is trending or FOMO. You are not missing out! You can dig and excavate in the weirdest pits and find joy and unique value. You can find so much in video games.