Recently, the ultra popular gaming YouTuber Videogamedunkey dropped a video on his channel which quickly gathered millions of views. It wasn’t a video featuring the quippy hot takes poking holes in the latest AAA title, it wasn’t a tightly edited love letter to a classic game, it was a surprisingly earnest announcement. Dunkey, aka Jason Gastrow, along with his wife and fellow game enthusiast Leah, are launching an indie publishing company called Bigmode. On Dunkey’s YouTube channel, many of his over seven million subscribers jumped into the comments to offer their congratulations. A bunch also offered words of support, telling him to ignore the haters on Twitter. Because friends, Twitter was pissed. 

Dunkey put out a call to game makers to send their work into Bigmode to be amongst the first titles published by the new company. They even specifically state that no games using the blockchain or NFT’s would be considered. Legions of doubters and industry insiders were scoffing at Dunkey’s reasoning and qualifications. The arguments and all caps Twitter shouting all boil down to two key complaints. The first was that folks saying that liking and playing video games doesn’t automatically qualify you to make video games. Second, some people (ok a lot of very vocal people) thought Dunk’s genuine excitement was very cringey. Both complaints were inevitable. Someone who has carved out a passionate following on gaming YouTube (not a particularly welcoming bunch to begin with) by being acerbic, heightened, and hilariously snarky, was never going to have an easy time when announcing something earnest. The tone of the announcement video is much different than his other work and some felt the tonal shift was disconcerting. 

Opening an independent game publishing studio is a huge challenge. Competing in a market where smaller studios are being snapped up by two mega corporations is daunting to be sure. And there’s definitely going to be a learning curve as Dunkey, essentially a gaming critic and professional fan, navigates the cold, boring yet stressful business world. But if dedicating your life to video games, spending hours analyzing and playing every genre on every system for years and years doesn’t qualify you to look at new games being developed and make a gamble on which one’s the market will like… then what does? Time and Twitter will tell if Bigmode becomes an indie success story, or if it tanks Dunkey’s reputation for good. 

In the meantime, check out these other indie games! Serial Cleaners, Stray Blade, and Miasma Chronicles.

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