YouTuber Interview: Counter-Strike Content Creator the WarOwl
Counter-Strike is one of the most played games in the world. With over 10 million active players, the CS:GO community is booming. This includes the YouTube sphere, which is filled with content creators giving potential players humor, information, and excitement.
One of the more famous content creators, the WarOwl, is the go-to guy for all things Counter-Strike. Whether offering guidance on how to rise through the ranks, or seeing his experience playing the game, WarOwl is one of the premier Counter-Strike YouTubers.
Every content creator has a different story with unique challenges and successes. And we got to sit down for a chat with WarOwl to get his personal story, a look at his brand, and a preview of his goals for the future.
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William Dowell (WD): What inspired you to create your YouTube Channel?
WarOwl (WO): I originally created my YouTube Channel just for fun. I was playing games with my friends back in the day, and they kind of came up with the idea of this, saying “Hey you really got the voice of this. You should post some of these videos.” So I started doing it on the side as a hobby when I was in college and that was a pretty long time ago.
WD: When you started creating videos both as a hobby and full time, what were some of the challenges?
WO: So I started to do this full time about two and a half years ago. Obviously some of the biggest challenges to doing something like this full time is financial right off the bat, because I had to quit my job in order to devote the time I needed to achieve my passion, trying to build it. Beyond that, it’s just any normal challenges you’d face in anything you do. With what I do in particular, YouTube is highly competitive, so I mean there’s challenges that go along with that.
WD: Since YouTube has changed a lot in the last few years, how do you think the market for creating content has changed for you?
WO: So, with something like new media, that is sort of a changing market and has been for a number of years; it’s constantly changing all the time. The people who will be around for awhile have to learn how to adapt, and I’ve noticed that a lot of channels seem to burn very bright and quick, and then they’re done. A lot of people can’t figure out how to adapt to the changing market. It’s true that what people are interested in watching even has changed dramatically over the years.
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WD: With the current YouTube climate are there any issues on YouTube or Google’s side that is hindering content creators from fully creating their videos?
WO: Not that I’m aware of. I guess one of the biggest issues that has plagued a lot of people are copyright issues. A lot of companies do DMCA requests and they also have automated copyright systems which can be a thorn in the side of creators. On the other hand it can also protect creators by being overly aggressive [and] preventing a nasty lawsuit.
WD: As you said it takes a lot of time to create this video content. How do you manage a work-life balance?
WO: So, my work has become my life in that sense. When I used to work at the office. I would go to work in the morning, work, come home, and then it’s bed time. Now, I’m always at work. I wake up and I’m at work. Before I go to sleep, I’m at work. Managing that time is a major challenge for people who work at home and who start their own business and are entrepreneurs. There’s a lot that goes into managing time well and for me trying to find out what works the best and modifying my behavior and schedule around that. This job takes way more time than anything else I’ve ever done and this is the most difficult job that I’ve ever done. At the same time, it’s also the most rewarding.
WD: With creating this content, how do try to maintain your originality and productivity while your working?
WO: Originality is incredibly important with what we do on YouTube, because people are always looking for the next thing. If you get too stale, you’re not getting any new viewers and your numbers are going to wane over time, so that is a challenge. I guess a lot of that just comes from research. It comes from exposing myself to other mediums and sort of seeing what’s out there, learning from it as well.
WD: You mentioned the failing to adapt with up and coming YouTubers are there any mistakes that other YouTubers seem to make and how can new content creators avoid them?
WO: I’ve seen a lot of YouTube channels that have done very well and made decisions, and other ones that made similar decisions that don’t do as well. So I think a lot of that is unknown and a lot of people are trying to figure that out. Obviously a lot of creators make mistakes, but I don’t think I’m the one to call them out and point it out ‘because again, there’s so much unknown. It’s a completely new type of thing. Nobody really knows how something goes viral, nobody knows how something becomes successful.
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WD: For you, what do you think is your biggest struggle or weakness when creating videos?
WO: That’s a good question. I guess the thing that’s tough is finding the motivation and passion to be self-motivated.
WD: One of your major focuses is Counter-Strike, which while large, is a niche market. What do you think is essential for creating for a market that is that small and dedicated?
WO: I never really had that as a concern when I started doing Counter-Strike content. It was just content that I enjoyed doing, and the market for Counter-Strike has grown considerably over the years. When I started making content on Counter-Strike, I was one of the only people who actually played the game. I was one of the first people to get my hands on the beta for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. If you’re talking specifically on targeting your content for a niche audience, there are both benefits and negatives to it. Some of the benefits being that there is going to be a little bit less competition there. It’s easier to get your name out there. When I started doing stuff with Counter-Strike, Global Offensive in particular, there really wasn’t anyone else doing the kind of content that I do. There are fewer people there, whereas if you have a more mainstream channel, you’re competing with the top guys.
WD: Are you still passionate for Counter-Strike or is the constant focus and videos about it starting to decrease interest?
WO: It comes and goes, I’ve been playing Counter-Strike in some form or another for about seventeen years, so most of my life has been playing Counter-Strike. It’s one of those things, one of those games that has such an addictive quality to it. Not in a bad way, but in a way that strives to improve yourself, and that’s always there. There’s always that “one more round” mentality, where you’re always trying to get better each and every game. So while yes, my interest in Counter-Strike has gone up and down because I create content, I’m doing a good job that nobody notices that. I’m doing a good job so people can still come and enjoy the content even if I’m not a hundred percent into it.
WD: With your branching out content such as your Overwatch or Half-Life videos, are you expanding the scope of your channel or still primarily focusing on Counter-Strike?
WO: I think it’s a very good idea for me and my brand to branch out. I’m not sure about Overwatch though in particular. My audience hasn’t really responded well to it and I’m always trying to make sure that my audience and people are enjoying the videos and still enjoy the content that are coming out there. I’m looking around, trying to find ways to expand my content so that it’s not just a hundred percent Counter-Strike all the time, both for my sanity and I think for the long run. Who knows where Counter-Strike will be in five years from now and honestly I’d like to be doing this for as long as I can.
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WD: Is there any series or video style that you have started to get bored of, but are continuing because of audience demand?
WO: No, normally I just drop them and don’t do them any more when that happens.
WD: When dealing audience and creating PR, what are some of the biggest mistakes new YouTubers tend to make?
WO: Well I don’t think I would be the one to answer that question since I can’t really look at what somebody else does and call it a mistake. For example, I used to have the mindset that it’s a good idea not to get involved, and I still do for myself personally and my brand, but getting involved in that drama stuff or being controversial or anything like that. It doesn’t work for my brand but I always thought it would be a bad idea for somebody, but as we’ve seen, even when people do things very scummy, it seems that their audience tends to forgive them surprisingly. That’s definitely unjustly forgive for some of the stuff they’ve done. I always thought that would be the it for somebody to do something morally repugnant, but it seems like people are still going.
WD: Speaking of the refusing to do anything controversial, what will you and your brand not do?
WO: So one thing that I’m very vocal about, and I only became vocal about it but it was something I’ve always done but not something I was vocal about until some scandals came up. I don’t get involved in gambling and that’s a big thing unfortunately in the Counter-Strike community. I think it’s really bad considering that a lot of young people are consuming this content and it could potentially get them into a really bad behavior or bad addiction. The way that I see it, the promotion of gambling as a content creator is sort-of exploiting your viewers. You’re pretty much taking money from them.
Gambling is designed as a losing game. You’re not supposed to win it and it’s something that adults and responsible people can do for fun, with the understanding in that you’re not supposed to win it. I think that unfortunately people are getting the wrong impression. It’s being forced onto young people and I think it’s having a negative reaction. So no, I avoid taking any sponsorships like that.
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WD: What do you think is the relationship between the content creator and the audience?
WO: I guess a vague question requires a vague answer, so I’ll say the audience supports the creators they like and the creator creates something the audience wants.
WD: With your brand of content has there ever been a major mistake or action that you have regretted making?
WO: Yeah of course. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I started this when I was young too. I’m always trying to improve on though. If I make a mistake, I try and learn about what I did wrong and apply that to my actions going forward, but not dwelling on that failure. That is something I always try to teach when they’re learning how to play Counter-Strike.
WD: Speaking of the attitude of Counter-Strike. How do you view the Counter-Strike community as a whole?
WO: When you have any sort of large online community, and the Counter-Strike community is very large, there are over 10 million monthly unique players using the game, there are a lot of different people involved in it. I think it would be inappropriate to stereotype an entire community in that way, because I’ve met a lot of really great people who play Counter-Strike, some really awesome people, but I’ve also met a lot of numbskulls, so it could go either way.
WD: Regarding Valve’s response to inappropriate behavior and gambling, do you think they have been reactive, or do they need to take a step further?
WO: Valve conducts themselves in a very hands-off way compared to a lot of other developers, so it seems like they don’t really want to get involved in too many things in that regard. I think from what I’ve observed they try to have as little direct involvement and allow that to grow organically. In terms of gambling, there was a certain point that they had to step in and shut it down as it was both giving the game a bad reputation in even some medias and also I think, I’m not a hundred percent, you have to be careful about talking about this certain stuff, but I think there was some legal stuff going on with gambling as well.
WD: In a broad sense, how do you see your channel improving or growing?
WO: That’s something that I ask everyday and I’m trying to find the answer to it. So my channel is continuing to grow and I’d like to keep going in that trajectory. I’m just always trying to create content that people enjoy.
The WarOwl is a strong content creator and we thank him for taking the time for this interview. For more WarOwl content, check out his YouTube Channel.