Sunday, September 18, 2011

800,000

800,000: the approximate number of views that my YouTube videos have aggregated—a number well into the threshold of human incomprehensibility. It’s a statistic that has followed me, through my adolescence, without ever revealing itself in my physical life. Not because it isn’t a satisfying achievement, but because the videos that I produced were about a video game.
I was thirteen years old when I first broached the realm of virtual filmmaking. Using hardware that I had read about on a tech blog, I scrupulously crafted my pilot episode of Halo 3 Hiding Spots. It was a miserable flop. Though I had surely thought otherwise at the time, breaking onto the YouTube scene as a new user is an onerous undertaking. If no one is looking for you, no one is going to find you. I discovered that the most efficient way to make a name for myself was not to have consistent, high quality content, but to shamelessly publicize. So that’s what I did. I went on to every related video and every related channel and posted the following comment: “COOL VIDEO! You should check out mine.” It was a bait and reel; I caught them off-guard with a compliment, and while intoxicated with flattery, I snuck in a bit of subliminal advertizing. After just a few days, I could already tell my stunt was working.
Once I had established a core group of viewers, the daunting task of keeping them became my main focus. My videos were in a fairly unique niche of the Halo community. Most films of the game were simple exhibitions of skill. Conversely, the purpose of my videos were to demonstrate the areas of the game in which one could go to hide from the skilled players featured in the other videos. I was—and not to belittle a renowned historical figure—the Harriett Tubman of Halo.
Eventually, my infamy spilled over into the actual game. People would recognize my name from YouTube and scream emasculating remarks at me through their headset. I amassed a cult following, people that watched my videos and used my strategies. We made such a significant impact on the community that the company that developed the game had to implement mandates reprimanding those players who practiced my tactics. To a thirteen year old, that’s monumental.
Now, I’d like to return to that initial number of views. To think about it in terms of time is rather fascinating. I estimated that the average length of one my videos was close to four minutes. Let’s imagine, for exemplary purposes, that only one person could be viewing my videos at a time. In this hypothetical circumstance, it would take over 6 years for the video to be viewed 800,000 times.
This period of my life had come to a close before I had even entered high school. I stopped playing video games altogether by 10th grade, and it was also by that time I decided to never let any of my friends unearth what I saw as a thoroughly embarrassing past. So I buried that fragment of my history, and it remained undisturbed for a long time—until I finally reached a level of self-confidence that trumped irrational anxiety of humiliation. Yeah, fuck that. I'm a nerd, what of it?


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