Stampylongnose: the Minecraft Youtube superstar you've never heard of
A 23-year old from Portsmouth is more popular on Youtube than Justin Bieber or One Direction. Theo Merz tries to fathom the appeal
You know you’re a proper grown-up when you can do three things: drink a Bloody Mary without gagging, discuss house prices and greet a youth trend with bewildered incomprehension. You'll have to believe me when I say I can do the first two, but the third had always eluded me. Until now - until the moment I discovered Stampylongnose.
Stampylongnose, Stampylonghead, Stampy Cat, call him what you will. All I know is that my nephew and niece love him. They say they like him more than the TV and, though I didn’t ask for fear of appearing needy in front of a ten-year-old and an eight-year-old, they probably like him more than me. They spend up to two hours a day watching videos that Stampy - real name Joseph Garrett, a 23-year-old from Portsmouth - has uploaded to Youtube of him and his friends playing Minecraft, a computer game in which users construct their own world out of building blocks.
They are not alone in their obsession. The Stampylonghead channel on Youtube is one of the top ten most-viewed in the world, ahead of Katy Perry, One Direction and Justin Bieber. Stampy uploads a video a day for more than three million subscribers, which could be making him £200,000 a month in advertising revenues from the site, though Garrett himself has refused to confirm this.
All he will say is that it was his income from the Stampy videos and merchandise that allowed him to quit his post-university bar job. Until recently this graduate in TV and video production was living at his parents’ house rent-free, allowing him to develop what was once a hobby into a full-time living. Stampy’s popularity has, too, been built on the success of Minecraft, which was created by the independent Swedish developer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and last month became the second most popular computer game of all time.
I’m not alone in not really understanding the appeal of Stampylongnose, either, as a quick look at the Mumsnet forums devoted to the subject confirms. “I have a long list of terrible things I would like to do with him,” writes one irate mother. “His voice and laugh are like fingers down a blackboard,” says one, while another describes his voiceover as “a combination of Noel Edmonds and Jimmy Carr.” Aside from his presenting style, it’s hard to think of anything more frustrating than watching somebody else play a computer game. Though clearly my nephew and niece disagree, saying they prefer Stampy’s videos to playing Minecraft themselves.
In an attempt to fathom the appeal, I sat through Fun and Games, one of their favourite videos, along with the ones in which Stampy and his friends go to the moon and eat loads of cake. After a couple of minutes watching these characters run around the Minecraft world I thought I was starting to share their excitement, but soon realised this feeling was just motion sickness from the in-game camera movements. (Studies show that complaining about jerky editing significantly increases the signs of ageing.) And yes, Stampy’s voiceover is reminiscent of Noel Edmonds and Jimmy Carr, though no less bearable than the forced enthusiasm of any CBBC presenter.
Stampylongnose is the Pied Piper of Youtube, calling a generation of children to their computers every afternoon while apparently bypassing anyone who has been through adolescence. He’s less dangerous than the Piper though - he doesn’t even swear in his voiceovers, in contrast with many others who upload gameplay videos from Minecraft. In any case, resistance is futile: Garrett is currently testing the waters in Hollywood and has plans to launch a second, educational channel. I don’t get it, but as a member of generation Teletubby and Tamagotchi, my opinion should probably be ignored when it comes to children’s entertainment. It’s Stampy’s world now.