Dunkey Launches Bigmode, Independent Video Game Publisher

Video game content creator Jason “Videogamedunkey” Gastrow has established himself as one of the most popular satirists, critics, and video essayists in the field. This week, the YouTuber added a new role to his resume: video game editor.

Gastrow, whose distinctive comedic voice has earned him an audience of millions, will fund the video games of his choice through a newly formed independent game publisher, Bigmode, co-founded with his wife and fellow content creator Leah “Leahbee” Gastrow.

Dunkey, as the creator is better known, announced the news Wednesday on his YouTube channel. In a video, Gastrow recounted his own career as a content creator dedicated to highlighting “truly inspired artwork” in video games, while criticizing titles he described as “soulless cash wins.” Gastrow said he was inspired to start Bigmode out of a desire to help create good indie games in a market he referred to as “a sea of ​​mediocrity,” where quality titles are buried by subpar releases.

“I’m not looking for creative control of your games, but I do want to be involved,” Gastrow said in his video pitching potential customers. “Bigmode will be about building the games and the developers. We’ve put a lot of effort into making the most developer-friendly contracts possible. I think we’re going to bring incredible value to the table[.]”

In the announcement, Gastrow said that he would be a good editor because of his decade-long experience as a game reviewer. He also assured his audience that his content would remain unchanged in the future.

If video games are today’s rock and roll music, Videogamedunkey could be your Lester Bangs

Gastrow is the latest in a wave of influencers who have immersed themselves in game development. Gaming collective One True King has invested a minority stake in Notorious Studios, which is working on a fantasy RPG. Esports organization 100 Thieves is developing its own shooter title. Controversial streamer Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm co-founded studio Midnight Society to develop a game with blockchain capabilities. (Before streaming, Beahm worked as a community manager and level designer for Sledgehammer Games.)

However, not many influencers have started posting businesses. Gastrow joins Game Grumps (a YouTube collective that published “Dream Daddy” and “Soviet Jump Game”) as one of the few creators involved in submitting titles.

As a leading figure in the gaming industry (Gastrow has 7.2 million subscribers and 3.5 billion views on YouTube alone), Gastrow’s introduction to Bigmode immediately generated a mixed response. Most of the discussion focused on Gastrow’s lack of experience in game development: he had never created or published a game before.

“It’s exciting to have more publishers catering to new audiences – friendly competition between publishers is great for developers, signals potentially better conditions for teams, and creates a hopeful future for a more inclusive creative economy, especially when gamers are involved in the game. co-creative process. Evva Karr, founder and CEO of video game consultancy Glitch, wrote in an email to The Washington Post. In the past, Karr has worked in strategic partnerships at Activision Blizzard and as an editorial consultant at Riot Games.

Still, Karr wrote, “it can be a challenge to balance a hands-off approach while also having enough creative control to deliver the best game possible to players. It’s hard to ship, sell, market games, deal with platforms, navigate distribution channels, plus stand up for and do right by the teams that make them until you’re in the thick of it.”

Gaming journalist Danny O’Dwyer, founder of video game documentary channel Noclip, expressed concern about Gastrow’s new venture and wished him well. O’Dwyer tweeted that game criticism doesn’t translate into developer ability, and that independent developers are unlikely to work with an untested publisher.

“I’ll just say that I don’t know many freelancers who want an involved editor with no experience or industry representative.” wrote O’Dwyer. “For me, his value is in selling exposure on his channel. It should be interesting to watch.”

Independent game designer Dave Hoffman, creator of the musical puzzle title Mixolumia, echoed O’Dwyer in a more critical tone.

“Dunkey started a publisher in the spirit ‘I’ve played so many games I know what makes them good and bad, so I’ll only publish the good ones’ about to learn a few things the hard way.” tweeted Hoffmann.

The video game review process is broken. It’s bad for readers, writers, and games.

Josh Sawyer, Studio Design Director at Obsidian Entertainment indicated That lack of experience hasn’t stopped many other publishers and developers. Jason Schreier, journalist and author of the books “Blood, Sweat, and Pixels” (about the difficulties of game development) and “Press Reset” (about the volatile corporate environment of the video game industry) joked that Bigmode is not Outstanding among games. editors

“I can’t believe Dunkey started a video game publisher with no experience instead of taking the normal approach: get an MBA from Harvard, work at McKinsey for five years, and then flop between C-suites for the rest of his life.” wrote Schreier on Twitter.

Both Jason and Leah Gastrow tweeted their thanks to fans who praised Bigmode’s introduction.

“The response to Bigmode has been incredible!” tweeted donkey. “Thank you all so much, we can’t wait to bring you some great stuff.”

The Bigmode website is live and receiving applications from developers. Stakeholders can specify publishing needs, such as portability, marketing, localization, public relations, and funding requirements. In particular, Bigmode rejects any project that makes use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), cryptocurrencies, or any other form of blockchain technology.

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