YouTuber Of The Week: GamerZakh Is A High School Teacher By Day, Gamer By Night
Gaming videos are among the hottest videos on YouTube. Just look at Swedish YouTube Gamer PewDiePie, he has over 32 million subscribers and his videos garner millions of views
For the uninitiated, YouTube gamers creates videos of game plays and walkthroughs coupled with their commentary or reactions during the game. It's pretty exciting.
But did you know there's a Malaysian YouTube gamer right in our backyard? This is GamerZakh, a high school teacher by day, sword-wielding gamer at night.
Zakhren Yazid first started gaming in the early 90s using old school gaming consoles. This developed into coding and building websites before he pursued his studies in Multimedia Design. If you think GamerZakh just sits in front of a computer screen all day, you're wrong. He also enjoys gardening!
GamerZakh: I grew up in a house full of technology. We had cartridge gaming consoles and a PC in the early 90s, along with dial-up Internet as soon as it was available. Pretty soon, I figured out the code of some of the games and began messing with numbers. I taught myself how to build websites so I could create the clan's own personal website. Turns out these skills really came in handy when I began my studies in Multimedia Design! Oh, and I also really like gardening and growing plants.
The avid gamer started his YouTube channel three years ago when he felt that work and studies were taking him away from his passion for gaming. He started watching gaming videos and that encouraged him to upload his first video on the game 'From Dust'.
GamerZakh: I started my channel at the end of 2011 mainly because I had been working really hard at that point and realised that I hadn't played a video game for 2 years. Me being a gamer since I was born (my parents bought a Sega Genesis and a PC), this felt really weird and kind of sad. I had, however, been watching gaming YouTubers build their channels and begin to make a living out of it, namely Husky, Day9, TotalBiscuit, and The Yogscast. My first playthough was of a game called From Dust. It didn't get much attention, of course, but I realised all the mistakes that were happening and accustomed myself to the process of making videos for a channel. It was rough at the start but I kept going and things kept getting better. Soon, more views and comments started coming in, so I figured I was on the right track and stuck with it.
GamerZakh plays a wide variety of games on his channel. He has played games from the latest titles such as Skyrim all the way to classics such as the Caesar series.
In Malaysia, gaming is often viewed as a negative past time. GamerZakh suggests that more gaming events as well as cheaper games can help improve the perception of gaming.
Darian: The gaming scene is huge on YouTube with PewDiePie the biggest of all, yet it's still quite niche in Malaysia. What would help grow the scene here? Are there any other Malaysian YouTubers who game?
GamerZakh: A career in playing video games is more plausible now compared to any other time, not only as a gamer, but as a content producer. YouTube enables most of the world to create content and, for the most part, make money from it. In Malaysia, video games are still generally viewed as a waste of time and understandably so. For those who don't understand gaming, they would walk by a cyber cafe and see people sitting there all day shooting or killing each other on screens.
GamerZakh: Having more gaming conventions, gaming related events or road shows, competitions, and maybe even including video games as artistic pieces in galleries could slowly help change people's perspectives and grow the scene locally.
GamerZakh: In the past, video games were pretty expensive, and even today, triple A titles can cost hundreds of Ringgit. GOG.com and Steam have now made gaming more accessible and affordable than ever, and if the public realised how cheap many amazing games are they might be more open to trying new things. As for Malaysian YouTubers who game, there are quite a few. However, Malaysian Gaming YouTubers is another thing. I wouldn't want to name a few and miss out others, but I will say that there's a thread on the Lowyat gaming forum listing out Malaysian Gaming YouTubers.
It may seem that being a YouTube gamer is fun and easy. All he does is just play games, right? Not really. GamerZakh spends hours editing, scriptwriting, and even adding animation into each of his videos. Although it may be time consuming, it is work that he enjoys.
Darian: Do you feel making videos is a 'chore' now that you depend on it for content?
GamerZakh: No, it doesn't feel like a chore. It does feel like work though, but in a good way. It's rewarding and I feel like it's one of the few things that I work on where I'm in total control. Yes, it's work that I enjoy.
GamerZakh: I put around 8 to 10 hours of work into each video and it shows. Researching, script writing, collection of media, vocal recording and editing, graphics, animation, video editing, and refining are required for those videos and it's way above the standards of a typical Let's Play series.
As a YouTuber, one of the biggest challenges he face is to stand out in an oversaturated community of gamers. Even if there is great content, it isn't easy to find his video amongst others of the same.
GamerZakh: Getting attention in an oversaturated market. There is plenty of room for new YouTubers and the audience is constantly growing, but making yourself heard in a sea of competitors is gruelling and often fruitless. With such great YouTubers at the top, why would anyone want to watch some upstart channel? Even if you make great content, it doesn't mean people are going to see it as there is just so much video to filter through. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Standing out isn't easy.
GamerZakh adds that "Uploading videos on YouTube does not make you a YouTuber". To be a successful YouTuber, he encourages one to be professional, making sure that you churn out quality content, and never let the trolls get to you.
*GamerZakh: I actually have a video on that! It's called 'How to get a tiny bit famous on YouTube'. Yes, the title is a bit presumptuous, but it's basically the best advice I could give. If you want to run your channel properly, take it seriously and be professional. Professional doesn't mean boring, it means uploading regularly, consistently trying to improve the quality of your content, keeping your audience in mind, and not letting trolls and negative comments affect you personally. Find your niche and don't be lazy. Just because you have videos on YouTube, that doesn't make you a 'YouTuber'. Finally, start out with 'evergreen' content – videos that could be enjoyed years in the future. When you start, no one is going to watch your stuff. Make videos that could be discovered in the future, so your effort at the start won't be wasted and old videos can build up popularity later on.
But despite all the challenges, GamerZakh loves it. Knowing that millions of people watch his videos gives him the drive to pursue this as a possible career one day.
GamerZakh: The sense of independence is incredible. You get rewarded directly for your skill and effort – if I make more videos of higher quality, I get more attention and financial gains, and I get less if I don't put in the effort. Although I am still working a full-time job now, if the channel grows to a point where I can support my family with YouTube alone then I would have a lot more time to spend with my loved ones. Interacting with the audience is also something that keeps me drawn to the channel. Logging in and checking comments is part of my daily routine. Responding to fans and critics alike is humbling and gratifying.
GamerZakh: Honestly, logging in to my YouTube dashboard to see that the channel has millions of total views and then realising that this could actually be my job one day. I never imagined when I started that people would actually like my voice and the videos I made.
If you love video games, why not check out his channel? We did and we love his voice! You can find GamerZakh here.