So how does a nice guy who has fun making video game machinima end up making a living at it? We wondered, too, so we asked -– and nice guy that he is, Wowcrendor spilled all the beans.
WoW Insider: So you're living the dream, making a living making WoW videos. Congrats! How has that changed the way you play the game? Things must be quite different now.
Wowcrendor: It is really a dream come true. One day you're sitting in a college math class writing scripts about Mankrik's wife, and the next you're making a living off it. I don't think I ever saw it growing to the point it's grown to, but I'm thankful for it nonetheless.
As for how it's changed the way I play the game, I think it's actually impacted me negatively, as odd as that sounds. Before I made videos about the game, my sole focus was just having fun or getting involved in the virtual world of Azeroth. Now that I do this as a living, it really shifts your mindset. If I'm playing the game, I'm constantly thinking if something could be made into a video instead of actually focusing on enjoying the game. For example, before I started making videos, I raided in every expansion. I enjoyed raiding and even got to raid with the guy who inspired me to start making WoW videos, a surreal experience at the time.
After becoming a YouTuber, instead of focusing on a boss fight, I'll be questioning how the people in the raid are acting, if the boss has any quirky attributes that can be seen in an overdramatic way, or if there's an observable flaw or complaint being made by everyone. Sometimes I actually wish I could experience the game like I used to, like I did for the first five years, but it's not really possible.
I can relate. Writing about WoW all the time definitely puts a different spin on actually playing it.
However, with all that being said, I still do log on and enjoy the game, just more casually and in other ways. Where I once got enjoyment in raiding/endgame, I now mainly enjoy leveling alts. I think the main reason is leveling is somewhat mindless and, for me, stress-relieving.
I've also grown tired of playing my priest, having had him for seven years. I played a druid in Wrath, and I'm currently getting him to 90 to make him my main.
Main character Crendor, goblin shadow priest
Realm Spirestone (US)
I understand you were a Flash guy back in the day. How did you get started making videos?
I got started around 10 years ago. I used to make really weird, crazy Flash videos about my friends and the events happening in their lives. After a year of doing that sporadically, I made a few WoW videos just for fun (nothing that I released publicly).
The first time I really got interested was when I watched Rurikar's videos. He had Jimmy: The World of Warcraft Story, Time Gnomes, and Pepitoz, all with loads of views and all hilarious. He also had a flash series called Unforgotten Realms that he produced regularly as his job. It was astonishing to me that his videos had loads of views, were liked by hundreds of thousands, and nobody else really had anything like them. His humor was the same as mine, and it was the moment I realized that I had the ability to do it. He had stopped producing WoW videos, and the comments were loaded with people wanting more, myself included, and so I figured, "Why not make my own?"
You were in college back then, isn't that right?
I was going to community college, still not sure what I wanted to do with my life, when this all happened. I actually remember being somewhat worried because nothing in college interested me, yet I was going just to go. Once I discovered YouTube though, it sparked something inside me.
As I said earlier, I would sit in class and write scripts, which worked well since it looks like you're taking notes. I wrote practically every video I made at the start of my YouTube career during a college class. I remember being in my Art History 101 class and getting the idea for the Unreleased Cataclysm Trailer, which would be my first video to really take off. I released it at the perfect time so it was one of the top videos in the YouTube search engine when you searched "Cataclysm" or "WoW Cataclysm," which everyone was doing.
I took a film class in my third year of college, the only class I took that semester, before dropping out of school for good to pursue YouTube.
What gave you the idea for your first WoW machinima?
Rurikar's videos were probably the biggest inspiration for my first "real" WoW machinima, but I used to write stories/comic books about video game characters back when I was 4 or 5 years old. I guess I already knew what I wanted to do way back then.
My first real WoW machinima I put on YouTube was ShamanWoW and it had awful audio, video, and I recorded it in one take with Windows Movie Maker. I still cringe when I watch it, but we all have to start somewhere. I saw the whole Shamwow infomercial happening, and some guy made a video called, Shamanwow completely unrelated to WoW, so I figured I'd take a shot at making one that actually was.
I remember posting it all over and experiencing unfiltered feedback for the first time in my life. People critique your voice, your writing, your humor, and every other thing imaginable, but I oddly enjoyed it. I knew that these people didn't have to be "fake" nice like family and friends, and that your work is going to be accurately judged by masses -- a real test of sorts. Of course, you also get the overly mean and critical people, but you learn that they are just angry people letting out anger in anonymity. You need to learn to decipher the real criticism from the hate, which can be quite difficult to do.
And so how many WoW videos have you created at this point?
At this point, I'm pretty sure I've made over 100, but I'm not sure the exact total. It's actually pretty crazy to think about that, ha ha.
When did you first get the idea that you could do this full time?
I knew there were people out there making money on the internet and a lot of them by doing what they loved to do, so I knew it was possible. I had tried various other ideas, like blogs, websites, and my failed Flash series that I lacked passion for, but YouTube was something I could see myself doing consistently and still enjoying myself. Once I saw other YouTubers turning their hobby into a career and saw the numbers I was getting on top of how fast I was growing, I knew I could do it full time.
What sort of equipment or resources or training have you had to invest in to make this a full-time venture?
I upgraded my computer, which would crash and overheat in the first year of making videos (primarily rendering). I gradually upgraded microphones, going from a headset, to a Blue Snowflake, to a Blue Snowball, to a Blue Yeti, and now a Shure PG27 USB.
A lot of people ask what programs I use for editing, and I use Sony Vegas, Audacity (which is free), WoW Model Viewer (also free), and Fraps. I never had any training, aside from some YouTube tutorials on editing tips or my one-semester film class. You kind of just learn as you go, which is honestly the best way of learning; experiencing it all head on.
Aside from all that, the only thing that will tell if you can do this full-time is ... time. The hardest part of it all is consistency, since your hobby becomes a job and you have to manage keeping it fun with constantly producing content that is still liked by hundreds of thousands of people.
What video are you most proud of?
I don't think I have only one. I'd say the Unreleased Cata Trailer because it was my first big video, the Luckydo Rap because of how many people loved it, How to Win at Pugs because it set my style of poking fun at all the stereotypes in games, and If Fans Ran WoW because I loved the concept of fans taking over as devs and having over-the-top ideas.
What series and topics can Wowcrendor fans expect to see more of soon?
I'm trying to start some new series since a lot of my series are getting older. I've practically done a How to Win on all the topics I wanted to, although there's still a few I've missed (arenas for example). How to Tell if ____ Will Fail was a series I enjoyed and might go back to.
My favorite type of video to create are the ones that are short yet get their point across in an overdramatic and humorous way, like How to Tell if Your Guild is Bad. They're my favorite because those are the types of videos I find myself looking for when I'm on YouTube, just browsing for content to watch.
As for topics, I'll generally cover what's popular or whatever I become motivated to cover. I don't like to force myself to make a video that I'm not motivated to create, because people will be able to sense I didn't want to make it. One of the reasons I have mini-hiatuses from some videos is I'd rather not make them than have mediocre versions of them.
So what will happen when WoW isn't the hotness anymore? Will you move to a new game? Original projects?
I've already started branching out into other games and video concepts. In fact, my most viewed video isn't even a WoW video, it's How to Win at League of Legends at 2.1 million views now. I've also made videos like How to Win at Let's Plays, stereotyping the typical Let's Player. It's actually fun covering a variety of games and not focusing on one, but I don't think I'd ever want to become a strictly variety channel. I enjoy having a main focus, like WoW, and a bunch of other content on the side.
Find Wowcrendor on the web at YouTube, on Twitter, and at Wowcrendor.com.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.