The Level Up Show is a Show by Gamers on PlayStation, You Should Watch It

Live from PlayStation has been a great platform for people who want to share and celebrate gaming with the masses and it’s given birth to quite a number of well-produced and polished works of programming. Thanks to The PlayRoom, an assortment of mini-games tailored for the PlayStation Camera, gamers have had the ability to broadcast live feeds from their own living room without much hassle.

It’s a nice little gem that doesn’t get enough appreciation with  headline-stealing features like SharePlay and Remote Play doing the rounds. Add to the fact that Sony released free DLC to the Playroom which allows content-creators to outfit their own sets and studios and you have yourself a pretty powerful tool to produce high quality shows. Show creators take this seriously and gamers flock to these shows for their passion and interactivity. The Level Up Show is a prime example of this new and exciting venture.

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We got a chance to catch up with up with Andrew who is one of the hosts of The Level Up Show which streams on Live from PlayStation Thursdays and Sundays; Sundays being their flagship talk show and Thursdays a smaller-scale affair.

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TGF: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How and when did The Level Up Show come into existence? And was it a thing before the PS4 arrived?

 Andrew: Nooo…thank you for the invitation! We really appreciate it. The Level Up Show is kind of the brain child of Mike and I. We’ve always been “hardcore” gamers and would dream about ways we could push into the gaming industry. When we were just out of high school, The Level Up Show was a podcast that Mike and I did for a few months; it then turned into this idea of a social networking site for gamers, but we quickly realized that we needed more people with the same amount of passion and we just didn’t have that at the time. We also didn’t have the means to really get ourselves out there. That’s why the launch of the PlayStation 4 was so pivotal in the creation of the show. Sure, Twitch and Ustream had already been around for quite a while, but it was never as easy as it is now to get online and stream to the world. I remember the weekend of the PS4 launch, my wife Kristen and I did a short stream where we just talked with viewers and we called it “The Bogie Show” after our dog. Immediately following that, I called Mike up and was like, “Yo, this is our chance. Let’s bring back The Level Up Show.” The next weekend, we were sitting together in front of the PlayStation camera on two bar stools holding up a sign with a Google number. And a week or two after that, Mark was brought in on the show.

 TGF: Many shows on Live from PlayStation have either fizzled out or faded after the novelty wore off or audiences diminished, what gave Level Up Show the staying power?

 Andrew: I think the most obvious answer is passion. The gaming industry and community has always been a huge part of our lives, especially Mike and I. There is so much excitement involved in the rumors, the speculation, the conventions, the fanboy/console wars, and more. I love every bit of it. I think our viewers see that passion/excitement and share in it. The other side of our success (if you want to call it that) is consistency. Since Episode 1 of The Level Up Show, there has only been two weeks where there wasn’t an episode and that was when Kristen and I were on our honeymoon in Hawaii. Even then, Mike put on a smaller unofficial episode. He couldn’t handle not doing the show those weekends. I imagine that viewers appreciate that commitment. Even if they don’t have the means to follow us on Twitch or other social networks, they don’t really need to; they can always rely on our show being there every Sunday night. Lastly, we try our best to connect with every person watching the show. We don’t look at them as viewers. We truly look at them as friends…we’re a community. Mark and Kristen especially are in the chatroom every episode talking with the “fans;” sharing stories and joking around. What’s really cool is how the viewers have made friends with each other through watching our show. We’ve had several contact us, saying thank you for the show because it has connected them with so many other nice gamers. That’s special for us.

TGF: Where is the show headquartered and how did you find your co-hosts?

Andrew: The show has always been headquartered in New Jersey, but if we’re being specific, the show has been at two locations. It started at Kristen and I’s apartment. It was in my parent’s basement (how stereotypical, right?), but my dad and I transformed it into an apartment so that we could live there and save up money for a few years. It wasn’t the ideal location for The Level Up Show, but it did the job for the eight or so months that we held it there. It actually grew a lot over that time. As I was saying earlier, it started with a couple of bar stools surrounding a TV dinner table. While we were in the apartment, we eventually built a news table and then incorporated the television in front. It wasn’t until about two months ago that Kristen and I bought a house and began the development of our new “studio” in that basement. It definitely brought a new level of professionalism to our show and we’re really proud of it.

As for how we all met…Mike, Mark, and I have known each other since high school and especially became good friends after graduation. Mike was the first person I thought of when the idea of The Level Up Show came into my head. As my wife, Kristen just kind of fell into it. She’s not the biggest gamer in the world, but she’s very supportive of me and the show. I’m very lucky. Mark entered the team when we realized we would need a moderator, but since then he’s become much more than that. We look at Mark and Kristen as chat room personalities. In all honesty, I think they are by far the most popular members of the group.

 

TGF: What do you hope to get or plan to achieve in the long run for Level Up Show?

Andrew: From the beginning, we’ve never had expectations of the show becoming big or anything like that. We obviously wouldn’t reject that if it were to happen, but we always just said, “We’re doing this for fun. Let’s see what happens.” That’s not to say we don’t have goals though. We’re definitely pushing the show to the next level every week, whether it be the 1,000 Twitch follower milestone, the Twitch partnership, or having developers from the gaming industry on our show. It’s something we think about every day of every week. We have a Google chat group and we’re constantly brainstorming new ideas; trying to figure out ways to reach new audiences all while improving the show for the existing audience. We’re never going to stop improving the show.

TGF: Recently you participated in a 24 hour charity event for the Extra Life movement, congratulations on the donations! How do you feel the gaming industry as a whole positions itself when it comes to humanitarian commitments like these? Is it doing enough? What would you like to see?

 Andrew: Thanks so much! We’re insanely proud of our involvement with Extra Life, but even more proud of our viewers who helped us raise $1,700. It was amazing. I think the gaming industry makes more sense than any other when it comes to these kinds of events. Just since the creation of Extra Life a few years back, it has seen unbelievable growth with total donation numbers doubling each year it seems. It’s because the gaming community is so tight and so strong. We really come together when it’s important and show our caring nature. I hope to see more and more events like this in the coming years. Not only is it amazing to help others; it also reverses some of the negative stigma surrounding the “gamer;” especially recently. I’m not sure if it’s doing enough, but it’s definitely a start. I know that Extra Life is only going to grow bigger next year while other humanitarian commitments rise up as well.

TGF: Any thoughts on the Xbox One and Wii U? Any chance of seeing these consoles on your show?

Andrew: Since The Level Up Show streams from the PS4, we have some pretty strong ties to PlayStation. However, we do try to talk about the Xbox One and the Wii U as often as possible on the show. We don’t want to play into fanboy wars, but I won’t lie to you. We all have a console that we prefer. However, we’re going to branch out further as the generation moves along. Mike will be getting an Xbox One this holiday and I will likely get a Wii U around the time Zelda Wii U releases. The generation is way too young to determine where the best games will be released. All three will have their must-haves.

There’s also the question of streaming from the Xbox One. If Microsoft were to release a Playroom like application, we’d have to seriously consider that; especially if it has features that The Playroom does not. Only time will tell. For now, we are very content streaming from The Playroom and growing our audience with those that can watch from PlayStation, Xbox One, and PC.

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TGF: Can you explain “breastie” and it’s origins?

 Andrew: Oh no! Haha. The origin of Breastie actually happened pretty naturally. I said earlier that Kristen and I got married this year. Well, right before my bachelor party Kristen surprised me with a gift and it was Breastie. She wanted me to bring it on the bus to Philadelphia and throw it around with the guys. When we did our show the following day, Kristen desperately wanted to show it off so we pulled it out of the closet and put it on the table. Somehow, the name “Breastie the booby ball” came about that night and just stuck. “She” became like a member of the show and people wanted us to bring her back…so we did. We love having inside jokes like Breastie that only long-time Level Uppers will understand.

TGF: What advice do you have for people with an appetite for broadcasting and using Live from PlayStation to reach a large audience?

 Andrew: If you’re planning on putting on a show like we do, the content has to be something you truly care about. If it’s not, the viewers will sense it instantly and lose interest. It’s also important to remember that the primary goal of your broadcast is likely to inform/entertain the viewer. Focus on him or her; make sure you have some means of connecting with them, whether it be through the chatroom or Skype or party chat while playing a game. Also, form a schedule and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if it’s late at night or early in the morning. Don’t deviate from the schedule that you set up and people will come back. And lastly, utilize all of the social networks. Once you make friends on the show, connect with them afterwards as well. Build a community surrounding your broadcast and the viewers will come back not only to see you, but also all of the other friends that they have made through your show.

 TGF: Can you inform our readers on when they can tune in to The Level Up Show and where?

 Andrew: Sure! The Level Up Show streams Live From PlayStation every Sunday at 10 PM ET. You can watch it directly from the Live From PlayStation application on PS4, or you can watch it from the Twitch app on Xbox One. If you’d like to watch/follow us directly from the Twitch website, please visit twitch.tv/thelevelupshow. There is also Level Up Direct which streams every Thursday at 10 PM ET. As opposed to The Level Up Show which is more in the veins of an actual talk show, Level Up Direct is all about talking with the viewers. We don’t get as much time as we’d like to take calls during our Sunday episodes so we formed Level Up Direct to better connect with the community. Skype calls fill the entire episode and it’s a ton of fun.

TGF: Thank you for your time!

 Andrew: Thanks for having us on your awesome site! Hope to see you again on our show soon!

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