Why I Love The Game Grumps: An Interview About Fans, Content And Wendy's


If you’ve ever watched a Let’s Play on YouTube, you have the Game Grumps to thank. For five years their channel, hosted by Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson and Danny “Sexbang” Avidan, has provided more than four million subscribers with laughs, goofs and gags. The premise is simple: the two sit on a couch, play a video game and do commentary. The reason I love this channel so much isn’t because I like watching someone else get tortured by the Zelda CDI games, but because they feel like people I already know. Like guys who just come over to play some Xbox, maybe smoke a bowl and have a few laughs. I got the chance to talk to the pair about their careers, their fanbase and their lack of YouTube drama, and I only hyperventilated a little bit.

Nothing shows their charismatic crossover into the mainstream better than their love affair with Wendy’s. What started out as a series of flirtatious tweets turned into a strange internet phenomenon that concluded with with Hanson going to their test kitchen to try out some experimental eats.

“Wendy’s was a brand that I was particularly huge on, and I was just like ‘Let’s get Wendy’s to take us seriously,’” Hanson said. “In our weird comedic style, over two years we managed to build up a relationship with them.”

Drama's "LIke a firework. It might get you attention really fast, but it disappears."

With enough “sweat equity” as Hanson puts it, the Grumps managed to impress a major sponsor that wouldn’t normally consider YouTubers as viable partners. It’s that genuine commitment to authenticity, that turned not only Wendy’s, but every daily viewer, into a fan.   

Hanson started out as an animator online over a decade ago, creating the Awesome video game parody series on Newgrounds.com. In middle school, I watched Metal Gear Awesome dozens of times, obsessed with the fact that a nerd with ambition and a lot of niche gaming knowledge can gain a following and make it his job.

“With cartoons, there really wasn’t a way to communicate with fans in a direct way, I was just making comedy content,” Hanson said. There’s a new 15 to 20-minute episode of Game Grumps, which are mostly of the two but sometimes feature guest stars or other Grumps, posted every single day “so we have a more intimate relationship with the audience, therefore we’re able to get a little closer to them.” And that connection is what keeps fans like me coming back for more, on and off the screen. The Game Grumps love their fans and it’s abundantly clear why when you listen to the duo talk about them.

“We literally have some of the nicest fans I’ve ever met, especially when we travel around doing live shows,” Hanson said. The Grumps aren’t just online – they love to tour, too. Wherever they go, tickets sell out in minutes as fans refuse to miss the opportunity to meet the duo, alongside other Game Grumps members, including Suzy, Ross and Ninja Brian.

As a Game Grumps viewer, I love being able to visit a channel on YouTube that isn’t filled with clickbait or unnecessary drama.  It’s really easy to fall into the web of theatrics and easy views that channels like Scarce, DramaAlert and Jake Paul thrive on. But for Game Grumps, keeping away from drama was entirely intentional.

Avidan explained drama is “like a firework. It might get you attention really fast, but it disappears. Drama by it’s nature will blow over and then you have to wait for the next thing to happen and catch their attention again.” If a YouTube channel is like a buzzard, circling around the desert hunting for the next dying internet personality, they won’t be able to foster a solid community.

“If you present yourself as a good person and just be a good person, you don’t have to be fake and can just be you,” Avidan said. “At the end of the day, if you just believe in yourself and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, do your own thing and just focus on trying to make people laugh.” It sounds like a line out of an after-school special not the words of a member of a band called Ninja Sex Party that sings about accidental boners and “peppermint creams.”

The Grumps take their jobs very seriously, they have 14 employees who “all depend on this business,” Hanson said. Both want YouTubers to be taken earnestly, especially by advertisers, who are accustomed to the strict rules of television.

“YouTube has been a source of daily entertainment for a decade now, but a lot of these companies are run by older folks who hear the word YouTube and think about cat videos,” Avidan said. “It doesn’t connect as something that is a source of entertainment on the level of television for a generation underneath them.” But for most of this internet addicted generation, a notification pop-up from a YouTube subscription is a solid replacement for cable.

Still, advertisers shy away from content that isn’t predictable. One Grumps episode might be as clean as a Brian Regan stand-up set, while another might have a whole song where they say “fuck” three times. After the “adpoclypse” struck, dozens of advertisers pulled out of YouTube wanting to keep away from contentious content. The Game Grumps could be considered risque, but companies need to learn the value of having a direct channel to a huge fanbase. This is why the Wendy's deal is so important. It represents a major corporation used to traditional advertising on TV taking time to recognize Game Grumps for doing exactly what all advertisers want: reaching people.

“We’re the people talking directly to audiences, so we know how to communicate, which is something they can benefit from,” Hanson said.

Today, we get to see the Game Grumps take their cynical talents elsewhere as Hanson and Avidan star in Good Game, a new YouTube Red original, produced by Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon, about a group of misfits that form an esports team for the unlikely chance to win $1 million in the biggest gaming tournament of the year.

The Game Grumps likability and charisma have carried them to the top and they show no signs of slowing down. Watching the channel grow from what Hanson admits was technically just a joke into one of the largest on the site is exactly what a decade-long fan wants to see. Their YouTube content makes you feel like you’re part a bigger community, like you’re not just alone staring at a dimly-lit computer screen. You’re laughing along with Hanson when he gets comically frustrated dying to a giant purple flower or concerned when Avidan explains his history with depression. I feel like I’m part of something bigger than me when I watch, even if I’ll never be able to play with Arin and Danny on the Grump couch.

Join the Discussion
Top Stories