Make sure to like and subscribe: YouTube provides creative outlet for Whitman students


Jack McGuire

A thumbnail from junior Bella Valdez’s YouTube channel. Valdez typically posts videos that depict her life as a high school junior.

By Jack McGuire

Junior Nicky Deeds — better known by his YouTube username “HamesAlwaysWins” — has his eyes locked on his 16 by 9 inch computer monitor, with his right hand firmly gripping a colorful mouse and his left hand hovering over the W, A, S and D keys on his keyboard. All of a sudden, Deeds’s pointer finger starts to bounce up and down on the mouse as he fires the trigger of his avatar’s pistol. Then, Deeds speaks.

“Jesus, that guy was a bot,” Deeds says into his large Audio Technica microphone.

Deeds is one of a handful of Whitman students who have become popular video creators on YouTube; others include junior Bella Valdez and Sam White (‘19). Deeds’ gaming channel on YouTube, catered toward teens and young adults, has amassed over 11.2 thousand subscribers since he began posting videos in 2016. Gamers seek out Deeds’ YouTube channel to view firsthand his prowess in popular First-Person-Shooter games such as “Rust” and “Escape from Tarkov.” In his videos, Deeds posts commentary over videos of him playing in which he talks about his in-game strategies and “play style.”

Deeds was an avid gamer for many years before he became a YouTuber. But when gaming began to become boring for him, he began to record his videos for a virtual audience.

“YouTube gave me a reason to keep playing video games,” Deeds said.

Jack McGuire
Junior Nicky Deeds sitting at his computer. Deeds’ YouTube channel, HamesAlwaysWins, has gotten around 11.2 thousand subscribers. Deeds primarily posts videos of him playing video games.

Deeds doesn’t know how he got so popular so quickly, but if he were to guess, it would be because of his devotion to his YouTube community, he said. He thinks many YouTubers overlook the importance of catering toward their communities; Deeds always makes sure to listen to what his viewers want him to play, to respond to their criticisms and to engage with them on social media.

 “Active community interaction is one of the most important parts of being a successful content creator. It shows the human side of you rather than them just seeing your content,” Deeds said. “I’ve met so many wonderful people over the years that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t make interaction a main priority.”

Of course, becoming a successful YouTuber came with challenges: Deeds said that it’s been hard for him to maintain good grades and still have time to make and edit videos for his YouTube channel. However, he’ll always make time for making content on YouTube since it’s something he loves, he said.

“My main goal is to upload as frequently as I can, in order to continue growing my channel,” Deeds said.

For junior Bella Valdes, YouTube isn’t about video games. Instead, on her YouTube channel — which now has almost 2,000 subscribers — Valdes mostly posts videos of her experiences as a high school junior.

Valdes started her YouTube channel when she was in eighth grade. While she originally used it as a platform to post iMovie trailers and Videostars that she was obsessed with making when she was younger, she now just posts whatever she feels like making, she said. This year, she’s posted vlogs of her going to homecoming, thrift shopping and going to school.

“I don’t really have a general theme to the videos I post,” Valdes said. “If my viewers want to see a certain type of video, I’ll make it.”

When Valdes started regularly posting on her channel in 2017, she had almost no subscribers. But, after she posted a video of her getting ready for her first day of freshman year that received 150,000 views, she started gaining a larger following. She’s since deleted the video because she thinks it’s embarrassing, she said.

“I hated that video, but I would have no subscribers if I never posted it,” Valdes said. 

There are also a number of Whitman alumni who have become successful YouTubers. One of the more successful Whitman YouTubers is Sam White (‘19). White’s YouTube channel, “Swite,” typically gets 20,000 to 40,000 views on each video. 

White, taking inspiration from famous YouTuber Casey Neistat, typically posts tech reviews or vlogs on his channel. His most popular video was a 2016 review of the GoPro Hero 5 that received 40,749 views. He remembers feeling very uncomfortable once the video began to go viral and amass lots of views, he said.

“It’s a pretty weird feeling having thousands of people across the country watch something you created,” White said. “Random people I hadn’t even talked to before would come up to me and mention my video.”

Photo courtesy Sam White
Sam White (‘19) poses for a photo as he prepares to record a video. White typically posts tech reviewed and vlogs on his channel.

But White’s YouTube career hasn’t always gone so swimmingly. In sixth and seventh grade, White created two other YouTube channels where he made videos with his friends that had minimal success. Only after he created Swite in the summer of his freshman year, he had success with YouTube. 

White said he has big plans for his YouTube channel. He wants to move away from tech reviews and start making college-based videos that focus on his life as a freshman at the University of Virginia, including dorm tours and “day in the life” videos. 

“Colleges will be around forever, so there will always be a market for college-based YouTube content,” White said.

Unfortunately, White isn’t putting as much time into YouTube as he would like. He said making an eight minute YouTube video takes around eight hours, so focusing on YouTube would leave him with less time to pursue his other interests: hanging out with friends, working out, studying and continuing his new job as a freelance videographer. He hopes that he’ll have more time for YouTube in the future, he said.

“Being a YouTuber is an important skill,” White said. “In the digital age, it’s good to learn how to use programs like YouTube and how to speak to a virtual audience.”