The Internet, Video Games, and How They've Corrected My Personal Brand

The following was written as a post for my LinkedIn profile.

The other day at church, during the sermon, I had a neat personal revelation. It didn’t have much to do with my faith, life, or even the homily (Father John, if you hear this, I apologize). Actually, it had to do with video games, but with a little dangerous rationalization I’d argue that it also related to how I perceive and project my own personal brand.

The internet and video games are inseparable. As someone who spends his leisure time playing game cartridges older than me, it bothers me that modern consoles, literally, need to be connected to the internet at all times. What’s even more bothersome is how connected and interdependent, figuratively, gaming and the World Wide Web have become.

This shouldn’t be bothersome to me as a gamer. In fact, the internet has created powerful opportunities for gamers that go far beyond digital and social media fame; this connection is allowing people to turn their gaming habits into their careers. The monetization opportunities from Twitch, YouTube, and similar video and streaming apps, and the inevitable sponsorships, have created extremely lucrative, fairy-tale careers for numerous digital celebrities. These people have achieved fame and fortune truly by doing what they love; playing video games.

The entire phenomenon should bring me hope; even I could be the next average Joe to drop everything and pursue this fantastic dream. Instead, it makes me feel alienated. The same hobby upon which I rely for mental release now brings me stress and pressure. Sometimes I feel as though the video game community, one for which I’ve long striven to be a part, has completely left me behind.

What business do I have playing video games if I’m not using them to make let's-play, review, top 10, or overly dramatic rant videos? Is it even possible to make these videos without giving a game room tour, filming in front of a bookshelf stuffed with rare titles, flying out to every convention, or begging for viewers, likes, subscriptions, donations and followers?

Most importantly, I worry about whether or not I can even have a strong digital brand – not just in the gaming community but in the larger social and digital space – without pretending to be bigger than I really am. The emotions incited by this phenomenon make me feel like I can’t be recognized without a cool logo, a catchy opening clip with original music, high-end production value, and an edgy name that tells the audience just how serious a gamer I am.

This may all sound ridiculous to you, but to me it sounds like I’m not good enough to do the one thing that I spend most of my spare time doing for fun. Or, at least, it did sound like that to me until this revelation was bestowed upon me at church the other day; now it all sounds pretty ridiculous to me, too.

I realized that I’m definitely a gamer, and it’s definitely a big part of my personal and digital brand; talk to me for five minutes and you’ll have no doubt. If anything, I have opportunities that the very digital celebrities I admire will never have because I’m not dependent on or tied to money, ads, sponsors, viewers, schedules or responsibilities. My only duty when indulging in video games or creating digital content of any type is that I’m making the most of my very limited free time by truly enjoying it, and maybe even learning something from the experience.

The most important thing I realized is how frequently I actually do learn something, and that I feel immense joy and pride when I’m able to translate that knowledge to another facet of my life. I’m the guy on my work-team to whom people come with tech issues because they’ve heard about my PC-building and console-repairing adventures, or my experience with various content-production application software. They ask me to help them monitor what and who their children watch online, what to buy them for Christmas and where to buy it. My desire to design and create has led me to learn the basics of HTML and VBA languages, and even some MS-DOS prompts, which has come in handy on multiple occasions, professionally.

This is my real brand. I’m a full-time worker, husband, lifelong student, gamer, and so much more. What sets me apart is the tremendous balance with which I skillfully prioritize and manage it all. My hobby may not be my career, nor vice-a-versa, but they are every bit as intertwined as the internet and video games.

After church that day, I went home and changed the usernames on all my digital content and social media sites from a contrived brand name back to my own name, and the profile images from a cheesy logo back to a picture containing my actual face (shown left).

I recorded a video myself reading this post and published it on my Vidme channel.