RTX 2014: The Power of a Community

This past weekend Rooster Teeth, a production company with a cult following after their first release of the Halo-based Red vs. Blue series, hosted their fourth annual convention down in Austin, Texas.  During July’s scorching heat, Rooster Teeth summoned thousands of enthusiastic fans down to their Austin convention center for their own hosted event known as RTX. Over the past four years, RTX has grown exponentially in size and popularity, drawing in more fans and exhibitors alike, with this year bringing in over 30,000 people from all over the world.  

And a lot of people have been asking, “How?”

Those who are vaguely familiar with Rooster Teeth usually recall them through Red vs. Blue, Achievement Hunter, or “Those guys on the internet that my buddy showed me.” Founded in 2003, Rooster Teeth has consistently remained a pillar of gaming and the internet.  In the words of internet celebrity  Freddie Wong, "…[Rooster Teeth] are in a lot of ways the OG's of the internet.”  As such, it's no surprise that this year’s tag line for RTX was "Where Gaming Meets the Internet."

Rooster Teeth's ability to create something with almost immediate success is hard to rival. Take their recently concluded Indiegogo campaign, for instance.  Rooster Teeth created a crowd funding campaign with little more than a brief synopsis and their own promise and outline to create Lazer Team, their first feature length movie.  The Indiegogo campaign concluded with Lazer Team becoming the number one most funded film project in Indiegogo history.

Photo Credit: Jack Plunkett

Photo Credit: Jack Plunkett

Whether you call it arrogant or clever marketing, it’s hard to look past how much RTX has grown.  Rooster Teeth’s cause for success remains their strongest feature - their attention towards the community. In a data-saturated world where individuals exist as numbers, Rooster Teeth has looked beyond their metrics and focused on cultivating their audience.  RTX itself is an act of taking care and growing their community; over the years fans have created different events such as Red vs. Blue meetups and the ever popular RvB TO (standing for Red vs. Blue, Toronto,) where Rooster Teeth fans would gather and celebrate their common interest.  Almost every year a new community event would start up in some city both in the US and overseas.  And with every event, the Rooster Teeth staff made it a point to not only attend but to join the celebrations alongside their fans. 

The progression into a larger convention made sense as the next step, since they essentially fused their community events into one large, exciting meetup.  As Gus Sorola, co-coordinator of RTX, told Sevencut, "The reason we started RTX was there were so many fan events we couldn't attend so we thought 'Why don't we have an event that was close to us and have everyone come to us?'"  

It's easy to look at RTX as self-promotion of a future hegemony. But just by looking at Gus, wearing a fan-made king's cloak, you can spot the authenticity. When you look past the jokes, the crassness, and the usually disturbing questions about what you may or may not do for money, Rooster Teeth promotes and values its community.  With many of the staff members originally fans of Rooster Teeth, it is easy to see that maintaining awareness of your fan participation affects more than just your audience, but can change your company, as well. 

So this matters...why? 

It’s important to see what Rooster Teeth is doing right as a company.  They are doing it right as a company, and that does affects you, the content creator, the content consumer, and/or you, just someone who spends time browsing the Internet. Rooster Teeth honors their community, and in return, their community honors them.  While yes, getting the product done is the most important aspect of content creation, you can’t forget about your audience. It doesn't matter if you are Bungie creating community playdates, or a Skyrim modder making the world's best looking tree.  The Internet as a digital world is not all about numbers -  remember to take care of people who care about you.