When I was in college, my friends and I would hang out and play video games as a group. I am not going to tell you which games, because then you could carbon date ol’ Uncle Ted. (Editor’s Note: It’s a safe bet Mario 64 and Resident Evil are on that list.) (UT note: Thanks. Jerk.) You may be thinking that none of those games are games one traditionally plays in a group, and you would be correct. The group aspect was built around two camps. The first camp was great at games and loved to play. The second camp sucked at games, but appreciated great gaming.
I often hear, “Why would you want to watch someone else play video games?” Granted this is mostly from Mrs. Uncle Ted, but her point is not a unique one. Conversely one just has to type in Let’s Play or Walkthrough or Speed Run into YouTube to discover my college friends were not alone in their enjoyment of watching others beat games. Video gaming has become a huge spectator event. The top names in this field on YouTube boast subscriber numbers in the tens of millions.
I decided to ask the YouTube gamer that got me hooked on Let’s Play for his story. Dave McCauley runs the Fuse-4-Network channel on YouTube. He lives in Ontario, Canada, but has an audience that spans the globe. According to his figures, he has active subscribers in the US, Canada, Vietnam, South Korea, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and beyond. His largest demographic is men ages 18-35. For anyone who follows advertising, that’s what they call the sweet spot.
onFiction: Dave, what led you to start a gaming channel on YouTube?
Dave McCauley: I remember sometime in 2007, I was stuck on a certain part of a game. I don’t remember the game, but I do remember using Google to search for hints. One of the results was for a Let’s Play. Later my curiosity brought me back to search for Let’s Plays in YouTube. I discovered a Let’s Play for Kirby Superstar by RPGenie and ChazDragoon. I watched all the way through to the end of the game. (Uncle Ted Note: This is a 52 part video series with most parts being 10 minutes long.) That summer is ingrained into my memory. I remember watching the videos with my windows open. When I see that game again I can still smell the breeze that blew in. It is like opening a new book and the smell takes you back to an earlier simpler time.
oF: I totally get that. Those are moments that stick with you regardless of effort. In fact I found your channel in a similar fashion. I was stuck on a puzzle in Back to the Future The Game. I watched your video on that section and became hooked. In fact I remember racing to beat the game ahead of you just so I could watch your LP without spoilers. It felt like I was on the couch playing games with friends like back in college.
DM: Exactly. I remember at the time wondering how someone could capture video without hooking up a recording device to the TV. I private messaged ChazDragoon to learn the technical aspects of game recording for YouTube. Chaz told me about a program he was using called Camtasia to capture emulator based videos. My very first LP was a Super Mario World for SNES. I was not uncomfortable with the concept of recording my game playing, but you can tell I am still figuring things out. That video is on the channel I used to run and can still be viewed online if you want to see it.
oF: I did check it out and you certainly come off more polished now, but it is a strong first effort. A lot of the quirks and phrases that define you are in that first video. So that is your first LP. How about your history in gaming overall?
DM: I remember my Dad playing Duck Hunt. That was his game. I played this game with my older sister Amy. No wait. There was a time that my neighbors down the street called and asked if I could help them with a part in a game. It was the cave level in Super Mario World. The part where the yellow rock platform drops away and you have to jump to safety. They could not make that jump. Just could not make it. I came over and nailed it. Ted, it was an amazing feeling. They high fived me. Their dad high fived me. It made me feel like a mother f’-ing superhero.
oF: That seems like it would be akin to an actor in a school play getting his first applause or a comedian getting their first class clown laughter. Fitting how your first LP was Super Mario World. Did you play games more with friends or siblings?
DM: My sister Amy and I would play games together both co-op and competitively. Most of my family, including my dog, has recently relocated to Costa Rica. It has been a rough transition for me. Before my sister left we played the NES again. Games like Super Mario and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The games we bonded over back in the day. It was like the games became a virtual time machine to when we were younger. Wow this takes me back. I remember playing Jet Force Gemini with my sister Leanne.
oF: You are taking me back too, Dave. Though I am a little bit ahead of you so I have to go further back. I remember my Dad getting us an Atari 2600. My sister and I would play those games on countless rainy afternoons just like you and your sisters.
Let’s talk now about games and where they fit on the entertainment spectrum.
DM: Games are THE biggest entertainment medium in the world. Movies, TV, Books and Music combined cannot compete on the same scale as games. The fact that video games are at the heart of controversy regardless of the validation proves just how big an influence they are. Who do they blame when some kid acts out in a violent manner? Not movies. Not TV. Video Games. That is the downside to being the biggest kid on the block. It is a shame. Games are actually helpful for people with anxiety and depression. People who struggle socially can find a welcoming community in gaming. It is one of the few places where you can control the action. Video games do good things for people.
oF: I agree that there is too much focus on the negative aspects. Unfortunately that seems to be the norm for almost any activity anymore.
So you seem to be mostly focused on PC gaming. Is there a reason for your preference?
DM: In the year 2010 I needed to get a super powerful laptop to run video editing suites for some college courses. It was funny because all these other students in the majority of my other classes are bringing these wafer thin silent running models. I am in back with a laptop that sounds like a jet engine taking off due to the powerful fans required. Before getting that beast I was strictly console save for point click games. I should have brought that up when we were talking about my early gaming days. Point and click games are the best. Kings Quest games. Monkey Island. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Fantastic genre of games. Besides that I was all console growing up. I still play console games but PC gaming is easier because of the library available. You are not locked into the same old, same old from the major digital developer outlets. If you aren’t checking out the things that independents are putting out for free or next to nothing are you even a gamer? Are you? The games are right there. You don’t even have to go anywhere to get them. They are available to download and start playing immediately.
oF: Do you think you will ever have to go anywhere yourself to grow your channel?
DM: Realistically? No. YouTube is coming out with new features that should make things better in the long run. Hopefully they will mirror the Hitbox model of instant feedback. Rumors have been floating around that they will cater to the gamers and update the streaming and the chat. The delay is cumbersome and seriously impacts response capability. In terms of my channel itself I have moved on to a more First Looks. I am reaching out to developers to showcase upcoming games. I see it as mutually beneficial for them and my channel.
oF: What would you like to see for the future of your channel?
DM: Growth. More interaction with subscribers. I want to develop weekly shows. Like everyone else I have a multitude of ideas but not enough time to put them in action. For the future of gaming I would like video game publishers and developers to stop over promising and lying about things they cannot deliver. Over promise and under develop. You cannot justify that kind of behavior. We have too many tools: articles, teasers, interviews, behind the scene reports, even financial data at our disposal to know what is BS and what is not.
oF: I don’t want to press you, but that kind of parallels things you have promised to subscribers that heretofore have not panned out.
DM: I fully admit this and it sadly pains me. I have said things are coming that so far I have not been able to deliver. The difference is that I am working to get my ideas to my subscribers. I am not promising one thing and giving them another. I will not put out something inferior just to justify putting something out. I will make good on my commitments.
oF: I can respect that. What do think about YouTube versus a platform like Twitch?
DM: Rumor has it that YouTube will step up its game. It will have to. I want to see it become heavily focused on the real time streaming and chats. Live means live. No disconnect. No delay that makes it a subpar experience for the content creators and the end users. Twitch has jumped out of the playpen and into the frown up world. It is there to compete and be caught up to. We will see how and when YouTube responds.
oF: One way you get real time interaction is with your live Podcast. How did that come about?
DM: Our podcast has morphed and adapted since the beginning. Originally my girlfriend at the time and I imaged Fuse 4 as a fused collection of Movies/Games/Mods/Tech. That did not work out because of personal reasons between the two of us. Fuse-4 lives on as a fusion of Print. Radio. Video Internet. The podcast became the Basement because it was, at that time, filmed in my friend’s basement. Infighting caused this version to die out as well in 2009. We started breaking up the podcast into separate shows. Nintendo Podcast in 2010. X360 was about Xbox. Fuse Box was a potpourri show. We came up with Fuse-4-Network partnering. The goal was to seek out podcasts and channels and partner them to make money based on views. Network partners come on and it is like the old Fuse Box but now the hosts are from the Fuse-4 network. This has led to an incredible change in communication. We stream it live. We have a live audience.
oF: I have been in the audience and have had questions or comments featured in the show. It is really a step up from commenting and then maybe getting a reply.
DM: Definitely. It is a great opportunity.
oF: This has been great Dave. I really appreciate your time and information. To sum up, why don’t you give up some Old School Favorites, some Under the Radar Gems and what you are looking forward to Down The Line..
DM: Old School I mentioned: Monkey Island, Indiana Jones, Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max. King’s Quest.
Under the radar: SpecOps the Line (Editor’s Note: This is an awesome and under rated game!). That was a great game I felt did not get enough love. Point and click adventure games. Did I mention those yet? I should have. Go now. Play them. Now.
Down the Line: Killing Floor2, Mortal Kombat, Assassins Creed games. There is an independent company coming out with a new Descent. I cannot wait for that. I am pumped for that one.
Let me say thank you for taking the time to speak to me and letting me share my passions with you and your audience. If something comes up that people need to know about I will let them know first onFiction.
Dave’s YouTube channel can be found at:
You can find him on social media at: