The life of game

Jason Hooft tells story about profession in leisure journalism

Jay Hooft critiques the Nintendo Swap on his YouTube channel JKB. 

Jay Hooft is a Canadian sport and movie reviewer who produces content material for his YouTube channel JKB, which at present has 55,600 subscribers. 

Hooft began his profession together with his buddy Mike Colangelo in 2009 together with his premiere video being a assessment of the unique “Paranormal Exercise,” which amassed 10,000 views in a single day.

“That actually kicked the door open for us to go, ‘OK, what’s subsequent?’” Hooft mentioned. “Subsequent video bought 5,000 views, and we’re like, ‘OK that is bizarre, it’s decrease.’ And the subsequent one bought 13,000.

“We had completely no concept what we have been doing, by way of working with firms, by way of getting assessment copies, going to free films to observe them, getting a product despatched to us, registering your title — any of that stuff. Once you begin out, you haven’t any concept what you’re doing, particularly in 2009.”

Hooft mentioned his channel and the present on the channel was initially known as 3 killa bytes, 3KB, as Hooft, Colangelo and their buddy Kat produced the present for eight years earlier than Colangelo determined to depart, leaving Hooft because the host and Kat because the co-host. When Kat left a few years later, Hooft renamed the channel JKB.

“It’s the identical channel, I simply modified the title, as a result of basically, it’s simply me,” he mentioned. “I made a decision to hold on every little thing, as a result of I constructed enormous relationships with all these firms, and I didn’t need to throw all of it away. I nonetheless loved reviewing stuff. So, I mentioned, ‘Even when I get a fraction of the views, I don’t care. I’ll nonetheless have enjoyable.”

Hooft has labored with all the most important firms within the gaming business over time. 

“I imagine Xbox was perhaps the primary relationship. They have been very open. As soon as we bought into Xbox, I used that to get us to PlayStation, ultimately Nintendo — that was very tough to construct a relationship with them.

“I’ve been fortunate sufficient to construct relationships with one, and I exploit that one to go to the subsequent one and say, ‘Hear, I work with them, that is what we do, I’d like to do one thing with you,” he mentioned. 

Hooft has additionally labored with movie firms. 

“I’ve labored with Cineplex, which is the No. 1 theater chain in Canada,” he mentioned. “I used to be the on-screen host earlier than the movie would begin, and I’d be speaking about online game stuff earlier than the film began.”

Hooft additionally went to premieres for horror films and smaller indie firms. He hosted a second YouTube present the place he talked about horror films. He continues to assessment merchandise whether or not it’s merchandise he buys himself, merchandise which can be despatched to him or merchandise he will get paid to assessment or showcase.

“I’ve technically been paid by among the firms to do sponsorship movies or stuff like that,” he mentioned. “Samsung would attain out and say, ‘We now have a brand new monitor, do you need to do a video on it?’ And since I used to be an enormous fan on the time, I mentioned, ‘Certain, why wouldn’t I do one thing like that?’ I exploit Samsung displays on the present, so why not?”

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped Hooft from touring to provide gaming content material elsewhere.

“When it comes to my present, my favourite sorts of movies to do are often going locations,” he mentioned. “As an illustration, Xbox would randomly name me on a Friday night time and say, ‘Are you able to be on the aircraft inside 4 hours?’ which occurred just a few occasions, and I might simply say, ‘The place am I going?’ And so they actually would say to me, ‘It’s important to signal one thing earlier than we are able to inform you the place you’re going’ or ‘Simply say sure, and belief us, it’ll be price it.’”

Hooft bought to go to the Xbox One launch celebration in Vancouver, for instance.

xbox launch party
Xbox One launch celebration in Vancouver. Photograph by Huffington Submit. 

“I might simply get on a aircraft and find yourself in Vancouver, the place that they had constructed a two-story Xbox One which opened up and had all of the video games in it,” he mentioned.

Whereas on the Vancouver launch celebration, Hooft bought the possibility to satisfy different content material creators, and seem in a business.

“They did 5 hours of make-up on me,” he mentioned. “I used to be a zombie for a zombie sport that got here out for Xbox One, ‘Lifeless Rising.’”

dead rising
The launch celebration for Lifeless Rising that occurred throughout the Xbox One launch celebration in Vancouver. Photograph by Polygon.

It was at all times Xbox who and ask him to take a flight on quick discover, he mentioned.

“One time they known as me and mentioned, ‘The place would you love to do a livestream from?’” he mentioned. “On the time, I had simply visited probably the greatest seashores on the earth. I mentioned I wished to do a stay stream from the seashore.”

Xbox constructed a big trailer on the seashore for Hooft to advertise Microsoft Xbox’s streaming platform on the time, Mixer.

“It was on Xbox’s official channel,” he mentioned. “It was after they have been actually pushing the Xbox, like stay streaming and Mixer, (which Microsoft axed on July 22, 2020). Clearly, that’s now not a factor, however on the time, they actually spent some huge cash. I’m assuming they spent a minimal $20,000 to construct that factor.

“The setup had a barbeque on the again of it — it was insane. Folks have been coming as much as the sales space like, ‘What the hell is that this?’ I attempted to clarify we’re simply streaming video video games. Older folks had no concept what the hell it was. Youthful folks have been like, ‘That is superb.’ So it was form of humorous to be within the wild, stay streaming from a seashore in noon.” 

Hooft mentioned he will get a whole lot of previews earlier than one thing is launched, and even introduced to the general public. 

“That’s an enormous bonus,” he mentioned. “I’m a gamer who grew up taking part in video video games. I by no means imagined I’d ever get to do something like this. Nintendo let me play the Nintendo Swap one week earlier than it was mainly revealed. I had no concept what to anticipate. And also you simply look on the desk, and it’s a Nintendo Swap and it had “Breath of the Wild” on it on the time. (I’m a) enormous Zelda fan, I bought a triforce tattoo. So, moments like that — completely unbelievable. “

Hooft has to abide by assessment embargos that are authorized rules firms put in place to forestall their product from being introduced or revealed to the general public earlier than the corporate does. 

“When it comes to simply being a fan of video games and getting an organization actually calling you saying, ‘What we’re going to ship you is tremendous critical and you may’t mess this up,’ and also you simply conform to it, since you need to know what it’s,” he mentioned. “And it seems to be one thing completely insane.”

One of many hardest assessment embargos was for Ubisoft and Nintendo’s first entry within the “Mario + Rabbids” collection, titled “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.”

kingdom battle
Hoofts thumbnail for “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.”


“I performed that sport two years earlier than anybody even knew it existed,” he mentioned. “I went to the studio. It’s a type of moments that was batshit loopy. You bought to do not forget that Nintendo was once so protecting of their IP’s. You by no means see Tremendous Mario on something. Strolling right into a Ubisoft room on the studio in Toronto and seeing on the desk it’s a “Tremendous Mario” sport, your head explodes. After which unexpectedly, they are saying, ‘Oh, it’s the Rabbids’ — on the time Rabbids didn’t have a terrific status. I don’t assume anybody cared about them. Your thoughts is exploding as a result of it’s Tremendous Mario, however then you definitely see the rabbid — what the hell is occurring right here?”

Hooft couldn’t say something about it for 2 years or he would face nice penalties.

“I don’t assume many individuals notice this, there’s an precise lawyer that offers you the data,” he mentioned. “They are saying mainly you have got zero rights to say this to anyone, and in the event you say something, you may be sued for lots of of tens of millions of {dollars}. That proper there’s a prime instance of simply being a fan of one thing, seeing it and being like, ‘My thoughts has exploded.’

“For 2 years, I couldn’t even say a peep about the truth that Mario goes to be taken over by Ubisoft. The excellent news is, the sport turned out to be fairly good.” 

Hooft mentioned it may be exhausting for some folks to not say one thing on-line, but when they do, they are often blacklisted by an organization, which might result in different firms to blacklist the content material creator.

“All of the PR firms discuss to one another,” he mentioned. “If you happen to mess up with one, you’re achieved. That’s what occurred with Nintendo — any person leaked a 3DS sport at one level and Nintendo put an axe to the entire program for some time and it was unimaginable to get something (to assessment) as a result of somebody leaked it. So, you have got a little bit of a duty.”

Hooft mentioned he receives so many requests to assessment video games, he doesn’t have time for all of them. 

“Reviewing stuff early is a nightmare, nevertheless it’s additionally superb,” he mentioned. “Relying on when the embargo is, you typically don’t have a lot time to play a sport. It’s irritating since you need to play a complete sport. I used to be full-time reviewing, I’d be doing “Elden Ring” or “Dying Mild 2”— you know the way many hours all of these could be? It might be unimaginable for one dude to do it. It’s important to choose and select, and I’ve to show down one thing as a result of I bodily can’t do it.” 

Along with producing content material on his channel, Hooft freelance edits and edits full-time for Overview Tech USA, a channel that produces tech, gaming and leisure information.

Go to Hooft’s channel, JKB, at


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