4 years ago, 4 co-workers from IGN decided to quit their job to found their own company. 4 years later, lots of changes happened. Not only within their channel, but also within their community. Here’s the story of how I went from a lurker to an active member of the community, flew to Meet-Ups around the globe and tried to overcome some of my social anxieties.
Wow… Where shall I begin.
This is probably my first blog entry entirely in English, so this is a new thing on this blog. But it does have a reason. Yesterday (or when I’ve finished writing this blog entry it’s more like two days ago) was the day #KindaFunnyDay4.0 happened. First things first, some would probably ask, what is Kinda Funny and why does it also have to include this stupid 4.0 thing. You know, ever since the „4.0“ thing is being applied to terms like „Industry 4.0“, „Car 4.0“ or „Mobility 4.0“, it seems like a „4.0“ branding has become like Bullshit Bingo Throw-away symbol. But not in this case.
How I Met Kinda Funny
So let me go back a little bit in history to the early days of 2015. At that time I was an admin in a Facebook Group about Comics and Comic Book Movies and a colleague of mine was DM’ing me and told me about the fact that Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty were leaving IGN and were creating a YouTube channel called „Kinda Funny“ together with their former co-workers Tim Gettys and Nick Scarpino. And at the same time, in Germany, former hosts and crew of former TV station GIGA Games were layed off from their gaming show Game One which aired on MTV at that time. The four core members Daniel Budiman, Nils Bomhoff, Etienne Gardé and Simon Krätschmer were taking most of their former crew and created a 24/7 online TV station based on games, movies and so on called Rocket Beans TV. In the upcoming months they even had a host named Colin. It’s also quite funny that both of their morning shows have basically the same freaking intro… But more on the similarities and differences later.
Both projects had large parallels: Four co-workers/friends have reached a point in their life where they had to make a major decision and try start a company with some of their best friends. And do the things that they love most: Talk with friends about movies, video games, life stuff, politics, love & sex stuff, meaning of life and other things. While „making people happy and having a good time“ (I have to quote Pet Shop Boys member Chris Lowe here, because it basically sums up the Best Friends mantra, which applies also to people that are not from Blackpool (around 4:06)).
Kinda Funny is well-known worldwide, while Rocketbeans is mainly a German-based operation. So at that point the obvious question probably comes up: Why KF and not RB? In the past, I was exposed to both groups, either via IGN articles or videos that have become memes or via late night Counter-Strike live matches that were shown on Live TV on saturday nights. So I started watching some of the „We quit our jobs“ podcasts of Kinda Funny. That frightening terror in Greg’s voice when he talked about quitting and starting an own company kinda resonated with me, as well as their very personal talk with Kevin Smith. Wait. THE Kevin Smith? I was quite interested in listening to more content. I watched this podcast, as well as the other podcast on Smith’s podcast channel. And there were those words that Kevin Smith at some point said that not only rang in the ears of Greg Miller et al, but in mine as well: „You chose this. This is your life now.“
Now comes the more personal bit. At that time, I was unemployed for a couple of weeks and was completely stressed out (Fun fact, when I listened to the GOG with Krypton actor and KFBF Cameron Cuffe telling his KF origin, at some point I thought… hey, I’ve heard that story before). My former company, which used to produce 3D camera rigs in the entertainment industry lost its funding from an investor and I was layed off a year earlier. After a couple of months, some of my former superior co-workers got together and started a new company of their own and I was hired as one of the few of the former company. Unfortunately, this new start-up had some birth pains as well and half a year later my start-up life had to end as well. So, technically speaking, this was more close to the situation as RB, so I think I stuck with KF, because of that different mind set. RB was in this „We HAVE to do something for our friends“ mind set, while KF was in a „What CAN we do together as friends“ state of mind. As I had bad experienced with the former, I was more interested in seeing what was happening in the latter.
After those first few podcasts that I listened too, I started to watch more and more, going back to the first GOGs (with all those Disney Princesses stuff and so on). It was that time, when I started perfecting that 20 minute afternoon nap thing. I started watching an entire episode, closed my eyes, tried to listen to the voices… and boom… I’m in the middle of Topic No. 2. I was working my way through the very first episodes of GOG… and it was just having this power nap wake-up thing, where I’m in the situation between sleeping and wondering whether I should wake up again, when around the 15 minute mark of that episode, Nick was saying „he’s got the brain, you’ve got the looks“. Remember that Chris Lowe quote above? I’m not only a KFBF but a major Pet Head as well, i.e. fan of the Pet Shop Boys. And in this kinda strange moment I wasn’t sure, if I was dreaming or if this was really mentioned in the podcast I was listening to. And it really was in the podcast. Some random dudes from the West Coast are quoting on of my favorite songs: Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money). Of course the correct quote would have been „You’ve got the brawn, I’ve got the brains, let’s make lots of money.“ Before that, I was quite interested, after that, I was hooked. (Also: I tried out several other podcasts for power napping… and no other podcast had similar calm voices or tonality that helped me get to sleep).
For me, I’ve always been that odd kid at the party or school breaks where I’m standing alone, because I felt … different compared to others. I have always had problems connecting to others and it wasn’t until my time at the university where I found a stable group of friends, I was constantly hanging out with. Every week on mondays we had this thing where we were participating in a pub quiz. And whenever I return to my friends, we still meet up for The Pub Quiz (upper cases fully intended) as the House Team, named after Dr. Gregory House (another famous Greg by the way). And in those pub quizzes we always have lots of fun, talk about random stuff, pop culture, politics, science stuff and so on… until I left my home area in the end of 2012. Since then I only return for weekends or holidays and it’s always lots of fun… but when I have to leave them for work… I miss them a lot… and let’s just say it has been difficult to find similar friend circles at the areas where I’m living now. However, when I was watching GOGs, I kinda felt like sitting together with friends and talking about random stuff. Friends that are living on the other side of the globe. Friends that don’t know that I even exist. As I was living far away from home with friends and family, those 4 sometimes 5 best friends were like friends from far away that I never had. They had similar interests, similar anecdotes and had the same humor as I and my friends had.
Colin. Nick. Tim. Greg.
I think in the beginning, I was mainly associating myself with Colin. I had similar interests in history (especially whenever he brought the Weimar Republic into the discussion), similar interests in video games with Mega Man and Mario games and similar social anxieties. Even though we are basically on opposing ends of the political spectrum: He was an outspoken conservative, while I’m more leaning towards socialist ideas. In school time, I had a friend where we were doing a history trivia quiz. I asked him a question and then he would ask me a question. Also, we had this crazy idea in 1999 to do a website called „Project History“, where we were writing essays about historic things. But we never completed that idea. In that time, I sometimes thought, if I would be able to make a $3000 donation and I would be part of GOG, I would challenge Colin for a history quiz. Unfortunately this will probably never happen now. However, once Colin left KF to do Colin’s Last Stand as a history based YT channel, I was stoked to see that I was not the only one who had the urge to do a „Project History“-like idea.
I had a similar association with Nick. From my understanding at that time, I was seeing him more in a technological, producing, behind-the-scenes-like position. Someone who knows how to handle cameras, production schedules with a totally laid-back attitude. Again, at some point in my history I was in contact with 3D cameras, camera development, RED and Arri cameras, with the Epics, Alexas or Dragons. And when Nick started talking trash on 3D, I wanted to bring in some counter-arguments. A similar thing happened recently when he was dishing on TVs with 60fps temporal upscaling technology. I used to develop and program algorithms like that for some of our projects. I still remember some of the test sequences that I used for the algorithms which was a handheld recording of some sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco that I upscaled from 30fps to smooth 60 fps. So I was floored when he critizised the things that I used to be doing for a living. So… yeah… other than that I often vibe with him, when it comes to the love for 80s pop music (see quote above), campy 80s movies, Star Trek and lots of other stuff.
While Greg, Colin and Nick were born in the 1980-84s period, Tim was born in the late 80s. And there’s this thing between the early 80s and later 80s born kids, which I would call the Pokemon division line. As mentioned above, I was constantly doing a pub quiz with my friends. These pub quizzes often consist of four different rounds: Two question rounds, a music round and an image round. Sometimes, the quiz master would make an especially hard image round … at least for me, because it consists entirely of Pokemon. While I was getting points, getting some of the 80s pop songs right in the music round, I was no help for the Pokemon image round. My friends, however, which are all born later than 1986, were finishing those Pokemon rounds in an instant. Again, when Pokemon came out in the late 1990s, I was already in my late teens, while my friends were around 10-12. To be fair: Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee is my first actual Pokemon game that I’ve ever played (if I exclude Pokemon Go). And I sometimes feel the same division line in those discussions as well (especially in the early episodes), Nick, Greg and Colin would talk about movies from the 80s, that Tim never had seen before. For example, one of my friends never had seen an Indiana Jones movie before… to the shock of all others. Granted, this has changed significantly over the years, but I always admired Tim’s optimism, his „pureness“… and the hype that he brings in for every project that he’s working on. Something that I also admire about him. (Let’s just say, I’m pessimistic as hell and sometimes I need some optimism 🙂 )
And then of course Greg Miller. Of course he is the loudest, the biggest, and the most outspoken of the bunch. But also someone with a heart of gold, that somehow combines the strengths of Colin, Nick and Tim. He is thoughtful with his choice of words (which is probably due to his journalistic background and his interview host job at IGN), he knows a lot about 80s & 90s pop culture (like Nick & Colin), is doing lots and lots of networking (i.e. behind-the-scenes-stuff) and he has an absurd knowledge of random topics (like myself… which is actually quite helpful for pub quizzes by the way). And after watching some episodes, I got to know more about him, like his early years as a writer for a newspaper, how he got to IGN, his first marriage and one of the bigger aspects of life that he had to face, cancer. I can imagine that this time period had an immense impact on how he sees life and how he appreciates things, especially if this happens relatively early in someone’s life. Taking nothing for granted and thanking others for their help. These are things that cannot be acted out and have to come from the heart. And it does come from his heart. Every time he thanks, if it is for being a Patreon supporter or just appearing to a meet ^ greet, you can see and feel that it does come from his heart. Thanking other has become increasingly rare these days in our society, so this is something that I admire the most, as well as inspire myself to do the same. Being great and compassionate to others, making people happy and having a good time. (Geez, I used this quote again… also… why am I fourth-wall-breaking like Deadpool?)
Anyways let’s just say I saw lots of parallels as well as admirable character traits, i.e. charming personalities and things I could relate to. In the first 1-2 years, I’ve been more of a passive best friend. Never did any of the Patreons, didn’t order any Merch, watched some of the other content like the Oreo Orations and I was only mildly participating in the chats during Colin & Greg Live. When it comes to chat rooms, I have a certain online personality. I mostly comment on stuff, make a funny joke in a Waldorf and Statler kind of way. Sitting upwards, saying something funny, while the rest of the Muppets keep doing their own thing. Again, I always have this immediately odd-man-out-feeling wherever I go. So I was kinda surprised when I wrote something to another best friend in the chat was read out loud out of context. Especially when someone tries to speak out my nickname…
… Short break here…
Story of my nickname: I’m an enormous fan of Star Wars and I especially liked that scene in Return of the Jedi where the A-Wing knocks out the bridge of the Super Star Destroyer Executor. Back when the Special Edition came out on VHS in the late 90s… let’s just say the part of the tape that had this scene on it… I put a lot of stress on it by constantly rewinding. Then, around 1998/1999, I got this CD-ROM called Star Wars: Behind the Magic, which consists of lots and lots of stills from all the movies. In all of the scenes with random side characters there was a reference to the expanded universe literature as well as a short summary of his backstory. And of course they had the SSD-killing scene from Jedi, where this random A-Wing pilot brings down this huge ship… who is actually named Arvel Crynyd in some of the EU books. He even got a ship named after him afterwards.
… and that’s where I got the nickname from since 2000/2001-ish …
Coming back to the chats being read out loud… let’s just say that pronouncing Crynyd has been a challenge. Even if I don’t know the exact pronounciation. In my previous 15+ years in other online communities, no one even bothered to trying to speak out Crynyd and just sticks with Arvel, which is totally fine. It was around that time, when Twitch introduced the Twitch Prime subs, that my name was read out more and more and I thought more about what I was saying. I think one of the first messages that I wrote with the re-sub messages was the „Bravo Oscar November Golf Oscar Sierra“ thing. In this period, the chat was mainly obsessed with Kevin being Bongoe’d (Yes, Kevin will be mentioned in more detail later, I haven’t forgotten him), so I saw most of the time the same messages over and over again, when I had this idea to write Bongos with the Navy alphabet. And when it was read out eventually it turned into this comedic bit where everybody was fearing for their life that someone just got activated and got turned into Winter Soldier. Never intended this reaction, but it somehow turned into this hilarious comedy bit.
Now to Part 2