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The dream job

Marcus alumnus co-founds video game streaming business

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The dream job

Katie Clarke

Katie Clarke

Katie Clarke

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Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Game Attack live streams video games — everything ranging from the newest blockbuster game to old classics — on Twitch.

On screen, it seems that live streamers, Craig Skistimas and Shaun Bolen have the dream job — playing video games for ten to twelve hours a day. Skistimas and Bolen run their Twitch and YouTube channel, Game Attack, as business. However, it’s not all fun and games — it took them many hard worked years to get where they are today.

Skistimas graduated from Marcus in 1999 and majored in Journalism at University of North Texas. Skistimas, now 37 and married with two kids, admits that like many, he realized he wasn’t too interested in what he majored in college.

“I realized I didn’t like to read or write, and it’s not a good thing to have if you have a degree in journalism,” Skistimas said.

He decided he either wanted to do sports broadcasting or talk about video games on the internet. In 2006, Skistimas began doing a podcast called SideScrollers with Tom Hanley. After developing an audience, they moved to videos. Skistimas formed ScrewAttack, a gaming website named after one of the most powerful attack moves from the Metroid video game series. YouTube launched in 2005, and in 2006 it was still only a place for short cat videos and funny clips.

“The word ‘vlog’ with a v wasn’t even a concept,” Bolen said.

Eventually ScrewAttack grew a large enough fan base — their content had about a million views per week — to host live events and sell merchandise.

“Our tagline was ‘something original every day,’” Skistimas said. “Back in 2006 the idea of producing something new every single day was mind blowing.”

In 2014, he sold ScrewAttack to Full Screen, a media company that offers consultation to YouTubers and other content creators, which then acquired Rooster Teeth, a media and entertainment company based in Austin.

Shortly after Skistimas sold ScrewAttack, Bolen moved to Arlington and emailed Skistimas about an internship.

“I grew up in middle of nowhere East Texas,” Bolen said. “I graduated, I went to college, I waited tables for four years and then I was about to finish my education degree. I was going to be a high school English teacher, and I said, I don’t do that anymore, because you will find out that once you get to college your mind might change a lot.”

While interning at ScrewAttack, Bolen finished his degree, then began to work full time for them.

During their time at Rooster Teeth, Skistimas and Bolen formed Game Attack. On May 1, 2017, they went independent from Rooster Teeth and brought Game Attack with them.

“When I started at ScrewAttack, it was really big,” Bolen said. “When we went independent with Game Attack, it was the first time I felt like creatively I was home. If you get on YouTube comments, people hate on stuff they don’t know. But if you look at the Game Attack chat, everyone’s really nice, and everyone is excited to be there. It feels like going home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

In Game Attack, they’ve slowly shifted from prerecorded YouTube videos of them playing various video games to doing mostly gaming livestreams on Twitch.

“When we started going live, it just gave us an opportunity to kind of reconnect with them and stream on a day-to-day basis have this one to one relationship,” Bolen said.

 

While their following on Game Attack is much smaller than ScrewAttack — 4 million YouTube subscribers compared to 100,000 — that’s why they are passionate. After 12 years of being online, they have built a community they trust to support them, regardless of platform.

“We wanted to have an opportunity where it wasn’t about having this massive audience,” Skistimas said. “For us, it’s not about the number of followers or number of subscribers, it’s about the quality of the followers or the quality of subscribers, because they care about us and each other.”

While their community has supported them, Skistimas and Bolen have done the same.

“We reinvest in our community. Everything. Any money we make,” Skistimas said. “We know we need a project done, we look for artists in our community.”

Before they merged with RoosterTeeth, ScrewAttack Gaming Convention was held annually in the DFW area and was known as the “largest party in gaming.” As Game Attack, Skistimas and Bolen are going back to doing conventions, but this time on a much smaller scale. Compared to the 5,000 people that attended the last ScrewAttack gaming convention in 2015, the tickets for their next event, Game Attack One Night Only, will be limited to 100.

“It’s the idea that we already know our community,” Skistimas said. “This is kind of turning it into a family reunion, and that’s the premise behind it.”

Bolen emphasized that unlike other events, where interactions are short, One Night Only will allow people to play video games, go to dinner, and go on late night snack runs with them for 32 hours. Tickets for One Night Only are $750 and go on sale Jan. 11.

It took Game Attack years of ten hour work days, seven days a week to get to the point where they can host events like this.

Behind the scenes, much of their work is very business oriented — the tedious tasks no one wants to think about. Creatively, there’s no red tape, but that comes its own set of challenges.

“There’s no one to answer to you. You have to have the answers to everything you need to figure it out,” Skistimas said. “You have to clean the bathrooms and you have to rearrange things. It’s not glamorous, but it has to be done. Every dollar that we make is extremely valuable.”

Since going independent, Game Attack has been able to hire a new member to their team, Greyson Watkins, as a new on-screen personality.

Bolen and Skistimas advise those who want to stream for a living to be authentic, play games that they love, and stream consistently. While other popular streamers may be good at video games, Game Attack is proof that to be a successful streamer, gaming skill isn’t a necessity.

“Never expect it to be your first and only job. That would be the biggest mistake you could make,” Bolen said. “Just make what you love and if it happens, it’ll happen.”

Skistimas encouraged anyone interested in learning about streaming to email him at [email protected], and emphasized that Game Attack is always looking to grow and add new people.

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