A lot of folks are keen to become the next big YouTube superstar. For the entirety of his adult life, Alastair Aiken, better known as Ali-A, has been living this dream. With over 17 million subscribers on his main channel, he originally rose to prominence with Call of Duty gameplay before switching to Fortnite.
The British content creator now wants to pass the torch to the next generation with the help of a YouTube competition known as uTure. Along with a panel of hugely popular YouTube stars, ten contestants will be picked out to compete in a series of challenges and ultimately win a $100,000 prize.
I got the chance to have a chat with Ali-A about this new venture, discussing inclusion, burnout, and negativity in the YouTube space.
uTure and Representation
According to Ali-A, ensuring the contestants on uTure represent a wide variety of backgrounds, identities, and ethnicities is extremely important and has been considered from the project’s inception.
"It's something we thought about from the beginning. Yes, there's a lot of white male people making gaming content, but the judges are from different backgrounds, and different ethnicities all over the world are represented," Ali tells me.
It's clear that the show's creators hope to have this diverse collection of creatives bleed into the competition entrants and improve the diversity seen in top content creators.
"We want to make sure that everyone feels inspired and feels like they can be a great creator," says Ali. "I'm sure we'll see a wide range of amazing people that make it into the top ten on the show as well - it's really important to us."
Protecting the Contestants
Online gaming can be a pretty scary place, and this is especially true for people in marginalised groups. Combined with the fact that the minimum age for applying for uTure is 13, I was worried about the potential impact this could have on young people. The internet is ruthless, and if someone's just starting to find their feet in front of a giant group of potential viewers, they could be on the receiving end of some pretty nasty backlash.
Ali-A seemed to echo these concerns, though, and wanted to emphasise the support offered and protections in place for contestants.
"For the first stage of the show, nothing will be public-facing in terms of us showing a load of videos off to the world. It's just a chance for them to create a video for us to take a look at and find the ten best people to bring on the show."
When the show starts, the ten selected applicants should continue to receive support from the judges and YouTube team too.
"When it comes to the show itself, we're obviously going to be making sure that they're well looked after, not just on the show, but post-show as well. It's super, super important. Obviously, the guidance that I can offer, as someone that has lived in the online space and created content for many, many years will be passed on to everyone on the show. The judges will be able to offer their support as well. So I think the angle isn't to be afraid of creating content. It's more a chance to be excited about making content, and that's what we're going to be enforcing as well."
Ali-A Says Stay In School
Content creation and YouTube can easily take over your life, just as any other job or passion can. Even when you have a dream role doing what you love, it's so easy to overdo it. Burnout is common in the YouTube and content creation spheres, and Ali-A talked me through some of the times in his 12 years making content when he's been less motivated than usual.
"The advice I always instil in newer creators is that it is really exciting to throw everything in and really feel like you're putting all your time and energy into content creation. But there needs to be a layer of priorities here. If you're in school, make sure you're doing your homework, and then the spare time you have you can invest that into content creation."
That's right, Ali-A agrees with your mum that you should finish your homework before jumping off the Battle Bus. Devastating - I won't be showing my parents this article.
It's definitely key for Ali, though. Dedicating yourself to content creation can completely take over and force other important things to the back-burner. He says, "Mentally as well, you just feel better when you've got all of the stuff done that you know you need to do. After that, your spare time can be dedicated to content creation, knowing that you don't have homework sitting in the back of your mind that you've got to get done. Of course, I still find time to spend with my friends, with my family, with my wife, with my dogs, and away from my phone."
Ali finishes with some advice I really could have used early in my career, and a tidbit many can probably relate to.
"It doesn't need to be all-consuming to be successful. I think that's a misconception. Time off is really important for actually having the energy then to go back into being hyper-creative and focused."
Hopefully, uTure is able to walk that line of promoting and empowering new content creators without thrusting them into the limelight without the tools preparing them for what's to come. Being a professional content creator is a hard and challenging task, but the ten successful contestants should obtain colleagues and friends who'll help them with their journeys in the future, as well as gaining vital skills for all manner of potential career paths.
uTure registration is open until May 7 2022 at 7 pm BST.