Ah yes, the all too familiar title, dreaded by all who consume content on YouTube. Not to worry, dear reader, I will not be leaving anytime soon. However, if you happen to have any level of interest in the gaming community on Youtube, you’re probably aware of a certain theorist’s imminent departure from the platform — the ‘lore master’ himself, Matpat.
For those somehow unaware of his existence, Matpat is the main host of the channel Game Theory, as well as its affiliated channels such as Film Theory, Food Theory, and Style Theory. As you can probably tell by the channel name, Matpat (as well as his excellent team, who will be manning the channels after he ‘retires’) creates theories in video form regarding any and all types of games, ranging from plot predictions for ongoing games to the heights of your favourite video game characters, to the science behind your favourite magical pets.
Starting his theorising journey in April of 2011, Matpat introduced Game Theory to the internet world as an educational channel, providing people with a ‘tangential learning experience’ to gaming, in hopes of aiding people to feel more fulfilled after spending hours on a game. He consistently garnered a certain amount of views in the years after, but it wasn’t until 4 years later that the channel took off with the release of its first video on Five Nights at Freddy’s. In retrospect, although Matpat claims to only have done the video as a result of a poll on Twitter (0:14), I wouldn’t be surprised if his entrepreneurial mind had already planned on releasing a video on the game. FNaF was an extremely hot topic in gaming at the time, with virtually every gaming YouTuber doing a playthrough of the indie horror game. However, people were gradually getting bored of the same old (possibly exaggerated reactions) to the jumpscares in FNaF, and Matpat took advantage of this need for more original content by piecing together the loose strands of a story that was yet to be elucidated in-game, which successfully enabled him to ride the wave of fame FNaF was experiencing at the time. The rest is history. (In case you don’t know the history in question — he went on to create 66 more theories regarding the series and became such a pillar in the fandom that he was featured in the FNaF movie. (Dreams can come true, apparently.)
That being said, why is his retirement from creating game theory videos so impactful? Well, it really boils down to the unique status he has within the gaming community. Obviously, the fact that he’s a generally well-known and talked about figure on YouTube contributes to the sadness over him taking a step back from the channel, but his departure causes a definitive blow to the FNaF theory circle. Yes, his recent theories have raised primarily dissent and disagreement (which I, in turn, disagree with — Gregory is a robot and nobody can convince me otherwise), but even more lore details have been uncovered as a result of people digging for evidence to refute him with, and I don’t believe that there is any other theorist YouTuber that could trigger the same widespread discussion that he does. And while the Game Theory channel itself will live on with new hosts, I think everybody knows deep down the videos just wouldn’t have the same strangely engaging quality without Matpat’s dramatic narration (finally, somebody proves that being a theatre kid can help in future careers). And to give credit where it’s due, he is undoubtedly one of the forerunners of the video essay format on YouTube, with his theory videos inspiring many to produce their own videos dissecting different forms of media.
Surprising absolutely nobody, Matpat has influenced me personally as well. Ignoring how dangerously parasocial that statement sounds, Matpat was and still is the only person who had me paying attention to mathematical and metaphysical concepts that I would otherwise avoid at all costs. While I have now thankfully escaped the clutches of mathematics or other STEM subjects, I was always apprehensive of such studies when I was in secondary school, but every time I was re-introduced to a concept Matpat had already mentioned in a video, I would be slightly more reassured and open to studying it. It’s a pretty funny anecdote, but it was the analysis factor present in his more lore-based videos that had the biggest impact on me. I had always liked reading, but it was Matpat’s dissection of stories within games — like how certain objects or dialogue hinted at a character’s motives, or gave more insight into the game’s story, that helped me realise my own interest in taking apart works of literature to probe at its characters and themes. To some degree, I owe the fact that I am currently studying Literature to a man who doesn’t know of my existence.
Aside from the fact that he’s influenced me immensely in my academic life, I am, as I’m sure many of his other viewers are, doubly fond of him due to just how genuine he is as a person. He is genuine not just towards other people, but also towards himself. Not only is he one of the rare YouTubers who have been on the platform for 10+ years with no major controversy, there are also an excessive amount of accounts relaying how down-to-earth and nice he is to fans or fellow creators, especially now that he’s retiring. Despite his status as a public figure, he has always been faithful to what he likes, regardless of how that might reflect on him. He never shies away from the fact that he was a theatre kid, that he likes cringy dad jokes, or just that he is just..kind of a nerdy loser in general. Growing up watching him be so unafraid to show his most true self has helped me be unabashed about my own ‘loser’ interests, and I’m certain his authenticity and genuine kindness have touched many others as well.
Well, here’s my two cents on Matpat’s departure from YouTube. I’m sure he will be sorely missed in the FNaF community (despite their annoyance towards his increasingly hard-to-believe theories), and in the gaming community as a whole. But hey, that’s just a theory.
Featured image: by Campus Party Brazil via Flickr.