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Audiences are lining up in the US to watch this guy play video games badly

Online show ‘Rage Quit’ attracts more than 350 million views

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 1:13pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 April, 2017, 1:13pm

When Michael Jones takes the stage, he doesn’t hold a mic or a musical instrument. His main tools to entertain are his video game controller and the words that come out of his mouth.

“I certainly didn’t think I’d find myself in this situation,” said Jones, 29.

After graduating high school, Jones apprenticed as an electrician. He bought a camera to film family moments, and decided to film himself playing video games for fun.

In July 2010, he posted an expletive-laden video of him chasing of one of the impossible-to-catch orbs in “Crackdown 2.” It went viral and suddenly people noticed.

“I realised, ‘Oh, people like it when I’m pissed?’” Jones said. “I’m from New Jersey. I do that all the time.”

Six months later, production company Rooster Teeth asked him to join its team, and in January 2011 he launched his online show “Rage Quit,” a series featuring him playing difficult levels or challenges in video games. Spoiler alert: It usually ends in him quitting with an epic tantrum. It’s gotten more than 350 million views to date on YouTube.

“Anybody can play a video game,” said Jones. “You don’t have to be good. I consider myself okay. I’m better than the average person, but compared to people on the Internet I’m horrible.”

The youngest of three brothers, Jones grew up in Woodbridge, NJ, playing video games. He fondly remembers his brothers saving money to buy him a Nintendo 64 for his tenth birthday...then his middle brother claimed he didn’t mean to give it as a gift and took it for himself.

“There was not a lot of controller sharing going on in the household,” he said.

Jones is now about to embark on the four-city “Let’s Play Live” tour with the other stars of production company Rooster Teeth’s “Achievement Hunter” channel, where they will perform for his online — and now offline — fans. First up will be a stop on April 24 in Jones’ home state of New Jersey at the 2,900-seat New Jersey Performance Arts Centre in Newark.

“Now my Mom is asking for tickets for my Aunt and Uncle, my cousin — so many tickets,” he said joking. “Mom, leave some for the audience.”

Then, they’ll pack up the tour bus and head to Baltimore, MD, Orlando, FL, and Tampa, FL. Previously, Jones and the rest of the “Achievement Hunter” crew sold out venues in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Austin, bringing their brand of rowdy commentary and hijinks to a live audience.

He’s also done other projects with Rooster Teeth, including starring in “Lazer Team,” one of the top fundraised Indiegogo film campaigns of all time. He also is a voice actor in the company’s anime series “RWBY,” in which his wife Lindsay Jones voices the main role.

People may not see the appeal of watching someone else play a video game, but it’s the same as watching someone else play basketball on TV which is why it easily translates live, Jones points out. On top of that, the guys on the “Let’s Play Live” tour chat about things you talk about with your friends, turning it from a voyeur sport to a comedy show, he said.

“Video games give us this amazing platform,” said Jones. “We could walk into the office and go into a room, and we would have this exact same conversation.”

He admits audience members who expect to see well-executed gameplay will be disappointed, but that’s not stopping him.

“I wouldn’t put us on the same level as musicians or superstars,” Jones said. “For some reason we fooled them (our fans), and they just want to consume our content in any possible way.”