“It’s one of life’s great mysteries isn’t it? Why are we here?” The previous quote (as well as the title of this article) are taken from the popular webseries Red vs. Blue. It serves as one of the overlying themes (and also one of many running jokes) of the series. Red vs. Blue is the flagship program of the Austin, TX based production studio, Rooster Teeth Productions. Just last month, Rooster Teeth celebrated its ten year anniversary, while Red vs. Blue finished it’s tenth season late 2012.
Ten years is an impressive run, made all the more so by the fact that the company is showing no signs of slowing down (in fact, it’s only continued to grow). But, perhaps the most unbelievable aspect, is the fact that all their content is web-based and they started before sites like YouTube even existed.
Before going further, I feel I should give a fair warning. The material put out by Rooster Teeth isn’t exactly kid friendly (gratuitous vulgarity, off-color humor, and occasional violence come to mind). While the violence mostly occurs in the live action shorts, profanity should be expected in everything. I’ve kept the article clean, but if foul language, inappropriate humor, or mild violence offends you, you may want to avoid clicking on any of the supplied links. On the other hand, if your sense of humor is just as weird is my own, please enjoy the supplied resources mentioned below!
It all began with Burnie Burns, Gus Sorolla, Geoff Fink (now Geoff Ramsey), and Jason Saldaña. The five guys started off working tech-support together and created the website drunkgamers.com. They would review and comment video games- hoping to get companies to give them copies of the game for free. Getting free games didn’t take off as well as they’d hoped, but DrunkGamers did bring about something else. This site was running the same time that the Xbox first came out. Of course, all anyone was talking about was Halo. Burnie, being the Xbox guy, worked with the game. In order to keep things interesting, he decided to take game footage and add humorous commentary; this was how Red vs Blue was born.
Originally, it was just a hobby ran out of Burnie’s spare bedroom. For the first few seasons they continued to work tech-support in addition to posting weekly videos. Geoff and Burnie moved to doing it full-time and the others eventually followed. Joel Heyman and Matt Hullum, who Burnie met in college, joined the team full-time as well. Rooster Teeth Productions is born at the same time as Red vs. Blue and since its creation, has grown in ways that even the founders didn’t anticipate.
Since it started in 2003, Rooster Teeth has expanded, adding several more shows to their lineup (more Machinima, live-action shorts, video and audio podcasts). In 2011 Rooster Teeth held its first community event, RTX. Many of these new shows are still being produced (RT Shorts and Immersion just for examples) and RTX 2013 is scheduled to happen this July.
There is also Rooster Teeth’s sister site, Achievement Hunter, which was started by Geoff. Achievement Hunter is a gaming website and does standard walk-through videos with commentary and also more off-the-wall videos, where the goal is to approach a game from a different angle. Like Rooster Teeth Productions, Achievement Hunter’s goal is to provide humorous content based around gaming.
So how do five guys go from spare bedroom to fully staffed Internet sensation? The first season was supported by viewer sponsorships and selling T-shirts. Rooster Teeth and all its content are supported by the fans, something the cast and crew of Rooster Teeth have never forgotten. They continue to make themselves easily accessible to those who follow their content. The site not only hosts the videos and the online store, but is also a social networking community like Facebook or Twitter. It is also set up so fans can “call in” live to the RT Podcast via Twitter. The Achievement Hunter website even hosts community play dates, where cast, crew, and fans can get together and play video games. However, even with all the support of the fans, it’s doubtful that Rooster Teeth would have come this far if not for the Internet. The Internet has completely changed the way we distribute media. It is now possible for someone to get their material out where the whole world can see it instantly.
So what started as five guys doing audio recording in a closet, has now evolved into one of the prime examples of machinima and web based content. Rooster Teeth Productions is what happens when the Internet meets innovation and creativity (it’s also what happens when two armies stuck in a box canyon get bored and start wondering ‘Why are we here?‘).
And now, the trailer for Red vs Blue season 11. Which premieres this Friday on RoosterTeeth’s website: www.roosterteeth.com.