Maybe a year ago I found the YouTube channel Rev3Games, which had some really great content up every week discussing the video game industry, news, trends, and culture. Of particular note was thoughtful critic and interviewer Adam Sessler sharing his opinions and insights.
Soon after finding them, I added the channel to my rotation of content to regularly consume. I care deeply about video games and where they’re going, and Rev3Games was the first place that felt like it was talking about that in a way that I could appreciate. Other article-based news sites had valuable information, but I often didn’t care too much about release dates and ratings for games I wasn’t going to play. Rev3Games seemed to couch the news in larger, more digestible trends, most notably in Casual Friday or Sessler’s Something. I suppose this was the natural artifact of releasing weekly installments.
I came to love those segments in particular, and the cast that put it all together. I would venture into comment threads against multiple layers of my better judgement to call out idiots (or fanboys) who were ranting and raving about something insignificant while defending reasonable discourse or opinion.
But in the past few months, Rev3Games has been taking hits left and right. Nearly all the regular contributors are gone. Host Max Scoville left, then the head of the channel Adam Sessler, as well as editor Zac Minor, and hosts Anthony Carboni and Scott Bromley. These are all people I came to really know and value for their perspectives and personalities! The only on-camera people left are Tara Long and Nick Robinson to essentially rebuild and reshape with the folks around them.
While I’m obviously not in San Francisco seeing my colleagues part ways, I also feel a sense of loss after so recently coming to value their channel so much. Sessler leaving is making the major headlines, and that’s valid given that he led the channel and was in most of the content put out every week. But every one of the regulars brought something: a vibe, a perspective, or a passion they turned into a series.
In the past few weeks after these departures, only a few videos have been released. For a few days, a simple “Coffee Talk” segment has appeared where two coworkers chat about some topic for a short while. I’m really happy to see things continue in some way. Nick made a post in the comments that made me pause and think myself about where the channel should go, and they just held a live Q&A session to answer questions about Rev3Games going forward.
A lot of the Q&A session was confirming information I had suspected. Staff is down, so edited, produced content would be less common. Sessler leaving means several segments are retired. Live streams and informal videos will continue because they require less overhead.
The Q&A also gave the necessary pause for reflection of the many departed Rev3Gamers. Hopefully it will answer questions more concretely and move the conversation in the comments past, “Where’s Adam?!” and “I want Matt [Max] back!” It was really nice to hear personal stories and efforts behind the camera that affected the channel and its people.
Nick has asked for opinions repeatedly, so I shall provide my thoughts on what I like and what a good strategy might be (from a limited outside perspective). I ended up with about ten items…
1. It’s understandable to focus on just creating content at this point. Keeping the heartbeat of the channel going. If that means less polished, formal content, I understand that. However, I really hope this is a temporary measure and not a permanent shift in focus.
I found the balance between a variety of reviews, scripted content, casual conversations, and silliness to be quite good before people left. It showed the full character of the channel and crew in being able to create something professional with polish to having intelligent conversations all the way down to being silly folks playing games on a couch. Other series showed interests outside of video gaming proper, as well.
Live streams and interacting with the community sounds great, as long as it’s not going to lower the level of dialog and discourse about gaming. Comment threads are loud hyperbole machines. They can distract from good dialog and skew perceptions of the full audience’s perspective. Subtlety is rare. While I trust and see how the folks at Rev3Games deal with idiot or vitriolic commenters, it’s worth mentioning that concern.
2. I’m left wondering if in a few months someone new will emerge as a figurehead for the channel. I can see Rev3Games continuing either way, but I’d expect those two possibilities to be different. A new leader might give a sense of direction and be more opinionated. They might have the channel as their only focus and be able to develop it further. Without that, with just unestablished new folks coming in, I’d guess the channel would be closer to the more casual informal style.
Unfortunately, that makes it similar to a lot of other content out there that I already don’t spend time on.
I really like Rev3Games for its good discussions on gaming that don’t happen all the time. I like its position as a clearinghouse for the news of the week or whatever’s in the air at the moment. It’s this reason that Casual Friday was always a favorite of mine. Dailyish Coffee Talk alongside Casual Friday would be a great baseline for discussion. Differentiating between the two could come through having one of the shows just with coworkers and one with potential guests. And the size or scope of the conversation.
Sessler doesn’t have to have the monopoly on careful, well-thought-out opinions on the games industry. It can and should be something to pursue on the channel. I found Sessler’s Something really appealing to hear every week; it set the tone of seemingly the channel and the perspective of the gaming environment for a time.
3. I prefer more densely-packed content. I’m a 25-year-old guy working a full-time job. I will rarely take time to watch an hour of live streamed gaming when my time is pretty valuable to me. I’d play a game myself instead. Scripted content or new observations or information in shorter videos (< 10 minutes) are ideal for me. Scott’s and Max’s shows were great entertainment, as well.
I’m sure lots of people enjoy the streams, but that won’t keep me coming back without something meatier to learn, be entertained by, discuss, or think about.
4. The people at Rev3Games might be well-served to emphasize Twitter and other online outlets they have more. I know, I know, you have your handles by your name just about everywhere. But with the number of people still wondering where various hosts went, clearly not everyone follows y’all or checks Twitter. In various podcasts I listen to, I’ve found that hearing people say their handles all the time instills it in me even more. So that might be worth considering.
I found it a surprisingly soft landing that all of these departing folks remain active online through Twitter. It was reassuring to see people officially communicate their exit and others to offer support and gratitude. These people still have a heartbeat, and a digital pulse, so we’ll see where they each go next. But without seeing their comments on other sites, I could imagine being very confused.
5. Behind the scenes content could be a fun treat. I noticed that some of y’all post things on your other online outlets, like kicking a dildo bat. That could be content on the channel, if a bit remolded. Though I think less is more in that regard.
6. Non-gaming talk or sillier videos are okay! Someone mentioned on the channel that card and board games are entirely about mechanics, and that is absolutely right. Maybe really great conversations could spawn from trying them out? I think playing the Metagame or interesting board games could be fun casual content.
The ~1000 videos sketch was similarly delightful in seeing funny writing and acting. It felt very CollegeHumor “Hardly Working”-style, and I consider that high praise. I’m curious what other interests y’all have that might fit the channel’s tone.
7. I’m sad that the survey sent out a while back asking about subscriptions for special content has probably gone out the window. I like this channel a lot and value seeing it grow and succeed, which that indicated to me. Of course I hope it still does grow. (I guess I just wanted to mention that I remembered that.)
8. Have y’all given any thought to profanity on the channel? I don’t care. At. All. But while watching Coffee Talk, I noticed that one idle “fuck” from Nick was the only cursing in the video, and maybe there are benefits to trying to adhere to that? Just a thought at this time of transition.
9. Reviews are nice, but I can definitely imagine the time it takes to piece one of those together. Maybe shorter indie games are easier to tackle. I don’t have a strong opinion on ratings, as long as you don’t switch to words or phrases that still mean certain numbers. I think they’re useful, but maybe lots of people skip to the number, which must be annoying.
10. I don’t actually have a #10; I’ve given enough feedback. I just wanted to share that I’ve enjoyed and greatly valued Rev3Games since I started watching it. I think outlets like it are very important for elevating the discussion of games and ensuring the industry receives the treatment it deserves. This goes to hosts former and current, producers and editors, and all involved in shaping its direction.
I’ll be weathering this storm expectantly to see what comes next.