You might be closing in on 1,000 Twitter followers and a four-figure list of friends on Facebook, but the truth is that nobody is really that concerned with seeing a photo of your breakfast–and especially not if you’ve got any fewer followers than that. The internet has redefined “celebrity” to mean no such thing, a place where everybody might be famous in their own front room, but it rarely extends much further than that.
This rule of thumb does not apply, however, to a man named Andre Krieger, despite the fact that his renown has grown only in the internet age. Krieger is better known as “CommanderKrieger” and his numbers are in a different league.
Ever since this amiable 34-year-old from Meerbusch, Germany, began taping himself commentating on video games and then uploading those videos to YouTube in 2009, he has been little short of a sensation.
There are now more than 650,000 people who subscribe to Krieger’s YouTube channel and his videos have been viewed more than 113 million times. His fame is such that here in Vienna, a crowd of about 75 groupies showed up at the airport to welcome him to town.
That’s the real airport in a real capital city, not just an avatar in cyberspace. Krieger’s light-hearted commentaries, underpinned by his unique humour, have struck a distinctive chord with the German-speaking youngsters of the 21st century.
“It was amazing,” Krieger said. “I never thought I would get that big. I’ve got subscribers who are waiting for me at an airport, and screaming if they see me, and want to get pictures and wanting to get signatures. It’s amazing.”
For the uninitiated to all this, Krieger is what’s become known as a professional “YouTuber”, ie, someone who has successfully managed to monetize the process of uploading popular videos to the internet and getting people to watch them. A short advert will play in front of many of his clips, for which YouTube will pay him per every thousand clicks the video receives.
Viewers are then able to watch Krieger as he goes about playing a video game (from football games to war strategy or shoot-’em-ups), but more importantly to listen to what he has to say over them: jokes, commentaries and sometimes just chewing the fat with friends about current affairs. The videos tend to last about 30 minutes and veer off in any direction his imagination takes him.
“You have to bring a lot of personality for the audience,” Krieger said. “They are really young, from 13 to 24, and you have to find the correct words to reach them, to get them into your video.”
He continued: “When people want to see me in real life, they want to know ‘Is he like he is in his videos? Is he this funny guy also in real life.’ And yes, I am the same. I love to talk, I love to talk crazy s— sometimes. It’s easier to have a smile on your face than to cry or be angry. And if you can bring that message out, it’s a win-win situation.”
Krieger, who stands at close to 2m tall, has previously been a professional basketball player and a bodyguard, as well as a spell as a croupier in a casino and as a seller in the advertising team at Google. But he is most at home as a YouTuber, where he has found this unique way to connect.
“This is my dream,” he said. “I can make the kind of videos that I want to, nobody says you have to do it. I make the kind of videos that I want to show to the people.”
Although Krieger confesses that he is essentially getting paid to pursue a hobby, he also refuses to take the success for granted and works at his craft.
“Most people think I’m always playing games and having fun all the time but it’s more busy than that,” he said. “A normal day has about ten hours. I’m reading every message I get from my subscribers and most of them I try to answer. They are short, but have all the information they need to know. This is a lot of work. And I also keep track with the publishers and you have to cut the video. Playing is a really small part of it.”
Krieger learnt how to play poker about 15 years ago, and has (of course) spent some time on the German language broadcasts of EPT Live, where he brings the humour to complement the poker know-how of the likes of George Danzer and Jan Heitmann.
It follows that he would be given his chance to play on the EPT himself and this event, where he is sponsored by PokerStars, is the biggest tournament in which he has ever competed.
“There are many players who are better than me, but I’ll try my best,” he said.
Whatever happens, there’ll be a video in it. “Of course,” he said when asked if he’d be taking to camera to discuss his participation here.
Look out for it–you and the 650,000 others.
Day 1B of EPT Vienna is under way. Click through to the main EPT Vienna page for all the action.