This interview was a collaboration between MvG and JTV’s own CNN (@Chatia12) that took place on Friday, May 6th, 2011. I want to thank Chatia for putting the whole interview together and hosting it herself, MAN for taking the time to sit down and be a part of this project, and to everyone who put in questions for this interview!
I believe it was a very successful process, as you will see in the transcripts below. Happy reading everyone!
MAN, The Caster
What made you want to start casting?
I’ve always been trying to think of the American dream—you know, make money on the internet, work from home. I was about to fall asleep one night, and it came to me in an epiphany. I would make this “blog” basically of me casting myself playing video games. I tell it like this because it felt like an epiphany at the time. I was like “OH BRILLIANT”.
The next day at dinner, I “sold” the idea to Tawnithan, and she was instantly supportive. So then I started looking into ways to do it. I think I started on USTREAM first, and then I got my big wake up call…”you know, you’re not the only person to think of broadcasting yourself playing video games”. But, I felt my approach to it was different—I wasn’t inspired by another caster and thus truly had the idea on my own.
Technomancer asks, “What brought you to cast on JTV?”
The number one reason I decided to cast on JTV is the community. The people here are so special to me, and there are so many more cool people here than I have found on other sites. There’s such a strong cohesive bond between all the cool people that hang out at my channel, GQ’s, Sweetielise’s, etc. Also, the JTV staff are awesome. They are so hands on. I get an email from them weekly updating me and I feel their idea about the partnership program is great.
What drove you to make the MANvsGAME cast as professional as you did?
It goes back to the fact that I approached it differently because I wasn’t really inspired by anyone, and I had this brilliant idea to cast myself playing games. I have always really wanted my cast to be more like a variety show—with intros, credits, animations for different segments, and other things like that. I can also blame my OCD tendencies, where if something isn’t 100% perfect, I won’t do it at all.
I started watching other streams, and I found there was something lacking. I really feel like the more of your personality you can put out there and the more you connect to the people, the better the channel is. The fact that the cast is live and interactive is a huge part of the draw. I love watching game videos, LordKat, AVGN etc, but I really feel with a live cast there is such an electric energy. There is such a connection between the caster and the viewer that you can’t get in a prerecorded video.
Mournless asks, “How do you view/what is your opinion on your quick rise to JTV fame?”
I really am shocked, I really am. I never thought it would explode as fast as it did.
This will sound egotistical, but I started out thinking I could do really well in the arena of game casting because I felt like my personality could carry it through no matter what the technology was. However, I never thought this would actually happen. 4 Player Podcast was the first channel I really watched, and I remember they had like 400 people watching while the next channel had like.. 20. I was just thinking ‘Wow, what have these guys done to just kick this up into the stratosphere?’
Having said that now, some nights I’m averaging 900-1000 people—it is truly flattering and humbling. It’s amazing, but it’s also made it kind of hard. I feel like I haven’t been able to ease my way into being a huge caster. I’m still working on handling myself as professionally as one should when they have 1000 people in their room every night.
Duffmana asks, “Do you feel the rise in viewers has hurt your ability to be more personal with them?”
The short answer is absolutely. It is such a bittersweet thing watching the channel rise in popularity so fast. One of the main issues I wrestle with is all the madness and drama that happens in the chat room. Live casts are all about interactions, and unfortunately with larger crowd sizes, you inevitably attract bottom feeders and people who have no interest in what you’re doing other than to ruin it. I am still trying to learn how to deal with it. I just have to remind myself that the negative people are in the minority, and that it’s the cool people that I cast for.
EddieRuckus asks, “What advice/tips do you have for new casters/people thinking about casting?”
I get this question a lot. My number one tip would be to be yourself. As much as you may love caster X, never try to base your channel off what they do—just try and do your own thing. The personality is what keeps people coming back to your channel. For me, when I see someone being genuine, whether it’s a genuine caring, loving, laughing individual, or a genuine asshole, that’s what I like to watch. There is something about seeing someone being genuine that is special.
Another tip is that no matter what time, have a set schedule. I think I can thank that more than anything for the core viewers that come back again and again, as it lets people fit your cast into their day.
Also, chat is important, so get some quality mods—people you trust that will run chat the way you want it to be run.
What surprised you the most about your casting experience?
The viewer numbers. We just had the 200th cast retrospective, and it was so funny looking back on these clips where we were going crazy for 100 viewers. The donations are another huge shocking thing. The amount of games, cookies, t-shirts and love that has been sent to me through the PO Box has been truly shocking, and I am so humbled by it all.
What is your favorite thing about casting on JTV?
Definitely the people. I started at USTREAM, and I liked it because they allowed the embedded video players to autostart, which is what I wanted (I have since changed my mind). While I was at USTREAM, I noticed that there really was no one that had anything positive to say, and I was constantly faced with negative people coming in and spouting nonsense. I viewed USTREAM as being more mainstream, and I thought I could reach more people, but then I started hanging out at JTV. People were chatting non stop and throwing out jokes—I got such a powerful sense of community at JTV. That is what led me to cast at JTV.
What is your least favorite thing about casting on JTV?
I really do wish that JTV would make it much harder to make an account. One of the most frustrating things is that you really have no permanent solution to dealing with trolls. You ban people, and almost immediately they’re back—all night long, with multiple accounts. I wish we had a way of truly banning or exiling the shitty people that try to bring casts down.
Who were your “idols” on JTV?
I really look to Kreyg at Hot Blooded Gaming. He was doing exactly what I had in mind, which is really not just broadcasting myself playing games, but truly trying to make it a legitimate business. When I first saw Kreyg, I felt that here is a guy who’s already doing what I wanted to do. Whether he knows it or not, he actually helped me out a lot.
Where do you hope the MANvsGAME cast will lead you?
The real dream is of course to be able to make a living doing what I love. I really do want it to be more than just the MANvsGAME cast, I would love to have other shows on my channel. The dream is that I have a 24/7 legitimate channel, with no canned entertainment. I would love for my channel to become like a real TV channel, with multiple shows and of course be self sustaining through sponsorships and whatnot.
MAN, The Person
What is your favorite video game of all time?
I honestly hate these questions, because I’m a different person everyday. However, there’s one game that always comes to mind, and I will always be able to go back and play it and still love it. It’s mostly nostalgia, but I’ll go with TMNT for the NES. To this day, I hold that game in such high regard. I loved it when I was young, and I still love it. I played it so much that I just memorized a lot of the game, and so a lot of parts that people hate, I can do easily. I love TMNT and I love video games and that game just thrilled me like no other.
Browniec asks, “What song or soundtrack would you say is responsible for sparking your love of VGM?”
I love this question. It’s hard to answer because its not particularly one series that made me fall in love with game music. I love video game music because I have always loved electronic music, and I love music with no lyrics. Video game music is so beautifully composed as well. VGM is usually so much more complex musically than the pop music you find these days. It’s much more like classical music in having complex structures, and I love how clear and crisp the sound is.
A lot of people look at you funny when you say you listen to 8 or 16 bit music, because they think its a weak substitute for a real instrument. I think it’s an instrument on its own. Gaming music is one of my loves. Having said that, I would have to go with the Castlevania series.
How did you and Tawnithan meet?
We met on Myspace. We had a mutual friend and I remember she left a comment on this friends Myspace. I saw the comment, and I thought “gah its a girl, let me check out her profile”. I sent her a little message, “Hey that’s cool you like Hunter S. Thompson, come at me”. I think what really drew us together was our mutual love of Hunter S. Thompson, author and gonzo journalist. At the time she was living in Montana and I was living in Minnesota, so we did the long distance thing for a bit. We’ve been together for 5 years now.
What is your favorite swear word and why?
I wish I could be more creative with this answer. There’s a whole documentary about this word, which I highly recommend watching because it’s so true. It’s the king of all swear words—Fuck. It’s so versatile as a verb and a noun. It is so ingrained in my brain, it has to be Fuck.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
We go through pints of Haagen Dazs Chocolate and Peanut Butter ice cream like no other.
What has been your favorite moment on the cast and why?
Technically it wasn’t on my cast, but I gotta say doing my segments of the first Gaming for a Cure marathon. It felt like such a cool underground cult thing, like we were doing something special. The casts felt so fun, like a bunch of friends hanging out with each other while at the same time there was this great spirit of one oneupmanship. I really felt driven because of GQ during the marathon, and that’s why I always mention GQ when “tralala” comes up. “Tralala” never would have happened if GQ hadn’t have opened his cast the way he did.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
My temper is definitely what I would change, It’s my biggest character flaw and it gets me into the most trouble in my cast. It’s why I envy people like Sweetielise, as she is so good at being chill and relax and letting things slide.
I also have a gap between my two front teeth I’m self conscious about. I’m so self conscious it affects things like how I tilt my head on cast, where my laptop is and which direction I face. (Duff Note: Anyone ever seen that gap before?)
What would you say is your favorite food?
Cereal definitely. One that comes to mind is Count Chocula, cause it’s a specialty thing. When Halloween comes around, I go to the store and buy like 10 boxes of it.
Life is also good. I like any cereal that will soak milk up a lot—I love soggy cereals. I hate that a lot of cereals pride themselves on staying crunchy. I don’t like that, I want my sogginess.
Any secret talents?
I can play the accordion. I can play, not well, but I can bust out a song. I’ve got a nice pearl inlaid squeezebox out in the garage somewhere. I was totally influenced by Weird Al. I met him twice, and he complemented me on my shirt.
Any last words for MANkind?
I love you all—your continued support and love is what keeps me going. Without you guys I would not be where I am today. I absolutely appreciate all of it, including the donations and people just being in the room. I sincerely cannot thank you guys enough for what you bring to the cast experience. It’s not just all about me entertaining you, as you guys make it enjoyable for me as well.
You stay classy MANkind.