The young YouTuber blocked by Multiplay: The rise of youth content creators, parent managers & the power of Twitter

Esports News UK editor Dominic Sacco shares his thoughts on the rise of Generation Z, child influencers and the role their parents play, after Mini Matt Smith (pictured) was involved in somewhat of a public falling out with Multiplay.

 

Intro and disclaimer

Just before Insomnia61 got underway on August 25th, I received an anonymous tip that Multiplay, the host of huge UK gaming festival Insomnia, had blocked a young YouTuber on Twitter.

While it's not hugely surprising to see a big brand like Multiplay clamp down on certain social media accounts, such as abusive or insulting pages, I found it unusual to discover it had blocked a reasonably well-known YouTuber who is also younger than most of the top influencers out there.

I started digging and reached out to both sides to find out what happened. After a few weeks of research and catching up on all the esports buzz from i61, I finally have a clearer picture of what happened. Before you attack me for documenting 'needless drama' or whatever else you want to accuse me of, I'm actually writing about this because I think it raises some important points around young influencers and their parents, and how they interact with brands.

I absolutely am not attacking either side here, just trying to reflect on what happened and what we can learn from it.

 

What happened?

On August 21st, 14-year-old YouTuber George Buckland, known as Mini Matt Smith, was blocked by the official Multiplay account on Twitter.

George, whose social media handle is MineCartMayhem, is known for producing content around Doctor Who and gaming. He has almost 1 million views on YouTube and once interviewed Matt Smith himself.

The reason behind his block was not obvious at first glance.

Mini Matt Smith initially said on Twitter: "[Multiplay] treated me bad. Used me for free publicity and then blocked me. But it runs deeper than that."

He also mentioned he's going to attend the EGX gaming show in September instead of i61 - while posting a middle finger emoji using the #i61 hashtag:

 

The Mini Matt Smith account had apparently deleted a tweet after being blocked. The tweet originally stated that Multiplay had ignored him, and that he would try and pull coverage for an Insomnia sister event from his magazine column, because they failed to contact him before the deadline. More on that later.

 

The parent's perspective

Esports News UK heard that George's father Richard Buckland runs the Mini Matt Smith Twitter account, had asked for stage time from Multiplay and was disappointed when he didn't receive it.

We reached out to Richard, who said: "George has operated his own Twitter and other social media accounts since the age of 13, a year ago. Business messages are answered by myself as George is too young to legally represent himself. George is actually partnered with [YouTube networks] TGN and BBTV - I just look after any magazine enquiries and product review enquiries.

"No trouble has brewed at all [between us and Mutliplay], we have never asked for stage time except for on one occasion when he was presented with a charity award by Dreams Come True. This was accommodated by the Multiplay teamĀ without issue at i57.

"Multiplay has always maintained if they bring in more kid creators then they would be happy to give them a stage presence at events as after all they are the future of gaming. We have always understood and accepted this, George would look out of place with grown-up creators and we wouldn't put him in that position."

There's more to it, of course. Richard had actually done some photography for the company that produces photos for the Multiplay Insomnia events.

Richard explains: "Multiplay decided to make a change after i58, I worked with a separate company called iEvent media. Several photographers were cut from the line-up. That is the official stance from Multiplay and iEvent media.

"I was told by the Multiplay team that I would be the first one they would bring back if the media budget was increased due to my level of experience and professionalism. I was just the last one in, so obviously first one out."

 

"George has operated his own Twitter and other social media accounts since the age of 13, a year ago. Business messages are answered by myself as George is too young to legally represent himself."
Richard Buckland

 

On top of this, Richard says that George received a message from Multiplay earlier this year, asking if they could have coverage in George's magazine column to help promote the Brick Live (LEGO) event, which is part of the Multiplay event series.

"We responded asking for access to the VIP area for George so that he could chat and hang with his creator friends and maybe do some interviews for his magazine so he could run a special feature on his magazine page after the event," Richard says. "We asked that this be a condition in return for the free half page promotion in a national magazine, after a couple of phone calls between myself and Insomnia we agreed this would be the case.

"We asked for this to be put in writing before the magazine deadline day so that we could lock in the requested feature and sign off the copy for print. This never came, so we contacted them via email stating the deadline and how important it was to make sure everything was agreed upon before going to press, again no response. We emailed them for a final time on the day of the deadline which was 12pm and at 6.30pm that day got a phone call from a manager stating that he would only get press room access, but we had let the advert go in hope of holding them to their word.

"They then blocked George on social media without explanation, they refuse to respond to us on social or by email. The manager we spoke to stated that they didn't want to dwell on past issues and wanted to move forward and let George grow with the i-series events as he had been a popular creator at the previous events he had attended."

 

"Very occasionally disagreements arise and when they do we make every effort to reach a compromise. In this case we were unable to, and unfortunately a stream of consistently negative comments were posted. As a result we took the reluctant step of blocking the account."
Multiplay

 

It gets muddier still. Prior to i61, it seemed that George and Multiplay had a great working relationship. George had attended i58 and was featured on the Multiplay Twitter account, pictured in his Doctor Who getup next to a TARDIS booth. What happened there?

"George was a featured special guest at i58," Richard says. "Upon arrival he wasn't listed anywhere for example as a VIP, or on the food voucher list or any entry list, despite being on the centre page as an advertised special guest and there with his Tardis booth to sign for his fans. He did this for four days signing over 2,000 autographs and posing for photographs.

"I was working the event as a photographer and raised my concerns that he wasn't being looked after, during the first two days not a single member of Multiplay staff had asked him if he was okay or even approached his booth offering water etc - bear in mind he was 13 and disabled.

"I gave him my food vouchers even though I worked 18 hour days. Since this all happened he appeared at i59 again along with his TARDIS. The only issue we encountered at this event was that a member of staff cancelled our hotel room leaving him sat in the lobby after the first day until around 10.30pm, waiting for the issue to be sorted. That was the only issue at i59."

 

Multiplay insists it's committed to supporting young YouTubers

What do Multiplay have to say about the situation?

Multiplay said in a statement sent to Esports News UK: "It is important to us that YouTubers value the experience of our events as much as our fans do.

"Very occasionally disagreements arise and when they do we make every effort to reach a compromise. In this case we were unable to, and unfortunately a stream of consistently negative comments were posted. As a result we took the reluctant step of blocking the account."

Multiplay insists it's committed to supporting young YouTubers.

The company has drone show and robot wars-style areas at its Insomnia events, which are popular with families and the latter often has parent-child teams.

It also runs a special Young Reporter programme for those aged eight to 13 to report from Insomnia.

 

'Let's support young YouTubers: they're the future of this industry'

Comment by ENUK editor Dom Sacco

Looking back on this incident, it's a bit of a storm in a teacup really. As I stated at the start of this article, I've covered it because I feel it raises an important point around young content creators, their parents who manage part of their business and the brands they deal with.

Should the parent in this instance have demanded more coverage/access to the VIP area? Probably not.

Should Multiplay have blocked the account? Probably not.

But it's happened, let's learn from it and move on.

As a parent myself, I understand that parents will just want the best for their kids. The thought of being a professional YouTuber is probably very fun and exciting for a lot of youngsters, and many parents will no doubt want to support them with their passion as they chase their dreams.

Things can get complicated when hobbies are mixed with business, especially when it comes to minors. My wife sometimes watches those awful American TV shows about child beauty pageants, and some of the lengths parents will go to make their child a star no longer shock me. I played in a local football team as a young boy and I can still remember the parents that would shout and swear at their children from the sidelines to win the game.

 

"While there will always be role models and adults that children look up to, in this digital age it's easier than ever for youngsters to become the stars themselves."

 

Multiplay Insomnia is known for its family-friendly focus (photo credit:Ā Matthew King/iEventMedia)

 

To some parents, their children simply must do things a certain way. That's not the instance with Mini Matt Smith, I think it's perfectly normal that his father handles the business aspects of his son's work online. But in this case, Richard's and Multiplay's actions have, for better or worse, affected this young YouTuber's reputation. That's important for future YouTubers - and their parents/guardians - to understand.

When I was working in the Insomnia61 press room the other week, at one point a child YouTuber came in with his parents and some people from what sounded like a YouTuber magazine. I overheard them as I was working - the child was ecstatic about doing well in a competition, but as soon as photoshoots and interviews and business arrangements were mentioned, the child would just sit there while the conversation carried on between the parents and the magazine staff.

That's not surprising. But it made me stop and think. While there will always be role models and adults that children want to be like when they grow up, in this digital age it's easier than ever for youngsters to become the stars themselves right now. They need the right support - from both their parents and companies they work with.

I'm sure even more child content creators will emerge over the coming years, with their own bright ideas and unique personalities. And that's great. But let's notĀ  forget - they will be inspired by those that came before them.

So let's stop squabbling between ourselves and focus on the younger generation. Let's listen to what they have to say, support them and set a good example.

After all, they're the future of this industry.

 

This article isn't about esports, so what's it doing on Esports News UK? Read our site content and coverage info here

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