Marching to the Top with Shaun Bolen from Hang Time

by Rohan ElliottMarch 16, 2022 | , ,
Shaun Bolen, owner of Hang Time drops by for a chat all about the new brand, his journey as a content creator, and all the fun stuff that’s coming in the future including their March to the Top stream coming soon!
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For those of you that were surfing the information superhighway all the way back in 2006, you may remember a fledgling Youtube channel called ScrewAttack. It made gaming content on Youtube when Youtube was little more than a fuzzy 480p collection of music and random videos. 

These guys were pioneers in the internet culture landscape, creating content for a solid nine years. In 2016, the founder Craig Skistimas and community manager Shaun Bolen, branched off to form GameAttack. In the intervening years from then to now, Craig left the company, and as of 27 December 2021, Gameattack is now Hang Time. 

What is Hang Time, you ask? Well, I recently sat down with Shaun, now sole owner and founder of Hang Time, to get the rundown on all things Hang Time.

First things first, congratulations on launching Hang Time!

Yeah, thanks! We’ve been prepping for like a month. Our twitch audience has known about it and has been ready for it since the first of November, I think. They knew it was coming, but now it’s officially Hang Time.  

That’s super exciting! Now for the people that don’t know who you are, would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m kind of like a C team member of a long-dead Youtube channel. Somehow, I became a business owner and content creator in this space. Just from company acquisitions, and shifting around and, people leaving and, me just kind of pushing harder.

I used to work for this old brand ScrewAttack which is now Death Battle. I was a community manager there, and I split off to a sub-brand called GameAttack with Craig Skistimas. We then took our company independent after Rooster Teeth acquired ScrewAttack, and… even trying to explain it is exhausting.

Obviously, that’s the main reason for the rebrand. There’s all this history. I said no to a lot of big shows and big opportunities. Luckily, with the support of a really dedicated community, I now run a business, and we have a staff of five, and we do really big streams on the internet.

Yeah, I saw the flowchart you posted on the GameAttack subreddit where it explained everything, and I thought to myself, “Jeez, that’s a whole lot going on in the space of 13 odd years” (4 GameAttack, 9 ScrewAttack)

Yeah, I started in 2014. I was hired because a big media company, in the age when big media companies were just buying up shows (no disrespect to anybody). It was just an age where big companies had no fucking clue what they were spending money on. They were just throwing money at channels. 

So yeah, I was hired because ScrewAttack had the budget to hire me, and that’s pretty much where I came from.

So you were the community manager your whole time there at ScrewAttack?

Ah yeah, pretty much. I came in when Death Battle (the show) was taking over the brand. That audience was at the forefront while the “core ScrewAttack audience” was waning. As Community Manager, I can say that it was waning, and the channel was getting taken over by the success of Death Battle. It eventually did, and that’s what should have happened. 

I was Community Manager then, and I started posturing myself to not be a part of Death Battle, not because I wasn’t interested in it…

You wanted to do your own thing.

Yeah, I really tried to make content that was more personality-focused. I ran most host routines on their ScrewAttack live on Twitch and making different kinds of shows, so I was constantly going against the grain.

I think we all knew that Death Battle was going to take over, no doubt about it. It was just kind of like; I wanted to do other stuff. As CM, I ran the social accounts for ScrewAttack. Watching Ben, Chad, Nick, and all the other old guys just put in 50, 60, 100, 120 hour work weeks and then have them post that video like “look what we worked so hard on.” Then in response, people DM’ing them and telling them to kill themselves and assaulting them at cons. I saw that, and I was just like, that’s hard, I’m just gonna stay over here instead.

Obviously, they all took Death Battle to Rooster Teeth, and now it’s huge. Everybody at Death Battle now has even bigger opportunities down at Rooster Teeth, so it all worked out.

You’ve now officially launched Hang Time on three YouTube channels, Twitch, and you’ve rebranded all your socials. Was there a big tipping point where you realized a change needed to happen or was it a more gradual feeling that was just there?

So it’s a new brand, new colors, new everything.

The GameAttack logo wasn’t marketable, the font wasn’t changeable, and the colors were super limited. I talked to our asset designer and said, I want a design that I can change the color of whenever the fuck I want. It can be so malleable and so manipulatable. We just launched with these colors because they were so different from the GameAttack colors.

Even our colors were like; they couldn’t be green because of Achievement Hunter. We couldn’t be orange because of Funhaus, couldn’t be red because of Creatures, couldn’t be lime green because of Sugar Pine 7, and couldn’t be yellow because of Cow Chop, so it was like you can be purple.

Yeah, with “Hang Time” branding, we just want to have a good time, and y’know, we’ll change them to whatever we want later down the road if we feel like it. I just didn’t want our brand identity to be tied to a specific color.

What are you most excited about now that you have a clean slate with Hang Time?

I think the YouTube channels are what I’m most excited about. I’ve been working online for ten years now since my first internship. I used to upload episodes of The Completionist when he had 100,000 subscribers on his channel. 

I’ve worked on channels that had millions of subscribers before. I’ve just kind of watched everyone around me blow up big, but I’ve never had the opportunity to just  “create a channel” and watch it grow.

When we launched our first YouTube channel, we pulled our audience from ScrewAttack. When we launched our Twitch, we pulled from our YouTube presence, and so it’s the lowest denominator on Twitch right now. 

Our podcast channel has 1.1k subscribers, and it is like *raises fists to the sky* “oh my gosh, it feels incredible to know that the audience is here 100% for that channel.” It’s like me and the guys did that, and we’re almost unlocking monetization on it.

Just to nuke all the (GameAttack) content, with all that baggage that I’ve talked about, and just knowing that from now on, it’s our Twitch audience and people from Youtube that were dedicated enough to stick around. That’s the most exciting thing.

I’ve seen on your socials that you’ve got a new streaming schedule, and I was hoping you could walk us through a typical day for you guys. 

The good thing about having multiple hosts is that we can come on and off the stream whenever we want. Typically, we have at least two people that are on the stream.

Monday, we got up, got in early, recorded a podcast, flipped the set, we turned on the stream. I went off while they were hosting, and I started doing emails because we’ve got a lot of collaborations coming up. I think I’ve got 23 people – I’ve got Greg Miller and Bruce Greene and Lawrence and Blessing Adeoye Jr and Nic and Eric Baudour. I got all kinds of people lined up for the podcast channel for collabs. 

So, I’m off doing that. Chase is prepping right now for March to the Top. Chase is planning huge streams so we can do more in the new studio. Then once the stream wraps, Greyson will start managing the YouTube content and uploading the podcasts. I’ll be working on thumbnails and stuff like that.

We’ve tried to work our schedule back to a point where we can be off of work by about 6:30 or 7:00 to where we can go home. I mean, of course, when March to the Top comes up, it’ll be: get the stream ready, stream for 12 hours, get ready for the next day. Greyson will be buying costumes, and we’ll be spitballing ideas for our bigger streams, and then if we’re doing something like the road trip stream, I don’t know what our schedule is. Just God help us all.

Chelsea, who basically runs the business, works remotely from home. She’s handling payroll and getting our new studio situated and all that kind of stuff.

You’ve bounced around from content platforms quite a bit, was there anything you would have wanted to know beforehand, or would you go through that again?

Before this interview, I was checking out the Hang Time website and noticed the Commissions page. I’ve never seen anything like that for a streamer or YouTube channel. Can you tell us a bit about that?

I’ve seen some of the plans you’ve shared for the new studio, and it looks just fucking awesome.

It should be pretty cool. I’ve always thought that it’s harder to grow as a brand than it is as an individual. After we move into the new spot, when people come to the channel, they don’t see this guy playing video games. They see two guys playing video games, or they see two dudes driving around in a car or three guys at a video game store. Just for clarity’s sake, it’s impossible to grow on the internet. Even growing an audience and being able to do this for a living is a miracle for anybody.

As much as we can without hurting ourselves and getting burnt out, we’re really gonna use that studio to be what people can see on stream. Rather than it being “oh, there are two dudes in a box,” it’s “Woah, what’s going on in this building?”.

So when we’re posting to TikTok or making YouTube content, people can see the activities we’re doing -playing ping pong, playing basketball in the studio, doing crazy shit outside- they can immediately say, “oh, that’s something fun,” and then get to know us in time. The studio was all about getting a big space where our content can go from gaming to IRL gamers being and existing in the space together and interacting with the chats.

I can’t wait to get it up because we’re gonna have to build fake walls and do LED lighting. We’re gonna have a roller door for the studio to where on any stream we can play games, then go to our Battle Station and play a Battle Royale, and then walk over to the kitchen and eat lunch. After we can go outside and throw the football around if we wanted to, or do an impromptu foot race or something. Then we can go back and play video games.

I’ve told our peers that our content will be like Achievement Hunter: Behind the Games and Cow Chop if Cow Chop wasn’t so hardcore. Cow Chop made such awesome content that felt organic and felt like you were in the space with them. I wanna take that and make it live. That’s kind of the mission.

You’re the sole owner of Hang Time, obviously, were previously with GameAttack, you had Craig as co-founder and co-owner there with you. Is there any additional pressure that’s put on you now being the sole person making decisions?

This next question is from fellow Couch Soup contributor Emmanuel Alejandro (who did an interview with Bruce Greene back in 2021), who asks what’s the most daunting task related to the rebrand and how do you overcome and work through that?

Is there anything else you want people to know about Hang Time that we haven’t covered already?

We will be treating the old Game Attack channel as if it has never seen a video before ever. We’re just going to pretend it has zero subs and hope the hundred thousand gives us a good leap, and… you have a home if you want, come hang out with us in the Twitch chat. 

We will give you as much value as we can for your support. I know that sounds weird to say, but when you tip our channel or sub to our channel, we will give you as much feedback as possible because it allows us to exist.

Now the last question is completely separate from Hang Time: Redeemer. Is there a reboot/remake/sequel in the works?

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Shaun, about Hang Time. I’m super excited to see what you crazy guys come up with in 2022 and beyond. A big thank you also has to go out to fellow contributor Dan Morris for assisting with all the technical parts of the interview and the ever-patient editor of this article, Brandy Brown. I couldn’t have done it without you guys, and your help is always appreciated.

If you want to check out all the awesome content Hang Time is creating, it’s just a simple click away!

If you’re looking for more interviews on the site – maybe Bruce Greene, Michelle Morrow, or even Alison Haislip? Just click the links, and you’re all set.

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