There’s something so addictive about watching Game Grumps. It gives you that comforting feeling that you’re just hanging out with your mates, playing some video games and chatting about whatever pops into your head. Contrary to the name of their channel, they're actually pretty chill dudes, too.
A big part of the Grump’s success is down to the talent and personality of their two core members: animator and voice actor Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson and frontman of comedy band Ninja Sex Party Danny “Danny Sexbang” Avidan. Yeah, that's his real stage name.
Egoraptor’s flash animations were a cornerstone of Newgrounds, the 2000’s era hub of budding, online animated talent. Like a migratory bird, I return to the hilarious Metal Gear Awesome and Sequelitis series every now and then, in search not of fairer weather, but of a jolly good chuckle.
In 2012, Hanson started Game Grumps: a let’s play channel on YouTube that was destined to redefine what a successful video gaming content creation channel looks like. Down to the aforementioned likeability of its gamers, Egoraptor’s (and then-partner JonTron’s) reputation in the video making community, and its honest, no edits, no facecam, no Twitch chat style, it grew quickly.
Game Grumps Animated
A few months in, the first Game Grumps Animated appeared, an animated short based on the audio of one of the Grump's Pokemon Emerald episodes. The initial 3 Game Grumps Animated episodes were all animated by Egoraptor, where he opted for a pretty basic style, choosing an absence of colour and a low number of individual frames. The textured brown paper bag background gave it a raw, sketchbooky feel.
The format was simple, but it lit the creative fuse of hundreds of their millions-strong fan base. These stylistic choices were likely made for 2 reasons; the first being time constraints. Looking at Egoraptor's fully animated videos shows you just the kind of polish he puts in. Going with a cut down style makes it possible for him to fit a little animation into his presumably Grump and voice acting-dominated schedule.
The second consideration is that by using this sketchbook, down to basics approach, it encourages other animators to take it up and give it a go. It's not packed with thoughtful colour palettes, lighting or other beginner-hostile techniques; it's just some decent linework with a low number of frames that imaginatively capture the essence of the mood during the clip.
It's an easily replicated style so beginners can jump in, get a bit of practice and put some of their stuff out there. Crucially, they can do so whilst supporting something they love and knowing that they're going to get some views from other Grumps fans because of the “Game Grumps Animated” brand association. This leads to better exposure, decent constructive feedback and a stronger community: all stuff that's admittedly not always easy to find as a budding animator.
Needless to say, the format became lovingly adopted by other animators, and soon there were a slew of fan-animated videos based on the original style created by Egoraptor.
It didn't take long for other animators to start putting their own spin on this newly-established style, and an increasingly diverse roster of colourful, unique, bold and even 3D Game Grumps Animated episodes started cropping up, each with the flair of their creator proudly in evidence.
Game Grumps even began featuring them on their channel's dedicated Game Grumps Animated playlist alongside the original Egoraptor episodes. By curating and constantly adding to a huge playlist of fan-animated videos, the animators are literally being invited into the spotlight where their creation has a shot at being viewed by millions of subscribers.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the Game Grumps Animated story is a huge collaboration project known as Animate-A-Grump. Organised by Ludolik & KLN, Animate-A-Grump took more than 80 individual animators working on a few seconds of footage at a time to create a 16-minute long epic version of the Game Grumps Animated format. The result is a celebration of the Grumps and the grassroots animation talent of their audience - every clip brimming with variety and personality.
Here's the finished project; as you might expect from audio recorded whilst a man gradually loses his damn mind whilst struggling with an incredibly unforgiving boss battle, there's quite a bit of swearing!
Some established Newgrounds/YouTube talent takes part, but this project was, once again, about giving a platform to less experienced animators, offering them an otherwise unobtainable level of exposure.
Getting this many animators to complete their part on a big project like this couldn't have been easy. When it comes to animators, 'herding cats' is a phrase that pops to mind, so the transitions between artists by editor Steve Dorian deserves huge props alone.
Just when you thought the video couldn't get any better, the credits sequence starts rolling and a jammin remix of the audio starts pumping out of your speakers. All the artists that took part get a chance to animate themselves, or their avatar/logo/whatever. Seeing everyone's creativity when it comes to choosing a way to represent themselves is a really endearing, personal touch to round this monster of a collab off with.
The Game Grumps legacy
Projects like these have been around for a little while, so I'm not trying to say that the Grumps invented it, but what they've brought to the mainstream YouTube audience has spread like wildfire to talented fans of podcasts, radio shows and other let's play channels. They're everywhere now!
Game Grumps have such a passionate, talented and loving audience, and projects like these really send ripples through the animation, as well as the let's play communities. It makes you chuckle, warms your heart and most importantly: inspires you to pick up your stylus and get more involved.
If you're anything like us and you're inspired by what Game Grumps are doing for the animation community, why not show us what you've been up to? Give us a like on Facebook, a follow on Twitter. Or if you prefer to animate whilst wearing a suit and tie or a snappy pantsuit, connect with us on LinkedIn!