Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday
You managed to survive without a Week in Geek on 3.20.15 and you’re back? My hats off to you, readers!
For this week, i had an opportunity to speak with Deaths Crowbar. No, it’s not a metal band – it’s an individual.
Joshua Turner is the geeky gamer guy behind the Deaths Crowbar persona on his YouTube channel, Twitch, Twitter and elsewhere, creating and sharing videos and writing gaming news, reviews, podcasts and more. But beneath all of that is a young guy with a lot of heart, who seeks to fuse his love of gaming with a real desire to help people. In fact, if he had one superpower, he was quick to say it would be the power to heal others.
At the age of 12, Joshua was diagnosed with leukemia, and fought hard for four years to overcome it. He credits gaming for helping him cope with the ordeal, primarily in dealing with the depression and loneliness he experienced while undergoing treatment and all the stresses involved with his battle against cancer. On his YouTube channel, he has a series of videos called Cancer Stories, where he shares his experiences with various aspects of that part of his life.
“Gaming became a very important thing in my life during that time,” he says in one of those videos. “Because it was how I communicated with people.”
Although he’s a lifelong gamer, being in the hospital for weeks at a time meant he didn’t get to interact with friends or other people, and he discovered MMOs were a great way to do that. Speaking with Joshua, with his easy laugh and positive outlook, you wouldn’t think he’d gone through such extremely difficult challenges in his life. You can tell through his videos and the other work that he does how important it is for him to do what he can to bring that hope and optimism to others, too.
In that regard, a video he posted just yesterday is geared towards helping his uncle, an important figure in his life who introduced him to gaming when he was a child. His uncle has some serious health problems, and Joshua is doing what he can to help by reaching out to people through his YouTube channel. There is a GoFundMe venture to raise money for a procedure he needs as soon as possible, and Joshua has also pledged on his own to reward a donor with a Nintendo gaming package worth hundreds of dollars.
i came across this impressive 18 year old from Texarkana, Arkansas while looking for inspirado in creating custom Funko Pop vinyl figures. In his tutorial video for doing that, he created a Nightcrawler figure, which he later told me was his first attempt at doing so as well as being his most viewed video to date. It was also one of his favorite videos to make, because he enjoys actually creating things. As it turns out, there’s very few channels out there with that particular sort of content, and a lot of viewers discover his channel through that video.
As a sidenote, he received some feedback that the video might be too long, clocking in a just over 35 minutes. But he followed up by checking the stats on it which showed that 88 percent of viewers watched the whole thing straight through to the end. <editor’s note: take that, people who think videos – and blogs – shouldn’t be too long!>
Just recently, Deaths Crowbar reached some important milestones in subscribers and partnerships. But i’ll let him tell you all about that:
“I just make videos to have fun and stuff,” he said humbly about his work so far. “It’s nice that people are liking them.”
The origin of the name Deaths Crowbar is first question most people ask Joshua. In one of his earlier videos he talks about how he wanted to come up with a unique name because there’s a lot of Joshua Turners in the world.
“When I played the original Halo game, instead of just wanting to go with ‘Joshua’ or whatever, I was trying to go for something that was interesting and unique,” he recalled of coming up with his moniker. “My dad works with tools a lot, so I went with Crowbar. When I got XBox 360 and Xbox Live, Crowbar was taken. So I thought, let’s add a possessive or an adjective here, and figure out what we can do to make this interesting.
“It actually goes well with the ‘You were killed by…Deaths Crowbar’,” he said with a laugh. “Not a regular crowbar. Deaths Crowbar.”
Joshua has been making YouTube videos for a few years now, and in earlier days he had a different channel that he said was more sporadic in terms of both content and frequency. He decided to get more focused though, and keep the content centered on primarily gaming, so he launched the Deaths Crowbar channel about two years ago to do just that.
The response from friends and family to Joshua’s work has been a mixed bag. There’s some skepticism, but he notes that his dad in particular has been supportive especially since he’s started traveling to conventions and speaking on panels and with people in the gaming industry. A few people have some reservations, until he starts making money from his efforts. For other friends, they look to him for inspiration and advice on starting their own YouTube channels.
“What I’ve noticed when looking at other people’s success is that ‘so-and-so noticed them, and then…’,” he said of other YouTube success stories, noting that it takes perseverance and hard work.
In that regard, Joshua has already experienced some steps forward through a recent partnership with Fullscreen Inc.
“Fullscreen is a multichannel network,” he said of his newest venture. “They offer tools and tips, and help with things like copyright issues. They help you work with other people more easily. You get a manager who helps you with tips on how to improve.
“They try and help you grow your channel, and so far it’s pretty much just been me, so something to help me along will be nice.”
For the nuts-and-bolts of his videos, Joshua studied other YouTubers and what he noticed is that a lot of videos are highly edited and/or scripted. For his videos, which often feature continuous footage, he wanted them to feel like he’s engaging directly with the viewer, talking “through heart and head.” Going forward, he might utilize some editing techniques based on advice he’s gotten. In particular, adding custom images and similar content can help videos show up in the sidebars for related videos, for example.
“You need to interact with the people a good amount,” he said, in terms of building a community around his YouTube channel, outside of the content creation itself. “It’s also good to have people who will interact with each other, who are in a way loyal to your fanbase.
“Networking is a big, big deal,” he said.
In addition to maintaining his YouTube channel and posting regular content, Joshua is also a straight-A college student currently taking care of the general requirements at the local branch of the University of Arkansas. He’s also one of the top writers and does public relations for Christian Gamer, where he is often a voice advocating for more open-mindedness from the community there.
“There’s issues with a lot of games, yes,” he said of the perspective of approaching gaming from a christian viewpoint. “There’s some I really don’t agree with…but I’m one of the people who’s different than a lot of the people who come in, in such that I advocate for certain games, whereas a lot of them will gripe about it.”
As an interviewer himself, he’s had several opportunities to speak with gaming industry professionals. Most memorably, he was able to speak with a developer of Neverwinter Online when that came out. That came about by simply sending a message to Cryptic Studios’ COO Craig Zinkievich and asking if he could send someone for a podcast Joshua was involved with, and at the time there’s wasn’t much press from bigger sites like IGN so it was a great opportunity.
For others interested in becoming a YouTuber, who might be hesitant for whatever reason, Joshua has some advice to share:
“Just grab a camera and try,” he said. “Really, it’s not as much about whether you can or can’t do it, or you’re shy or uncomfortable. I am not always the best with cameras and things like that…but eventually you get used to it. You get comfortable with it, and once you get that comfort zone, I think is where people start noticing and really want to watch you for your personality.”
Going forward, opportunities continue to open up for Joshua stemming from his YouTube channel and the work he does developing a concept called Gaming Helps. Although still in the planning stage, he hopes to grow this idea into a charitable organization that combines his love of gaming with a strong desire to help others. He also has some potential opportunities to become involved with game development as well, something he’s really excited about but can’t reveal details on just yet – so keep an eye on his channel for more news of that.
Almost all of Joshua’s videos feature his custom signoff, which is something he put thought into after noticing that other popular YouTubers typically have a signature intro or signoff themselves. In keeping with the spirit of speaking off the cuff, he went with whatever came off the top of his head which a friend told him was awesome and that he needed to keep.
And what better way to wrap up a talk with Deaths Crowbar than his signoff message, a statement i can fully stand behind myself:
“To all you nerds out there, and to all you gamers and all you geeks – keep doing what you do.”
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Thanks for reading the latest edition of Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these are the ones that most caught my attention!
Since my interview with Deaths Crowbar ran longer than I anticipated, i’ll be creating another post this weekend for some other geeky news, so be sure to check back for that.
If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!
If you enjoy what you read at The Long Shot, please click follow at the top of the page and sign up for email subscriptions so you never miss a post.
If you would like some further reading, about some science, technology and pop culture stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did:
- Humans: The next platform
- Technology’s effect on social policy
- Biohacking is the next frontier
- Anyone remember Gattaca?
- Mesmerizing 3-D printer forms objects out of ooze – and fast
- Love me some 3-D printing
- How long until we’re replicating food this way?
- Additional coverage of this fascinating next step in 3-D printing
- Backpack turns a beetle into a remote-controlled cyborg
- Now this is a great idea…for a science fiction story of technology used unethically on humans
- New rules could make three-wheeled cars actually safe
- Not sure of the benefits
- Just making them for the sake of making them?
- Call me back when they are driverless, too
- 5 Star-Trek-inspired home theaters that even Picard would be jealous of
- One of them is an entire apartment!
- Looking for a leasee?
- One of them is an entire apartment!
- Tesla basically just ignited the driverless car era
- Likely available on the market by the end of 2015
- Car is able to be summoned to your location remotely!
- The rules of spellcasting
- Everything you ever wanted to know about D&D spells from the Sage Advice column
- Mars One finalist announces that it’s all a scam
- Well…that’s what one person says anyway
- Just going to have to wait and see what happens
- Electric cars cause more pollution
- …if it falls within a narrow range of criteria
- Clickbait headline
- …if it falls within a narrow range of criteria
- Simon Pegg has rules he follows while writing Star Trek 3
- “I have to abide by certain rules and do right by the original series…”
- All about the spirit of the show
- i’ll probably see the film, but Star Trek Continues is way better if you ask me
- Elon Musk’s Hyperloop just moved to LA
- So…if these were all over the place i could get from Cleveland to NYC in like 45 minutes
- Magnetic fields can control heat and sound
- Could have enormous impact on energy production
- Yet another permutation of Magento’s mutant power for comic’s writers to explore, too!
- Angry white men are trying to shut down diverse comics
- Another group of people primarily mad that about the female Thor
- Gender and race equality issues explored as well
- Hey, if a comic (or any entertainment) is good on it’s own merit, that’s all i care about
- Still of a mind that the “why not create new characters” argument is easier said than done
- China develops world’s first hydrogen powered tram
- World’s biggest polluter makes heavy investment into green energy
- How design fiction imagines future technology
- The innovations of tomorrow start with telling a story today
- A 30-year-old recording of one guy’s parents nagging him comes to life in hilarious animation
- Guy tape recorded his parents when they bitched at him for 16 years
- A friend of his made a cartoon out of it
- Laughs ensued
- Environmental expert to speak at Cleveland State University about the human rights of indigenous people
- Monday, April 6 at my alma mater
- Event is free and open to the public
Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.
Week in Geek will be back next week, and i’d love to see you here! In the mean time, check out what there is to know about Yuri’s Night World Space Party and how you can contribute to this global celebration of space exploration.
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Thanks for reading!