For the most part, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” for the Nintendo Wii stands simply as a multiplayer fighting game with scant evidence of a plot. Yet where many only use the game to engage in mindless button smashing for hours on end, senior Franklin Lewis sees a drama.
Instead of merely acting as a typical consumer of games and playing the title repeatedly, Lewis has taken his childhood love for videogames and converted it into a productive enterprise.
Under the YouTube pseudonym “ElectroBlade,” Lewis uses the characters in the game engine of Super Smash Bros. to create short videos called “machinimas,” complete with story arcs and masterful cinematography.
He also gets paid to do it.
With around 1,700 subscribers to his personal account and over a million views across a few different channels, Lewis managed to get enough recognition that he now receives a stipend for each gaming video he posts to YouTube.
His videos caught the attention of Machinima, a popular gaming channel on YouTube dedicated to spreading gameplay videos, product reviews and machinima-based content, according to Lewis.
In essence he is doing what many gaming fanatics could only imagine: playing video games for money.
Lewis began his career with video games when he was five years old and began playing Pokemon on his GameBoy Color.
From that point on, Lewis became an adamant follower of Nintendo franchises, playing many of their action and role-playing games and owning several of their consoles and gaming devices.
However, in seventh grade, Lewis started making the transition to posting gaming videos on YouTube by accidentally discovering the art of machinima.
“I remember that one day when I was playing ‘Super Smash Bros. Melee’ and messing around with the characters, I thought it would be cool if I made voiceovers,” Lewis said. “Then I found out about machinima afterwards when a few friends showed it to me.”
Soon after, Lewis created a YouTube page and started posting simple videos of himself playing video games. In eighth grade, Lewis made his first experiment with machinima entitled “The Legend of Olimar,” documenting the fictional adventures of one of the playable characters of “Super Smash Bros. Brawl.”
Soon after, Machinima sent him an offer to post the series on its channel.
As a result, the five-episode-long “Legend of Olimar” eventually became his most popular series, amassing hundreds of thousands of views across multiple channels.
“I thought it was pretty amazing when I got messaged by them to post videos,” Lewis said. “I honestly did not know what to think.”
On average, Lewis said that all of the scriptwriting, filming, voice-acting and editing that is involved in production can take months, especially if he needs to contact others over the Internet for help.
“The length of time it takes to make a video really depends on the type that I am making.
“For a short six minute video, it might take about a month to get everything prepared. For a longer 10 minute video that is part of a series, the process might take a few months,” Lewis said.
The sheer devotion that it takes to post a short video to the Internet has forced him to take a hiatus from machinima since junior year, with the stress of the college application and obtaining a drivers’ license having taken its toll on Lewis’ hobbies.
Still, Lewis intends to return to YouTube in the near future, with the upcoming release of “Grand Theft Auto V” offering him an opportunity to make a new style of machinima for his channel.
“I still have a few ideas for videos that I would like to make,” Lewis said.
He said that he might also tend to his other minor interest of posting his own art to deviantART.com, a website where users post fan-art based on movies, television shows, video games and comics.
The massive YouTube gaming community consumes Lewis’ types of videos with vigor. Further, as the fourth most subscribed to YouTube channel, “Machinima” was originally founded to post the same type of videos that Lewis currently makes.
Regardless, even if the money and attention is good, Lewis says that he makes videos simply out of the satisfaction of creating something worthwhile.
“I post videos I work hard on to Machinima because I get joy out of finishing big projects, especially ones that many people around the world can enjoy,” Lewis said.
“Even if I wasn’t getting paid, I would still make them.”