As many people within the community know, HaloFollower is currently the largest Halo channel on YouTube, and a source of a lot of drama and tension over the past few years. Today, I want to discuss the part I played in HaloFollower, the effect it has had on me, and the reason why I left the company.
Before I start, I want to preface this by saying that I am not writing this to stir up further drama or even shine a negative spotlight on HaloFollower, this is just my account of the events that transpired in the two years that I was a part of that team. I feel like this is a topic I need to discuss, if not only to bring closure to that part of my life, but also to educate people on the channel that they regularly throw hate at.
So, I became a writer at HaloFollower in October 2014 after watching Chris’ (the CEO of Follower) hiring video – in which he played a terrible match on Zanzibar. His Halo skills aside, I sent off my application and proceeded to make a swathe of articles over the next year and a half. There were long durations where I wasn’t making content for the channel or the site, and this grew to a head a few months before I left…but we’ll get to that later.
While I was there, I met some awesome people who became some of my closest friends, and stuck with this family of ‘contractors’ through a lot of the aforementioned drama. If there’s anything my time at HaloFollower has taught me, it is to not read the comments. However, being a part of that family also showed me how to not be so passive and instead suggest changes or question why certain decisions were made – both inside the company and out. I believe this is one of the reasons why some of the others found me a challenge to work with, and why I became a supporter of progress in the Halo community as a whole.
On the other hand, through this time I had matured from being reactionary and opinionated, to being more patient and open-minded. This also encouraged healthier discussions, though the way that I communicated with the others at Follower still showed cause for concern. The direct, correcting and often sarcastic way which I wrote messages in the chats was off-putting to many, but this was overlooked by my quality and consistency as a writer. This behaviour, coupled with drops in content creation, made for a very rocky platform for me to stand on.
These real-life issues are working to be resolved, and I have already seen the effects of how more productive conversations can stem from relaxed mouths (and fingers). In Summer of 2016, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and it was then that I realised that my lapses in motivation and unsatisfactory behaviour were not entirely my fault – at least not consciously. I never tried to use this mental illness as a crutch, but it seemed that my problems were not as respected or understood as they should have been by the management of HaloFollower.
I understand that games journalism sometimes requires writers to be available to get content out quickly; and there were times when I was on top of that and relished the opportunity to pump out news articles (such as Gamescom or E3); but I could not live up to this year-round. For almost a year, I have had therapy sessions which help me with my issues expressing myself in real life and on the internet, and I am able to write this so they must be helping.
As for the multiple instances where drama has affected me through HaloFollower, I will say that I am grateful for them in a way, as I would not have learned the lessons I did without it. On the other hand, I feel I must point out that whenever HaloFollower is targeted in an attempt to insult or belittle Chris, it also affects everyone who works there. Those of us who weren’t as recognised as the main people who were running the channel only had our voices heard through team meetings, which would get more and more sparse as time went on.
If changes weren’t visibly being made to the way videos were made, or even what content was discussed, it doesn’t mean those discussions weren’t taking place behind-the-scenes every day. And for all I know, that kind of constructive discussion is still taking place. While any progress for HaloFollower was always slow, I grew to accept that many of my suggestions weren’t taken into consideration, or they wouldn’t be implemented because of my reputation within the company. I know that I certainly wasn’t the most likeable person, and at times I only made situations worse. It was best for me to take a step back from that sort of thing.
Now, I think its time to tell you exactly why I left HaloFollower. As any business worth its salt would, HaloFollower was moving more and more into the direction of quick video creation, which yields the most revenue for Chris and his ‘contractors.’ After the near-abandonment of article writing for the Follower site, the introduction of legal documents such as contracts, and the overall push away from the longer, analytic content that I once enjoyed making, I didn’t feel like it was right for me to be there. I tried to rationalise for months why I was still there, why I hadn’t made the jump sooner, and why I would stay if it would only be for the revenue.
On New Year’s Eve, I sent my resignation to Chris who, in turn, attempted to fire me later the next day. This is a man who doesn’t use his Skype as regularly as he should, rarely attended the group meetings, and takes days to respond to messages. Its ironic that his unprofessionalism is what he wanted to remove me from Follower for. It was then that I knew that Chris never actually cared, and saw me only as a disposable asset to make him more money. Of course, I had my suspicions with previous cases of his alleged ‘money theft,’ but now it was confirmed to me.
For all of this, I am not trying to disparage the work that those at HaloFollower still do, and this is not an opportunity for me to turn on Chris myself, I am just stating facts here. When he lets his passions take priority over his lust for power, he can be a competent creator and has definitely grown in regards to his commentary and editing skills, as well as his creative ambitions. He is a good person, but a terrible businessman. I guess this is what happens when young people have control of companies, and this certainly doesn’t apply only to Chris in the case of Follower.
From what I have heard from my former colleagues, HaloFollower is doing better than ever, and there is less overall conflict within the company. I am happy that they were finally able to curate a perfect team of creators that are able to deliver content – hopefully on their own terms – without my involvement in the team. Being at Follower was a major learning experience for me, from my writing skills to my social skills, and I am proud of everything I have accomplished with those skills since I left.
That wraps up the story of how and why I left HaloFollower, and I hope those of you who read all the way to the end learned how to look at them through a more positive lens, and how dangerous it can be when you associate the failures of the CEO with their workforce. Remember, that this is not an expose on HaloFollower, simply an account of my experiences. This has been cathartic for me, and somewhat of a joy to write so freely again. If you would like to discuss particulars of this further with me, feel free to email me through my Contact page, or send a message to my Twitter. Many thanks for reading.