By Alan Crosby
On a Saturday morning, Fullerton resident Gabriel Rubalcava crawls out of bed and heads straight to his computer. He launches “Minecraft” and joins a few friends already playing. But Rubalcava is not just here to enjoy the game: He is here to work.
Rubalcava is part of a growing community of YouTubers who are making their living posting “Minecraft” videos on the streaming site. According to the Associated Press, Minecraft is the most streamed game in YouTube’s 13-year history, with over 42 million videos and counting.
Rubalcava does a mix of writing, recording, and editing with a few friends in order to make his YouTube videos and has amassed over 28,000 subscribers.
Similarly, Minecraft YouTuber by the name of “stampylonghead” has over 8 million subscribers, according to an article in “Entertainment Weekly.” The man behind the screen, Joseph Garrett, was able to quit his bartending job and move to Los Angeles with the success of his Minecraft videos.
Rubalcava seems to be headed on a similar path and attributes a lot of his success so far to networking. For instance, he happily took on side projects while working on his own YouTube channel.
“A lot of it is really about being involved in the community. For the most part, everyone just knows everyone in the space. If they don’t know you they at least know of you,” he said. So even when he is not producing content for his own channel, Rubalcava is constantly either writing, editing, filming, or recording Minecraft videos.
It all started four years ago when Rubalcava began playing “Minecraft,” a game that allows players to craft and build in an open world. It is often referred to as a ‘sandbox’ game as it allows players to create their own experiences.
“Honestly, that was the only game my computer could run at the time. I had just recently been introduced to it and I would play on my laptop in class. Eventually, I looked up how to record my screen and started making videos,” he said.
Rubalcava’s videos are a mix of stories he and his friends have written and played out using “Minecraft” gameplay as well as some remakes of popular movies and television series.
Initially Rubalcava didn’t do much with his channel, mainly focusing his efforts on forming relationships within the community.
“I didn’t really make videos at first, I just made friends in the community,” he said.
The first friend he began creating with was a YouTuber by the name of “snickz.” The two started out with a group of other up-and-coming YouTubers, and quickly formed a solid friendship.
The first video the two made together was called Survival Games, which was a remake of the movie The Hunger Games. The video, which has since been deleted, was the first step in the creation of Rubalcava’s own channel, “BowieWolf.”
His most popular series is The Crafting Dead, which is his own Minecraft remake of the popular show The Walking Dead. The series came out weekly for about two months for the first season with each week being a new episode. Recently, Rubalcava posted a single video with all seven episodes put together due to many requests by his subscribers. This video gained a lot of popularity and currently has over 250,000 views.
“Not only is it my most viewed video, it has the highest audience retention time of any of my videos,” he said. This basically means that a higher percentage of people are watching this video for a much longer time. Since releasing this video, his audience retention has gone up on other videos as well.
In addition, since posting the video in January, the “BowieWolf” channel has gained over 10,000 new subscribers – bringing him to more than 28,000 subscribers.
Although Rubalcava has not had quite the success as some other YouTubers, he was able to quit his job at Pei Wei and fully support himself with his YouTube channel and a few other side projects, all Minecraft related.
“There are infinite possibilities with Minecraft videos. You can make commentaries, how-to videos, or you can mess with mods and stuff. There’s just so much you can do,” said Rubalcava. “I view [Minecraft] more as a tool to create content than as a game. It’s a limitless creative outlet.”
Disclosure: Gabriel Rubalcava had been the author’s roommate for seven months when this article was written. The author has personally known Rubalcava for two years.