DanTDM Creates a Big Scene on YouTube Red

boys with DanTDM

If you have children of a certain age, you probably recognize the name DanTDM. The TDM stands for The Diamond Minecart, and Dan Middleton is the man behind the YouTube account. He’s made his fame (and fortune) by playing Minecraft and recording his gameplay at the same time as his own face while he narrates and reacts to the game. Kids all over the world watch all of his videos. He has over 14 million subscribers.

YouTube Space LA sign

So it makes total sense that YouTube Red would partner with DanTDM to make an original series. DanTDM Creates a Big Scene debuted on April 7, along with three other original content series. A celebration was held at YouTube Space LA in advance of the launch, and I attended with my sons, who thought it was seriously the coolest thing ever. I was invited to interview Dan, press junket style, but I stuck my boys in the hot seat since they know all about him, as you can see in this interview, posted on YouTube (naturally).

If you’re patient and watch through to the end, you’ll get a kick out of my younger son just firing the difficult questions like “What’s up with your hair?” and “How about those giant earrings?” He wasn’t intimidated at all. Considering I started my career in the arts as a behind-the-scenes interviewer, I’m feeling like the kid’s got it in his blood.

youtube red step and repeatBut he won’t pose for photos with Mom.

The new YouTube Red series, a fantastical take on DanTDM’s creation of a live show that actually does exist, begins with the free first episode, but the subsequent 5 episodes are viewable only by YouTube Red subscribers. YouTube Red is the paid version of YouTube, which allows you to watch all of this original content ad-free. For people used to watching YouTube videos for free like you have been since the beginning of YouTube, this might be an adjustment. But the production value seems pretty high, so you’re bound to have a positive experience if this platform works for you.

DanTDM YouTube screening

In addition to Dan’s show, three other YouTube Red Originals for families will roll out this Spring including Kings of Atlantis, an underwater animated adventure starring Cody and Joe of the immensely popular Minecraft-inspired YouTube channel, TheAtlanticCraft also debuting on April 7thFruit Ninja, inspired by the eponymously named gaming app, and Hyperlinked, a scripted series starring tween music sensation L2M will also arrive this spring. All four of the shows were screened at the party we attended, and the kids were transfixed by them all. The stars of Hyperlinked were there, and they were super friendly to all the kids at the party.

DanTDM signs kids hats

But the true star of the event was DanTDM himself. He was gracious and kind to every kid who asked him a question or had him sign their T-shirt or hat. I watched him meet kids and sign items for over an hour without ever looking tired or even wanting to sit down for a second. Such seemingly effort success couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

Original series on YouTube Red. $9.99/mo.

Help Local Foster Children – Hope4Kids Festival and Run

Save the date! Join in to help some foster children and if you are into road races, you should check out this upcoming 5K/10K and mile fun run happening in Camarillo on April 29:

Hope4Kids flyer - event to help foster children

All proceeds from the races, the festival, and a huge silent auction they are having will benefit foster children in Ventura and Los Angeles counties through the group RaisingHOPE. Here are some sobering facts from them:

There are approximately 1,200 children in foster care in Ventura County and 28,000 children in foster care and Los Angeles County. Many of these children are in group homes or are shipped out of county because there are not enough foster families to care for them. These situations disrupt a child’s ability to live in a healthy family and impede their schooling, family visits and they even split siblings. Without our community getting involved many of these children have no one. They are essentially cared for by a system of paid staff in homes with other children. We aim to bring the children to the community so that each citizen can do something to help our most vulnerable children. We help hundreds of youth annually through our programs as follows.

For more information and to see how else you can help, visit RaisingHOPE’s website.

Nintendo Switch Preview

Kids playing video games

Last weekend my boys and I got to play some games on the new Nintendo Switch! We attended a launch event in Hollywood, and as I noted on Instagram, it was totally worth the drive. 

video game player and girl with multicolored hair

We’ve been anticipating the Switch’s arrival for months, and the boys were really excited that it is finally here. I’m still super old-school, so I am content to play LEGO Star Wars on the Wii U (and let’s face it, I would have been fine playing Atari for the rest of my life if things hadn’t evolved from there) but I was definitely curious.

Mario party

The selling point of the new Switch gaming system is that it can be used as a console hooked up to your big screen TV, or taken on the road and played like a tablet. So it’s sort of a cross between the Wii U game pad and the Nintendo DS systems. When the Switch is in console mode, you use the little “Joy-Cons” as multiplayer remote controls, docked in a Joy-Con grip so you can use them like a pro controller, or just use a pro controller. When you go portable with it, the Joy-Cons re-attach to the Switch and you use them both to play your single player game.

Nintendo Switch product photo

There’s a great video to demonstrate these different ways to play here.

At the launch event, the kids and I mostly used the Switch in console mode, but I did take a moment to pull the unit out of the Switch dock to see what the graphics looked like when I was playing the new (and also hotly anticipated) Nintendo open-world video game Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The graphics were great on the big screen, but you can really see the definition on the Switch unit itself. It looks better than any hand-held and certainly better than the DS or 3DS.

Boy playing Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

The game is awesome. We only got to play a 20-minute demo version, but it was enough to make us all wish for a Switch and the game. Kit wakes up from a 100-year nap and gets a cool magic tablet that shows him where to go on his quest. But as Kit’s controller, you get to choose where to go, what to discover, and what to do. It’s like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, but in a video game.

Breath of the Wild screenshot

We also played some neat games that you control with the Joy-Cons: Arms (first person knock out game, which my kids mastered instantly but I could not seem to grasp) Poyo Poyo Tetris (like playing Tetris, but with Gremlins), Splatoon 2 (another kid-favorite: you get to move the world around by tilting the Switch in handheld mode), 1-2 Switch! (quick-draw fire at your opponent game), and Just Dance 2017:

You can barely see the Joy-Cons in our hands because they are so small. It makes dancing much easier than with the bulkier Wii U remotes. In these pictures we are totally rocking out to “Cake by the Ocean.” The kid beat me with his sick moves.

The launch event was a gamer’s theme park. It was the coolest arcade this side of the 1980’s, no quarters needed. (These kids today. They have no idea.)

woman under giant Mario hat

We need much more time with the Switch to give it a thorough review, but from this limited experience, I can see that it’s going to be a big hit. The Switch goes for $299.99 and game cards are $49.99 and up, not compatible with the Wii U or Wii. So it’s basically a platform replacement. This is a paradigm shift for the one-at-a-time console family, like we have been since getting our first system in 2009.

Not that it matters much at the moment. The Switch has sold out everywhere already! And with a game release schedule spreading out the awesome new titles for several months, I’m betting they’ll continue to fly off the shelves (and out of online retailer warehouses) as fast as they come in! Check out the Switch website for more details and videos.