An Interview with RedRiot: Youtuber and Streamer
Wed 4th Oct 2017 - 10:37am
Ross "RedRiot" Watson is a relatively new content creator and streamer with nearly 100,000 subscribers on YouTube and a loyal following on Twitch. I had the opportunity to talk to him about how he got his start, how he keeps the balance between streaming and content creation, Carl Weezer, and fun interactions with other personalities in the League of Legend scene.
Many content creators have made videos for years before they gained an online fan base, when and how did you start making videos?
RedRiot: I started making videos with a Bloodborn video, around the time it came out for the PS4. I showed a friend and I told him "I think I might want to do this. Maybe", I used a really horrible editing software but it was all I could afford at the time. I was also working at a normal job at the time. It wasn't a good video and I watched it a week later and deleted it right afterwards. My first content that got any amount of views was Soraka as a literal banana and there was a weird little song/rap thing to go with it. That was the first video where I thought to myself "Good, I want to do this. This can definitely go somewhere". That all came about because I wanted to make a League video but I didn't know exactly what to make. So I came up with the idea "what if I made Soraka into a banana" and it took me a couple months to do it properly, this was back when custom skins weren't super popular but I got it to work. I figured I could stand out in the League community by making my own custom skins and going off of that. At this point it's turned into the music video montage format, the best comparison I've got is "an0nymooos" for League of Legends.
You make a wide variety of videos, which type your favorite?
RedRiot: I'd have to look at some of my content to get a better idea. I like making League videos.
I always relate things to music, and it seems like there are some artists who can make really good radio hits but maybe that's not what they enjoy...
RedRiot: That’s not how I feel about League necessarily, however I have made a pretty discernable effort in the last half of a year of spacing out any League content and putting other videos in between. I didn't want to become a "League YouTuber" that was just what I figured was the best way to grow initially. As much as I still like making League videos, I don't want to make a League video if I don't think I have a good idea. I typically like making videos where I just kind of find all the funny things I end up saying and just a regular gameplay video and mashing it up into short form content. Something I'm not a fan of, though I don't have a problem with it, is generic let’s play stuff. Even if there is editing involved I just don't want to watch a 30 minute video from anybody.
What do you think it is about your content that draws people?
RedRiot: Oh no, I have to think! I am two things in people’s eyes. I'm either going to be funny or annoying to people, there’s not a lot of in between. I kind of accepted that years ago as part of my personality. If someone says "I think you're annoying" I'm just like "Reasonable". I like to get goofy, I like to get weird. I think people like watching stuff where they can just laugh along with what’s going on. I like the short form style where I keep it around 10 minutes for ad revenue; just kidding there's no ads allowed on YouTube anymore. I don't disagree that I'm a funny boi. I feel like I can be a funny person most of the time. I laugh at myself a lot - that may just be a warped perspective of mine - I have the confidence in myself that I can be a funny person and a successful YouTuber and I think other people see that as well. Not everybody has to see that, I'm definitely not like "Everybody needs to love me!" It's totally fine for people to shy away from my content if they don't find it very funny. There's a lot of different perspectives out there, watch what you want to watch.
You're approaching 100k subscribers to your YouTube channel, sitting at 95k at the time of this interview. What will breaking that 100k barrier mean to you other than a silver play button and a demonetized video?
RedRiot: I'm really excited about a silver play button I won't have for another 6 months. I think the 100k is really important right now. As little as it is, having that little YouTube checkmark and being able to look at it feels good. It makes me feel more official than not having it. I know how small of a thing it is. Twitter I don't really care but YouTube I do. Aside from that I'm finally in the triple digits I'll be able to go home and be like "Family! I'm not struggling I swear!" It's something you can be proud of even as a basic person and not as a YouTuber. I'm glad I've reached a level where I'm noticed by the website itself. I've been doing this fulltime for the last half a year, and streaming on twitch for less than that. It becomes more and more solidifying as the career choice I'm taking as an internet entertainer which sounds so bizarre.
Despite your fame, you still are fairly accessible to your fans, what helps you to do this?
RedRiot: The discord channel is a huge part of that. I do get a lot of random DMs, but it’s still the easiest way. If I have a question I can just put out a ping and get everyone’s opinions. I might be a creator but I'm still a person and I'd like to be treated as a regular person. However you are in a position where people are watching you, it's understandable where I can't answer and respond to everything, it's overwhelming sometimes. I see myself as an entertainer, and you're there to be entertained and you want to have a good time and communicate with other people. I try to embrace it and interact with everyone to that extent but I can't treat everyone as my best friend; it’s not possible, nor do I want to be everyone's best friend. I'm a person like everyone else I just make a lot of weird memes.
When did you start streaming and how has it benefitted you?
RedRiot: So that’s a good question because I've only done this fulltime like twice in the past where I wanted to start streaming simultaneously. But I either couldn't find a good schedule, couldn’t get viewership, and there is no good time to stream. You can't just be like "Hey I'm streaming" and expect everyone to show up. YouTube and Twitch are different platforms and I like to keep it separate. I would always prefer to watch a livestream on twitch. It's nice to be able to make the switch. I can make a video or stream and its two different things. Livestreaming feels like it helps me be entertaining and staying active the whole time during a recording, so I don't just lull off and fall into the game which is very easy to do when you just record yourself playing a game. You can be active for the first 30 minutes and then forget to speak. When you stream a lot you get used to staying active with chat and its helpful and fun. I like the difference and having both Twitch and YouTube.
Your League of Legends content is the most popular on your channel, how long have you been playing and how did you start?
RedRiot: So I was in college, at least 7 years ago it was my sophomore year in College, when I was 19. I heard it in a frat house someone was talking about "Anivia this" and I started playing with friends. I don't remember a lot from early on. I started playing a lot Junior/Senior year in college but it's all kind of blurry. There was a lot of alcohol.
Custom skins and gameplay have been a staple of your channel, what’s the time investment like start to finish of making the skin, getting footage, and editing?
RedRiot: It's weird because it can be incredibly variable when it comes to making the skins. Some take me an entire day and some take 20 minutes. My "Egg" skin took like a half hour. I played the games on stream, the editing took 4 hours. I usually don't spend more than a couple days on each video. I don't really count streaming as part of the time, I get to play the games and get the footage afterwards. Finding a song choice honestly takes quite a long choice, and eventually I hear a song and think "Oo! I want to use that" and go from there. At this point it takes about 3 days to make a video.
At the time of this being written, your most popular video (Ross interrupts me: "Lemonboi!") "THIS RIFT IS UNACCEPTABLE" has over one million views. What does it mean to break that barrier on a single video?
RedRiot: That one I knew was going to happen eventually, it got a couple thousand views a day for a long time. It was just kind of a waiting game. I was really exciting the day it happened. I finally did it, I got one! And I hope to get a lot of those eventually. It just felt really good. I feel like I'm now a more substantial member of the League community so most people have seen one of my videos. It makes me a lot happier when my non-League videos get the same amount of views as my League content.
You got a shoot-out from a popular YouTuber, MagikarpUsedFly some time ago in a video, what did that mean for you?
RedRiot: So at this point I'm fairly close friends with most of the people in the "Karp Crew", it’s nice to have a group of people to play games with and record with. Before that, I got in touch with Matt because I was trying to grow so I offered to make a Magikarp skin for him and he used it in a video.
I got like 8000 subs in the course of like 3 days. It was a huge confidence booster at the time. RossBoomSocks has also given me multiple shout outs, it’s nice to feel like a part of the League community.
What are some of the current challenges facing content creators right now?
RedRiot: I feel like most people are familiar with the ad-friendly apocalypse right now. There's more and more problems for big YouTubers and the perception of YouTubers is whoever is at the top. Smaller content creators not being able to monetize their stuff as well hurts. It's harder and harder to grow as a smaller YouTuber without friends or connections in the community. The way I did it was bringing it to everyone. I would contact bigger names and be like "hey you're a content creator, I can make you a skin: do you want to work with me?"
You also have a second channel, "RedRiot's Meme Garbage". What led you to create a second channel and what content do you feature there?
RedRiot: I'll have an idea and be in the video making mood, and just make it and then decide that it belongs. Then there's stuff like Horse.gif where I'm like "I'm going to put this on the main channel, because I like it".
I think an underrated video from you is "Torch the Blazing Dragon"
RedRiot: That was the first video I posted, that was how the meme garbage channel came about. I was like "I want to post this, but I don't want to put it on the main channel so I'll make another one for shitpost" there is a line between shitpost and content that could be shitpost-y. Like my Carl Weezer video. I made that in less than an hour, because I made a skin but never made a video for it. I just saw this episode and was like "alright what the...” and grabbed it and shitposted it. Carl Weezer is a weird character. He's an adult in a child’s body.
Some videos can take 3 days to make, some can be made in 30 minutes and get the same result. What’s that like as a content creator?
RedRiot: There's a shitpost on my meme channel and it's at half a million videos and I don't understand why. It's motivating to see a video that’s not League do well, it’s more motivating at this point. It gives me a push for whatever else I want to make. I can branch out and make stuff that I'm like "this might be a good idea. Or this might be a terrible idea but I’m going to make it anyways" it gives me more inspiration to make stuff that I'm not used to making.
Is there a video you were very hopeful for that didn't quite gain the traction you expected?
RedRiot: You could say that about most videos that didn't gain traction. I did really like my Skyrim Redux video, at some point I can see it falling into some playlist or algorithm and getting views. I hope it does because it's dumb. That was the only one in recent memory where I was like "Ah I wish you did better". But then there's other ones that got traction that I didn't expect to like the "Ultimate eGirl" one. Weird story about that one, I got DMed one day by someone that told me they didn’t know what an eGirl was and someone told them through that video.
Another funny story was the Carl Wheezer League video: so at PAX West Riot hosted a party and I was able to get in early because I have "privileges" as a content creator. At the entrance there was a giant line around the building, so I went to the front to get in touch with the person who was supposed to let me in. The person at the door works for Riot, I told him who I was. I had him try to find me as "RedRiot" and he told me "I watched one of your videos the other day, the Carl Wheezer one and it was weird as hell! I thought I was tripping out during it!” Having Redriot as my name people often mistake me for a rioter all the time, for example I met Scarra at PAX West and he was like "Yeah I thought for the longest time you were a rioter". I think it was Scarra, I might be confusing who said that though.
Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans, or perhaps people reading this interview that aren't already familiar with you?
RedRiot: (Seductively) Hey bois. *laughter*
What’s something to tell people...? I think I like Hey bois. With an "I". The "I" is important.
If someone has never seen your content before what video should they start on?
RedRiot: God Fist Bard is a good place to start. Then you can move on to something else. I really like Slime Rancher, Wow Frog, Everything. You can also just watch my League of Legends Playlist. I was talking to someone at PAX and he was like "I watched all your League videos when I was really high" and I was like YEAH!