I'm on YouTube (Hurray, I guess?)

I love experimenting with video. I love to try out new video games. What better way to join these two things than to record myself trying them and share the videos on the internet?

That's all well and good except that I'm not a fan of YouTube… or really of Google more generally. I spent a lot of time and effort a few years back prying open Google's clutches and clawing back basically everything from them. They don't have my email. They don't have my calendar. They don't have my files. They don't get my searches. (Note: Except at work where we use them for email, calendar, and files. 😖) It's been a wonderful experiment, and my online life has been much happier without them.

So, when I decided to start doing video, I naturally decided to continue using an alternatives. I had a few criteria I wanted to hit:

Being a big fan of the Fediverse, I started there. I knew about Peertube, and last time I was paying attention, a new instance called TILVids had popped up and seemed to be getting some traction. I took a look at an instance list though to see if any others had gained more traction since I was last plugged in.

I couldn't find another viable option. Besides that, I was concerned to see that TILVids was running an older major version of Peertube which suggested to me maybe it isn't being actively maintained. (Checked the instance list just now, and it looks like maybe they're running the current version now.) I tried to look into it, and I saw somewhere that the maintainer may be having health problems. It's an unfortunate fact of life and the other edge of the double-edged sword that is community maintenance of these platforms. Besides all this, my videos don't exactly fit into TILVids' stated documentary video niche. I'm a squircle peg trying to fit into a round hole.

I did a quick search for other platforms besides Peertube, and I couldn't find anything that seemed even a little bit viable. That all left me back at Google's door setting up a channel. That channel is called Try Trove.

I ran a channel in the past on a different subject. I uploaded weekly videos for a year and never really got significant traction. It was a fun experiment though. I decided to change my approach with this one.

On my new channel, I capture the by-product of the thing I already do for fun: try out video games. I make each video however long I think it should be. I pull it into my non-linear editor, fade in and out, make sure the audio sounds OK, and ship it. Editing generally takes longer the longer the video you have. On this channel, editing takes about 5 minutes regardless of the video length.

All of this is designed to insulate against burnout. If I make the friction minimal for me, I can do more videos more frequently, and I can stick with it for a long time. Will anyone else like it? No clue, but that's not really what I'm optimizing for here.

It's been a lot of fun so far. I may have even discovered the niche I fill by way of my first user comment:

You have a very calming voice. I am enjoying your videos.

It's more than just them too. A close friend told me they use my videos to fall asleep at night. Am I the Bob Ross of video games? But Devon, you say, Bob Ross taught people how to paint. You aren't teaching people how to video game. This is true, but I would argue that Bob Ross's most prominent legacy is not actually around teaching people how to paint. Bob Ross taught many people how to paint, but many more people watch him with no intention of ever painting anything. These people buy the actual product Bob sells: something at the intersection of relaxation, "OK"-ness, and hygge.

Maybe I could be that for people who like to explore new video games. It wasn't my intention, but I definitely set my tone as a reaction to the "reaction" trend on YouTube — videos that are about people reacting to something with outsized emotional responses, whether it's fear, anger, or excitement. I'll never be able to elicit those same cozy Sunday relaxation feelings Bob can, but maybe I am close enough.

Ultimately, reacting to that prevailing YouTube gaming aesthetic of turning everything to 11 happened because it's what I wanted to see on YouTube and have struggled to find. The other thing that's hard to find is anything that isn't a so-called "let's play" series in which someone plays a single game over and over for dozens or even hundreds of videos. As much as dialing back the emotion sounds like a more mature approach to content, I go in the opposite direction when it comes to novelty. I crave it, and I can't stick with anything for too long. I understand the merits of exploring every nook and cranny of a favorite game, getting really good at it and really knowing it. I understand it, but I so rarely feel the kind of love I would need for a single game to actually get there. I like to sample everything and see what it all has to offer. That's what I do on the channel!

If you have any suggestions for other platforms I should explore or games I should try on my channel, please reach out to me on Mastodon. If you want to watch some chill videos and see what games are out there, drop by the channel and say hi! 👋