A Decade of YouTube: tvsonicgaming
Reflecting on my ten years on the platform
Ten years ago today, May 19th, 2012, I created this YouTube channel called “tvsonicgaming”. On that same day, I closed my old channel, “tv035653”, due to two copyright strikes on the channel and more importantly: looking for a new direction. From Sonic the Hedgehog stop motion animations to video game reviews, this was my vision for tvsonicgaming. After a decade of video content creation on this YouTube channel, it’s about time I reflect on these past 10 years.
The “tv035653” era
Back when I created tv035653, it was March 11th, 2008. I was nine years old and named the channel after my school username. I remember that channel’s creation date because it happened to line up with my best friend’s birthday, Damian. We haven’t even become friends at that point, it was all coincidental. I saw how much fun my brother, Tevin, and his friend were having creating AMVs, anime music videos where you would put a song over some anime or video game clips. My first video on the channel was actually created by Tevin, an AMV about Team Sonic using Sonic Heroes clips. Eventually, I started to create my own AMVs using Mario gameplay and Naruto/Dragon Ball Z clips. My two copyright strikes happened during this period where I tried to create a Naruto AMV using Linkin Park’s song, Numb. I was a stupid kid, so I didn’t realize I got two copyright strikes until the second time I uploaded it. I didn’t let it bother me that much at the time, so I kept creating YouTube videos.
Eventually, I started transitioning into creating Sonic the Hedgehog figure videos. My main inspiration at the time was SonicToast who still creates Sonic videos today. He did a lot of stop motion animations which were one of a kind for YouTube at the time. Then, he uploaded his Sonic figure collection video which showed me the world of Sonic figures. Jazwares, the license holders for Sonic toys at the time, started to release their own line of figures. At this point, I’m like 10 or 11 years old. I can’t get my hands on the older Sonic figures without buying them on eBay with my dad’s credit card. Jazwares had recently released their Sonic plushies featuring Sonic, Shadow, and the Werehog. I made a video talking about the Sonic Werehog plush and I kept up with Jazwares’ figures as much as I could.
I remember I did a video talking about the newly released 3 inch figures of Shadow, Silver, and the Werehog. My family happened to be out that day and I asked to go into Toys R Us. I managed to grab all three of them and did an unboxing video that same night. Normally, I would ask my dad to take me to Toys R Us when I knew a new Sonic figure had been released. I remember going into Toys R Us on a Saturday morning and finding the Dr. Eggman & Metal Sonic pack which was super cool because this was Jazwares’ first time releasing an Eggman figure and the packaging was awesome. I made an unboxing video right when I got home. From this point on, I would continue picking up the new Sonic figures by Jazwares as much as I could. I was still a kid with no job and no license/car, so I had to get lucky to get these figures at Toys R Us.
I did start my own Sonic stop motion animation as almost every Sonic YouTuber had one at the time. Mine wasn’t all that creative, I would literally take the stories from the games and turn them into animations. My first series, Sonic Stars, was more creative than my second and final series, Sonic Destiny. Creating my own stories with Sonic Stars and using whatever figures/sets I could come up with in my house kept me busy at the time. I was self taught and really tried to do everything myself. The voice acting did get a bit tricky especially since I was like 12 or 13 at this point and couldn’t do all the voices myself. Getting people from the community to voice-act in my series for free was a ton of fun. We were all kids at this point and I hope everyone who participated in my stop motion series had as much fun as I did.
I can go on and on about my experience Sonic figure collecting and Sonic stop motion animations but I’d be here all day. The channel was four years of my adolescent life, from age nine to 13. Around 2012, I was getting tired from talking about Sonic the Hedgehog all the time. I wanted to talk about video games but I knew the audience I grew was all in on my Sonic content. The channel already having two strikes didn’t make things easier, so I decided to close the channel down with no update or heads up to my viewers and didn’t look back. My thought process at the time was to give myself this new channel to build a different audience. In hindsight, I probably should’ve kept the channel up and uploaded an update video telling my fanbase I’m switching over. I do wish I could look back on some of those older videos as I can’t remember a lot of them today. It’s a part of my life that I will never forget and I’m forever grateful for the friends I’ve met along the way. Those videos may not live on YouTube anymore but I still remember going around my house to set up my next stop motion animation or general Sonic video.
Initially when I started up tvsonicgaming, I went right to work on my new gaming content. Top 5’s, reviews, let’s plays, pick ups, games I’ve been playing recently, collection videos, whatever I wanted. I tried as many different kinds of gaming content as possible to find what I liked the most. It took a long time to find out what I really liked doing for the gaming content. I’m still experimenting with new types of content here and there (tier lists, reaction videos, etc.) but it’s mostly reviews, collections, and thoughts/discussion videos. I’m glad I dabbled into let’s plays, speed sprites, and monthly pick up videos. I was watching that kind of content on YouTube nonstop and to actually create my own was an experience. I really milked inFAMOUS 2 for content, getting a review and a whole let’s play series out of it because it was my favorite PS3 game at the time (now it’s The Last of Us).
Speed Sprites was a series I kind of came up with on a whim because I had extra graph paper from school. Recording those videos to speed them up and put music on top was a simple and easy process. The hard part was doing the speed sprites as these videos would take awhile to record. The problem for these videos became the music I wanted to use being from the respective game and I would get DMCA’d/copyright claims. Even though the video would still be public, I didn’t want the videos to be claimed or muted. I could’ve gone with royalty free music but there’s no fun in that. Furthermore, the YouTube algorithm changed from views to watch time. I didn’t care about the ad revenue because I was making pennies for my content but it did change how videos on YouTube get recommended and spread throughout the site.
At the end of 2014, I stopped doing my monthly pick up videos + games I’ve been playing recently series (Stuff I Got + Gameplaying). This was a series most gaming YouTubers had and I wanted to try it out when I started my channel in 2012. The reason is because I noticed my monthly hauls started to get smaller and smaller. I wasn’t spending as much money anymore and the only notable “pick ups” would be my comic books and whatever new games came out. I also felt burnt out from doing the series. It wasn’t fun trying to remember all of the things I bought or all of the games I played for the month. Also, I didn’t like buying stuff for the sake of it being in a video. Instead of monthly, the pick up series is now whenever I get a good amount of stuff to do a video. Showcasing a haul from a convention or from an online sale, that’s when I would record a pick up video. Most of my recent pick up videos have been manga hauls because that’s my newest collecting habit. I know I’m still a “gaming channel” but I’ve sprinkled some manga/blu-ray stuff into my videos. Today, when I purchase a large amount of manga, I might not make a video on it because I don’t want to. It all depends on my mood which is why I’m glad I stopped doing Stuff I Got. Gameplaying is a series I kind of brought back into my podcast as a section of “recent activities,” which means whatever we’ve done in entertainment/media (games, movies, shows/anime, etc.). It lets me and Damian talk about whatever we’ve been doing recently. Because it’s every two weeks, it’s not an overwhelming section that we have to talk about the whole month of recent games or anime we’ve been consuming. It’s a shorter time frame while also being a small section of the podcast episode.
I was still not using a capture card for most of my videos until the end of 2012 with my review of the first Ratchet & Clank game. I was literally using whatever I had at the time and slowly upgraded my equipment as I went along. For the longest time, I was editing on Windows Movie Maker. I was all too familiar with the editing software but eventually upgraded to Camtasia Studios because my uncle gave it to me. I’ve been editing on the software since, even though it’s far from perfect and nowhere near the industry standard. It gets the job done better than Windows Movie Maker, that’s for sure.
From the beginning, I started implementing the “game on gamers” line at the end of my videos. Maybe I thought it was cool to say in my 13 year old head but kept it going for a number of years. I stopped saying it at the end of my videos because I don’t want that phrase to be associated with “my brand” and I find the term “gamers” to be somewhat cringey. I know that’s the appropriate term to use when identifying someone who plays video games but the internet tends to use it in a light hearted/joking tone. My friends meme my “game on gamers” phrase some times today.
I started posting videos on a regular schedule on Saturdays weekly. I decided Saturday would be a good day to upload videos because YouTubers tend to not post on the weekend. During the week, most of the big channels/YouTubers post their content throughout the week. My single video for that week can get lost in users’ subscription feeds. So, to allow myself to “stand out”, Saturday uploads became the norm for me and still are today. I upload throughout the week some highlight videos if I deem them appropriate but Saturdays are still my main upload day.
The “look” for tvsonicgaming
Before tvsonicgaming was even a thing, Tevin has been creating my channel graphics. The channel banner, the outro card, and my profile icon. Sometimes, he would show me new graphics without me even asking for a redesign. I would always use the new graphic come the new year. I don’t like changing the look of my channel in the middle of the year because it always felt the most appropriate to do it in tandem with a new year. Graphics I design myself would always be trash because I’m not as artistically gifted as him. He went to school for graphic design, so I might as well get his advice on what looks good and what doesn’t. For example, the original “The 2 Players Podcast” assets of graphics were all done by me. Obviously, they don’t look that hot. From episode 25 onward, Tevin made new graphics and made the podcast look 100 times better. Tevin created my profile pictures until 2018. He’s not an illustrator and I wanted something specific for my profile picture. I hired someone from Fiverr to do the illustration while having Tevin do the graphic design work. Today, I still have the Fiverr profile picture while changing up my look for the channel, last time in mid 2020. Breaking my rule of only doing it during a new year, I know, but Tevin once again outdid himself with his vision for the graphics.
The evolution of my intro sound
While Tevin was helping redesign my channel look mid-2020, I also wanted to change my intro sound effect. My original intros were done by Jimmy Whetzel who I’ve known since my tv035653 days. The sound bite is from Sonic Advance 1, the 1-Up sound effect. The sound was synonymous with my channel and my friends loved it. I would continue to use that sound effect because I really liked it but I wanted something much shorter. Yes, shorter than 4 seconds. My new intro is now one second long with a sound effect from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. I think the sound effect is called “Losing Breath” but I’m not entirely sure. The file name on it is “S3K_A9,” so Sonic nerds please inform me. I was a little hesitant on letting go of the old sound effect but it felt the right time to move on.
I know I mentioned “The Travis and Damian Podcast” earlier but the title before was “The 2 Players Podcast”. I wanted to start my own podcast but wanted my best friend Damian to join in. Not only because he’s my best friend but we would have fun conversations on gaming news at his house a lot. His knowledge of gaming and entertainment was what I wanted for the show. The name is terrible but I’m bad with naming projects anyway (look at the current podcast name LOL). At first, the show was pretty scuffed with how the audio quality was and how I rendered the show. “The 2 Players Podcast” only lived on YouTube, not on Apple Podcast or Spotify. This was because I wasn’t going to pay for an RSS feed. When I discovered a new platform called Anchor, where you can upload it on their platform and it would automatically end up on Apple/Spotify at no extra cost, I wanted to take advantage of this. That’s where the rebrand comes into play.
I asked Tevin again for assistance in designing and creating the rebrand for the podcast. He did a phenomenal job as always and I still use his assets today. Obviously inspired by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The name “The 2 Players Podcast” rubbed off on me and I wanted the show to be focused on all of our interests, not just gaming. We already broke that rule when we were discussing AMC The Walking Dead episodes but that’s besides the point. Furthermore, I think there was another podcast on YouTube called “2 Player Podcast” or something, so obviously the name would run into some issues there. Calling it “The Travis and Damian Podcast” because it’s literally just us talking about our interests in gaming/entertainment. We chose a bi-weekly schedule instead of a weekly schedule because some weeks, gaming/entertainment news would be really dry. There would be nothing to talk about and since our show relies heavily on news topics for discussion, bi-weekly seemed to be the right solution. Even though we’ve been podcasting together since February 2016, I feel like we’re finally coming into our own this year (2022). The discussions we have feel a lot more natural and we’re a lot more comfortable while recording. We also started using Facecams a few episodes ago because I feel like the YouTube video was lacking a visual element (shoutout to Tevin again for the graphic design work). We could’ve done cams a lot sooner but we never really discussed it. I’ve been podcasting with Damian for over six years and I hope we can do this show together for as long as possible.
I did start another podcast with my other best friend, Jeffrey, called “The Open Mid Leaguecast” where we would talk about League of Legends North American LCS and Academy games. This project was fun to do because we both loved talking about League and we’re both really knowledgeable about the players in NA. It was a weekly show due to the LCS/Academy games happening on the weekend. Our show was different from other League podcasts because we focused on NA Academy which many shows didn’t acknowledge. Also, our opinions on players and teams differed from each other which made conversations more interesting. Because me and Damian share a lot of opinions on games/shows, the discussions can only go so far for us. With Jeffrey however, we think about League teams/players differently which made for more interesting conversations. We also played two different roles in League (he played Mid/ADC and I played Support), so our perspectives on the game itself differ too. We stopped the show because of personal matters getting in the way and I eventually fell out of love with League. Even though I wish we were able to stick it out for the rest of the 2020 Summer LCS Split, it was a fun experience nevertheless.
Quantity > Quality
When I stuck myself to this “every Saturday” schedule, some weeks I wouldn’t have a video prepared. This would cause me on Friday nights to scramble to come up with a video idea, record it, and edit it all in the same day. A lot of my videos from early 2017 and some in 2018 are not my best work. Videos I pumped out for the sake of not missing my every Saturday quota because I felt prideful in doing that consistently for a number of years. My later videos in 2017 and most of my videos in 2018 I still like but I realized I was facing burnout from content creation. Before I moved to a video every Saturday, I was uploading a ton throughout the week. I only uploaded every Saturday to keep my YouTube and school life balance equal. I needed a break from content creation and I wanted to start my journey in becoming a professional League of Legends player. I made this clear in my 2019 update video where I re-branded my podcast to “The Travis and Damian Podcast” and where uploads would become a little more sporadic. At first, I kept up with a new tvsonicgaming video every other Saturday where a podcast episode wouldn’t fall under but eventually gave up on those videos and kept going with the podcast only. Not to say I wasn’t playing games outside of League of Legends. I found the time to play Life is Strange 2 for the podcast and dabbled in some other games throughout 2019. By the end of 2019, I only made 13 tvsonicgaming videos. Compared to 2018, I made 55.
My break and revival
Now, it’s 2020. I decided to keep going with this League of Legends thing as I was close to reaching Challenger (the highest rank in LoL, the previous season I peaked Grandmaster which is the tier below Challenger) but had to stop due to a wrist injury in 2019. I decided to keep uploading sporadically throughout 2020 but the worldwide pandemic hit. My mom wanted me to step down from my retail job and I did around late March/early April. This in concept would allow me to play more League in hopes of becoming a professional player. I kept playing League until I felt unhappy with the game. I didn’t enjoy playing League of Legends anymore. At this point in my life, I had to find out what else I liked doing. I’ve been living and breathing League of Legends for over a year now and without it, I felt lost. No job and no way to interact with the outside world, I had to find ways to keep myself busy. I started watching anime and found myself so much happier compared to when I was in a game of League. In addition, I started to ease myself back into creating YouTube videos. Content creation used to give me so much joy and happiness before I burnt out, I started to make videos again. Then, The Last of Us Part II came out.
I uploaded my unboxing video on the collector’s edition and started to play the game. I knew of the many differing opinions online and how polarizing this game was. I wanted to play the game for myself and make a video review on it. I wasn’t going to talk about spoilers at first but because the game is so polarizing and I wanted to get all of my thoughts and opinions on the game in this single video, I decided to go all out in the script. I spent days writing and perfecting the script as much as possible. Over 6,000 words, over 12 hours of editing/rendering, I ended up with a 35 minute long video detailing all of my thoughts on The Last of Us Part II. This is the most time I ever spent working on a video and I loved every single minute. Yes, it was tedious and cumbersome trying to get this video to work on Camtasia Studios. The gameplay resolution didn’t end up being 1080p but I finished the video with all of my opinions clear as day. From that video onward, I felt motivated again to make videos. I finally talked about the Life is Strange comic book series before diving into Ghost of Tsushima later that year. I also started publishing my reviews to Medium, an online website where you can freely publish articles. My review of The Last of Us Part II was my first article and it ended up being featured on Medium’s Gaming section. I’ve continued to upload reviews onto Medium along with some original news pieces. 2020 is not how anyone expected but I ended up with tons of great videos that I’m still proud of today.
My Future on YouTube
Right now, I’m trying to play catch up with the games that have been released recently. Hopefully within the next week or so, I’ll have my review of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga up on YouTube/Medium. YouTube has taken a back burner due to college but I’m ready to dive back into content creation. This summer, I hope to publish more reviews and videos in general. In addition, get more Medium articles on hot news topics I’m interested in and add some commentary/opinions into the discussion. I honestly don’t know how long I’ll be doing YouTube. I’ve been making videos since I was nine years old (2008) and I’m turning 24 later this year. It’s been such a big part of my life, when or if I stop making YouTube videos, it will not be an easy task. I love making videos and when I’m able to watch the final product after hours of writing and editing, it’s still super satisfying. I resumed my college education at the start of 2021 and have shared my experiences over 2019–20 in League of Legends and content creation in certain classes. It’s a chapter of my life I’m not ashamed of and an overall fantastic learning experience in finding out what I truly want to do with my life. Moving forward, I hope to find a real job in the gaming journalism world after I secure my bachelor’s degree in journalism next year. I’ll continue my independent writing and content creation as always. Thank you to everyone who’s supported my videos over this past decade. It means the world to me that there’s people out there who tune into my videos/podcasts to hear what I have to say about video games. It’s been truly a pleasure and I hope to make this next decade of content creation, another one to remember.