Editor’s Note: If you missed Part 1, our profile of GamerFitNation, head over there now and have a quick read. Meanwhile, our new feature series continues below with Part 2: The Interview!
As we said yesterday, GamerFitNation is one of our favorite new sites, an outlet that combines our obsessive love of exercise with our obsessive love and work with video games. But what makes a site like GamerFitNation tick, and what is it like launching a very focused web site like this in an industry looking mostly for bigger numbers and expanded “reach?”
To find out, we went to the source and grilled site founder Antwand Pearman about GFN.
MAVPR: GFN has a really unique focus – fitness and gaming – what has been the reaction from industry PR and others in the industry to your vision?
GFN: They love us! At first I wasn’t sure how we would appeal to them but now we’ve gained great relationships with people in the industry. I think the best part is when I meet CEO’s, top developers, and PR who want to tell me about their health issues and success stories. It shows me they appreciate our very concept. I thank them all for greeting us so warmly.
MAVPR: It seems like GFN staff is a tight-knit group of like-minded gamers and fitness-focused folks – how did it all come together?
GFN: Trial and error really… See, I asked my friends to help me get things started. Those who came eventually couldn’t dedicate themselves for a variety of reasons and ultimately left. I begin working by myself, and for a time I didn’t think the site would make it.
One day I met a woman named Brittany who became a fan of the site, and she became the Assistant Editor. She encouraged me to not give up. The extra bonus was that she was a Beach Body coach. From there, we launched a new site and worked hard until my old friend Gregory came back and soon we found a talented writer name Sharon. I decided to keep my group small, and only choose staff I felt would put in the work. Gregory and Brittany are my left and right hand, and Sharon’s my brass knuckles. We still need more people, but for now I have a perfect team.
MAVPR: What exercise activities does the staff undertake – I know there’s at least one MMA fighter and P90Xer.
GFN: Brittany, the P90Xer, Gregory is on the poorman’s workout plan (a.k.a home gym), when Sharon’s not in her home gym, or practicing yoga, she is utilizing the outdoors to stay fit, and when I, Antwand, find the time, I do everything: MMA, P90x, etc…
MAVPR: What have you learned working with VG publishers and developers?
GFN: A lot. They care about their product and all they really want is for you to enjoy their games. These guys put a lot of work into making a good product and sometimes we as gamers give them a hard time. FYI – if a developer pushes a title back it’s for your benefit, so stop getting so upset about it. That’s why we at GamerFitNation.com started something called the GFN Spotlight. We spotlight developers who show compassion for gaming. We recently featured Sega in the GFN Spotlight, they are great people.
MAVPR: What are you planning on introducing on the site in the near future?
GFN: More video content such as interviews, health and gaming events, you name it! A mobile app that lets you take GamerFitNation.com everywhere you go is also in the works. A membership program is also on the horizon, but for now it’s under wraps… Ssshh!
MAVPR: What other site – of any size – do you admire and why?
MAVPR: Are there ever enough review copies?
GFN: The hard thing about getting review copies for a game is convincing companies that your site is worth the investment. The funny thing is we have more of a hard time getting review copies for games related to our website’s focus. Put it like this: I got Dead Space 2, and I still haven’t received EA Active 2.
Look, I understand that a lot of people make requests for review copies and some might not even complete them, but GFN will. We love video games and we will make sure to produce a review that reflects it’s true quality.
MAVPR: What trade show is the toughest badge to get?
GFN: Honestly, we don’t really have a hard time getting media badges. It’s getting to the event that’s the hard thing for us. Our site has been widely accepted but it costs to be the boss. Hopefully one day we will get to the point where, financially, we can travel to every trade show.
MAVPR: What is the recent game (within last two years) you liked more than all other sites? What about hated more/less?
GFN: Personally for me UNCHARTED 2! I truly love the game. As a site we all loved Red Dead Redemption.
MAVPR: What would you tell someone looking to start their own site?
GFN: Go to events! No matter how big or small, let people see you and what you’re about face-to-face. Then when you meet them, be yourself don’t try to be like ‘the other guys’ because a lot of people do that already. Just be who you are and understand and respect the people you work with.
If you’re in this for the perks then this isn’t something you should do.
MAVPR: The experienced killers at MavPR play L4D2 a lot — What does your site crew play and why?
GFN: Well our crew doesn’t all game on the same consoles. For the self-proclaimed king of Uncharted, Antwand Pearman, and for Gregory Laporte it’s Uncharted 2. For the rest it’s Red Dead Redemption, Blur, Assassin’s Creed, and Marvel vs Capcom 3. Since we all have a Wii, I say New Super Mario Bros.
MAVPR: How do you feel about the latest Kinect/Wii/Move fitness programs?
GFN: Bout time! I’m sorry but the Wii cornered a market because MSFT and PlayStation neglected it. Now they are playing catch up, but with that said… they are doing a great job.
Let me tell you something about the Kinect and PSMove that people don’t realize; each has its own advantages. I find it better playing a dance game on a Kinect then on PSMove, but I also prefer playing a tennis game on the PSMove over the Kinect any day. Truth be told I’m glad MSFT is starting to take fitness seriously and push out DLC because we as gamers need to live a healthy life.
MAVPR: Do you find gamers respond well to your message? Is it an older gamer who reads GFN or do younger gamers seem to want to stay fit too?
GFN: At first it was hard because, it’s like feeding a kid broccoli, you know it’s good for him and he does too but it’s not something he wants to eat. So what do we do? We find ways to make it taste better.
See we are not the first gaming and health site, believe it or not. We are the #1 gaming and health website. Why? Because instead of trying to force gamers to change their lifestyle to a healthy one all at once, we show them different ways to live their current lifestyle while making small changes that will have a big impact. So basically we put cheese on the broccoli.
MAVPR: What’s been the toughest part about getting the site off the ground?
GFN: Funding really. Everything comes down to money no matter how you look at it; ads, travel, bills, you name it. What people don’t understand about most gaming sites are that we don’t all get paid for what we do. We work, have families to support, and try to maintain bills like you. Some people run their websites using their paycheck to fund it. So to everyone out there who wants to make the next big website you all need to know one thing, it’s not free.
For most companies it’s all about numbers, numbers being the amount of viewers that visit your website. If you don’t have a certain amounts of views you’ll never get the top advertisers to advertise on your site, making your road to income a long and hard one. My thing is that I’m not waiting to be the next IGN to make my ends meet. To me if you want to be successful you’ll have to create your own way to it.
MAVPR: Your “True Gamer of the Week” Feature Series has been interesting to follow; can you give us hints us to who is upcoming? What would be your top 5-dream list of industry people to participate?
GFN: Here’s the thing about True Gamer I feel people sometimes don’t understand. It’s a place where people who have done something to make the gaming world better come to be honored. There are some people who aren’t aware of the true faces that make up the gaming world. Ask someone who doesn’t know about gaming “What is a Gamer?” and 9 times out of 10 they’re going to say something very stereotypical. We want to show non-gamers the true faces of gaming and what they can become in gaming.
A lot of people give their all to put a spotlight on the gaming world; some in big ways and some small. It’s not about being fit but more or less to show gamers that we all think about our health. It’s a place where both David and Goliath can be honored as equals.
Top Five I would like to see honored as True Gamer? I would like to get Jordan Verner ,the blind gamer who beat Zelda (and the guys who helped him), LBP Planet podcast crew, and the head developer of Crisis 2, Nathan Camarillo.
Keep an eye out for more editions of The Other Sites coming up, and if you’d like your site to be featured, let us know by emailing us at maverick (at) mavpr.com!