What happens when you take the most popular video game theorists on YouTube, give him a budget, and set him loose on the real world? You get Game Lab, a show that’s part Game Theory, part Mythbusters, and all awesome.
In the new series by the creator and host of Game Theory and Film Theory, Matthew Patrick (MatPat) has taken his experience analyzing video games using science and math and created a new show where famous gamers test their skills in the real world, performing challenges from their favorite video games. Whether it’s running through the city like in Mirror’s Edge, defusing a bomb in Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, or pushing a giant ball around with real cars like in Rocket League, every episode is packed full of video gaming, science, and general insanity. In addition, each show will include a companion VR 360 degree video so viewers can be completely immersed in the scenarios of the episode.
My son had the opportunity to interview MatPat about his latest YouTube creation. Fair warning, I’ve done my best to transcribe the interview below, but let me just say that MatPat is seriously passionate about what he does. Just transcribing his words doesn’t properly express how incredibly excited he is to bring this show to his fans. As the dad of the interviewer, let me also say that taking the time to talk to a teenager about a project you’re promoting is one thing, but to spend time before, during, and after the interview to show a genuine interest in that teenager’s opinions of your show and to be supportive of said teenager’s own interests makes you a real class act. Thanks again, Matt.
You can listen to the full interview below or jump down and read the transcript. Game Lab premieres on YouTube Red today. The entire first episode is available for free following the interview below.
GeekKid: We’re here today with Matthew Patrick, more commonly known as MatPat, from his popular YouTube channels Game Theory, Film Theory, and GTLive. His new show Game Lab releases this Wednesday, June 8, on YouTube Red. So Matt, why did you want to create Game Lab?
Matthew Patrick: When I first started Game Theory five years ago, it was my goal to share the enthusiasm of learning that I have always had going through school with fans of video games. And I thought the best way to do that was by talking about video games, unearthing the interesting science, math, and history that you kind of learn or come across in games, but doing it in a fun way, through this online video series. And since the beginning, I’ve always wanted Game Theory to have the ability to do these things in real life, to examine the science and math of these things in real life. Even if you go back to, I think it was Episode 14 of Game Theory, I think it’s the Star Fox episode, I mention, “Hey, if I had a budget, I would be in a plane right now and showing you these moves in real life, but…I don’t, so here are clips of the Mythbusters doing that.” So Game Lab is my first opportunity to really bring this to the next level and show people all the cool stuff you can learn through video games, but in a very different way.
GK: So do you feel like Game Lab would be a replacement for Game Theory, or just an extension of it? Do you plan on continuing Game Theory?
MP: Absolutely, I mean we have an episode of Game Theory coming out, hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, next Tuesday right after Game Lab launches this Wednesday, so no, Game Theory will always be a thing, it will always have a place on the channel. It’s not going anywhere. Game Lab is just a nice extension. It’s a nice added project for me. It was a great learning experience, and I feel like I’m a better creator now and a video maker now having gone through the experience, and hopefully that carries through across all the videos, not just Game Lab episodes, but hopefully Game Theory gets better and Film Theory gets better as a result, too. So it was a project for my own personal growth and to add a new series and a new set of experiences for fans of the channel, but Game Theory is not going anywhere, so no need to fear there.
GK: Yeah, just from the first two episodes, I learned so much about video games in the real world, and I could tell you did, too.
MP: Yeah, very much. Did you enjoy the first two episodes?
GK: I loved them, I thought they were amazing.
MP: Awesome. Which one did you like better? I’m curious.
GK: I thought the Mirror’s Edge episode was very educational and was a good first episode to intro people into Game Lab, and the Rocket League episode was very informative. The big takeaway I had was that driving is a lot harder than it seems and that a lot of racing games aren’t very realistic, but car soccer really is a thing.
MP: Cool, I’m glad that you like them, because that’s the other thing that has been on my mind this whole time is we have eight episodes, and I’m so proud and so excited about all of them, but you only get one chance to make that first impression. So picking what that first episode is has been a pretty stressful consideration for me, and I thought that the Mirror’s Edge episode was a good balance of, like you said, it’s a lot of fun and pretty funny, but you had a cool challenge component to it. The Smosh Games guys and Flying Fish were great in that episode, they did a good job, and I thought that was a good, like you said, easing people into the format, showing what we can do, and with Rocket League, that’s where you start to scale up, and now we’re playing soccer with cars. So, I’m glad you liked it. Thank you. That’s really helpful for me to know. It makes me breathe a sigh of relief.
GK: I’m glad. So what game did you have the most fun putting into real life?
MP: That’s a good question. They were all really fun in different ways. I think probably the one that was the coolest to do might have been For Honor. So it’s a game that hasn’t come out yet, it’s Ubisoft, it’s coming out next year, and it’s the last episode of the series. We actually rented out a castle in wine country here, in Napa Valley, and me, a couple gamers, and thirty people dressed as knights and vikings, besieged this castle, and so you can imagine the tourists who are visiting, they’re sipping their wine samples or whatever, and in between shoots they asked us, “Are, are you guys from Game of Thrones?” No, no, we’re a bunch of video gamers who are doing this YouTube series. That one was definitely one of the coolest because we had our run of the castle, and here we are, swinging swords, and running, and shouting at each other, so that was one of the best experiences of the series.
GK: Yeah, it looked like it in your promo videos you posted on Game Theory. So in your promo videos, like I just mentioned, you said you didn’t understand at first why these large-scale productions needed so many people and cost so much. What major part of Game Lab made you come to the realization of why so many people and so much financing is necessary?
MP: Really, it’s the whole thing. I mentioned it in that promotional video, but when you looked at the episodes, there are eight completely different games, eight completely different locations, from the castle that I mentioned, to a demolition derby racing speedway in California, to an ostrich festival in Arizona, and we filmed all of those videos in a span of four weeks. Traveling around, setting up, moving to a new location, finding these location, finding the crew, all of it requires so many people who are so talented in what they do. The Rocket League episode is a really good example because while we were playing the game, there were like 21 cameras rolling all at the same time to capture the game from all the different angles. And so to have experts who know how to operate them, to make sure everything is working properly…and the lights and the sound. That was a hard episode because the sound guys were trying to mic us through the helmets and the headsets, the prop people found this giant ball, they’re painting the cars, we had a whole team of stunt drivers there, just that episode is a really good example of how you could never do that off of a typical YouTube video budget. That was probably the one episode that really hammered home for me that, yeah, this series really needed all these people to work together to make this a reality.
GK: Speaking of so many cameras, the Mirror’s Edge 360 video that I saw was so amazing and cool. Do you plan on doing this for other episodes?
MP: Yeah! That’s a whole other component to it, too. Each episode has another partner video that comes along with it that is inspired by the game that we’re talking about. So you watch Mirror’s Edge, then you see a narrative, short little video of someone actually doing parkour and fight choreography in 360. A big part of the series for me was figuring out a way to bring my fans along for the ride. I had done the reality check episode of Rainbow Six a year and a half prior, and that was kind of the pilot episode for this series, and one of the things that I realized from doing that video was that, seeing me go through it, seeing other gamers go through it, hearing about it is one thing, but actually being there is so much more exciting and so different, how can I do that for loyal Theorists who watch the channel? Because they’re the ones who are giving me this opportunity to have these once in a lifetime experiences. Without them watching the channel, without them supporting me, none of this would have been possible, so I want them to be sitting in the cockpit along with me, or sitting shotgun during car soccer, and so the VR 360 component was a big part of that. The cool thing about it was, again, it was a good chance for me to learn and grow as a creator because 360 comes with a whole different set of rules and expectations and challenges, and throughout the course of the series, what you see is we use 360 in a lot of different ways. So there are ones like the Mirror’s Edge episode where you have the camera there and you’re seeing the world around you, a little bit more like a staged piece. Other ones are more like VGS, behind the scenes style videos, where it’s like, “Hey, check out how the production worked.” You’re sitting in the car with me, but you can look around and see the cameras, I’m talking to you about the process a little bit. And then there are other ones, which are my favorite, that put you actually in the perspective of the gamer or of the experience. So we have an episode on Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes where basically you wake up and you’re locked in the room with a bomb and you’re the one who has to defuse it, or you’re in a haunted animatronic restaurant, and you have to survive the night. Animatronics are creeping around you, and you have to stay brave enough to survive the night. So that is one of the really cool parts of this experience, and one of the things that was really educational for me as a creator, and also one of the reasons the series had to be on YouTube. Not many other platforms, digital platforms, TV, whatever, would be able to do that 360 experience, and it was so important to me for the benefit of the fans.
GK: Thank you so much for including us with those 360 videos, and I’m curious, which was more stressful, driving the car in the Rocket League episode or being in the haunted animatronics facility?
MP: I would say definitely driving the car. And I think the reason for that is because, at the end of the day, I’ve done enough Five Nights episodes that I have that game on lockdown, so even if we’re playing Five Nights in real life, I’m a pro at it. Not to spoil anything in the actual episode, but I do pretty well, whereas car soccer and literally driving head first into another car that’s driving straight at you, that’s definitely pretty intense, pretty scary. But, funny enough, the most intense episode, I would say, was ostrich racing. So we did ostrich racing to kind of mirror Final Fantasy Chocobo racing, and getting on the bird, that, you know, are well-trained, they’re well taken care of, they do this stuff all the time, but even still, as a gamer, as a person who has never ridden an ostrich before, as I’m sure 99.9% of the people have never experienced, and you’re sitting on this ostrich at the starting gate, waiting for the doors to fly open and release this thing onto the track, you have no idea how fast it’s going to run, you have no idea what it’s going to feel like, you’re just holding on for dear life. That was probably the single most intense experience of the whole series.
GK: Are Skip and Peepachu jealous that you’re showing affection toward another animal?
MP: You know, I haven’t told them yet, so keep it on the down-low that I did get to play around with some different animals. They’re usually pretty cool about that sort of thing, but I’m trying to break the news to them slowly.
[Author’s note: the kid goes into full fan-boy mode here. Thank you so much, Matt, for being awesomely supportive of a young fan’s aspirations.]
GK: Heh, nice. So that’s all I have for you. Thank you so much.
MP: Cool, sir. No, thank you for watching the channel and being a fan. I’m glad that you like the show. That makes me feel really good about it.
GK: Yeah, it’s such a great experience being able to talk with you.
MP: Thanks for the interview. You did an awesome job. Do you do this sort of thing regularly, or is this kind of just a one-off thing?
GK: This is just a one-off thing.
MP: Oh, well, you have a future in this kind of thing ’cause you handled this like a pro.
GK: Thank you so much.
MP: Of course. It was great meeting you.
GK: Have a good evening.
MP: Thanks, you as well.
Matthew Patrick, better known as MatPat, is an American YouTube educator, live streamer, video game/media researcher, and is the creator of YouTube channels The Game Theorists, in which he presents theories on popular video games using research, The Film Theorists, in which he posts videos analyzing movies and television, and GTLive, where he holds live-streams of gaming, discussion, and challenges every weekday. His new series Game Lab premieres on YouTube Red on Wednesday, June 8.