Shoshana Rose, Ian Weaver and Daniel Suffield are just like any other KU film graduates. They have dreams of making big time movies; they have experience working on local indie films, but one thing sets them apart.
They run a YouTube channel with over 100,000 subscribers: Gaming Wildlife.
Gaming Wildlife is a web series hosted on YouTube that features satirical takes on gaming culture. Over the past few years, the channel has garnered over 13 million views across all of its videos, while some of its more popular videos have reached a million views alone.
"Getting this many people to follow our channel is a huge deal because there's not a whole lot of people here in the Midwest that have been able to pull something off like this," Weaver said. "For me, this is the most successful thing I've ever been a part of."
The three met when they were film students at the University through KU Filmworks. Rose graduated in 2011, while Weaver and Suffield graduated in 2012. Rose writes scripts, Weaver acts and writes, and Suffield films and edits.
The channel grew out of a brainstorming session that spawned its first series called "Gaming Wildlife Foundation," which is a satirical look at different types of stereotypical gamers through the lens of a nature show akin to something seen on National Geographic. The channel is dedicated to gamers themselves rather than the games.
"There's a lot of media that exists for gamers, but it's all independent stuff like us," Rose said. "In the initial thought process, we were really trying to exploit a part of this cultural phenomenon that really hadn't [been] discovered or talked about, which is the people."
The initial success channel came when a video titled "If Electronic Arts were 100% honest with us..." hit the front page of Reddit and was shared across the internet. The video features Weaver acting as former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello discussing several shady business tactics of the company. The video currently sits at 1.1 million views. The group attributes the success of the video to giving the voiceless a voice.
"People feel powerless in the shadows of these monolithic corporations," Rose said. "The gaming companies don't hear what the gamers actually want or how they're getting screwed over."
Despite the success, the trio has plans to take the project to the next level.
"I feel like it's not good enough, but I'm a perfectionist and I just want to be better," Suffield said. "Wherever we are just isn't good enough, and it pushes me to make everything better."
The members of Gaming Wildlife are like siblings. They joke around with each other and give each other a hard time, but, at the end of the day, it's obvious they still care about each other personally and professionally. The three have vastly different personalities, but they mesh together to create a cohesive unit. The creation of content and the success of their channel brings on a fair amount of stress, but the group knows how to handle it and move forward.
"Knowing who we are in our working relationships help us in terms of balance because this is the sort of stress that can destroy friendships," Rose said. "I'm very, very lucky to be involved with such paramount professionals."
Instead of taking the traditional route and going to Los Angeles or New York, Gaming Wildlife has found its niche on YouTube here in Lawrence. The channel even has viewers from Germany and Saudi Arabia, Weaver said. And through this alternative route, the group has been able to live out their dreams.
"To write a script and make a video of an idea I had last week and see it come up on to the YouTube screen and see 100,000 views pop up — for me this is a dream job," Weaver said.
— Edited by Scott Chasen