Let’s Have a Chat with YouTuber RGT 85
For this month’s interview we at Hey Poor Player have reached out to a YouTuber that has gained an amazingly large fan base within the last year. With a steady stream of content that covers a wide range of retro and current generation gaming news, YouTuber Shawn Long has been producing videos for his channel RGT 85 for over two years now. In our time talking to Shawn we were able to pick his brain and get some great tips on how to build a solid YouTube subscriber base, but more importantly, we made sure to chat about video games. Kick back, enjoy the interview, and smoke em’ if you got em’!
HPP: Hi Shawn! Thanks for taking time out of your day to chat with us. I’m going to start off asking the most basic of basic questions. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how RGT 85 came to be. Also, was does RGT 85 stand for?
RGT 85: Thank you for having me. So I started writing for a small website like back in January 2012 and it was my first sort of “exposure” in the gaming industry. In late 2013 I left there (as things were coming to a close on that site) and joined up with Nintendo Enthusiast and did writing there. March 2014 I decided to start doing videos on their YouTube channel, which had like 400 subs, and I thought that was a lot. At that same time another guy, Jason, came in, and he had all this fancy production and did videos too, meanwhile I had a webcam and had no clue what I was doing. We ended up working well together and I tried to do some retro stuff on the channel, but for the size we grew it to, it always bombed in terms of views. Everyone else on the site had their own side project channel, so back in May 2015 I just decided you know what, let’s just go ahead and start mine. Originally I was going to call it “RetroGamingNews 85” and just do retro gaming news and stuff, but at the last second I changed it to “RetroGamingTube 85.” My buddy GillytheKid told me I would hate that name and I was like whatever, it’s fine. 6 months into it I realized he was right and I changed it to RGT 85. Better for branding and whatnot.
HPP: Your channel has a heavy focus on retro gaming content, but unlike many other YouTubers, you find ways to fit modern gaming news in as well. Is it difficult to balance the retro content with modern? Which content seems to produce more views?
RGT 85: I think like the first year I kept it strictly retro, but then Sony came out with those overpriced PS2 games on the PS4 and it pissed me off, so I was like okay I’m going to talk about this. Then I started trickling in more modern stuff, because retro stuff can be hit or miss in terms of news and whatnot. That was another driving reason that I wanted to change to RGT 85, didn’t want to pigeonhole myself or whatnot.
That’s actually a really interesting question, because I’d say it’s about even honestly. If you look at my top viewed videos, it’s like a retro, a modern, then a retro. It’s really unpredictable honestly.
HPP: We’ve noticed that your subscriber count has grown tremendously over the last year! Do you have any advice to budding YouTubers who are trying to gain subscribers?
RGT 85: Be genuine and have fun. I remember last October my channel felt like it was “stuck” and wasn’t gaining traction like it had been, so I just kind of sat back and looked at the bigger picture and was like “Well, I can either slow down or go harder than before.” I chose the latter and started looking at things like tags and SEO, which in my opinion, outweighs the actual content. To me, 25% of doing a video on YouTube is the actual video. 75% is marketing, SEO, tags, all that stuff. You can have the best video in the world, but if no one knows about you or what you are doing, who is going to watch it? So I studied all that stuff and then sort of made it work for me. I’ve been extremely lucky to sort of grow like I have, but at the same time I put the work into it too. I work 8:30-6 and then come home and either write for the website or start formulating a video or edit a video, it’s like no personal life. It doesn’t bother me though, I’m having fun, so at the end of the day it’s all just a good time for me.
HPP: Unfortunately, with any popular YouTube channel comes some form of negativity. How do you deal with negative feedback and/or comments?
RGT 85: There’s different kinds of negative feedback. I’m the type of person where I treat you like you treat me. If you come on a video or on social media and you are respectful but disagree, then it’s all good, your opinion means something to me. If you come sideways with like insult and whatnot, I’ll give it right back to you, because to me, that’s what you deserve. Luckily I’m quick witted, so I usually win those exchanges (laughs).
HPP: Stepping away from the channel for a moment, can you tell us what game you’ve sunk the most time into? What kind of games do you tend to play the most?
RGT 85: Strangely enough, the game I’ve put the most time into is Metroid Prime: Hunters on the DS. I’m talking like thousands of hours. Me and my old friend used to run that game nightly online, we were in a “clan” and whatnot. I don’t know why we got so addicted to that game, but it was like all we would do.
As far as what I play, I honestly play a bit of everything. RPG’s are kind of hard to play nowadays because time is so limited, but sometimes I’ll get sucked into them if one is really good. Action, FPS games, Sports, like literally every genre I play. Only thing I tend to avoid is heavily anime-style games just because I’m not really into that scene. Nothing wrong with it or anything, just not for me.
HPP: With 43k subscribers (currently) are you starting to get recognized at all in public or at conventions? If so, what goes through your mind when you get recognized?
RGT 85: Yeah it’s pretty crazy. I’m starting to get invited to cons with like travel and lodging paid for, which is awesome and is like a no-brainer for me to go to them. I did a panel at TooManyGames and we packed that room out, wasn’t a seat open. It’s crazy honestly, like I’m just some regular guy who talks about games, but people, like, look up to me and tell me these personal stories about how my videos and stuff help them with personal issues. It’s a good feeling to be able to reach a large audience.
As far as like public, I keep a low profile in my small town. I honestly think most of the people I hung out with at bars, like 5 years ago, think I died or moved or something because I don’t really go out much anymore. But funnily enough, when I went to go pick up my Nintendo Switch on launch day at my local Best Buy, I was standing in line and I heard a girl shoutout “RGT 85? IS THAT YOU!?” and I was like are you joking right now? I didn’t know what to do since it wasn’t like at a con. So I gave her a hug and said thanks for watching. She probably unsubbed after that (laughs).
HPP: You’ve discussed inflated retro game prices in your “Are YouTubers RUINING Retro Gaming and Retro Game Collecting?” video. What’s your take on the current retro game market, and when do you think the pricing will start to trend down?
RGT 85: I mean the market is what it is. I always say nothing has value until someone decides to pay “X” amount of dollars for a game. Then that game is “worth” that much. So you have to be smart and barter and whatnot to get better deals, just like any collecting hobby.
As far as when prices will trend down, I don’t think it’ll be anytime soon. If anything, retro is hotter now than ever before. Look at things like the NES Classic & SNES Classic. Those things are selling out in seconds. Young kids are getting into retro gaming & more and more people want to get into it for whatever their personal reason is. So maybe in like, 15 years you will see some more drastic price drops, but I don’t think you’ll see anything notable in the near future.
HPP: Do you have any upcoming convention appearances you’d like to tell us about? Where can your subscribers see you in the upcoming months?
RGT 85: Yeah I’ll be at Southeast Game Exchange in August in South Carolina. It’s a newer event, so it’s only a 1 day event, but I’ll be there with Scottsquatch so that’ll be a good time, I haven’t seen him in like a year. Then in September I’ll be at A Video Game Con in New Jersey, and in October I’ll be at RetroWorldExpo in Connecticut for Saturday only. So if you are on the East Coast, you have a good chance of catching me at a con!
HPP: Before we let you go, we have a question from a Hey Poor Player reader for you:
Josh Ziegler: I really like your channel and I love collecting DVD/Blu-Ray’s that YouTubers produce. Would you consider putting your content on a physical release?
RGT 85: I don’t really view my content as worthy of a physical release honestly. My friends like Norm (Gaming Historian) and Billy and Jay (Game Chasers), it makes sense for them to do DVD/Blu Ray’s because of the high quality of their content. Mine isn’t really up to snuff with that, plus I do a lot of news videos. Maybe one day I’ll do something though, it’d be a really low run/basic thing but I guess things like hardware pushers and hidden gems would be worthy of a physical release!
HPP: Honestly, we love the unboxing videos where you open fan mail. You’d have a customer in us if you put all of those on physical media (laughs)! Thanks so much for you time Shawn and here’s to several more years of RGT85 content!
Here is a video that Shawn just produced a few weeks ago. He discusses the current state of the retro gaming market, but more importantly, how much YouTubers influence the prices and availability of the more uncommon retro games.