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Interview #015: SkulShurtugalTCG

Join me in welcoming SkulShurtugalTCG to the latest Industry Interviews! Besides being a HUGE Nintendo fan and supporter, a Nintendo Brand Ambassador, and a successful YouTuber, he's also a great guy to just get to know! So let's get right to it!

Thank you Skul for taking the time to speak with me today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is SkulShurtugalTCG. I'm probably best known for my YouTube channel, which has over 200,000 subscribers. My channel primarily focuses on Nintendo games, but I am a lover of all kinds of video games, from the past and the present. I have over 600 games and 15 home consoles in my collection and I'm always expanding it. 

What was the first console/game you remember playing?

My dad had an old Windows 3.1 computer. I remember a Snoopy game and a Jeopardy game that I used to play all the time when I was very little. The first video game console I played was probably the Nintendo 64 at a friend's house. The system came out when I was four and he had all the best games. I went to his house almost every day and we played for hours on end.

What is your fondest childhood video game memory?

Spending days and days playing the original Pokémon games. Back when I first played them, there were only two: Red and Blue. My family would let me rent a Game Boy and one of the games from Blockbuster for $10 a week. I constantly saved up my allowance to get them over and over and over again. It's definitely something that only 90s kids will understand.

It's time to get social! Social media that is, hahahaha! Your YouTube channel has over 240k subscribers and your Twitter recently passed 10K. First off, congratulations! Secondly, can you talk about what got you into social media?

I never thought I'd become a full-time YouTuber. I started off by opening up random Pokémon Trading Card Game booster packs. I got lucky and people found my channel--a LOT of people. After two really good videos, I realized I was earning more from YouTube than at my "real" job, so I quit and shifted full-time into making videos. Since then, my channel has evolved and changed, and now I focus more on video games. I created my Twitter account to better interact with my audience, providing them with a peak of what the "real" me goes through day to day.

On YouTube, viewers can often find you recording live streams of gameplay. Was this always your intent to produce this type of content?

My intent was always to just have fun with whatever I was doing. At some point, I realized that livestreams were a lot of fun and don't take nearly as much energy as recording and editing videos. Plus, it gives you a better opportunity to interact with your audience in real-time. I don't have a live stream schedule, because I find spontaneous streams to benefit my mental health more, but I try and aim to do at least one or two a week.

What else can new viewers and longtime subscribers expect from your channels?

I try and cover the newest Nintendo games whenever they release. Expect to see lots of Super Mario Party in October, Pokémon Let's Go in November, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in December.

Your primary focus appears to be Splatoon and Pokémon. What is it about these two games that interest you so much?

The moment I saw the first Splatoon trailer during E3 2014, I was hooked. I've never been a big fan of shooters, but this was the perfect twist on the genre to rope me in. The goal of the games isn't to kill opponents; it's to cover the ground with as much of your color ink as possible. It's a much more casual way of playing, and it's exactly the kind of thing I can play for hours on end without getting bored.

Pokémon has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was six when the very first Pokémon ANYTHING came out in America - episode 15 of the animated TV show, which acted as a teaser for what was to come. I saw it the night of its premiere, and ever since then, I've been hooked. I don't really know what it is about the series I like so much. Maybe it's all the different creature designs. Maybe it's the multitude of media tie-ins that help flesh out that world and make it feel more "real" than other video game worlds. Whatever it is, I have loved Pokémon since I can remember and I know that will never go away.

Is there any new content planned for 2019 that you can tease today?

I don't really plan that far ahead, haha. I can tell you, though, that I am planning a few trips that I'll document on my channel--including PAX East for my first time.

Follow my Twitter for more details as I share them.

We have to talk about your role as a Nintendo Brand Ambassador. For those that do not know, what does this entail and can you describe how you became one? Nintendo Brand Ambassadors are people who have a large following online--generally social media--and represent Nintendo to anyone who happens upon them. In exchange, Nintendo sends me review copies of their latest games for me to share with my followers, and show what they can expect if they choose to play it. For example, I got Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido a few months ago for the Nintendo Switch. I livestreamed the game for an hour on its release date, and loved it far more than I expected. Many of my fans decided to go and buy it for themselves, something that wouldn't have happened had Nintendo not given me a copy of the game to show off.

I'm not at liberty to say how you can become a Brand Ambassador, unfortunately. 

What is it about Nintendo that drew you to their consoles, games, and community?

I've loved Nintendo characters since I was little. I didn't play on a non-Nintendo console until just a few years ago in 2015. When I was growing up, the PlayStation was just coming around, and my friends talked about how much better it was which made me feel a bit defensive for my beloved Nintendo characters. This was the same when the Xbox came about. Nowadays, I own every single current-gen console, but I find myself still drawn to Nintendo. Their high quality, their attention to detail, their commitment to making games timeless, really help them stand out against the competition.

Since the Nintendo Switch has come out, what area(s), if any, do you feel could be improved upon?

I'd like to see more third-party support. Ubisoft and Bethesda have really committed to the Switch, and that's great. It's amazing to see Doom and Skyrim and even South Park on the console, in sharp contrast to the Wii U which got barely any support at all. But we're still missing out on big AAA developers committing to the Switch. Ideally, I'd like to see Day 1 ports of big, highly-anticipated games. Can you imagine how well a Red Dead Redemption 2 port to the Switch would be?

If you could choose any game from any console to release on the Switch, which would it be?

Grand Theft Auto V. I want for people, both gamers and non-gamers, to look at the Switch as an equal player against the PS4 and Xbox One. Sure, the graphics would be limited, but if any one game can be ported to the Switch to tell people "Hey, this console is a good option too", GTA V would be it.

What Nintendo franchise are you hoping makes its debut/return on the Switch?

Nintendo's done a good job of bringing back lots of franchises to the Switch. There are lots that have been shelved for years that I'd like to see. 1080, F-Zero, and Advance Wars are a few I can think of that aren't "obvious" (like Animal Crossing and Pikmin).

Do you prefer handheld or docked mode for the Switch?

I prefer docked because it works better with my setup. I'm able to tap a button on my wall and the second monitor for my computer suddenly becomes my Switch display. It's great for livestreaming and video capturing, which is almost always what I do when I use my Switch. I play in handheld mode probably only 10% of the time, when I'm away on trips.

What game(s) are you currently playing and what are you looking forward to? I'm playing Octopath Traveler and it's such a good game. I can't recommend it enough. I'm most looking forward to Pokémon Let's Go in November and of course Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in December. But there's a LOT of other games that are already confirmed for the Switch that I am looking forward to. Metroid Prime 4, the new Yoshi game, next year's Pokémon game, Shin Megami Tensei V, and Doom Eternal, just to name a few! Is there anything else you'd like to share today? I want Zelda CD-i ports to the Switch. Change my mind. I dare you.

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