Sunday, 8 January 2012

Who are The Yogscast?


When it comes to making a successful web series that entertains millions of people on a weekly basis, which isn’t porn related, sometimes you really have to step back and think what are these people doing right and how on earth did they become so popular? If for some reason you haven’t been on YouTube in the last year and seen their videos, which have been quite consistently in the most viewed section, The Yogscast are a variety gaming channel that entertains people with their humorous takes on modern games and general banter.

Before I get into the depths of The Yogscast, writing an informed piece on them does seem quite a daunting task since a vast majority of their fans seem like a pack of wolves feasting on a freshly killed deer ready to pounce on anyone who dares to go near. Hopefully I won’t regret poking this deer that has been rotting for so long some swarms of fans have started to form nests.

The Yogscast started their online media empire by uploading how to kill boss videos in the game World of Warcraft in 2008. What set them apart was the funny stunts they were pulling off which became mildly famous among the Warcraft audience. They then moved on to their podcast The YogPod, starting in early 2009, which can be best described as two people talking about a huge range of topics with no real structure or format (unless that in itself is a format which I guess it is). They range from playing dungeons and dragons to doing fake interviews with enough memorable quotes and funny lines to keep people entertained and coming back for more. If you go to iTunes now you may notice that a lot of their older podcasts have quite a low popularity compared to the most recent one. Popularity on iTunes is worked out relatively to the other content uploaded so it shows how many people are listening in comparison to their other podcasts. The fact that the latest upload does have full popularity shows how much more traffic they are getting since their success.

After dabbling in a few other games such as Star Trek Online and Final Fantasy 14, but mainly staying around Warcraft related content, their first big hit was a video about how to survive your first night in Minecraft in late 2010 to which they applied their well rehearsed style. They then went on to create more and more Minecraft videos alongside their famous web series "The Shadow of Israphel". As a result of their success I believe it was around this point they would have been contacted by Marker Studios, who if you’re not aware of are a huge YouTube network that are built up of Ray William Johnson, Shay Carl, Kassem G and a few other very well known YouTube channels. This would gain them YouTube partnership which would then allow them to benefit from all the usual extra perks and actually make them some money. Since then they have now grown into one of the most successful channels worldwide and as of writing are the most subscribed channel in the UK.

Even though the full Yogscast team is now huge and to produce all their content takes dedication and effort from a lot of different people there are still four main people at the heart of it all. In definite order of significance Lewis Brindley is the Managing Director who appears in the vast majority of videos usually as the one filming the content; Simon Lane is the trusty politically incorrect lovable friend who is to thank for a lot of the great jokes and plays a vital role in providing a light heartedness to all the fun; Hannah Rutherford who as well as producing her own videos for the channel supports a huge amount of the social media while also officially being their Operations Manager and Dave !Yognaut who helps aid them in almost all their videos and content.

Why are the Yogscast so Successful?

This seems to be quite a difficult question to answer because surely there are too many hands at work to pin it down to one person or method but from how I’ve seen them develop and grow I think the answer is quite simple. The main point of sharing content online is it allows more interaction from the viewers and by letting people upload and use The Yogscast image to create content it puts them in a very comfortable position. Last year I interviewed Danial Yount who is currently the composer for the music you hear in their hit series “The Shadow of Israphel”. When I asked him how he got the job at the Yogscast he responded:

“I noticed they were lacking music which is not something that you want to forget when doing any kind of video production. The next day I emailed them some links to my music and much to my surprise about a week later I got a reply from Lewis himself saying how much he liked my stuff and how he would try to incorporate my music into the series”
Logic Haze – Read the full Interview here

After watching their videos you tend to notice there is a lot of user generated content and there are a lot of people wanting to become a part of their organisation. Their main Minecraft server they film on is maintained by a certain amount of people who are volunteers that work on their projects because they want to. The Yogscast utilise their community very well and by letting people take part other parties, like Daniel, benefit. They have recently donated huge amounts of money to charity through their community and a lot of their successes I believe is down to making themselves seem approachable and amateur. In no way do I think that the Yogscast are amateur any more based on the scale of the people they currently control but by keeping their roots and by allowing certain quality people to take part they can keep on producing higher standard content without the need for more staff. This again isn’t to say they rip off the people that help them and I’m almost certain they compensate the people who create the content based on how much income the Yogscast receive from certain projects or may just people people for their contributions.

Overall the general success of the Yogscast has to be down to those four main people who work on it and through their great content and the utilisation of their community they have become one of the major players in the entertainment industry on YouTube. All we need now is some more British greats...

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