The Significance Of Pewdiepie
Every gamer worth their salt knows who Pewdiepie is, but in case you didn’t know, he is the most successful YouTuber that has ever lived and all he really did was make Let’s Plays of various games across a multitude of genres. The guy has amassed 20 million subscribers during his YouTube career which is an absolutely insane amount of people. Hell, I believe he has more subscribers than YouTube itself. He has since become a cultural phenomenon, with millions of people religiously following every thing he does. But the so called “hardcore gamer” demographic has since put a metaphorical torch to Pewdiepie’s credibility because they believe he is just a clown that simulates emotion for fame and screams into his microphone too much. While some of what they say might be true, I don’t think they see just how important this guy is to gaming as a whole.
I was a subscribed to Pewdiepie during his initial rise to fame. I believe he only had 500 000 subscribers at that point which pales in comparison to the gigantic number he possesses now. I found him while I was watching a Let’s Play of Happy Wheels if I recall correctly. He was one of the recommended videos on the side. I opened the video and then suddenly there was this guy with a Swedish accent shouting all manners of nonsense and had a really deprived sense of humour. As a person who likes deprived humour and nonsensical whimsey, he was appealing to me and I decided to subscribe to him. I have since been a part of his monumental growth to the behemoth he is now in the YouTube community.
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It really is kind of amazing just how fast he grew. Once he hit a million subscribers, it just didn’t stop. He would be getting thousands of subscribers each day on a consistent bases and the numbers just grew larger and larger. He only really offered one type of content and that was gameplay videos and he has gained such a huge following from that that he can even compete with some mainstream celebrities. If there’s one thing I admire about Pewdiepie is that he didn’t diverge from his initial vision which was a passion for playing videogames and making videos. From his very first Minecraft video to his latest series, it is all he has ever done. I’ve seen quite a few YouTubers that started out with fantastic ideas, but then soon spread their content too thin and suffered heavily for it. You might say that it can become a bit repetitious when the only thing he does is play videogames, but you would be wrong in that respect. There’s so many genres and individual games available for those genres to make things varied enough to still be entertaining.
Pewdiepie’s rise to fame can be directly attributed to the his playing of indie horror games, most notably Amnesia: The Dark Descent. He would scream at jumpscares, make up ridiculous scenarios, give inanimate objects names and personalities and the result was a genuinely entertaining experience. People liked watching some random Swedish dude leap out of his chair and scream at chairs because it was good old mindless fun. This initial run of Amnesia gained him a cult following which would soon develop into a dedicated fanbase stretching over numerous demographics. It would also breed a lot of haters.
People that hate Pewdiepie are a strange lot. They would claim that his fanbase only consisted of 14 year old girls and that all he did was scream excessively. While some of that might be true, I don’t think they’ve done a lot of research to really support their claims. I’ve watched quite a few of Pewdiepie’s videos and there’s a lot more to him than just yelling and doing dumb shit. He understands atmosphere and pacing in games and he isn’t as dumb as most people think he is. He is actually extremely creative with some of the artwork he has done and according to a few Rocksmith videos, he’s also a pretty decent guitarist. There’s more to this guy than just incessant screaming and behaving like an idiot.
Another thing that people seem to forget is that he is Swedish, born and bred. He doesn’t understand English as well as most other people do because it is his second language. Speaking as a born and bred Afrikaner, I can very much relate to this. If you watch some of his videos where he only speaks in Swedish with English subtitles, you can see that this guy is actually rather intelligent, he just can’t really express himself correctly because of the language barrier. Often he would forget rather basic English words, but know what they were in Swedish. I also struggled with this when I first learned English so I know where he comes from. All I’m saying is that don’t judge the book by its cover.
He also has a very crude sense of humour. He would constantly swear and make some generally “insensitive” jokes. This is fine because there is entertainment in that it separates it from more “clean cut” Let’s Players that are too afraid to offend anyone. This guy doesn’t give a fuck and would say vagina and dick like they were on his word of the day calendar. That’s another thing I admire about Pewdiepie. He hasn’t censored his way of speaking to be as inoffensive as possible, but rather just carried on doing it because that is the way he expressed himself. I myself shout obscenities all the time and swear so much that “fuck” was the second most used word on my Twitter feed in 2013 (the first was games). If I had to censor myself just because I didn’t want to offend anybody, it would make me miserable.
Okay, I’ve gone on long enough about Pewdiepie’s career, what is his actual significance to gaming and gaming culture as a whole. Well, it’s pretty huge. I like to use Slender as an example. Slender was this cheaply made horror game where you collected notes and ran away from an Edgars mannequin and while it gathered a lot of fame, it didn’t really explode in any way. Along comes Pewdiepie with a Let’s Play where he got scared shitless and screamed at trees. Boom. Millions of hits later it became a worldwide sensation with even non-gamers delving into the world of gaming. The game has since received enormous success and has spawned a fully fleshed franchise of its own that gained even more success. All this from a dude that ran around talking to trees and screaming at a monitor. He made people’s careers happen just because he gave some exposure.
When Pewdiepie plays your game, especially at the level of fame he’s at now, it would be considered an extremely lucky break. It is essentially free advertising that other big companies would pay thousands of dollars for. You essentially get a minimum of 2 million (based off his recent view counts) people that view your product. It’s not a passive form of advertisement either like billboards or online ads. Potential customers can see what the quality of the game is and can then decide that they want to try it for themselves. This has proven remarkably beneficial for small indie game developers that got lucky enough for Pewdiepie to try their game. There have even been reports of game developers’ websites crashing because of the overwhelming amount of traffic that came through.
Another aspect for why Pewdiepie is so important for the gaming industry is how he provides awareness to the medium. I’m sure most of his subscribers are non-gamers and are just there for his personality, but if they continue to watch him long enough then they might decide to just pick up a controller and give it a whirl because of how fun he makes it look. That’s growth right there, something that is needed in any industry. I’m speaking out of speculation here, but I believe Pewdiepie has singlehandedly converted thousands of people to gaming just from his videos. With the alarming rate at which he is growing, this number can be much higher. A few days ago, at the time of writing this, he hit 20 million subscribers and in just a few days he has gained 300 000 new subscribers. More potential gamers.
Some bigger names in the industry dismiss Pewdiepie because of his childlike behaviour and often stupid endeavors, but those people also stand to gain from his fame. Specifically the YouTube gaming community. In the past few yearsit has grown exponentially with more and more quality channels popping up and the higher ups getting huge amounts of subscribers. I’m not saying it’s directly influenced by Pewdiepie, but like the previous paragraph states, he is influencing a whole host of people. Those people then go out and look for more gaming related goodness and that’s when growth happens. I don’t think Toby Turner’s gaming channel would have surpassed his main channel in terms of subscribers if it wasn’t for Pewdiepie.
Pewdiepie’s personality and type of video content is simple, humorous, and more often than not, mindless. I’m sorry to break it to you more “hardcore” folks, but simple and mindless is what sells. Some 15 year old girl isn’t going to watch a video titled “StarCraft 2 Harcore Elimination 1v1 MLG Matchup Ft. Dirk Fist w/ Commentary” but rather a video titled “BALD BIEBER?”. I’d like the whole world to listen to prog metal because of how intricate and emotional it can be, but that will never happen because that’s not what the mainstream wants. Pewdiepie’s recent content caters to a more mainstream appeal with regards to Let’s Plays. For example his Dark Souls playthrough. Any other gaming YouTuber would make a 150 part series that stretches over the entire runtime of the playthrough, but Pewdiepie takes all the entertaining and interesting bits and combines them to form something entertaining that doesn’t run on for weeks on end.
If you want hardcore gaming channels, then you got them. TotalBiscuit is a prime example of a more focused approach to gaming with critiques, hardcore gaming, eSports, mechanics, industry news and so forth. Watch him if you’re serious about gaming . Watch Pewdiepie when you just want a quick laugh. These channels cater to different demographics, but ultimately more people will be drawn to Pewdiepie because he is relatable and offers some good entertainment. Let Pewdiepie handle the suckering in of potential gamers and leave people like Totalbiscuit and Angry Joe to capitalise on the new gamers of the age. There’s some synergy that can happen here.
You might be screaming that I’m just a fanboy of Pewdiepie and that’s why there’s little criticism of him in this article and while I am a fan, he is certainly not without his faults. Some of his horror game playthroughs have, admittedly, too much screaming than is needed or appreciated and some of it feels very fake and deliberate. I’ve watched quite a number of them and I’ve noticed when something has really terrified him or scared him that he will swear in Swedish. He also uses the word Helvete (Hell) a lot which is my favourite word in the Scandinavian languages next to the Finnish word Perkele. But I digress. There was also this sense of repetition in his videos a while back when he made about three a day. Nowadays he has adopted a more focused form of video content with more jumpcuts to interesting parts which made the content a lot more enjoyable.
While I like his sense of humour, it can sometimes get out of hand with jokes coming across as trying too hard. I think that’s his personality though so you can’t really blame him for it, but sometimes he makes some really weird decisions with some of his comedy. He also likes to reuse a lot of his jokes which can be a little grating. I’m not too butthurt about it because if I had an audience of millions of people, I would also be doing a lot of dumb shit.
I’m not in any way shape or form trying to change anyone’s opinion of Pewdiepie. If you don’t like him, then you don’t like him. I’m just trying to explain that he is more important to gaming than people give him credit for. Whether you can handle the high pitched screaming or utterly despise everything he makes, you can’t deny that he has become quite the influential figure for the gaming industry. He has the power to make an unknown game world famous like he did with Slender. He also has the power to draw the world into the greatness of gaming. And I’m thankful to him for that.