In 2015 an article was published in the Global Media Journal by Anandam Kavoori titled “Making Sense of YouTube.” This article was published in an attempt to generate a greater understanding of YouTube after five years of study. In the initial statements of their article, Kavoori states: “There is no reliable “sample” of videos on Youtube; no easily identifiable ways to determine it’s dominant thematics; no way to evaluate “quality”; no benchmarks for establishment of impact (beyond the questionable number of times a video has been watched).”1
These are all statements that I have come to disagree with.
Anyone in today’s day and age undoubtedly knows about digital media, internet culture, and the impact it has had on our society as a whole. Not many people in the world today can say they have never used the internet in some way, much less claim to have never heard of it.
Over the years YouTube has come to be a well-known medium where various content creators post videos to share with others. There have been many different genres of videos that have been posted on YouTube. Anyone has the ability to post videos on YouTube, from the most ordinary person in the world, to the most famous.2 Most notably, YouTube can be used by content creators to reach out to wider audiences and make a greater impact. It is through this that a wide variety of online communities are created.
It should be noted that not all these communities are the same. Mostly they exist as a following to support a channel, content creator, or fandoms. Often these communities branch out, creating groups on a variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and Discord. It is within these communities that a digital culture of their own takes root, growing from the source material that the community members are fed from these YouTubers.
Going back to Anandam Kavoori’s statement from 2015, this post will explore the reasons why I believe these statements are incorrect by examining one channel in particular: Neebs Gaming.3
Compared to other YouTube gaming giants, Neebs Gaming is a relatively small channel of YouTube fame. Despite this, Neebs Gaming has become widely popular among certain gaming communities with their own unique style and charm. Just earlier this month the channel celebrated a phenomenal milestone of reaching two million subscribers after six years of being on the platform.4
Neebs Gaming consists of a group of five middle aged men, Brent Triplett, Nate Panning, Bryan Mahoney, Jon Etheridge and Tony Schnur, who respectively go by the pseudonyms Neebs, Doraleous, Simon, Appsro, and Thick44.5 An important thing to note about this channel is that the creators are not merely collaborators, instead they are a group of friends who use gaming as a form of artistic expression, entertainment, and as a way to simply have fun.6
The group who created Neebs Gaming were not originally intending to become gaming YouTubers. Originally the guys ran a channel that focused on animation and film called Hank & Jed Movie Productions.7 This channel provided a creative outlet that allowed them to animate, voice act, make music, and produce quite a few short series that have grown in popularity since the creation of their gaming channel. Most of these series were based off of video game logic and humor, such as Battlefield Friends8 ― a humorous series about the misadventures of a “noob” and his friends in the online game Battlefield ― and Mob Squad9 ― a series that followed the monster-type mobs found in the video game Minecraft as they battle Steve, the usual protagonist of the game. Hank & Jed also produced an original animated series called Doraleous & Associates10, which takes place in the magical province of Nudonia and follows the misadventures of a band of warriors who are outnumbered and out-weaponed as they face the forces of evil. Each of these series showcase the usual style and humorous attitudes, which are both salacious and imaginative. Their sense of humor, while inappropriate at times, has been an integral part of their channel since the beginning. Though their content has often been called crude and vulgar, it should be noted that these animations are not intended for all audiences. Their short series, as well as their video game series, are created with a more mature audience in mind and are not suitable for most underage viewers.
The creation of Neebs Gaming came about as a result of the ever changing YouTube algorithm, which is less than fair towards animators, and the issue of funding for said animations.11 It is important to note that Neebs, Doraleous, Simon, Appsro, and Thick all have a background in animation or film. Neebs and Appsro both attended college for film and animation, while Thick became a voice actor not long out of high school for Japanese animation and even had a role in Dawson’s Creek. Doraleous was in the Marines when he met Neebs and later Simon, and they each produced several short skits and starred in a series of commercials for the realty company RE/MAX. Doraleous was even a boom operator for a while, something he says he enjoyed doing for a living. Similarly, Appsro has his own channel, JonnyEthco12, where he posts animations and hosts live streams where he draws things in his own creative (and sometimes lascivious) style. All this information comes from the guys themselves in their 2016 video “Neebs Gaming Origin Story.”13
The Neebs Gaming channel was created as a means to fund the original creations they make over at Hank & Jed.14 They started by posting Battlefield videos with their own unique commentary, which acted as an extension of their Battlefield Friends series. Over time the channel evolved, expanding to include a variety of survival style games that allow the guys over at Neebs Gaming to create, compete, and generally have fun. As of 2020, Neebs Gaming has ongoing series for a variety of games including Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V, Ark Survival Evolved, and 7 Days to Die. Neebs Gaming has also showcased several other series, such as Subnautica, Conan Exiles, The Forrest, The Outer Wilds, and various one-off episodes of games that interest the guys.
One of the most interesting things about Neebs Gaming is their attention to quality over quantity. Instead of recording videos and then uploading the raw footage from one person’s perspective, everyone in-game at the time records from their own individual perspectives, including one of the three editors that are also part of their channel. Instead of producing videos for everyday content, Neebs Gaming has a set schedule for when certain videos go live, with certain days assigned to each of their ongoing series. The reason behind this is due to the nature of their game-play, which consists of several cinematic series that have a format similar to a television show. Over time, all of their ongoing series have evolved to have this format. It is extraordinary how much effort they put into a 20-30 minute video. An excellent example of this is from their 2018 Channel Trailer15, which gives anyone new to their channel a brief synopsis of what their content is usually like.
Over the years Neebs Gaming has amassed a substantial following on many social media sites, including Facebook16, Twitter17, and Instagram18. They also stream on Twitch every Thursday 8PM EST.19 This is without mentioning the weekly Neebs Cast, which comes out every Thursday on iTunes20, Spotify21, and YouTube22. To top it off, Neebs Gaming also makes original music.23 Usually these songs relate to the gaming series they do, and are typically humorous in nature. All these aspects combined make Neebs Gaming a fascinating addition to YouTube, and to digital culture as a whole.
Fans of Neebs Gaming often make jokes relating to the guys, specifically related to the typical humor and hijinks they get up to. Community members often make fanart and animations based on scenes found in their videos.24 The community has even adopted colloquialisms related to the guys at Neebs Gaming. The guys will often say things like “We got Thick’d!” and “I just pulled a Simon.” when things go hilariously wrong. Doraleous himself is noted for being the “master of bad puns” and constantly tells dad jokes, something that exasperates the others at times. Thick will often say “I’m Thick44! I get kills!” after taking down a particularly hard boss. Simon is known for his fascination with food, specifically sandwiches, and is constantly called out for eating while recording. Likewise, Appsro is notable for his coarse language, something that can be both humorous and discomforting at the same time. Neebs himself is usually a man of peace and tranquility, yet is hard headed and easily distracted from a set goal. Despite all this, the guys at Neebs Gaming have banded together to promote friendship, acceptance, and world peace ― something they advertise on their channel with every post.
Here are a few important events that have happened in the Neebs Gaming community:
Despite their initial success, Neebs Gaming did run into a roadblock that nearly devastated it’s community. In February 2020, both Neebs Gaming and Hank & Jed were brought down due to hackers. One of the editors at Neebs Gaming had mistakenly downloaded some software, thinking the email was a product demonstration for a potential sponsored video.25 Due to him being logged into the Neebs Gaming and Hank & Jed accounts at the time, the hackers gained access to their channels and virtually brought them to their knees.26 The hackers changed their channel names and logos, making all of their videos inaccessible, and started streaming BitCoin scams that targeted their audience of over 1.9 million at the time. Thankfully the Neebs Gaming community was quick to figure out what was going on and banded together on social media to stop it.27
Sadly, the scam led to Neebs Gaming losing a substantial number of followers. Community members who were unaware of the hacking unsubscribed from their channel. Despite this, the community was quick to spread the word of what was happening, with many people in the Neebs Gaming community petitioning YouTube to resolve the issue. Within a week Neebs Gaming and Hank & Jed were transferred back to the original owners, allowing posts to continue as normal.28 Despite this, the channel has recovered and has now celebrated reaching 2 million subscribers, making them well on their way of being the “largest channel in the world”.
PLGX: Neebs Gaming Live!
In May 2019, Neebs Gaming hosted their first annual Neebs Gaming Live event in their hometown of Wilmington, NC. The event turned out to be a monumental success, prompting fans from all over the world to flock to Wilmington for two days of Neebs Gaming-related gatherings and general fun.29 The convention was advertised as the Peace, Love, Gaming Expo in accordance with the channel’s general theme of world peace. It was decided after the success of the initial convention that the Neebs Gaming crew would host a similar event the following year, as well as informal gatherings for fans in any cities they may be visiting at the time.30 Unfortunately the scheduled 2020 Neebs Gaming Live! event was postponed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. The guys over at Neebs Gaming hope to one day host the event, but until the pandemic is over it appears the date for the event remains to-be-determined.31
Now, going back to my initial comment on Kavoori’s opening statement, I’d like to point out how this one channel defies their conceptions of YouTube. While YouTube itself may not have a reliable “sample” of videos, there are a variety of samples within the various genres one can unearth. Many communities have been created thanks to the content creators on YouTube providing an outlet for their creative side. Neebs Gaming is a reliable sample of YouTube gamers, animators, and musicians. This channel has made headway in each of these categories and tends to be adored by their 2 million followers for their attention to detail. The “quality” of their videos is not so much measured as it is observed. While animation is a hard industry to compete in, cinematic video game series are not things you see very often. It’s the tiny details, such as having one person’s voice grow fainter as they get farther away, echo as they enter a building or cave, ceasing to talk when they die in-game, and using “radios” for contact across the in-game worlds that make the quality of their channel amazing. It’s this attention to detail that gives the viewer the impression they are immersed in the world rather than watching a group of friends, even though that is exactly what you are doing. Lastly, I think their impact can speak for itself. There are people watching them now that have been following Neebs Gaming since their Hank & Jed days. The fact that their gaming channel has surpassed their animations show that their community is staying around for them, which is heartwarming in itself.
I’m happy to consider myself a part of this community. My suggestion to anyone reading this that has not seen a Neebs Gaming video is to give them a chance. The comedic atmosphere and commitment to their community is amazing. Just remember everyone, peace, love, gaming, and world peace!
1 Kavoori, Anandam. “Making Sense of Youtube.” Global Media Journal 13, no. 24 (06, 2015): 1-25.
2 Kavoori, Anandam. “Making Sense of Youtube.”
3 Neebs Gaming. “Neebs Gaming – YouTube.” www.youtube.com, March 16, 2014. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiufyZv8iRPTafTw0D4CvnQ.
4 Neebs Gaming. “2 Million Subscriber Livestream Party: Neebs Gaming Vs The Community | Sept 3rd 2020.” YouTube Video. YouTube, September 3, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt5b_VpZmJE.
5 Neebs Gaming. “About.” neebsgaming.net, 2015. https://neebsgaming.net/about-2/.
6 Neebs Gaming. “About.” neebsgaming.net, 2015.
7 Hank & Jed. “Hank & Jed – YouTube.” www.youtube.com, November 30, 2006. https://www.youtube.com/user/hankandjed.
8 Triplett, Brent, Jon Etheridge, Bryan Mahoney, Nate Panning, Tony Schnur, Brent Triplett, Jon Etheridge, Bryan Mahoney, Nate Panning, and Tony Schnur. “Battlefield Friends (TV Series 2012– ) – IMDb.” www.imdb.com. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2354667/.
9 Hank & Jed, and JonnyEthco. “Mob Squad: All Seasons, All Episodes – YouTube.” www.youtube.com, November 18, 2012.
10 Triplett, Brent, Jon Etheridge, Bryan Mahoney, Nate Panning, Tony Schnur, Brent Triplett, Jon Etheridge, Bryan Mahoney, Nate Panning, and Tony Schnur. “Doraleous and Associates.” IMDb, October 9, 2010. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1753729/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_14.
11 TechPrate. “What the Changing YouTube Algorithm Means for Animated Content.” TechPrate, September 26, 2019. https://www.techprate.com/social-media/what-changing-youtube-algorithm-animated-content/.
12 JonnyEthco. “JonnyEthco – YouTube.” www.youtube.com, October 5, 2006. https://www.youtube.com/c/jonnyethco/.
13 Neebs Gaming. “Neebs Gaming Origin Story.” YouTube Video. YouTube, April 29, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRkKbh-XryA.
14 Neebs Gaming. “Neebs Gaming Origin Story.” YouTube Video. YouTube, April 29, 2016.
15 Neebs Gaming. “WELCOME TO THE BEST GAMING CHANNEL IN THE WORLD!!!” YouTube Video. YouTube, August 22, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72BN1-Hlqdw&feature=youtu.be.
16 Neebs Gaming. “Neebs Gaming.” www.facebook.com, October 14, 2014. https://www.facebook.com/neebsgaming/.
17 Neebs Gaming. “https://Twitter.Com/Neebsofficial.” Twitter, October 2014. https://twitter.com/NeebsOfficial.
18 Neebs Gaming. “Neebs Gaming (@neebsgaming) • Instagram Photos and Videos.” www.instagram.com, 2014. https://www.instagram.com/neebsgaming/?hl=en.
19 Neebs Gaming. “Twitch.” Twitch. Accessed September 14, 2020. https://www.twitch.tv/neebsgaming.
20 Apple Inc. “Neebs Cast on Apple Podcasts.” Apple Podcasts, 2020. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/neebs-cast/id1153757401.
21 Spotify. “Neebs Cast – NeebsGaming.” Spotify, 2020. https://open.spotify.com/show/1QMM5OP0XhysVcxCZawloS.
22 Neebs Gaming. “NeebsCast Podcast & Commenting on Comments – YouTube.” www.youtube.com, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1Uou2DWH7IHfUZ9kY3zqPc6G1QmcVcE4.
23 Neebs Gaming. “Music.” neebsgaming.net, 2015. https://neebsgaming.net/music/.
24 Neebs Gaming. “Fan Art.” neebsgaming.net, 2015. https://neebsgaming.net/fan-art/.
25 Monlux, Chris. “The Hackening – The Story behind the Hack of Neebs Gaming from Thick44.” Videomaker, March 18, 2020. https://www.videomaker.com/podcast/the-hackening-the-story-behind-the-hack-of-neebs-gaming-from-thick44/.
26 Monlux, Chris. “The Hackening – The Story behind the Hack of Neebs Gaming from Thick44.” Videomaker, March 18, 2020.
27 Monlux, Chris. “The Hackening – The Story behind the Hack of Neebs Gaming from Thick44.”
28 Neebs Gaming. “We Got Hacked – What We Know So Far…..” YouTube Video. YouTube, February 23, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9-epusj6F0&app=desktop.
29 Neebs Gaming. “Our First Live Show! (Face Reveal!).” YouTube Video. YouTube, May 10, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izZmPsVmQh4.
30 Neebs Gaming. “Our First Live Show! (Face Reveal!).” YouTube Video. YouTube, May 10, 2019
31 Neebs Gaming. “Neebs Gaming Live” neebsgaming.net. Accessed September 21, 2020. https://neebsgaming.net/ngl/.