[Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part special on YouTube’s burgeoning video game community from WilllOfDC. Click here for Part 2.]

Two to three years ago, there were a handful of women on YouTube making videos centered on beauty, makeup, and style. Today, there are six makeup/beauty gurus in the top 100 most subscribed to YouTube channels of all time (michellephan‘s the most popular, currently holding #18 spot).

The unexpected and astronomical success of the makeup guru community is one of the best stories on YouTube, especially for the content creators who acquire brand deals (like michellephan, who signed with Lancome) and are sent massive amount of free makeup/skin care products. Add to the makeup gurus thousands of other guru content creators who are racking up millions of views, and it’s easy to see the guru community on YouTube has grown so big it rivals the passion and size of YouTube’s comedy community (which most people probably thought was YouTube’s only community).

video-game-gurusNow there is a third YouTube community that’s risen to rival both the comedy and guru crowd. And that community is gaming.

While machinima has been on YouTube since 2006 and been a dominant force on the site for years (it’s currently YouTube’s #1 most viewed channel of all time), until recently, there’s been no other noticeable success stories for the gaming community. The obvious exception to this is LikeTotallyAwesome, a creation sxephil launched in Fall of 2009.

With his contacts, sxephil was able to partner, license and put together a successful gaming channel in the same style as machinima. Yet no one else was able to duplicate his success. Until now. The gaming community is currently exploding in massive ways rivaling the numbers of long established YouTubers.

But why did it take so long? How did machinima and LikeTotallyAwesome attain YouTube popularity? Why did other gaming channels, despite good numbers and fan support from a $60 billion worldwide video game industry, not reach any kind of comparable mainstream YouTube success?

There are a few reasons. First, it has to do with the style of the content.

Despite being part of that $60 billion worldwide industry, gaming content is still niche. Yes, makeup content is very niche, too, but it was able to explode because YouTube success is personality driven. People who would never care about makeup or beauty found themselves becoming instant fans of those creating the content. A lot of the gurus are great in front of the camera. Sure, some are easy on the eyes, but it’s not just that. The voice, tone, personality, knowhow, and overall presentation of a lot of the gurus make them easily watchable and very likable, regardless of whatever it is their guru-ing about.

This is exactly why the gaming community is currently exploding. People who would never care about gaming watch a video from one of gaming’s many genres (news, reviews, and lets play – entire walkthroughs of a video game) and find themselves mesmerized by the content while simultaneously being drawn to the voice, tone, personality, knowhow, and stories of the content creators.

A second reason gaming recently came into mainstream YouTube success is that it reached a tipping point.

One can’t overestimate the size of the worldwide gaming community, and once enough of that community decided to make YouTube its hub, everyone else seemed to follow. Where sites like IGN were previously the focal point for gaming videos, news, and reviews, YouTube is emerging as another player, providing fans an easy way to put out and popularize their own content.

Another reason gaming is blowing up at such an accelerated rate is an awesome side effect of the FarmVille phenomenon.

At its heart, FarmVille is a video game, and it’s becoming the “gateway drug” of gaming. It hooks people into the gaming experience. Then they crave more. Users click on the easiest way to get their fix, which is the traditional console and computer gaming scene, which can quickly lead to participation in the industry’s biggest genre, competitive gaming, which is effectively turning into a sport (and people love competition and sports). Users upload videos of themselves competing against others in multiplayer games, like Starcraft 2 and Modern Warfare 2.

But what’s biggest reason that YouTube’s gaming community is only now coming into its own? You guessed it! Laws and politics. Tune in tomorrow for an explanation.

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