For the second year in a row, Greg Miller and Jessica Chobot hosted the DICE Awards, the big Las Vegas event where industry peers honor each other for the best games. Miller and Chobot are influencers, with big social followings.
As influencers, they’re paving a new path for the way that millennials get their information about video games. First and foremost, they’re entertainers, expressing their enthusiasm for games through various videos and streams. They disclose when they have paid promotions, and note that their work is journalistic. At the same time, when they’ve got a legitimate beef about something. Miller in particular told his fans not to listen to distracting arguments about video game violence getting the blame for recent shootings.
Miller is the cofounder of the internet video show and podcast Kinda Funny, and he was named Trending Gamer based on a vote by peers at The Game Awards. Chobot is host of Nerdist News and creator of the Bizarre States podcast.
I caught up with them during the DICE Summit gaming event, and we talked about the brave new world of influence, authenticity, and coping with the Internet. They also talked about how they like to be approached by brands or sponsors.
Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: Do you have a feel, at least from the script, for what the show’s going to be like? How is this different from DICE awards?
Jessica Chobot: I think it’s more buttoned up? It flows a lot better.
Greg Miller: 100 percent.
Chobot: That’s also because this is our second time doing it, so we know what to expect. Those two things will make it a perfectly paced show. Nice and snappy, wrapped up, and everybody can go hang out afterward.
Miller: I feel like that’s the big part of it. This year people ask me, “Are you nervous? Were you nervous last year?” It wasn’t nervousness last year. It was that loose excitement. I didn’t know what it would be like. Jessica and I, even though we worked at IGN together, weren’t on camera together. How is this situation going to go? What’s it like on stage? I remember coming off stage the first time and it was like, “Okay, the crowd is different from the crowd I usually play to.” Making those adjustments. Now we know what we’re doing. Same script, same team, same hosts. We’re locked in.
GamesBeat: Do you feel like you’re playing it straight, or that you may have some interesting messages to deliver?
Chobot: I’d say we’re right in the middle. We’re definitely cracking jokes. But we’re not trying to be comedians. It’s a nice balance between inside baseball for the people in the room, but then also—it’s an awards show to celebrate them. That’s the main goal. I think we pull that off pretty well.
Miller: As people who speak for consumers so often—this is the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, where you make the jokes that you make with your friends who are on a podcast that maybe Nathan Vella isn’t listening to, or that Ed Boon isn’t part of. Now he gets to be in the room and hear them and see that. But everyone knows everyone is going to get made fun of and they’ll have a nice time.
Chobot: The mildest of roasts.
Miller: Right. This is a joke, but we’re also really big fans. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.
GamesBeat: It’s not necessarily going to have anything solemn or political in it?
Chobot: No, I don’t think so. With the way that the world is currently, we’re kind of approaching it as—this is a break. This is an upbeat moment for everyone in the room. This is to celebrate them. Whatever’s happening outside, while very important, this is a chance to sit and enjoy and take a breather.
Miller: We’re in there to make you smile. As far as the issues and everything else, maybe that comes up when an award recipient speaks, their struggles or what they’ve gone through—which is great.
Chobot: That’s up to them, to bring that up or not.
Miller: We’re there to steer the ship and make sure everybody’s happy. We understand why we’re there.
GamesBeat: You were Trending Gamer.
Miller: Alumnus now, right? 2015 feels like ages ago.
GamesBeat: Do you feel that did great things for you?
Miller: Oh my gosh, yeah. Trending Gamer was the end to a perfect year for us.
Chobot: I feel like it was total bullshit, but—[Laughs]
Miller: That was year one for us. The big concern was leaving–if people would still care about Greg Miller, or if it was that they cared about IGN. That’s why I had the opportunities I had. To get to Trending Gamer and have a platform to give a speech that was really just thanking developers in a way I never got a chance to do was great. It definitely put me on the map in a different way.
GamesBeat: Do you both think of yourselves as influencers, or is there are a better word for what you do now?
Chobot: Sort of? Influencers in the way that I think of influencers, which is basically based on what I watch, which is makeup videos—I think this can go for Greg as well, although I’m certainly not trying to speak for you. But we’ve been doing it for so long, been in the industry for so long, that when we like something or have something to say, I feel like we can be very honest. People respond to that. They’ve come to know that we’ve been doing this for the long haul. We’ll continue to stay in this space. I feel like a lot of people really respond to that type of—