This year at SXSW I had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion that featured three experts from the gaming influencer space: Rooster Teeth, Twitch and 3BLACKDOT. We discussed how to navigate the gaming ecosystem that includes massive consumer shows like PAX, RTX and eSports events, popular livestreams and influencers on Twitch, and gaming “shows” and channels on YouTube.
If you’ve been following along on AdLibbing, you may have noticed an uptick in gaming-related posts–that’s part of our Game for Good initiative launched at PAX last fall. I’ve been part of the Game for Good team, which has included in-depth discussions with our advisory group that includes Rooster Teeth, Twitch, 3BLACKDOT, Penny Arcade, Polaris/Maker Studios, PlayQ, Zynga and Games for Change. I’ve also overseen a game design challenge and development of a narrative game to help millennials develop healthy financial habits for our Feed the Pig campaign. Look out for the game launch announcement in April!
In this time, I’ve learned a lot–both about the gaming industry and the fact that it touches so many people from a diverse range of backgrounds. I’ve also learned about the power of games to inspire positive behavioral change and develop empathy among players. And perhaps most importantly, thanks to a weekly gaming session with our resident indie gamer, I can now hold my own in a game of Rocket League.
So here are my top takeaways for brands and causes that are looking to tap influencers in this space.
Think of a gaming influencer like a radio host
If you mute a gaming influencer’s video or livestream, watching someone play through a game isn’t that interesting. In this sense, gaming influencers are much like radio personalities. Audiences aren’t tuning in for their gaming skills–in fact some gamers are downright terrible. They’re listening for the humor and personality in the same way people tune in to Howard Stern. If you’re thinking about engaging gaming influencers to carry your message, take time to learn about their brand, their character, and their interests outside of gaming. This will help better align your brand with theirs and ultimately create a more authentic collaboration.
Consider the platform and type of content
The different platforms and types of content can (and should) affect your influencer strategy. There are critical differences between YouTube gamers and more celebrity-based YouTubers. And between YouTube gamers, Twitch streamers and eSports players. In general, celebrity-based YouTubers are aspiring actors, musicians or more traditional talent. In contrast, YouTube gamers function as more of a crew or community creating something niche and culturally relevant for their audiences. Videos are often in a “Let’s Play” format; a series of videos or screenshots documenting playthrough of a game with commentary on their individual subjective experiences that are often humorous, irreverent or critical. Twitch streamers don’t have the luxury of editing. Their content is live, and runs longer, usually 2-4 hours. While an influencers’ community on YouTube is somewhat reactive via comments or on Twitter, Twitch streamers are chatting to viewers throughout their livestream which helps to create a close community of fans. eSports is a little more relatable as it follows a similar model to traditional sports: competitive video gaming. Teams train to be the best at a certain game (e.g. League of Legends), and fans gather at live events to watch their teams compete.
Look at what others are doing for inspiration
Evan Fong’s VanossGaming is one of the most popular gaming channels on YouTube with over 6 billion video views and 20 million subscribers. He’s also a partner at 3BLACKDOT. This video was the first in a series of collaborations with the subscription box service Loot Crate, and a great example of how brand products can be integrated into an influencers’ content.
Mindcrack Marathon is an annual livestream to raise money for Extra Life, in support of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For 48-hours, leading Twitch streamers gather to play video games and donations are recognized with prizes from sponsors like Microsoft, EA/The Sims, Mattel and Activision. Here’s Aureylian’s announcement video on YouTube.
Here’s an example of a collaboration between Rooster Teeth and the science fiction film Hardcore Henry. Set in Austin’s historic Alamo Drafthouse, the video is shot as a PSA (which we love!) to end talking and texting in movie theaters. It features characters from the film as well as popular Rooster Teeth influencers in the crowd.
Look out for more Game for Good posts as we build out our partnerships in this area. Game on!