YouTube Spotlight on Under-Viewed Retrogaming Channels

Matt Barton's picture

Hi, folks. One of my friends at YouTube recently posted a video that I wanted to publicize because I agree with it so strongly. The idea is that there are some really great YouTube channels out there focused on retrogaming, but their audiences are ridiculously small given their quality. So, I've posted the original video here along with representative videos of all the guys n8great321 mentions plus a few of my personal favorites. Check them out and subscribe if you like what you see! Also, let us know about your favorite YouTube retrogaming channels.

Atarix777: Really cool guy who is also quite friendly and knowledgeable! He has a great accent, too. :)

B.F.P.: Another retrogamer with some fun videos. I like his enthusiasm and obvious excitement for the subject.

Fletcha13: A guy from New Zealand who I'm sure you're going to like. He reminds me of a bit of MaximumRD and his unboxing videos, one of the big YouTube stars of retrogaming. :P One neat thing about Fletcha13 is you're going to see stuff you don't normally see.

Yethboth: Lots and lots of speccy game reviews.

Halfblindgamer: One of my favorites! Lots of range and variety here with fun commentary.

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Matt Barton
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maximumRD has just released

maximumRD has just released a big video mentioning a bunch of retrogaming channels to check out.

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Rob Daviau
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Thanks

Thanks MATT!

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Oldschool games, some people just don't "get it"...

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Rowdy Rob
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Ideas for getting more views.
Matt Barton wrote:

Obviously, I'd be a lot better off if I could get more "breaks." Yet how to do it? That's the main question.

Matt, as I said the other day, I had some ideas, and so, as promised, here they are:

Before I get started, let me say that NONE OF THIS requires you to change a thing about your actual video presentations. As one YouTube commenter recently commented on your channel page, "Holy freaking crap...your channel is AWESOME!" How do you top that? This commenter demonstrates exactly what I think your main problem is.... NO ONE KNOWS YOUR CHANNEL EXISTS! Your regular viewers and subscribers might have some nitpicks, but I suspect that the average classic gamer that stumbles upon your videos will have the same overalll reaction: "Holy freaking crap!!!"

So to answer your question, "should I do green screen, cut my commentary down, add more music, cut out my book plugs, have contests?" etc. etc... In my opinion, it really won't matter. Your videos are fine as they are, and people who find them will be pleased. But as the old adage goes, "if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound?" You could have LucasFilm producing your videos, but if no one knows about it, it doesn't matter. My point is that you trying to tweak your videos to attract viewers isn't going to work in the YouTube dynamic, because no one will know about it.

So, do we concede defeat here? Never! We must figure out the system you're operating in, and figure out how to "game" the system to our advantage.

First of all, we have to understand how YouTube works, and how the average user approaches it. Let me say that a LOT of YouTube videos get watched at my office, but since I don't really believe in "make work," I usually don't say anything, although I privately resent the excessive YouTube watching. But it has allowed me to see how the average YouTube viewer functions on that system.

First of all, forget about "subscribers." The average Youtube viewer isn't going to go through the trouble of "logging on" to Youtube just to see the latest "skateboard FAIL" video. In fact, I personally see no incentive at all to having an account on Youtube, other than allowing me to comment on a video. For the record, the only reason I have an account on YouTube is to comment on "Matt Chat." Otherwise, why would I log in? There's nothing preventing me from seeing the videos I want to see without logging on, so why bother? I doubt that anyone else I know who watches YouTube videos has an account. It takes a very dedicated viewer to go through the trouble of "subscribing" to a Youtube video. Mostly the "social networking/Facebook" crowd are into the subscriptions, I suspect, but most YouTube viewers are most likely anonymous "click" viewers. And if we increase the "mass views," you'll gain more actual subscribers who are more dedicated.

So that leaves us with the real ratings, the number of "views." How do we get that up?

First of all, Matt, I noticed that your video "tags," quite frankly, suck. You've got to cast a wider net! Here's your tags for your "Wizardry" video: "
games matt chat matt barton wizardry sir-tech crpgs role-playing rpg bard's tale wasteland pool of radiance "

There are so many tags I can think of that might work better in addition to your tags. I typed "crpg" in the youtube search box, and after eight pages of results, I gave up hoping that "Matt Chat" would pop up. You've "gamed" the system so that only someone specifically searching for "Wizardry" would find your video. Heck, even typing "Wizardry" proved pretty much fruitless. Try classic games, retro games, crpg, pc games, or other more general tags. Think like a text adventure designer; what would a person looking for this info type into a search box? What is every possible, conceivable word that could pop "Matt Chat" up there? Unless there's a limit to the amount of tags you can give a video, go all out! Better tags seem like the best way to increase the "stumble-upon" factor.

Second idea: Taglines. Whenever you post a message on ANY forum, especially a gaming one, have a tagline that points to "Matt Chat." You're not really spamming (no more than just about any other poster who has a tagline, anyway), but someone may click on it or follow the tagline. "Check out 'Matt Chat,' my classic gaming Youtube series," or something like that. Curious people might follow the link, as long as it's not the main body of your text. Heck, I've followed such innocuous tagline links before, so I know it works! (BTW, my AA tagline is upside-down text, in case no one's figured that out yet...)

Third idea: an occasional "generalized" video of a particular platform. You did this with the obscure PLATO platform to good results. Perhaps a generalized NES or 3DO Matt Chat, stating the overall influence and greatness of that system. These "generalized" platform videos seem to show up in searches better and get more views. Again, it's the "wide net" approach.

Finally: this is a more radical idea, and requires a bit more work.

I frequent the "Good Old Games" site. They sell a lot of classic games for cheap, including favorites like "Fallout," "Might and Magic," "Decent," etc. This gave me several ideas.

First of all, there are a lot of DEDICATED gamers out there in specific genres. Role Playing is one of them. (And, you had the PLATO followers also). Perhaps time Matt Chat's to coincide with major releases from such sites as GOG or "Steam." People thinking "Should I buy this game?" might search Youtube for videos on that particular game. I know I've done it. GOG, in particular, is the perfect audience, since not only are the members of that site classic game enthusiasts, they're actually BUYING these games today!

Of course, since I'm a member of GOG, I could post a message there casually mentioning Matt Chat. :-) I've never posted on that site before, but I guess I better get to it.

Another radical idea: Does "Matt Chat" have to be a YouTube exclusive? YouTube is far and away the most popular video site, but there are others, like Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc. Maybe cross-posting videos on these other sites might get more overall attention, if it's not against your YouTube contract.

Ok, those are some ideas. Sorry for the length of the post, but I hope I provided some food for thought. Let's get your numbers up!

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Matt Barton
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Great Response

Wow, Rob, you've practically written a YouTube guide to popularity here! Thanks!

Comments below.

Rowdy Rob wrote:

Before I get started, let me say that NONE OF THIS requires you to change a thing about your actual video presentations. As one YouTube commenter recently commented on your channel page, "Holy freaking crap...your channel is AWESOME!" How do you top that? This commenter demonstrates exactly what I think your main problem is.... NO ONE KNOWS YOUR CHANNEL EXISTS! Your regular viewers and subscribers might have some nitpicks, but I suspect that the average classic gamer that stumbles upon your videos will have the same overalll reaction: "Holy freaking crap!!!"

I always appreciate praise, but of course it is also relative. If someone is only familiar with the dimly it, barely audible, "guy just mumbling on and on" sorts of videos then encounter Matt Chat, they might well be awed. On the other hand, if they're coming to it from the slicker shows, they might find it decent or even think it's crappy. But, in general, I know I put lots of energy and effort into these shows and the quality has definitely improved since my first video!

Quote:

First of all, forget about "subscribers." The average Youtube viewer isn't going to go through the trouble of "logging on" to Youtube just to see the latest "skateboard FAIL" video. In fact, I personally see no incentive at all to having an account on Youtube, other than allowing me to comment on a video. For the record, the only reason I have an account on YouTube is to comment on "Matt Chat." Otherwise, why would I log in? There's nothing preventing me from seeing the videos I want to see without logging on, so why bother? I doubt that anyone else I know who watches YouTube videos has an account. It takes a very dedicated viewer to go through the trouble of "subscribing" to a Youtube video. Mostly the "social networking/Facebook" crowd are into the subscriptions, I suspect, but most YouTube viewers are most likely anonymous "click" viewers. And if we increase the "mass views," you'll gain more actual subscribers who are more dedicated.

You are making a great point here. I know I never go through all my subscriptions and watch them all. I just don't have the time and subbed to some of them just to be nice. I think in general people (including me) are making way too big of a deal out of subs, when it's really the view counts that matter. In theory you could have 1,000 subs and 0 views.

Quote:

First of all, Matt, I noticed that your video "tags," quite frankly, suck. You've got to cast a wider net! Here's your tags for your "Wizardry" video: "
games matt chat matt barton wizardry sir-tech crpgs role-playing rpg bard's tale wasteland pool of radiance "

There are so many tags I can think of that might work better in addition to your tags. I typed "crpg" in the youtube search box, and after eight pages of results, I gave up hoping that "Matt Chat" would pop up. You've "gamed" the system so that only someone specifically searching for "Wizardry" would find your video. Heck, even typing "Wizardry" proved pretty much fruitless. Try classic games, retro games, crpg, pc games, or other more general tags. Think like a text adventure designer; what would a person looking for this info type into a search box? What is every possible, conceivable word that could pop "Matt Chat" up there? Unless there's a limit to the amount of tags you can give a video, go all out! Better tags seem like the best way to increase the "stumble-upon" factor.

Some of this has to do with time. It takes a certain amount of time before the videos get into YouTube's database and I start getting views coming from searches. I try to balance specific ones with broader ones, but I agree I could certainly put more thought into it.

Quote:

Second idea: Taglines. Whenever you post a message on ANY forum, especially a gaming one, have a tagline that points to "Matt Chat." You're not really spamming (no more than just about any other poster who has a tagline, anyway), but someone may click on it or follow the tagline. "Check out 'Matt Chat,' my classic gaming Youtube series," or something like that. Curious people might follow the link, as long as it's not the main body of your text. Heck, I've followed such innocuous tagline links before, so I know it works! (BTW, my AA tagline is upside-down text, in case no one's figured that out yet...)

Wow! I didn't realize that--just thought it was some kind of coded message. :P

It does seem smart to try to leverage my other networks as much as possible, such as facebook, emails, etc.

Quote:

Third idea: an occasional "generalized" video of a particular platform. You did this with the obscure PLATO platform to good results. Perhaps a generalized NES or 3DO Matt Chat, stating the overall influence and greatness of that system. These "generalized" platform videos seem to show up in searches better and get more views. Again, it's the "wide net" approach.

Another good idea, especially now that I have some actual consoles. :)

Quote:

First of all, there are a lot of DEDICATED gamers out there in specific genres. Role Playing is one of them. (And, you had the PLATO followers also). Perhaps time Matt Chat's to coincide with major releases from such sites as GOG or "Steam." People thinking "Should I buy this game?" might search Youtube for videos on that particular game. I know I've done it. GOG, in particular, is the perfect audience, since not only are the members of that site classic game enthusiasts, they're actually BUYING these games today!

That's a great idea. I was able to get something like 500 views simply by posting in the comments on the Star Raiders article about my PLATO video. It really is true that timing is key in this game. I'll have to find some way to keep up with Steam or releases on the virtual consoles of any big classics. Indeed, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that this is really the key. A lot of other folks made videos about Moonwalker right after Michael Jackson died, for instance--trying to ride that wave, I suppose. But paying attention to releases and such could have a huge impact on searches and views, especially if some of the big blogs were to pick up the video.

Quote:

Another radical idea: Does "Matt Chat" have to be a YouTube exclusive? YouTube is far and away the most popular video site, but there are others, like Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc. Maybe cross-posting videos on these other sites might get more overall attention, if it's not against your YouTube contract.

Good question. I'm really not sure; would have to check and see. One thing, though, is that many other video sites prohibit gaming videos. I think they're thinking of long plays and the like, but they might just ban or delete my stuff without recognizing what it is. Still, something to think about. I know "Little Miss Gamer" doesn't roll with YouTube and seems to be doing fine.

Thanks as always for your insightful comments! I think you might add: "Don't complain about low view counts!" Seriously, that was the advice (more or less) I read in Rebecca Blood's blog book, although in a slightly different context. The idea is that complaining about such things can do more harm than good, since people might think "Well, it must suck if there are low views" and move on to something else. Fortunately for me, I've only whined here and not on the channel itself, so hopefully they're unaware of all this behind the scenes complaining. :P

Another strategy that seems to be working well is commenting on other retrogaming videos and trying to get more involved with them (inviting friends, "shoutouts," etc.) I have mixed feelings about some of the stuff, such as the "tagging" and so on, since that just doesn't seem to have much appeal beyond the immediate folks doing it. I could be wrong, though--maybe the benefits of being in a big video response "chain" might outweigh the negatives.

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Matt Barton
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One more thing -- my idea to

One more thing -- my idea to have the contest for video reviews was a good one indeed! If you notice, the video now has two "honors" for being the most responded video in its category:

#18 - Most Responded (Today) - Gaming
#52 - Most Responded (This Week) - Gaming

I'm not sure how many people will see that or click the links, but it may help it get noticed by some of the bigger shows and folks who are trying to get higher up in this rank. I think I had maybe 4 or 5 responses to win that. I guess I'd need something like 10 to be in the top list.

There are also honors for most discussed and several other categories. Just looking at the most popular gaming videos and not seeing a pattern there, really. Just seems like some random stuff at least at first glance.

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Mark Vergeer
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Other video platforms - okay if they are as accessible...

Big Brain: Big Brain 64x64 pixels Remember that Vimeo is rather US centric - people from within the US and selected countries will have no problems accessing the videos, outside of those areas they will not be able to.

I remember a little while back when Bill posted his video-game-play on the TRS-80 games on Vimeo I made a similar comment - well I still haven't seen Bill's footage and most likely other European users also haven't been able to. In that thread there were a some comments much like "I am able to watch the videos just fine", probably made by US citizens (I didn't check) and the Youtube-video was never posted.... because the majority of AA's readers is based in the US - but not all....

Should you care about that? Well I am not really sure. If you want to cater for an international audience (and the WWW is basically that - although some commercial companies and governments are gearing up to prohibit that) then you should stay away from services that block out certain international users.

If you want to cater for a US-only audience - well that's easy enough, please go with Vimeo - but don't expect any viewings or responses from non-US-citizens.

My 2 cents...

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Armchair arcade Editor | Pixellator | www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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Good points, Mark. The only

Good points, Mark. The only reason why I used Vimeo and other services as you know is because I was sloppy with my timekeeping and went over YouTube's 10 minute limit (actually, under 11 minute limit). I've since learned my lesson, as as far as I'm concerned, there is no viable alternative to YouTube at this point and perhaps ever. If YouTube has a sub-11 minute limit, then I better damn well make sure I do a video under that limit or make myself spend the time to actually edit it down to that time period. I've personally "lost" several videos to the ether by using different services to fit MY needs rather than fitting into YouTube's needs. It's particularly important now as we try to triangulate our efforts and unify it all under the AA and YouTube banners.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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From what I hear, Youtube is

From what I hear, Youtube is actually pretty sucky compared to some of the other video sharing sites that offer higher resolutions and bigger movies. There must surely be at least one that doesn't have the geographical restrictions as well. Still, you'd be missing out on Youtube's huge community and userbase--kinda like a game developer targeting the Wiz instead of the DS. You'd be fine if you had a big website or something you could leverage to bring the people over, but that'd be tough to pull off.

In other news, holy heck at the "drama" happening on the retrogaming channels lately...

I know I almost fell into the trap a few times myself, but this is where the difference lies between amateur and professional. A professional can absorb, deflect, or respond to criticism calmly and effectively. An amateur reacts hysterically, getting defensive, offensive, quitting, or doing something else to fuel the fire. In my life I try to strive for professionalism in everything I do, even if that is a goal that is very far off. The point is to at least try to do what you can to reach that goal, taking small steps, etc.

I've been doing lots of research lately on the topic, and everything amounts to the same advice. Assuming it's abusive comments and not just people being insensitive or impolite...I'm not saying *I* am the best at this myself, but I will strive to do this in the future.

1. Don't respond, acknowledge, mention, cry, complain, get angry, or do anything that shows an emotional reaction. Keep up the professional facade. If it's something like "you fag!" or "you suck!", just delete the comments and block the user if they keep coming back (though it's probably better just to delete the comments at least for awhile). Again, it's very important not to mention this is happening or do anything to give the person attention (which is what they crave).

2. Don't say anything negative about someone else's channel, especially by name. If you hate another channel or whatever, just keep it to yourself. Consider it "beneath" you to put down anyone else. Doing so will likely backfire on you. Also, ignore (in public) their "drama." If you want, you can send them a private message saying you're sorry or sympathetic, but don't ever jump in the mud with them. They should have followed rule #1.

3. If it is serious harassment (i.e., pretending to be you on another channel, slander, libel, etc.) go to this page and fill out the blanks. Let YouTube handle it! Don't try to be a vigilante or form a posse.

4. Consider keeping your personal life out of it. This obviously doesn't apply to everyone, but you may want to keep your channel focused on the topic and not about your personal life. If you start doing that, then soon everyone knows your business and you will leave yourself vulnerable to whatever attacks or hate come your way--just like in your personal life (after all, by doing this you're blurring the two). Again, a true professional maintains a strict boundary between the public and the personal. Learn from them!

5. Be "super polite" to all visitors to your channel. Say please and thank you, and show kindness and understanding when dealing with anyone. Don't talk down to anyone or even write or say anything that could be interpreted that way. This may seem extreme, but given how easy it is to misunderstand or take something out of context (especially online!), take an extra second or two to be polite and avoid problems at the pass.

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Rowdy Rob
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Vimeo and Drama
Mark Vergeer wrote:

If you want to cater for a US-only audience - well that's easy enough, please go with Vimeo - but don't expect any viewings or responses from non-US-citizens.

I didn't know that about Vimeo, but clearly AA caters to an international audience, so any USA-centric stuff would be ruled out.

Certainly, YouTube is the way to go, but I was thinking that Matt Chat could catch a few "stragglers" on these other video sites. It's not really that good of an idea, actually, but it's something.

Matt Barton wrote:

In other news, holy heck at the "drama" happening on the retrogaming channels lately...

I have no clue as to what "drama" is occuring, but perhaps that's for the best. I've seen some "drama" online where people have posted VICIOUS videos about other YouTube personalities, and to be honest, they usually come off as VERY immature dorks. Years from now, they're going to be ashamed they posted that stuff. It's just outright silly, and in our cases, it's just videogames. It's nothing to get heated about. and certainly nothing to get caught spewing hate on an international forum about! Morons.....

Anyhow, Matt, your "professional" attitude about it is a great one, and it appears that your efforts to connect with the rest of the gaming community is paying dividends! Cool!

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