Another gamer from the Perpetuum office in Zagreb told us about his YouTube career, his dog Štanga, Erasmus at RWTH Aachen University, his plans for the future, and he gave a few tips to young people who'll maybe fill his shoes. Well, let's start:
Hey Alan, is there something you'd like to tell us for starters?
My name is Alan, I'm from Zagreb and I'm 26 years old. I graduated from FER faculty in 2016 and I like technology, playing video games, and animals. Those are the three most important things :)!
You came directly from college; tell us how did you manage your transition from student life to working full-time?
It was quite simple actually; In the beginning, I was working part-time through a student contract, sometimes even less. You know how it is, there are days when you're working and there are those when you don't. Then I started working more hours until I got to eight hours a day. That's how my transition went by and frankly, it's the best way to shift to that kind of lifestyle because It's tricky that you need to be at the same place and the same time and there's no choice. It's a shock to come directly from college to 9-5 day shift. It's the best this way, I had a relatively easy semester so I had the flexibility.
Judging by your experience, what kind of advice would you give to young people who are awaiting that step?
I would definitely advise you to do the same thing as I did. Find a job before the end of college. Any kind would do, but it would be even better if you manage to find one in your profession.
As part of the Erasmus program, you had the opportunity to attend one of the best technological universities in Europe, RWTH Aachen University. Tell us more about the difference between the curriculum and the approach of learning at RWTH & FER?
I was in my fourth year of college, master’s degree when I applied for Erasmus. I decided to go someplace where I can practice my German language skills and because I found out that that is one of the best technological universities in Europe. I can’t point out the differences because when you’re a part of Erasmus you can choose any courses you like regardless of the year level. But, I could say that the main difference is the fact that I had more time throughout the semester. I didn’t have so many labs, homework, obligations, etc. as I did when I was studying at FER. The atmosphere was much more relaxing. When the exam deadlines arrive, the only thing you can do is study hard, which was perfect for Erasmus because when you’re studying, everybody else is studying too. You just need to get passed these two or three weeks, depending on your schedule, and then you’re done! I was lucky enough to have exams in three weeks and then I had a month and a half off, which I used for exploring and travelling. I would definitely recommend Aachen because it’s in a heart of Europe. Amsterdam, Paris, Köln, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Luxembourg, and many more are in its radius. Another huge difference is that they have an almost unlimited amount of money, a "space" buildings, and "space" classrooms. For example, this summer I was visiting my German roommate, with whom I lived for a year. Since I left, in the summer of 2015 up until now, eleven new university buildings have been built in a town with 250,000 inhabitants. A whole new campus was built in the northwest of the city, new cafeteria ... that city was created for and focused on students. Everything is cheap. Food prices in stores are almost the same as in Zagreb. OK, the restaurants are more expensive, and the rent is more expensive, but much cheaper than the other German cities because the majority of residents are students.
You and your brother launched a YouTube gaming channel back in 2015 called GameOfBros. How did you make that kind of a decision?
I actually opened my first channel in 2007, my brother and I have been watching “YouTubers” who were popular then, and there wasn’t a lot of them. We started uploading our videos in 2008 – 2009. The videos were about me and him playing the guitar. There’s one video that was quite all right for such a period – it got 20 000 views which is great considering that YouTube channels weren’t that popular in Croatia back then. It’s funny when you see and compare the quality of the video with today’s, but it’s still an interesting video to watch. After that, we were passive until I went to Germany. By the end of my stay, I began to catch some nostalgia easily so I went to see if there was a YouTube scene in the Balkans and found that there was hope. It was less popular than it is today, but there were still some channels with 100 000 subscribers. When I came back I said, "We've been on YouTube our whole life on, we're always there somewhere, let's try to open our channel, have a bit of fun, try to make some memories out of it. If someone likes it – even better. So we officially opened our YouTube channel on 25th of August, 2015, and by the beginning of September our first video came out and then we never stopped.
Who’s your biggest fan?
Whoever recognizes me on the street says he’s the biggest fan :). These are mostly boys from 9 to 16 years old, so, I wouldn’t say that there is just one biggest fan ...
What's the Best Moment in GameOfBros' Career?
Well, I would say that moment when we passed 1000 subscribers when you get passed a four-digit number, I guess you're doing something right. You have more subscribers than people you know :), you managed to get your audience interested. Whenever we have a more viral video I feel good, even though we have more than 500 videos on the channel. I remember our first „viral“ video – it was in October 2016, it got 30 000 views daily and in the end, reached 200 000.
You have almost 55,000 subscribers, which is impressive (nice job, high 5!). American YouTubers who have that number of subscribers often choose to promote a brand, start their own or post ads on their channel. Have you considered channel monetization? Did you get any offers?
Yes. Definitely, you can already make some money from the views and sponsors on the Balkans, but it's much more complicated to convince people that it makes sense. We currently don't have any longer-lasting sponsor so we mostly jump from one to another. You're talking to people, sometimes they contact you, but they are mostly one-time cooperation – we don't have a brand that we're promoting. If that happens, it's mostly with foreign companies that are selling something about football or games. Recently we had a chance to combine it with SofaScore, they are quite satisfied and pay well.
Would you say that the mentality in the Balkans is not inclined to investing in such marketing activities?
It's great that you have communication with the viewers on the channel. You ask questions, surveys and answer them. How did you get to that?
I knew how much I hated it when no one answered my question. I tend to answer. When I saw the reactions of these kids when answering the question – they are the happiest kids in the world. And, believe it or not, I'm an idol to someone because they like me. Only because I took a few seconds to answer that comment. This means to everything to them. When you meet them on the street you see how incredibly important it is to get involved in that personal level. When you see that happiness in the kids, you make the time. You don't need more than 20-30 minutes a day to respond to comments on YouTube or Instagram messages.
What is your plan for the next 5 years? (3 years) ... do you have a plan?
I don't see the need for making long-term plans when you're on YouTube. Maybe some users are making such plans, but we don't. We do plan on a weekly basis, but something like: „We'll post this or this video “. Of course, we need to think about new ideas so the videos won't become boring or the same, but we're in luck because we're mostly playing FIFA which will never get boring. FIFA has so many fans that there's actually no fear of failure.
What are your predictions regarding the development of gaming industry in 5 to 10 years?
I would predict that it may be totally different from most. Ok, the technology will be advanced, there will be VR and AR games, but I think that five years from now some of the same games will stay at the top of the list in the number players or type of the game. I don't see the reason why would the players change so much in five years that no one will play 5 on 5, first-person shooters. The same goes for FIFA or Battle Royal that they're playing now. New games will appear, new games combined with new technologies, but I think that inside five years „old school games“ won’t disappear. Counter Strike is still one of the most viewed and played games and it came out in 2012.
What's the most interesting project you worked on and why?
Perhaps not the most interesting to everyone, but my favourite one is when I was on Erasmus within a subject called Web Technologies. The last project was to do anything in anything, literally. Then my team in which there was a Polish person and two Germans, which I managed, worked on a topic that I proposed we should develop together. We have created a platform that would be useful to Erasmus students to exchange experiences on individual faculties. I remember when I went to Aachen, there was no place where I could see what different students from different countries thought about RWTH. So, I had no source of information about the experiences of people who were there or at least I couldn't find any. We made a web in plain PHP, which solved that exact problem – there was a map where you could click on the states and cities, and see the information you needed. You can still find it on GitHub. I wanted to translate it into something meaningful, not to be plain PHP because it is not meaningful and unsafe. This is something that I open every day and say to myself: This is an impressive thing.
Do you, like many in our industry, have the 'one-million-dollar idea' that just waits for the right time to see the daylight?
There is an idea that is in a solid state of development. It’s stuck due to a lot of obligation, but it’s not forgotten and it’s probably just waiting to continue with development. What is it about? I wouldn’t reveal it yet, those who will read this, and they should know - they already know what it’s about :)
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
My two friends, Vid Juračić and Vlatko Klabučar, one of the founders of STEM and I, have been meeting at the beginning of spring for years and we're filming a video interview in which we’re talking about life. We have an overview of last year, and in the end, the same question comes up - where do you see yourself, I think in 5 years, not 10. When you look at what we have said so far, it's not smart to plan, because I've been convinced that it just ... does not work. I go by a philosophy - I plan for a week and the rest will come along the way. One thing that I can say for sure it that I’ll stay in Zagreb because Zagreb is the best city in the world!
And now about your private life. You recently moved in with your girlfriend in your first apartment, bought a dog… tell us a bit more?
Yes, we did. We moved, in May, into this great apartment in Maksimir, and we got a dog in August, we named her Štanga and I can easily say that she’s the cutest dog in the world. Our neighbourhood is great for a dog, Maksimir is near and there’s a lot of parks. I could say that I could hardly wait for this to begin and it’s exactly as I imagined it would be.
What advice would you give to others who are just waiting for their dream job, apartment, hobbies, girls ... How much do you value your happiness? How much are you aware of where you are and what you are?
Should I retract the question? Hahahaha
No, no, no … :) When you say it that way… I haven’t realized that it’s real until now :). That it’s how people see it. I would say that I had a great deal of happiness because my parents were financially well-placed, that I didn’t have to be afraid, I knew that I could always come back and that it wouldn’t be a problem. And the rest… I went to a good gymnasium and fine college. As we can see from previous questions the job I do now is fun, attractive, and challenging enough that I can do it every day. But If I could play games and film it for money – that’s what I’d do for sure.
About the advice? Definitely, the most important thing is to do what you love. Whether it's something "classic" – do it. And, believe me, there is always some way to make money. Because you can easily sell everything today. Even a stupid hobby, if you do it well and long enough, you could sell it. You can at least make some pocket money. If someone told me ten years ago that I would never have to buy a game with my money again, that I'll always get enough money from YouTube ... I wouldn’t believe him. And yet, here we are.
Definitely find a profession that satisfies you enough, like web development satisfied me. If you really love it, great, no one is happier than you. I don’t know how would I feel if I had to film videos, if I didn’t have any other choice. If I didn’t have a job other than making videos, I would probably hate it. Now I do it because I want to, not because I have to. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to leave it as a hobby. I think that people should make something they can go back to in ten years and remind themselves what they did, where they stood, and where are they now. My friend Vid, whom I mentioned, once told me: “Isn’t it ridiculous how you won’t remember 90% of your life”. How many minutes you’re alive and how many do you remember? It’s the truth. But if you leave a mark, even if it is on YouTube, it’s gotta be something. When I’m filming the videos I’ll be able to watch the “mindset” I had 30 years from now, what did I look like, what was happening around me, and what mood I was in.