Forward: Flying from Atlanta to Houston I sat next to a young boy clearly on his way to mastering his industry. For 95 minutes and 6 miles above ground I was quite impressed on his unique strategy to dominate the gaming world. He reminded me of myself at 15 excited about my first Celebrity Interview. His name is Mason Conrad and this is his very first written entry on simply being Mason. Remember his name guys, this won't be the last time you see his name.
~ Thais Mills, Publisher LipServiceInk Literacy Magazine
Flies to Los Angeles for E3
To think about a time where I only dreamed of doing what I’ve accomplished is baffling to me. The “future” is an interesting concept. Never knowing how life turns out or the opportunities I’d come across has always been something that I’ve questioned. Do I fit in with my crowd? Will I get to do the things I want to do in life? It’s a simple step in the right direction - but a vital one in regards to my future dream career.
I’m Mason Conrad. I’m a YouTuber from the outskirts of Columbus, Ohio. Being a “dreamer” got kind of of tiring. I mean, everybody has goals and everyone aspires to be somebody in this world - even if that “somebody” is just a person that wants to make another person smile. Don’t get me wrong, that’s great. I just feel like my goal is to be that person and to, one day, be a significant partner of the video game industry at the same time. I want my role in a company to make somebody smile - to say, “Wow. He’s really steering them [video game company] in the right direction.” I want that company to be Nintendo. No other. I make Nintendo YouTube videos where I dounboxing videos, game reviews, countdown videos, things of that nature. Since I was 14 years old, I’ve had this goal to go to Los Angeles, California for E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo). It’s insane to think about how that was almost 6 years ago. Little did I realize, though, that the event I thought I’d have to wait decades to go to was approaching much quicker than I’d thought - and all it took was a little hard work and dedication.
Being so persistent with my YouTube channel at the start was hard. I saw so many other people that had channels get Nintendo games early, and I wanted in on that. It was my first goal as a YouTuber, to start getting “review copies” for games from my favorite company. Now, as I do YouTube, I’m technically working with Nintendo as well. It’s great. Back in the day though that wasn’t the case. I got the “Nintendo Brand Ambassador” title just last year. That role is given only to media influencers and major gaming news websites around the internet. So, me, at the time 18 years old.. was good enough to be accepted within this group of influencers? Me? My favorite video game company actually thought that my opinion and voice mattered enough to send me these products to share with my audience at 18 years old? I was super proud of myself. It was something that confused me so much, as to why they accepted me into their program, but I went with it.
Goal one was accomplished - I started receiving free products/games from my favorite video game company. The one that houses the famous plumber in red: Super Mario. It’s an honor for me, really. I can’t describe how much I appreciate being a part of this program. It’s given me the opportunity to get pretty far (literally. I’ll get to that in a second) and meet new friends/media influencers that I had only ever dreamed of talking to. And thus, the next step was E3.
E3 is, as mentioned, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. All the major video game companies get together and show off their lineup of games for the following holiday, year, or whatever their timeframe is. I used to request off work three every single year for every single year just to watch these press conferences online - to be one of the first to get the scoop on the new games releasing. In reality, my personality could be defined as a super-nerd. I have a Nintendo collection that’s pretty huge compared to some, but that’s just because I’m so obsessed with this company. My point is, after those five or six years not being at work just to sit at my desk and scream with joy for games getting announced, I no longer do that.
Rewind back to April of 2016 - I was biking with my aunt. I’d like to think I’m a decent steerer even with my phone in my other hand - but that’s just on a bike trail. Texting and driving on an actual road isn’t good. I only do it on a bike on an empty trail, I promise. Anyway, I checked my gmail because I’ve always been super into that to check new YouTube comments on my videos. Interaction is such an important key with it, so I always do my best to keep up. Instead of a YouTube notification in my email, I had a message from Nintendo of America - it wasn’t just any message, though. It was an invite to E3, a free pass with my name directly on it. I was so excited. But, as my luck went, it was too late of notice and I wasn’t able to go due to work/financial situation. Nobody of my age can really just drop a ton of money to go to California with less than two month’s notice. Luckily for me, I had a little bit of money saved. That’s really saying something too, as I’m a very impulsive spender. I got another invite to go this year from Nintendo. This time, with only a month’s notice. So, as quickly as I could, I purchased the plane ticket, paid for the airBnB (I stayed with some friends from YouTube for the week), and got together some extra funds for Uber, food, and other things of that sort. I guess it’s good that I have a pretty decent work ethic - I work at a fast food restaurant as a shift manager. Not the best money, or the best job in general, but I worked enough that month to have enough money to take this trip, surprisingly.
Then, that was it. I said goodbye to my family, reassuring them I’d be back in a week. My mom barely let me take this trip - but I’m beyond glad she did. I’m 19, technically I can do what I want I suppose. I’m just the type of son/person to value my family’s opinions. It was hard for her to let me go. This was the farthest I’ve ever been by myself. Especially with the fact that I went to literally two sleepovers in the past years before this. I’ve always been an introvert. I mean.. I think as of late that’s began to change.
Los Angeles was insane, but in the best way. The trees looked cool, the food was good, and the Uber drivers are REALLY nice. I got there on the night of June 11th, and on the 12th I went to the convention center and picked up my 3-day badge. As promised, my name was printed right across it. Receiving that tag with a Super Mario lanyard was probably the most rewarding thing ever - especially because I made it that far because of the support I’ve had behind me, and Nintendo themselves. Day one of E3 was incredible. Just waiting at the doors for the West Hall to open to dart to Nintendo’s booth was quite a rush. I’d never been to California, or E3, in person. It’s always been online video presentations I’d tune in to. I never thought I would get there this soon.
That was it. I was literally living the dream I’ve had for years. I gotta say, it isn’t how I envisioned it. It’s a lot busier there than you’d expect - shoulders crowding together as you walk through the booths and trying to wiggle your way through people to keep up with friends. That was a challenge in itself - then there was the fact that I had to keep track of my camera I used for vlogging the experience, which I had in my hand for 8 hours each day for that convention. Waking up at 5am to catch the Uber at 6 to get there at a decent time to avoid lines was a pain, but worth it. Nobody really likes waking up early there from what I noticed, but who does? Sleeping in is where it’s at. But for me, I was on a mission to go to this convention and to get the fullest experience out of it that I could. I met SO many people.
I stayed with some YouTube friends of mine - my friends Alex (CND/CaptainNintendoDude), Jacob (Jacobs Ocarina), Tuan (CrazyDopetastic), Gio (Reversal), Nathaniel (Nathaniel Bandy), and TriForce (Empire Arcadia - and yes, his name is actually TriForce. Like, from Zelda). It was quite the group. Seven YouTubers in one airBnB made for an interesting experience, but I wouldn’t have traded that group for my first E3 for anything. They’re all great people. I met alongside them, lots of other internet personalities: Lamarr Wilson, Chuggaconroy, lots of YouTubers. The craziest part of all of it was seeing all of these high-up Nintendo representatives walk around in the public like they’re at Walmart (even though sometimes they’d have scary security guards crowded around them). It was like that for every company, but again, I’m just a Nintendo nerd so I stuck around that booth. It was surreal. Seeing my idols walk in front of me like nothing.. it was insane. Shigeru Miyamoto - the creator of Mario, or Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America. And Tatsumi Kimishima: the president of all of Nintendo. Most were surrounded by security and couldn’t get pictures, but the representatives I did meet were all very nice. I even met my Nintendo representative that sets me up with the review copies of games. Meeting her was great. Not only did I meet those people, but I played tons of games: Super Mario Odyssey, FIFA 18, Pokken Tournament DX, Splatoon 2.. lots of games that were coming out for Nintendo Switch, mainly.
The convention itself was great, and I’m already making plans to go back next year. To think that I’ve made it this far already speaks volumes to myself, as a person - knowing my favorite company invited me under their name, to join in on this expo. Granted, I literally skipped summer college orientation to take this trip.. but I don’t regret that at all. I’ll just go in the fall. The trip to E3 was crucial, and it confirmed to me that, yes.. I want to be a part of this one day. But, the crazy part is, is that this is only the beginning of the journey.