Let’s Interview; Guru Larry!
Well, it’s interview time here on Gaming Reinvented! And this time, we have an even more interesting choice of interviewee. Namely, a YouTube creator and video game journalist with a fair bit of experience under the belt.
Yep, it’s Guru Larry! Aka Larry Bundy Jr from YouTube, or the guy that creates those awesome Fact Hunt videos every week or so! He’s a bit of an old hand at this media thing, being on TV as a presenter and having been part of Channel Awesome for a while, so there’s bound to be some good stories here too.
So let’s get to it shall we? Here is our exclusive interview with Guru Larry, starting with a quick question about his personal life…
1. Well, it’s become a bit of a cliché to ask this, but I’ll ask it anyway. What’s your personal background like outside of video games? Who are you as a person?
Well I’ve done quite a few jobs if that’s what you mean, from being a post-mortician, doing manga/anime art for various companies to playing Tangoman in several TV commercials in the ‘90s, so I’ve been all over the place, but currently I’m just some random asshole on the internet 😀
2. And how did you get interested in video games? Based on your videos over this year, I’m assuming it was somehow connected to the microcomputer era or something, right?
I’ve got two older brothers and one day when I was about 2, one of them, Colin bought an Atari VCS from WHSmith with his wages and I got addicted from that. We were too poor to buy games back then so we used to rent them from a local TV repair shop, so that lead to quite a large choice of games I wouldn’t normally have experienced. but I can remember having long matches of Combat with my brother Shaun and renting Frogger over and over, also I LOVED Pitfall II, played it with a wonky Quickshot joystick.
3. Still, what games did you enjoy back in your childhood? Any obscure classics few people remember now?
I was really into the Master System as a kid and loved the Alex Kidd and Wonder Boy games, but when the Mega Drive rolled around I was nabbing Japanese games just from looking at the artwork, most of them were a bit arse in all honesty, but I sometimes came across gems like Ringside Angel Etc.
I had an Amstrad CPC464 too, and that had loads of obscure budget games, in fact I keep re-experiencing them as distant memories, when I stumble across random screenshots of videos of them.
4. Heck, what games are you enjoying now? Were there any really enjoyable ones you started playing in 2016 or so?
2016 was rather anaemic for me in regards to actually playing games to be honest, I spent more time writing about then than playing, but I got some time playing the usual, OverWatch, Battlefield 1 Etc., but I’m really enjoying Let it Die right now, probably my fave game of the year and it was free, who’d have thunk? 😀
5. Onto video making now. How did you get started there? What was the first gaming video you ever created?
It started when Wez and I left Game Network, we came up with an idea where we would do video reviews for mobile phones, which pretty much didn’t exist back then, which could be viewed by scanning the bar code or a QR code on the game box, we pitched it to GAME (which I ended up doing something similar with their sister site Gameplay.co.uk) but a mobile phone company was super keen on the idea, but stood us up for meetings twice (one in a restaurant that sole £10 burger, always remember that :D) But we gave up and stuck what we had made onto this new site called YouTube and it carried on from there!
First actual video though? It was either a video of Wez laughing while playing FEAR or a review of Shadow of the Colossus. It’s so long ago.
6. How about ScrewAttack Europe? What was that all about?
That was really from ScrewAttack branching out and wanting some UK/European stuff on their site, Wez really got us that gig by doing a video on the UK midnight launch of the Nintendo Wii, but Stuttering Craig suggesting we make videos on European only games is really what got us noticed with Games Yanks Can’t Wank, Even though Craig didn’t know what “wank” meant 😀
7. And for that matter, how did you originally meet Wez and decide to make videos together?
It was Game Network again 😀 They were looking for more presenters as they wanted to expand the show and Wez and Janice (Wez’s now wife) auditioned, (Wez thought she had a better chance of getting the job) she did, mainly as the producer fancied her! but her first day no one wanted to help her set up, so I volunteered, and at the end of the Skype chat Wez came on and thanked me, so we became friends there, mostly playing Halo 2, and I got him a job at Game Network a few months later.
But we decided to do videos together to hopefully get a job back on TV again (which we eventually did with Xleague), But YouTube was long out of our minds then. Hell, GameVideos.com was the hip place to put up gaming videos back then.
8. So what made you decide to move on from that anyway?
We were let go ultimately, not because we did anything bad, The bosses were awesome and Game Network was really successful, the company saw Psychic Interactive as more profitable media than video games, so took us off so they had more air space for that. We left on great terms and we’re still good friends with everyone there!
9. You also seem to be on Channel Awesome. How did that come about anyway?
Ha, that was down to ScrewAttack giving us a hard time back then, and a lot of ScrewAttack’s rather disgruntled ex-staff now working there to, so put in a good word for us with Channel Awesome’s owners, and with the rivalry between the two sites, they were more than happy to pick us up for some strange reason XD
10. Heck, what’s it like being a creator there? How does the ‘business’ side of things work over on Channel Awesome?
It’s alright, I book videos to go up on their site and that’s about it really, they don’t really bother with me too much. I chat with a couple of their other contributors every so often, but that’s about it.
11. You’ve also been on a fair few TV shows about games in the past. So what was that like? Was it fun being involved with Game Network or XLeague.tv?
It was great fun doing television, It’s quite exhausting as there’s often super tight deadlines, also the pay isn’t great, but it is nice seeing your stuff on the box. Not so much when they’ve repeated it for the 100th time that day.
12. You’ve also been doing a fair few collaborations with Slopes Game Room recently. How did that come about?
He messaged me on Twitter one day asking to watch his videos and noticed one of his was a history on the Roland games, which was something I wanted to do for years. So, we got talking from there. Actually, he stopped talking to me for about six months so he could have his first child, the selfish bastard!!! XD Dan’s an absolutely amazing editor, who is also incredibly quick, so when I was ill in the summer I asked him to edit some of my videos, I also posted up a couple of his to help fill in my rather large gaps and my fanbase really took to him.
13. What about the recent podcast deal that was announced a few days ago? Where did that idea come from?
Well Dan and I often talk about games and stuff, so thought it would be fun to work them into a podcast really. But Don’t worry, we won’t devolve either of our channels into just podcast stuff, that’s absolute death for a YouTuber.
14. How about favourite YouTubers? Which other channels do you watch on a regular basis and why?
Well people like Slope’s Game Room obviously, but also stuff like Top Hat Gaming Man, Kim Justice, The Spectrum Show, Nostalgia Nerd, Game Dave, The Backoffice, and Chinny Vision immediately come to mind. But half my time is spent procrastinating on YouTube videos. YouTube keeps recommending that I watch “how to make popcorn” videos as of late, so no idea what that’s all about :S
15. Onto the actual videos now. Back in the olden days, you made a video about British games not released in America. Have you ever considered making another one of those videos for your current fans?
Games Yanks Can’t Wank? Oh yeah, absolutely, It’s the show’s 10th anniversary this year, so I got to do something! But I’ll be doing a collab episode with Top Hat Gaming Man on one of them early on this year.
16. But hey, Fact Hunt seems to be your most popular series now. So what’s it like making those videos? How do you find all these interesting stories about things like deliberately unfinished games, gaming controversies and video game recalls?
It’s an absolute pain in the arse 😀 Doing original research is something I love to do, but it’s such a time vampire that some episodes have taken well over a year to compile annoyingly. But it’s great fun discovering tidbits.
But the stories mostly come from old gaming magazines, which is the main reason none of the information is online, but I’m slowly getting developers writing to me and telling me anecdotes and stories about their careers.
17. Were there any ideas for Fact Hunt videos you wanted to do, but dropped due to a lack of information/examples/interest?
I’ve scrapped a few as either other channels have done something similar or they sound a bit generic (never going to do a top X SNES games Etc.) But I wrote an entire script about games endorsed by celebrities who destroyed their careers from rather (ahem) immoral sexual activities, but I think I’d be lynched if I posted it up, bad enough with my Shigeru Miyamoto video!
18. And on the other end, which of your videos are you the most proud of and why?
I think it’s the “Don’t Buy This” video of GYCW, not because it’s particularly amazing or anything, in fact, I made it out of sheer boredom one Christmas week! it’s really the moment I changed my style of video editing, so all future videos have been based in that style.
19. What about non Fact Hunt videos? Have you been thinking of any new video series you might want to start filming in the near future?
I really REALLY want to bring back Films Yanks Can’t Wank, I’ve got a few more insane Public Information Films to cover, but I’ve recently got hold of some 70s Saturday Matinee kids movies, which have never been released on video, let alone DVD and they’re equally as bonkers, also insanely racist too by today’s standards.
20. in recent times, I’ve also started seeing your videos posted more on Reddit and other similar sites, as well as on gaming sites looking for news. Are you happy that’s happening more now?
Oh absolutely, it saves me from having to sockpuppet and spam them on there myself ^_-
But it’s awesome to read comments from people who aren’t fans of you, or know you even exist and say such nice things about your videos. Genuine unbiased feedback is incredibly hard to obtain on the internet. Bless ‘em.
21. You’ve also sort of developed a fanbase with GamerGate supporters too, given how many of your recent Fact Hunt videos have ended up on Kotaku in Action. How does it make you feel knowing that your videos are popular with the group? Heck, what did you think of the controversy in general when it broke out in 2014?
I’m quite flattered really! I never intentionally gone out of my way to appeal to them, but a lot of my videos are really showing corruption/incompetence has always been in gaming and not just a recent issue. But both pro and anti gamergaters have used my videos as examples in the past, so I’m quite honoured I have that kind of respect with both sides of the fence.
As for the controversy, I think it’s become incredibly warped by a select few who have twisted it to obtain their own personal fame and fortune, totally disregarding proven facts in the process and shitting on the real people it genuinely has affected.
22. And on a related note, how are you monetising your videos on YouTube now? Do you use a network? Is Patreon or Channel Awesome your main means of funding now?
I’m currently partnered with Maker right now, but it’s YouTube where I make all of my money now, Patreon is second, but I’ll be focusing on that soon with some exclusive items no one else on Patreon can offer! and Channel Awesome brings in a few pennies too.
23. How about alternatives? Have you considered posting anything on VidMe or other video uploading sites in case YouTube starts having issues in the future?
Stuff like Vessel, I don’t want to do as it feels ultra scummy to hide videos behind a paywall from your viewers. Also, Vessel are a bunch of clueless twats, so fuck ‘em.
I have considered VidMe, they’ve spoken to me in the past and they’re really nice guys, but my problem really is these rival video sites get hyped up as “YouTube killers” but get bugger all views and eventually disappear when people begrudgingly drag themselves back to YouTube.
Until someone like Amazon or Yahoo decide to throw their hat into the ring, AND don’t do something stupid like just nab the top tier YTers to make “exclusive” stuff for them, which they then upload to YT a week later anyway, there’s not really any point abandoning YouTube as all your doing is wasting valuable time building your audience there.
24. What about a website or the likes? Is a site about your videos and other game views something you’re going to consider in future?
Noooo, in 2009 separate websites were a viable vocation, but nowadays people just don’t want to click to go to another site. I might consider putting up a site to contain all my videos in a professional/resume type way, but no one is going to click on the bloody thing really.
25. Finally, what advice would you give aspiring YouTube creators wanting to make a career of creating videos?
Making video is really about consistency to get YouTube’s algorithms working in your favour, but try and look for people doing similar stuff and size as you and speak about doing collabs, so you can piggy back off each other’s subscriber bases.
Also, try and make “evergreen” videos I.E. stuff that always remains relevant. It’s nice to talk about current events and reviewing recent games, but after 2-3 weeks people move on to more current items, so the views bomb overnight. So making videos on things that always stay relevant will always give you an engaging audience.
Finally, reply to people commenting, for the love of god, reply to people! It’s so much the norm that video makers ignore comments, that viewers are stunned that I reply to them, it really helps build your reputation and chatting with them will virtually guarantee they’ll return for future videos.
And so that concludes our interview. Did you find it interesting? Do you want to see more from Guru Larry? If so, check out his awesome channel on YouTube or follow him on Twitter, and leave your comments about the article below!