You Should Be Participating

What a fan-made video game hack taught me about how I tanked my YouTube company

Ben Creighton
9 min readFeb 9, 2020


Author’s Note: I sold my ownership stake and resigned my position as CEO of Team Four Star in early 2019. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views and opinions of T.F.S. Entertainment LLC or any of its current owners or employees.

My YouTube company, Team Four Star, was failing, and I didn’t understand why.

In Dream Job Burnout, Thomas P Seager, PhD writes about how people who actually attain the “dream job” of professional YouTuber or Twitch streamer often find the reality much more challenging than the dream would imply.

Burnout is a real problem and the causes, which Tom and I cite in that article, are also real. YouTube’s algorithm is notoriously fickle. The pressure to release new content is stressful and the instability of a boom-and-bust business can make even the booms feel precarious.

But none of that was my problem.

My problem was that I fundamentally misunderstood what kind of business I was in. I thought I was in the media business. My company produced YouTube videos.

That’s the media business, right?

I was not in the media business. I was in the community business, and I was bad at it.

In the early days of YouTube, it became a fad to post shortened parodies of popular anime series called “abridged series”. The barriers to entry were low. Anyone with a cheap microphone and some pirated video editing software could create an abridged series, and the YouTube platform made it easy for us to share our creations.

The series themselves were universally amateurish, but that didn’t matter. We were having fun pushing the boundaries of what could be done with our slapped-together setups and untrained talents. We made sly references to one another’s series, which became inside jokes and elaborate crossovers. The…