My Life As a Gamer (ATHENE: The Documentary)
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My Life As a Gamer (ATHENE: The Documentary)

September 12, 2019


Hi guys this is Athene, our trip is coming
to an end. It was really an amazing experience traveling here. You have raised in concert
with Razer 9.4 million dollars for Save the Children? That is a lot of money. It’s really
amazing to see how the gaming community is coming together, together with the industry.
Gaming For Good it’s called, you’re literally helping save children in Malawi also Indonesia,
Bangladesh… Looking back and seeing where we came from, the first video I uploaded about
the Best Paladin in The World and seeing where we’re now, what we’ve managed to achieve together
with you guys really puts a smile on my face. Gaming For Good, what does it do and how did
you come up with it? It’s basically just a website where developers donate their games
and when people donate to charity they get those games for free. Thank you. The reason
why we’re doing this for Save the Children is because you guys are one of the most effective
charities in the world. People always tend to thank me for what I’m doing, what I’m doing
is merely being a voice and trying to raise awareness and it’s the gaming community that
is actually coming together and raising those funds. We’ve hit one million dollars! We’ve
hit one million dollars. You now the saying: It’s better to give rather than receive. And
you really felt that, I saw you with the kids kind of gathering around you and you explaining
gaming to them. It’s the best experience you can have, we saved a child right there in
front of my eyes. We even had a U.S. Marine that donated his entire paycheck when he saw
the work we were doing, he was so touched by it. You guys are my inspiration for doing
what I’m doing, it’s really what makes me happy. I’ve already said I’m really proud
to be a gamer because of everything you guys have been doing. I know at any point throughout
the journey that this wouldn’t be possible without you guys. From the deepest of my heart,
really thank all of you guys, I love you guys, thank you guys. The way I actually got to
know Athene was through a very good friend of mine who a lot of fans might now as Ian.
I was at college/university, we call it Hogeschool here in Belgium, studying computer sciences
with Ian and we always had a lot of conversations about philosophy and values and life and activism
and… He once told me that he had a really good friend that I really had to meet if I
like having those kinds of conversations. We were a family and there were 4 kids. I
think the childhood was pretty ok, Athene and I are just one year difference. Your brother,
the first one and then was your sister Chriffa and then was you and then Habiba. He was helping
me, I am 7 years older than him and he knew things more than me when he was a little boy
and I was bigger. My first impression must have been like… He was kinda hot… And
he was kinda funny… I didn’t like his shoes. He came over in 1970 and married with my mom.
I actually was there at the right point to see it evolve. As a group which included Athene,
his girlfriend Tania, Ian and myself, we quickly became really active and our first project
was NEE. Bachir was 25, that was the time Bachir and Ian started with a political organisation
called NEE. NEE became an actual thing here in Belgium that was talked about in the media,
in the newspapers and stuff, pretty quickly. It was not even politically colored, it was
just like you vote and then you have blank seats. Here in Belgium, you’re mandatory to
go vote so people that don’t wanna go vote they go vote and they just vote extremist.
So we said like you know what, we give people the ability to neutrally protest rather than
friggin’ vote for fascists. One of the first things that they did was visit all the houses
of Antwerp. The 9 districts of Antwerp. Antwerp has a population of half a million people.
So what they did was ring at every door they could, introduce themselves and say who they
are and what they stand for. Can you imagine what that means? It means that they worked
12 hours a day. They went for it, we didn’t have any money to really have a real campaign.
It was crazy and it was hard for me to see him like that because he would be gone really
early and he would come home late very tired cause they would walk like for 8 or 10 hours
a day and, talking all the time, it was very hard on them. It was batshit insane but it
did give them the creds and the right to say: look, we visited everyone in Antwerp. And
it gave us a lot of media exposure. After that, they also phoned every person of Antwerp
again to say who they are. It’s never been done in… In history, I guess. NEE was the
first project, the first activist project that we did together, not the first thing
that Athene did because he was also in politics before that and joined Big Brother with the
intention of addressing certain social issues in Belgium regarding racism. One aspect that
we had to deal with a lot, being in the family we grew up in, is that there’s a lot of racism.
So when he was 16 he wanted to go into politics because he said when I’m in politics I have
the power to change things. So when he was 18 he went into a political party and he had
a lot of votes. I was the youngest close elected person in Belgium ever, not a lot of people
know that. And since I was the first follower, that’s what they call it, I had to be in all
the meetings. When we were younger, Bachir and his brother and Franco, another friend
of his, did a lot talking about things that are going wrong in the world. Discussions
that I had with your brother where you began to participate influenced you a lot. He liked
to confirm everything in science, in fact he wanted to explain everything logically.
For me one of the most crazy points is Big Brother. Bachir participated with Big Brother.
When he said “I go in Big Brother”, we always said “you are crazy”. 30.000 or 60.000 people
asked to come in the house so I thought they’re never gonna accept him to go in the house.
I don’t know how he did it but they accepted him. So he told: “when I am in the house,
I can tell the people my thoughts. He was 3 days in Big Brother and he turned them all
around. Discrimination is the ugliest thing in the world. So when he came out of Big Brother,
he said they only let see to the people on the television what they want, not his ideas.
And then he wrote a book. After his experience in the Big Brother house, he was invited in
a talkshow with Filip Dewinter and Filip Dewinter is one of the most important persons in the
extreme right party here in Belgium and there Bachir, he was 18 years old and he stood face
to face to Filip Dewinter, talking about the things that happened in the Big Brother house
and talking about the reasons why Bachir was voted out and the reasons why Bachir was invited
in the house in the first place. Here in Belgium, in Antwerp, there is very much discrimination
about Morrocan people. Every day you wake up like a kid, you have to fight this with
teachers and you are another person, you are not like them, you are different. It was very
hard, it was very hard to grow up like this. Every year we went to Morroco and we lived
there on a farm of the father of your father. No water, no electricity, no toilet. They
learned also the other side of a good life. I think you liked the family because they
were very warm and very hospitality. So they knew the two sides of the life, I think it
makes you what you are. Right after NEE came a series of failures that a lot of people
are unaware of, movie projects, film projects, we wanted to make a movie. Dean and I were
the main brains behind the movie. And in order to work together as a team on these movies,
we actually lived together, we moved in to this place that was actually under construction,
it was Franco’s place. We were hardcore, as a film crew… Zero budget film crew. Trying
to construct our own rigs and dollies and… It was ridiculous. We slept here, we worked
here, our computers were there just like you saw em in the videos like the computer where
Athene was sitting, normally next to it I was sitting and you had Ian and you had Furious.
And right after here like here there were mattresses we were just sleeping on the floor
and this was our life… For like a year or so, this was it. So that didn’t work, we then
tried another incarnation of the movie which was a completely different movie but we gave
it the same title and fragments of that also ended up on YouTube and people really liked
that one but it didn’t get so many views and it didn’t really go anywhere either. Most
of the filmmaking stuff took place in the year after NEE, now during that time we still
did a little bit of NEE campaigning because the year after the regional elections, there
were national elections. We parodied other campaigns in Belgium, and we took this to
an extreme extent when certain political parties here promising insane amounts of jobs. They
were actually throwing with numbers like you know we’re gonna give out so many jobs this
year and then others would go like nonono we’re gonna double that up. People were sorta
starting to laugh at that and saying this is impossible so we wanted to give that dissatisfaction
a voice. And we thought what better way of parodying that then to say that our political
party was promising also new jobs… 40.000 blowjobs for everyone who would sign up. Still
getting mails about that, there’s no blowjobs. So while we were doing all the filmmaking
stuff and trying to get that lifted off, Athene had a certain idea about how we could make
it lift off. I had a genious plan, World of Warcraft most popular game, 9 million people
play it, I just play the game, 5v5. We were actually plotting that out, like: ok so we
need an audience, how do we get a global audience, how do we… This and that. This was the intention
from the get-go. And even though the Athene person and the Athene series didn’t exist
yet, we were actually already doing these little update videos in which you sort of
already had a version of the Athene persona. And Athene literally said: I’ll just become
the best Paladin in the world, I’ll just become the best World of Warcraft player and that
way we’ll have a massive audience because this is the biggest game. It’s marketing!
It’s marketing. It’s being brilliant. And this was on a different YouTube channel so
very few people actually saw these videos. And while it sounded crazy, Athene had been
one of the top and most infamous players of Ultima Online. But the very first Athene video
was actually sort of a joke, it wasn’t a very calculated thing. Hi everyone, this is Athene,
best Paladin of the server, battlegroup but also the world. At the time Athene was number
one in I think all PvP brackets and as a prank a friend of his who he would play together
with, who was known as Jess or Navarium, got a hold of his details, logged in on the WoW
forums and made this incredibly cocky post. It was just hilarious. That thread became
so huge. 15 pages, more than 10.000 views, in like… in like that, it’s because they
know I’m good. We were like… We gotta make a video response to this and get back at Navarium.
And that is why in the first videos Furious is this very strange character who pretends
to be Navarium. I’m gonna play with my boyfriend here Furious, playing Navarium. After that,
everyone thought that the weird shirtless dude was Navarium. Slick. Slick. Slick. Slick
yeah. It’s slick. Shhhhhhh shhhhhh. The Athene series, the Athene persona, that blew up pretty
fast. That was our ticket to having an audience, which was the goal of the movie projects,
we wanted to have an audience to do stuff like what we are doing now, we were activists
to the core so we wanted to be global. After the success of the first Athene video, we
kept on making Athene videos like once or twice a week and what’s really funny is that
we always had this very improvised way of shooting and making the videos. Never once
did we script things or plan things ahead very much, most of the videos we just started
shooting and figured it out as we went along. Even when involving additional characters
like Athene’s mom, like Athene’s brother. And for years most people didn’t really know
which parts of Athene were an act and which parts were real. Obviously some of it was
real because really was a top World of Warcraft player. We always made sure to have a little
bit of reality in the videos so that people were always not quite sure what to believe.
It’s my brother… My colleagues said come on, are you the crazy guy of the Athene series?
I say yeah it’s me. They said I can’t believe it, we can’t believe. It’s so real, it looks
so real that I’m so crazy. The I guess initial idea to become world famous as being one of
the best World of Warcraft players and then using that stand to inspire people to become
activists themselves is something that’s almost unheard of. The first game that ever was bought
was by my father, it was a machine, a small machine, very cheap, that you connect to the
tv and you could play Pong. I think I learned you chess, you remember that? You were very
small. He was very good at it, he was obsessed by it. And the first console I bought that
was in 1989 I think or 88 and it was the Atari, Atari 2600. He also played board games with
me, he also likes to play chess, I have to admit I lost very very often. Then in 1992
or 91 your sister bought the Sega Master System with 3 games: Ninja, Kenseiden and Fantasy
Zone. Then the computer games started. You had Cat, you had Dig Dug, you had Lode Runner,
Space Invaders also. The first game you played was Doom and then Civilization and you always
finished as fast as possible. You had Command & Conquer, Red Alert, Command & Conquer Generals,
always playing as fast as possible and finish it as fast as possible. His extreme rationality
is no doubt what makes him so good at games. He’s always been very eager to learn and honestly
even compared to the teachers you were developed far beyond their own level. When he was a
little boy, when he was 7 years, 8 years, 9 years, the teacher is showing something
in the class and he’s telling no no, that’s not true. And then he tell the teacher what
he have to tell and the teacher see that a boy from 6 years, 8 years, 9 years, 10 years
is knowing more than the teacher. It was definitely Athene’s mental ability to break games and
set all sorts of crazy records that fueled the virality of the videos the most, combined
with the absolute absurdity of the characters and one very crucial component: thumbnail
gaming was a big thing on YouTube back then, a lot of people on YouTube would just get
big because they manage to use very catchy or provocative thumbnails and we were the
kings of this mechanism. As with everything in our workflow, we were constantly evaluating
what we could do with what we have. How could we reach a bigger audience? How could we do
bigger things? Now, we were really early YouTubers, we were there at the beginning so it was hard
for us to partner or monetize our stuff, that was nowhere near as accessible as it is today.
We were not making any money off of anything we were doing. And a few months after the
very first Athene video, we started working on a full-length Athene movie. Not all fans
know this but there is an Athene feature film, there’s an Athene movie, it’s a full length
movie and it’s really damn good. Every few years or so I rewatch the movie and I’m like
this is a good movie, we spent just one month shooting this, on-the-go, completely improvised,
no script and it actually turned into a good movie, it was amazing. This was uploaded about
6 to 7 years ago so the quality isn’t that great but Wrath of The 1337 King is still
viewable for free on our YouTube channel. Very shortly after we did Wrath of The 1337
King, we also started the very first I Power videos. I guess I paid the most attention
to Athene during the I Power I guess era of his YouTube channel. I kind of noticed that
it was taking a little bit more of a serious tone. I Power was a very interesting experiment
because it is considered to be a self-development thing and it is but the way we always saw
it was: self-development is something that should lead to activism. I Power was two things:
it was a series on YouTube and it is a community website that still exists, both of which are
focused on self-development and activism. We did some stuff with I Power that was net
neutrality related, very important, we were among the very very first net neutrality activists
on the Internet, we were talking about the issue before any newspapers or media outlets
were really reporting on it. Some people thought we were conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones
for talking about net neutrality because no reputable huge media outlet was talking about
it before we did. So we kept focusing on the Athene stuff, we kept focusing on trying to
expand our audience and at the same time we had many years that we were still doing the
I Power thing but also discussing and trying to figure out how we were going to make a
bigger and better difference. The reason that I’m not logging on a lot is because I’m playing
at the moment poker. Since we weren’t making any money off of anything we were doing yet,
a good friend of Athene’s, Jess, was actually doing really well playing online Poker. And
with Athene’s mathematical insight and skills he immediately said you know what, I’m gonna
fix the money problem, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. He was just going to go no-life
mode, play poker non-stop every day for a year straight, even longer if needed, to scrape
together enough of a budget that we didn’t have to worry about anything any more. The
first time when he’s playing Pokerstars I was thinking… Oh my god, he’s a gambler.
And then he won very very much money with this. As a poker player myself, to pretty
much pick up the game from scratch almost just on a whim and to become Supernova Elite
in the first year, to break the world record of playing one million hands in a month is
just completely remarkable, I don’t think anybody to this day has ever achieved anything
even close to that. Come on give me some hands, give me some hands so I can own it up here.
I got a hand? I bet. I didn’t hit it? I bluff. You wanna go to the river? Go to the river.
You wanna call me down? Ship in the dough. That’s how I roll. I’m 24-tabling and owning
it up. I made my own program, better than that Table Ninja crap. I made my own Table
Ninja. You think you gonna bluff me out of the pot? Little bitch, trying to bluff me
out oh you trying to, look look look what he’s trying to do! Trying to bet against me.
Shoved, bitch! King king against ten… Ooooh BOOM! Bring in the dough! So even though Athene
didn’t have as much free time because the daily poker grind took up every single minute
of his day, the whole poker thing sorta took the channel into a different direction where
the Athene persona was sort of transitioning towards online poker. And you would have these
crazy achievements and records and wacky videos but in a poker context. So another thing that
took place during the poker era was the Athene tv-series here in Belgium. We actually had
an Athene series here on TV in Belgium. It was in Dutch, well, it was in a very Flemish/Antwerp
accent kinda style and the characters were also slightly different. It was some of the
funniest stuff we had ever made and we had a blast making those videos, it was really
really cool. In general, Athene was very focused on keeping up the poker grind, making sure
that we had a future budget to work with and the rest of were just sort of focusing on
I Power stuff. And unfortunately, as a result, some of the bond kinda faded and we saw Ian
and Dean leave ‘the crew’ as it were. A lot of things happened. Because I was playing
poker and because I had really very low contact, Ian, Daan and to a lesser extent, Reese, were
actually experiencing a lot of pressure and stress because they knew that I was working
my ass off to pay for their bills. And since we were all working in a very right-action
mindset, trying to make a difference, there was a certain level of expectations that they
experienced that was not always as real because there was no feedback loop. Playing poker
almost like some kind of machine, you have almost no contact, pokering 14 to 16 hours
a day. If you’re on the other side and you’re looking at the situation, you can easily create
certain thoughts and certain ghosts about that person because of the abscence of feedback.
The reason why I’m explaining all of this so much in-depth is because it explains the
drastic event that took place and really affected a lot of our lives very drastically. When
I was playing poker, I got a message from I think it was Reese saying they wanted to
talk to me about something very serious. What happened that day is still a puzzle to me,
Reese came, Daan and Ian. Reese was a bit disoriented but basically what happened is
they came over and they said that they didn’t wanna have anything to do with me any more,
that I was not their friend any more and that I can keep my money, they don’t need it. The
conversation wasn’t that long. I was confused, because I didn’t know where it came from and
I was also like but I’m playing all these poker hands, I’m getting Supernova Elite not
because I wanna get rich, I’m doing this because I try to make sure you guys that we can work
and make a difference in the world. They said to me like no you don’t understand, we don’t
have anything to do with you any more. I was first trying to figure out if I did something
wrong, I must have done something or asked something or… But I was just very isolated
and working every day, I almost had no contact with them and I tried to get back in touch
with them, the same day even, I also wrote a very big letter. Reese came over the next
day, because he was also really confused, whether he wanted to do the things and stuff,
he didn’t really know. He told me that Ian said that if they would come and they wanted
to do their own thing, I would just try and pressure them and become aggressive. And he
warned them. They even changed the password from the YouTube channel AtheneWins. But Reese
immediately saw that it wasn’t true, because I was not going aggressive, I was just trying
to understand the situation and be rational about it. I just said to Reese like I gotta
talk to them. A lot of people would have heard this and go like man, fuck them but I really
valued the friendship a lot. It was so weird that that happened, it was not thought through
at all, it was very impulsive. It was a burden that I carried for a very long time, because
I don’t know how much people can identify with how much I valued friends. Friends were
more important than my girlfriend, friends were more important than my family, friends
were just the people you choose to just make a difference, grow up, can trust each other,
can back each other up no matter what and then that happened. It was paradigm-shifting
for me, it was really shattering. I was wondering at that point even if I should keep going
for Supernova Elite because I was like why am I doing this if it’s not for them? I mean
I’m not playing poker because I wanna get rich, I don’t care about money. But then I
decided like still to go for Supernova Elite, I was talking to Reese and said like yeah,
worst comes to worst, we just donate all the money, that’s a lot of money, we can make
a big difference with that. And even though Reese was still trying to figure it out, he
was the only one from the group that could look at the situation and say like this is
really wrong what just happened and I don’t wanna be part of this. I always try to reach
out, to both of them because I know that we would be able to achieve so much more. That
was a pretty turbulent era and even though we didn’t hear anything from Ian any more
in a very long time and Dean only appeared in a limited range of videos hereafter, Athene
and I kept on going. Next up was the Pokerstars PCA tournament. Hello everyone, this is Gloria
Balding for PokerNews at day one the Pokerstars Carribean Adventure. Why, why are you so famous?
Because of the GAIMZ! You have stacks of those t-shirts under your chair and you’re giving
them out to people. I’m giving them out because a lot of people asked. I’m afraid by going
a little bit too over the top that I would just get disqualified. Going way too over
the top, so this is the subtle version of you? Haha, I’m gonna play some pokers, I’m
gonna stack some noobs! That was all a really crazy experience and we have some amazing
videos of Athene meeting Daniel Negreanu and being the Athene persona at the PCA in Bahamas.
The online poker community definitely remembers Athene, they probably remember him more as
Chiren80 which was his nickname in online poker but there’s so many funny things that
we did with that just like Athene did so many funny things in World of Warcraft and became
such an icon in there, he also caused quite a stir in online poker, both in terms of really
funny stunts and videos and records, just like in other games. As we were sort of wrapping
up the poker stuff we were asking ourselves what our next project would be in terms of:
what could we do that would really make a difference or that would really inspire a
large audience in a positive way. We always firmly believed that even from a scientific
angle, you can look at evolution and you can look at anthropology and just prove that human
beings wanna help each other, it’s how we’ve evolved. And we thought what if we make an
incredible scientific documentary that focuses on the inspiring aspects of science, it would
get a lot of people thinking, it would make people aware. That was the idea behind Athene’s
Theory of Everything. The result of this was one of our most popular and most talked about
videos, that we released after almost a year of research and editing. It didn’t do much,
it didn’t do much at the start, it inspired a lot of people, it had an effect especially
on the I Power crowd and such. It didn’t go much beyond our own audience and a lot of
Athene fans were very confused, they were like why is Athene doing a science documentary?
Our audience was only used to trolling at that point, we had barely ever done serious
videos outside of the realm of I Power so it was very weird for them to see. We adapted
immediately, we just went like ok, we have to keep building relevance though, we can’t
lose our audience, we gotta go back and make Athene videos, Athene has to come back. ATHENE.
ATHENE is alive! Is alive! You hear the drums? Do you hear the drums of war? It was pretty
good, we went all out making Athene videos for a while and we really built that back
up. Other things of note that happened around this time were Athene’s crazy record-setting
Starcraft stunts and Kez coming over. This was the result of a video where Athene announced
he would be picking someone from the comments to be trained by Athene to become a pro at
games and at life. It was a very concept that made for some great videos but Kez actually
was a great addition to the team for the time that he managed to stay. We actually started
working much closer together with the help of Franco, whose house we had lived in way
back in the beginning when we were making movies or trying to and we were making the
first Athene videos. He said look if you ever need a place to work, you can actually use
the downstairs room as a studio. We were very creative on a lot of fronts to get back into
the game and it was a tough climate because botting was becoming very popular on YouTube,
people were botting their views. If you just got enough views fast enough to get on the
YouTube front page, your botted views would then quickly translate into tons and tons
of real views because you’re on the front page of YouTube.com. This was something that
we had to fight against and we did, we were very vocal about it, we made videos about
that. And we did everything we could to not just gain a bigger following but also to make
the YouTube landscape a better place so aside from fighting the botting and doing all we
could in terms of talking to people who work at YouTube, we were also trying to give as
much exposure as we could to people on YouTube who were completely undiscovered and were
not getting any views and we called this idea ‘Together To The Top’. He’s embarked on a
very ambitious project, he’s helping us all y’know, together to the top right? And the
phrase ‘Together To The Top’ was just something Athene said at the end of a video somewhere
but it became a movement. YouTubers started using that phrase and saying like yeah together
to the top! We gotta back each other up. And people started to use that as sort of the
mantra of the YouTube community, at least among gamers. It was an insane thing to see.
Athene made a personal video for everyone who would send him a private message on YouTube
asking for it. This was one of the most insane things we did in terms of Internet stunts.
Athene literally filmed thousands of personal videos, he would personally respond to what
someone’s channel would be like. With the Athene comeback, with Together To The Top,
we were doing pretty well all of a sudden. We were in the top 100 YouTube channels and
we were going up really quickly. At the same time the Yogscast was growing very quickly
as well and we did our very first Minecraft video together with them. And that was right
before Swifty accidentally got banned from World of Warcraft because of a fan event he
did that crashed their servers and out of that came the legendary support video that
we made for him and we became great friends with Swifty and did a lot of videos together
over the years. We also started going to cons and events, which is something we had never
done before. Our first one was Gamescom 2011 and it was a revelation to us. We knew we
were big on YouTube but we were nowhere near the biggest. Yet somehow, maybe because we
attract a more mature audience, maybe because Athene has been around for so long as an icon
in the gaming community, we get swarmed by more people than anyone else at conventions,
it is the most insane thing. We saw it at Gamescom, we saw it at Blizzcon… And what
really blew our minds is just how many fans we have in Sweden when we go to Dreamhack.
And it was while all this was unfolding that we got in touch with former pornstar Mia Rose
who contacted us and really liked our videos and who we’ve since been really good friends
with. We also continued to do science videos every now and then, often together with a
good friend of ours who is a theoretical physicist, Frederik Van Der Veken. Towards the end of
2011 we sorta moved our studio again to a new place where we would all live under one
roof: Athene, Tania, my girlfriend Vanessa and myself. And with the beginning of 2012
came the epic announcement of our sponsorship with Razer. We worked out a very unique setup
with Razer, they would sponsor us purely in gear that we would be able to give out to
the community as we saw fit. From this point on, we had half a million dollars of Razer
gear to our disposal. And we always made sure to use it in ways that stimulates the community,
whether it’s related to Together To The Top or charity events. 2012 was in some ways even
more eventful than 2011. As defenders of net neutrality, of course we were also part of
the SOPA/PIPA blackout and we did our best to be as effective as we could. By livestreaming
and having our entire community actually contact senators to try to make them see the importance
of not letting this bill pass. During that event we actually got tweets back from senators
who told us that we made them change their mind. We also became a bit less active in
terms of spotlighting other channels in the Together To The Top fashion, because instead
we were fighting a lot more behind the scenes, talking to networks like Machinima and eventually
also Curse to see what could be done for YouTubers who are having a hard time getting into the
scene or simply avoiding getting ripped off by their networks. We eventually voluntarily
consulted for Curse to help them write a truly fair contract for YouTubers who want to join
their network and it was our decision to call the network Union For Gamers. Even though
we were quite happy with Machinima at the time, we always saw more competition and more
options for YouTubers as a very good thing. Later that year Machinima became more and
more controversial as a lot of its partners started speaking up about how they felt ignored
or just flat out tricked into signing certain contracts without knowing what they were getting
themselves into. At that point we ourselves joined Union For Gamers as well. What mainly
set Union For Gamers apart from other networks was the fact that while you were getting a
very high CPM, you could also leave the network whenever you like, while other networks would
lock you in with contracts for 2 years all the way up to 7 years. But of course the real
milestone of 2012 was Sharecraft. It was only after a small World of Warcraft event that
we organized to raise money for Save the Children that we started to realize just how much we
could achieve with online fundraising. And around this time you had the incredibly viral
Kony 2012 phenomenon, which quickly suffered an incredible backlash. We decided to do something
crazily ambitious and we took the opportunity to respond. I was really inspired when I saw
the Kony 2012 video, to see how many people actually took the time to share it. But not
long afterwards, the backlash started. And the people that were supporting it were starting
to get criticized for not doing their homework and not researching the actual charity behind
it. What I’ve learned from the Kony 2012 video is not that whether or not we did our research
right or wrong, but rather that an inspiring idea to bring change and help other people
out can go more viral than anything else. Regardless of the debate surrounding Invisible
Children, the phenomenon of the film’s virality shows that the common perception of being
powerless against all that is injustice in the world and the idea that people tend to
be indifferent is obviously inaccurate. The Internet has come to such a point that the
only thing we need to overcome this widespread belief is to collectively reach out for what
we believe is right and often real change will follow. The whole way in which charities
operate is changing because it’s not any more just about sharing wealth but also knowledge,
information, opinions and feelings. So I’m trying out a little experiment, I’m launching
Operation Sharecraft. It’s a project focused on charities that have been thoroughly researched
and proven to be efficient and effective. I decided to start by focusing on Save the
Children’s work in the Horn of Africa. It has not been covered so much by mainstream
media and this is where millions of people right now are struggling to survive the worst
hunger crisis in 60 years. Whether or not this experiment is going to work will only
depend on whether people believe that their actions will matter or not. That is how small
the difference is between raising one million dollars or raising nothing. And I know I’m
setting the bar high, but the goal of this experiment is to set an example and show that
we have come to a time where our drive to share things is the only thing required to
bring real change. It was a goal so ambitious that we doubted many many times and we lost
faith many times in whether we’d be able to do it. Every day we tried to raise $10.000
and we had so many huge contributors, as well as thousands of donators who made sure to
contribute whatever they could. A lot of people will remember Maral, a friend of ours who
came over from Sweden and poured so much of her heart and soul into helping out and livestreaming
with us to try to get the one million. One sort of iconic moment that summarizes how
emotional and tough it was to really stick to it and try to hit that one million goal
over the course of a hundred days. We were discussing about tomorrow what we’re gonna
do and then we saw people were saying someone donated $1250 I was like what the fuck that’s
not true that can not be true. You donated so much while there’s no show going, what
inspired you, what’s the story behind this? I’ve been watching you for a couple of years
now, Athene. So you’ve always been a big inspiration to me, you know you’ve been an idol in the
gaming community for a long time. And this Operation Sharecraft is like your big thing
so I just wanted to show my support for you and the gaming community. Because you took
the time out of your day to thank me for just doing what I do, I’m gonna go ahead and donate
another $200. No man… That’s fucking badass man. It goes to them kids man. I really wanna
thank you man, you’re a fucking boss man, that’s just crazy. Maral are you crying? Maral
is crying here next to me. You made her cry. Aw I’m sorry Maral, I didn’t mean to make
you cry. It’s no problem man, this is very intense… So yeah man… Poor Maral, she’s
very touched here. He did give another $200 and someone else gave another $100. Oh my
god. Maral come you have to say thank you them, Maral say thank you to them. Maral you
want to say something to the viewers? Thank you. Hi Dreamhack, hi Sweden. Athene’s Sharecraft
project is the most ambitious charity event in the history of e-sports. With the livestreaming
and with how things have been evolving, basically almost all donations have been coming from
you guys. This entire event has been carried by the shoulders of our community. I’ve just
been thinking like what can we do in order to spread awareness around this matter, what
can I do? I’ve done research and it’s gonna be done in a very responsible way. I’m gonna
go on hunger strike. Athene if you end up watching this, just be careful man. I’m a
lot weaker, you’re easier affected by emotions and stuff. This is my fifth day today. We
actually got international media with my hunger strike with all the people also joining, contacting
press, I want to do a big shout-out to everyone that’s been helping out, it really makes me
smile to see everybody coming together. Athene stepped up to really create a massive project
like this. He’s already more than $300.000 there. This is what you guys have raised the
past 80 days, almost $1 million for the Horn of Africa for Save the Children, for children
facing the worst hunger crisis in 60 years. I wanted to hit that $1 million live on stage,
do you guys think we’re gonna hit it right now? If we hit the $1 million, I want you
guys to go crazy. We’ve hit it! We’ve hit it? We’ve hit $1 million! We’ve hit $1 million!
It was the biggest thing we had ever done and we had done a lot of things. And even
during Sharecraft, there were so many things that happened. For example, this was when
Riot Games updated League of Legends with Athene’s Unholy Grail. An in-game item named
after Athene because of the amount of referrals that he brought to the game. We were absolutely
exhausted from Sharecraft but we learned a lot. For the first time we had truly found
a way to inspire a massive audience and make things happen that are truly significant and
important on a global scale. It’s the stuff that we had always wanted to do but we just
didn’t know exactly how. And with these new-found insights we focused more and more on charity
initiatives and finding ways to inspire. Later that year we also made a bite-sized sequel
to Athene’s Theory of Everything and what really ended up inspiring a lot of people
and made it so that in the future we’d be able to really show our audience what kind
of a difference they make is that in the second half of 2012 we were able to visit Save the
Children’s programs in Mali. We went to a remote village in Mali that doesn’t have any
access to Internet or electricity. We want to play some football but he says that his
ball is broken. You see a lot of kids here that have never seen a computer, never accessed
a computer. And I thought it would be a cool idea to give them the possibility to do a
Reddit AMA. This takes the satellite connection through this. One of the questions was whether
she was happy or not and she answered that she actually didn’t know. She also said that
she thinks a doll would make her very happy. I’m not working for Save the Children, I’m
actually independent, I’m just here by myself with my cameraguy from my YouTube channel.
We’re driving around right now trying to find a shop. How many can we take? The reason why
I’m here is because we raised $1 million with Operation Sharecraft and Save the Children
has actually allowed us to come. We made the Reddit AMA, a lot of people were really touched
by it. And we thought it would be a really good idea to come back. This is the only doll
in the entire market and it’s gonna make a girl very happy. We bought a lot of balls,
all the children here will be able to play and we also have a doll and Save the Children
has a lot of food programs and medical programs for this area. Last time when I came here
they brought me a ball, you can see it’s completely broken. Kujé is her name and she’s around
10 to 11 years old, she doesn’t know exactly. Can you tell her that a lot of people saw
her and were really touched by her and thought that they had to make her wish come through.
2012 was a crazy year and what topped it off at the ending was a ridiculous experiment
that we undertook with our YouTube channel. With changes to the YouTube algorithms, it
looked more and more like YouTube’s system would favor the channels that put out more
content a day. We thought we would put this to the test. We did something that no YouTuber
has done before, we went through a phase where we did 24 to 48 videos per day. We had a super
optimized workflow for this, people were flooding us with questions: how are you doing this?
You are making 24 to 48 videos a day and they’re not bad, these are good videos. It ended up
not really helping us much but it was an interesting experiment. Moving into 2013, as we focused
more and more on livestreaming, we also saw a lot of turbulence in that landscape. The
site we used to stream on for Sharecraft was not doing well financially and it was getting
shut down, leaving no other competitors in the landscape aside from Twitch. Luckily,
Twitch was actually a pretty great partner for our charity efforts. They worked with
us to set up a subscription system in such a way that whoever would subscribe to our
Twitch channel would actually be donating to charity. So Twitch actually never pays
us one cent, all subscription revenue goes to Save the Children. Now, we didn’t really
have another Sharecraft planned for 2013, we assumed we would not be able to top Sharecraft
in any shape or form. But we kept on streaming for charity and seeing where that would take
us. The Twitch subscription system was a great help and a very cool way of raising donations.
On the side we also were building up a website called Gaming For Good because we were working
with game developers such as Red 5 who at times had given us thousands of keys for their
games. And over the course of the year we have featured more than a hundred games on
Gaming For Good, all of them hand-picked because we always wanted to feature games that people
would really like. But just as with Sharecraft, the main thing that people donated for was
the livestream. We expanded on the livestream concept quite a bit, we added a webcam that
was pointed towards the street and if anyone felt compelled to donate a very large amount
just to see us run in our underwear in the freezing on the street, this was a service
that we could provide. There have been so many crazy moments like that, I mean there
has been a moment where Athene shaved his head bald. It was not our intention to make
him go bald, we were just saying look we’ll cut a tiny piece of his hair for every person
who donates. It was like the Internet suddenly conspired and it went viral and people said
“we are not leaving until he is bald”. We were like no way that you guys can do this,
we’re just cutting very tiny pieces of hair for every donation that comes in. And it was
a $5 donation because it was a subscription. We didn’t sleep that night, we kept cutting
hair. We raised $160.000. Another new component we added to the livestream was the nightshifts.
Basically, we started streaming all day every day. And people would donate. But when we
would go to bed, donations would stop. So we thought, why not have a night shift and
have people from the community take over the moment we go to sleep. Gaming For Good sort
of became the name of the whole operation. And the biggest Gaming For Good event of 2013
was The Siege. The Siege was an event of an incredible scale, an absolutely massive range
of well-known Twitch streamers and YouTubers joined in for a whole weekend to see how much
money we could raise if we all teamed up together. Blizzard was launching their Siege of Orgrimmar
patch and they had asked us to see if we could do anything special to promote it. Little
did they know that we were about to launch the biggest community event that World of
Warcraft had ever seen. The goal was to raise half a million dollars during the weekend
and we quadrupled that. SivHD alone raised $1 million with the matching included. We
did not expect to hit a total goal of $10 million raised in 2013. It was only as we
got closer to December that we started realizing that we might actually make it to $10 million
raised. As a result, the story of Gaming For Good was becoming so big that it even got
picked up by outlets like CNN’s HeadLine News, FOX, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg
TV. Two years ago, $1 million seemed nearly impossible but moving forward in 2014, having
achieved things have affected more than a million lives, we’ve come to learn that when
gamers unite on a global scale, nothing is impossible.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Inspiring, saying this as a fellow Belgian. But I wonder what happened between 2014 and now? I haven’t been following the channel due to personal ventures and quests so I lost track.

  2. I actually like this documentary, but when they talk about their science movie they released I just thought what a fucking hoax… I really would like to know what went through their heads, why they did it! I don't understand… A proper theoretical physicist doesn't need commercial crap like this and somebody with no physical background is not going to come up with groundbreaking stuff anyhow or understand the mathematics behind it. Anyone know more?

  3. So weird seeing your first super cringy and obnoxious videos and now seeing you act like a normal person. I have to think that some people who come across your video/site, etc. these days and then see the things you put out back in the day would be turned off.

  4. the doll part reminded me of the darrowshire scene,
    here i found your dolly! its up to you to keep it safe!

  5. I just watched this video because of nostalgia and relived all the fun and crazy moments you guys gave me. Thanks for all the fun and all the good you did for the community and for dem kidz.

  6. Still gives me chills when I watch this great docmentary of team of guys, who did a lot of good stuff for the World!!! I also dontated during Save the Children era, felt so good about it! For the first time I knew 100% that the money will go to the right place!

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