Context: Fortnite is a free video game available on most platforms where the object is to be the last-man-standing in a ‘battle royale’ style of gameplay. All players parachute onto an island where they must find weapons, gear, and materials to survive. Weapons are for eliminating other players, gear is used to gain (or re-gain) an advantage, and materials are used to build structures. 100 people enter. One man leaves. All while evading a storm that shrinks the playable area as the game progresses.
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins set a YouTube record by being the fastest non-music creator to go from 1 to 10 million subscribers. At the time of this writing he’s currently the top streamer on Twitch (where people go on the Internet to watch other people play games), where he’s estimated to make around $500k a month off of subscriptions. Yes, you read that correctly.
I started watching some of Tyler’s video’s (which are just recordings from his Twitch streams) and noticed something: he wins 98% of the time. In fact, very very few of his YouTube videos ever have him lose at all. Of course, this makes sense – why upload videos of yourself getting destroyed at a video game? But that still doesn’t explain the popularity, at least, not all of it.
I think what Tyler is leveraging here is the classic storytelling structure (intentional or not) by establishing himself as the main character. He’s a lot of fun to watch – he’s funny, he’s real, and he’s insanely good. This makes him likable. And then what? Well, then we throw 99 other players against him, and watch the “story” unfold.
I think if you took one of his YouTube videos and turned it into an elevator pitch it might sound something like “A comedian parachutes to an island to play a deadly game, but is talent enough to keep him alive?” Hilarity ensues and it works. Throw in a few moments of setbacks in the form of some near-eliminating experiences and you have a fairly compelling story packed in to 15-20 minutes.
- Intro: Ninja parachutes down to the island and finds some gear (5 minutes)
- Rising Action: Firefights, build battles, and quippy dialogue (minutes 10-15)
- Climax and Falling Action: The number of players dwindle, the storm circle tightens, and then…victory (minutes 15-20)
The real test would be to create a channel with each video structured as a story and see how it does.