In the last few years or so, video game challenge runs have become commonplace on YouTube. From Mayro to Ceave Gaming, Nathaniel Bandy to Skip the Tutorial, the platform has become filled to the bursting with fantastic videos showcasing insane feats of gaming dedication and skill, many by people featuring in interviews on this very site.
Yet even despite that, there are some people on the site who take on challenges that even we think are unreasonable. These people don’t just try to beat Mario games with collecting coins or finish a game as quickly as possible, they go all out with some of the craziest and most unreasonable sounding challenges you’ll ever see in a video game.
And one of the most notable examples of this is Gamechamp3000. Originally known for his Hyrule Myths videos (involving Link taking Cuccos to Ganon or trying to defeat him with wooden mops), he’s since done everything from no climb runs of Breath of the Wild to a full playthrough of Pokemon Red and Blue where he doesn’t take a single point of damage in the entire adventure. It’s absolutely nuts and shows a level of determination that puts even the likes of Ceave Gaming and Mayro to shame.
Caption: This no damage Pokemon run may well be the craziest challenge he’s done so far
So in this article, we’re gonna talk to discuss it all. From the inspiration behind his challenge runs to his thoughts on YouTube as a platform, we’ve got it all here. Time to get this interview started!
With a bit of personal background info to kick things off. So who are you? Who is Gamechamp 3K?
I’m in my late 20s, I recently moved out from my home state to live with my girlfriend (<3), consider gaming more of a lifestyle than a hobby, and for a living I make gaming videos on Youtube, primarily focused on challenge runs.
Okay then. Where did your username come from then? What’s with the 3K part?
Completely embarrassingly, my mom chose it for me when I was a kid. I needed a username to join the Nickelodeon forums and asked her for help; she said I should be something along the lines of “Game Champion” because I liked video games so much; over time that turned into Gamechamp.
As for the 3k: it’s just what I use whenever “Gamechamp” is already taken, since that’s what my family did while signing up for AOL way back in the day. “Lastname” was taken, so we tried “Lastname3” since there were three of us. That was taken too, so we went with “3000.” I eventually realized “3k” sounds cooler, but my Youtube channel was made before I swapped to that. Hence why my Youtube is “3000” and Twitch is “3k”.
Did you have any other ideas for YouTube channel names before it?
Nope! I never even made the channel necessarily expecting to upload videos, it was just my personal account.
Either way, let’s talk a bit about your gaming background now. How did you get into it? What was your first video game?
My earliest memory is watching my mom play Super Mario Bros. while I sat in her lap, at an extremely young age. I expect that was also my first game, and I’ve been playing games my entire life since.
What about now? What games are you enjoying at the moment?
Nowadays, when playing games casually, I play them as a completion
ist: going for 100% before I consider myself done with the game and allowed to move on. I also make an effort to play game series in release order, which is why I tend not to play a lot of new releases; they’re usually sequels in series with an absurd number of prior titles. I still haven’t played Dark Souls (or From Software’s other Soulslikes) since I still need to 100% Demon’s Souls.
Over the last couple months I accidentally started a lot of playthroughs of a lot of different games I’ve had in my backlog, and with the extremely stressful and time-consuming Breath of the Wild Pauseless and Pokemon Damageless videos done I’m currently focused on relaxing and getting that backlog back on track.
Right now, in particular, I’m playing (and loving <3) Death Stranding.
Was this where your interest in self imposed challenges in video games came from too? Were you always trying to see what kind of crazy things you could do in games?
Nope! I’d thought of doing pre-established challenge runs (such as knife-only runs in Resident Evil and the like) for a while but rarely actually went through it. It was when Pannenkoek’s Watch For Rolling Rocks video got popular that I started thinking more about the idea, and didn’t actually start doing runs until I started making videos about them.
Caption: The video that inspired Gamechamp3K’s YouTube career
You also seem to feature quite a few glitches in your videos too. Were you interested in messing around with those while playing games as a kid?
Nope! I generally avoided using glitches in the past since I saw them as cheating, “You’re supposed to play the game the way the developer intended!” and all that. I came around on the idea when watching speedruns, where glitches are generally just considered the same as any other intended game mechanic, which opens up a lot of possibilities.
Onto YouTube now though. So, what made you decide to start a YouTube channel anyway?
The account was originally for personal use, but then I found my one true calling: uploading Sonic the Hedgehog cutscenes! Because I was very dumb and very bad, I insisted that each cutscene should be uploaded as its own separate video, and even included instances where characters said only a single line.
Interestingly, it seems your earliest video was uploaded 12 years, while every one of them since then was posted in the last 3 years. What happened there?
When I started making my own original works and they were getting popular, I realized the state of my channel was really messy: there were literally thousands of old cutscene uploads taking up space, as well as a bunch of livestream archives in-between all the videos I actually cared about. I decided to let go of the cutscene thing, and set every upload except for my original works to Unlisted. They’re all still findable in my channel’s playlists, though, since I couldn’t just delete them; they’re a part of my history! The only cutscene I left up was the Sonic Adventure 2: Battle intro, the first video I ever uploaded.
Caption: Gamechamp3K’s first ever video
How did you come up with the topic for your channel? What made you decide to create videos about taking on difficult self imposed challenges in games?
I’d decided I wanted to try making my own stuff in late 2016, but didn’t have any specific plans. My first attempt was a ripoff of The Completionist called “Road to 100%”. A few months later, Breath of the Wild came out, and I decided I’d take advantage of the hype around it to make ripoffs of videogamedunkey and, of all things, a parody of Yandere Simulator Myths called Hyrule Myths (which over the course of editing ended up not resembling YSM in any way, but the name stuck). The first two Hyrule Myths videos were exceptionally popular, but weren’t quite challenge runs as they were just doing silly, stupid things in the game for fun. I’d had this idea, though: Breath of the Wild introduced a climbing mechanic, letting the player go basically anywhere in the game world they wanted with little restriction. What if you tried to play the game without it? It was an interesting, alternative experience, and I put way more effort into that video than any other before because I wanted to do the run justice. That really paid off: there was a hugely positive response. With another giant Nintendo title coming out later that year, Super Mario Odyssey, which I knew I’d have to make videos about, the choice of which direction to go in was obvious: go full Pannenkoek and do a Jumpless playthrough.
Caption: Two of Gamechamp’s first Breath of the Wild challenges. Can Ganon be beaten with Cuccos or mops?
What about the challenge ideas themselves? How do you come up with these challenges to try out for videos?
I keep a list of either suggestions people have made that I find interesting, or runs I’ve thought of myself that sound interesting. If I’m looking for a new idea, I usually just think of an individual game I like and then think “What would be a natural challenge run choice for this game?” If you really want to do a challenge run of a game, *any game*, there’s probably an interesting one laying inside its mechanics already.
Have there been any challenges in the past that you found significantly easier than expected? Perhaps even things you thought would be impossible that were perfectly doable when tested out?
I was very pleasantly surprised that Super Mario 3D World was entirely possible; I was ready for the possibility of a level along the way where a jump was explicitly required, yet somehow the game just kept throwing me bones all the way until the end. I was almost ready to throw in the towel at Fuzzy Time Mine, but god am I glad I didn’t.
In general, I’ve found that challenge runs tend to be easier than they sound once you put your mind to it. Once you decide “Doing X is not an option” it’s a lot easier to notice options Y and Z.
Caption: It is indeed possible to complete Super Mario 3D World without jumping
What about the opposite? Have you ever stopped working on a video because the idea just turned out to be completely impossible (or too difficult for a normal person to go through with)?
The one that stands out most is “Can You Beat Castlevania Without Breaking Dracula’s Stuff?” The idea is to beat the game while killing only bosses: no candles or smaller enemies destroyed. It’s actually a really awesome run that I’d love to get back to in the future, because getting as far as I did requires some ludicrous patience, level memorization, and even some AI manipulation: I made it all the way to the penultimate boss, Death, who unfortunately throws out a bunch of scythes to attack the player. Destroying a scythe is not allowed, but they kill you in only a handful of hits and are extremely difficult to dodge. Even using save states to practice starting at the beginning of the fight, I’ve never managed to take him down.
There’s also the Rockman 3 No Damage run, which I worked on for a couple weeks then put on hold because it was getting too stressful. I have a working route and can beat every individual stage damageless decently reliably, but putting them all together in a single run is way more taxing. I fully intend on getting back to it in the near future.
Do you have much experience with video game speedruns? Do you look up what strats speedrunners are using so you can incorporate them in your videos where necessary?
No experience! But yes, if I’m not sure how to tackle some specific problem, speedruns are one of the first resources I check to find a way around it; they know the game’s mechanics better than anyone else, by necessity.
For whatever reason, video game challenges seem to have taken over YouTube recently, with loads of channels dedicating themselves to said runs. Do you have any ideas about why they may have become so popular?
It was really an untapped market for the longest time; there’s something inherently interesting about taking a pre-established game with a predetermined ruleset, and twisting that ruleset to effectively create a totally new, uncharted game. I think the audience for it already existed (just look at how popular AGDQ got over such a short period of time), but nobody was actually making the videos for that audience to watch. Once people *did* start making challenge run videos, it was natural that audience would finally start watching, and thus encouraging them to make more.
Do you ever come up with an idea for a video, only to realise three or four others have done the same thing?
Sometimes, but I don’t generally think of a challenge as simply “taken” once somebody else has already done it; if it’s something I’d very much like to do, or think my own experience is worth telling people about, or if I don’t think the current videos are up to snuff, I’ll still do the run. Though there’s also not a drought of challenge ideas, so I usually just go with something else.
Either way, many of your videos have done insanely well overall, even by YouTube challenge video standards. Did you ever expect to see your videos get hundreds of thousands or even millions of views?
Hope? Absolutely. Expect? God no! I think I mostly just got lucky by getting in on the ground floor, which gave me the time and freedom to experiment until I found my own recognizable style.
What about your channel overall? How does it feel knowing nearly 500,000 people are watching your videos?
Surreal. It doesn’t feel like there’s *actually* that many people watching, even though it seems to be the reality. I think it helps on the stress not to think about the specific numbers too much.
Are you working as a YouTube creator full time because of it?
I hesitate to call myself “full time” since I honestly could put more time into it, and I feel like most other Youtubers manage to get their videos out faster. But yes, it’s my primary income source.
Any other YouTube channels you enjoy watching?
A bunch, too many for me to fairly list a handful. I particularly love watching channels that do in-depth analysis of games or the gaming landscape as a whole, usually listening to them while giving my full attention to something else.
Do you ever worry about your future on the site, as well as YouTube’s future as a platform? It’s certainly gone through a lot of controversies recently, like the adpocalypse, the recent COPPA fiasco, etc…
Definitely. Youtube is a highly volatile platform, and plenty of once-dominant staples of the internet have found themselves abandoned in extremely short periods of time; it’s a reality of the medium that either my own works or the platform itself could fall out of favor in an instant.
Financially, though, even if Youtube phased out of existence tomorrow I’d still be stable enough to spend time finding my footing elsewhere, so I’m thankfully not losing sleep over it.
Are there any plans to make videos on other gaming topics in the foreseeable future? It definitely seems like you’ve shown some interest in things like game reviews, Nintendo Direct reactions etc, even if VG Myths is still your flagship series.
In particular, I’d love to make more episodes of Region Freedom, a showcase for games that aren’t officially available in the West. Though they don’t get the same viewcounts as VG Myths, the two episodes I’ve made so far are two of my favorites since I feel like they serve a clear, practical purpose, documenting games that previously had near-zero English documentation.
I also intend on making a Dumb Fun Gaming episode on Knack 2 whenever it’s finally added to the PS+ roster. It will be my magnum opus.
Additionally, I’ve also had a few ideas for videos that are more in the line of game analysis, but I rarely get past the script for those, so no promises~
Caption: They may not do as well, but Gamechamp3K would love to create some more Region Freedom videos
Finally, what advice would you give anyone who wants to start a popular gaming channel, whether that’s about video game challenges, glitches or anything else?
Make something you’re sincerely interested in seeing made: if you put passion into your work, your audience will notice. Be mindful of trends, but don’t be driven them. Feel free to experiment, and find your niche, and value how much you learned to improve next time over the results this time.
Yeah, you’ve got it in one there Gamechamp3000. Passion is definitely the number 1 ingredient for YouTube success from what we’ve heard in past interviews, and those who lack it tend to lose steam quite quickly on the platform as a result. Just look at the Angry Video Game Nerd ripoffs for example, and see where they are now. For the most part, nowhere; their attempts to cash in on another’s fame got them all of 15 seconds of fame before mostly being forgotten forever.
Pick something you’re interested in, learn to make videos, and improve your skills over time. That’s the formula for YouTube success right there.
So thanks for the interview Gamechamp3000. Here’s hoping your channel will get even more successful in future, and that those Castlevania and Mega Man 3 challenges will finally get completed and posted online too.
As for the rest of you? What did you think of the interview? Did you enjoy reading about Gamechamp3000’s YouTube career and the thought process behind the challenge videos he posts? Has it inspired you to do anything similar in your own video game playthroughs?
Tell us what you think in the comments below or on social media today!