Photo courtesy of Zennie Abraham.
Garfield Senior High School

The humble beginnings of the largest YouTube star

Even if you people may not know who he is or what he does, there is no doubt that virtually everybody with access to the internet has at least heard of the name “PewDiePie.” That would be because he is currently one of the biggest faces of the internet, currently holding over 62 million subscribers on YouTube and being famously known for his involvement in early game commentaries.

Now, Felix Kjellberg, the personality known as PewDiePie has shifted away from gaming and has moved towards reaching a much broader audience by releasing various new types of weekly content, even dabbling in spreading the news with his weekly “Pew News” series where he satirizes events both within and out of the YouTube atmosphere. Of course, his fame and fortune did not simply appear out of nowhere.

Kjellberg is a 28-year-old Swedish YouTube personality who initially wanted to pursue industrial economics and technology management at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. It was at this time that he decided to create a YouTube account and start making YouTube videos as a hobby. As he saw his subscriber count rise while doing what he loved – playing video games – he decided to drop out of college and focus on YouTube full time.

Of course, he was still new to the platform, but he found his own comfortable space in the spotlight that shone above him known as YouTube. Early in his career, Kjellberg was known for the exaggerated reactions that he would make while playing horror games. He would often scream or make horrified faces in reaction to events within games. He also played many indie titled games–games created by individual developers instead of major companies– bringing attention to small creators who wanted to grow in the industry.

Kjellberg was essential in spreading awareness for aspiring game designers. If Felix played your game and uploaded his video to YouTube, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the once obscure games that he played were now the talk of the YouTube community. Because of this, Kjellberg gained more and more traction, enabling him to have contact with the higher-ups at YouTube to express and voice his concerns for issues in the platform.

Over time, Kjellberg even began to grain traction from other media, even being invited to appear in shows like the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. With this shift in new interest in television and other medias, Kjellberg began to broaden his audience by releasing different kinds of content.

Though not finished with his gaming career, Kjellberg did indeed begin to make other types of commentary videos. He had a mix of both worlds on his channel, but this also meant that his community would begin to divide. Life was not always easy for Kjellberg, as he has explained countless times in his life update videos in times of stress. He had to sacrifice a lot of his future for the simple risk of possibly making it big in YouTube one day.

“It was never about the numbers”, Kjellberg always said. “I just do it because I love it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be making videos today.”

Kjellberg is known for his charity livestreams that have gathered millions for organizations across the world, and he still continues to do them from time to time, also often promoting GoFundMe pages for others in need of help. Because of this, along with his aiding of other smaller creators, it is no wonder that Time included Kjellberg in their 2016 edition of The 100 Most Influential People.

Today, Kjellberg is often victim of modern journalism and people who seek to undermine the uprising of the internet culture. Kjellberg, however, doesn’t let that get to him and still continues to upload videos for his fans on a daily basis.