Interviewing Icons - The Exploring Series
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The Exploring Series is one of my personal favorite content creators and is the main reason that I returned to the SCP Wiki in the first place. Without his content drawing me back to the Wiki, you all would likely never meet WhiteGuard the staff member, or WhiteGuard the interviewer. With all of that being said, The Exploring Series is one of the major content creators out there who regularly produces SCP content which helps fuel the off-site as well as on-site community. I am very happy to be showing you all my recent interview with him! ~ WhiteGuardWhiteGuard

The YouTuber The Exploring Series released his first video on December 17th, 2011 and released his first SCP-related YouTube video on August 13th, 2018. He has 714,000 subscribers with his top 3 most-viewed SCP-related videos being The Ouroboros Cycle (All Parts) at 4.6 million views, SCP-093 - Red Sea Object at 4.0 million views, and SCP-3000 - Anantashesha at 2.7 million views. He has three channels: the main channel where his SCP content is hosted, ManggsLPs, his let's play channel, and ManggFood, his food creation channel. He has released a total of 3,309 videos across his 3 channels, 410 from his main channel, 2,895 from his let's play channel, and 4 from his food channel. Of his 410 videos on the main channel, 151 of those are SCP-related. Although his channel is not exclusively SCP content, his SCP content is his most popular with his Exploring the SCP Foundation series. The following interview will consist of 20 questions from myself with The Exploring Series' responses.

The bold text represents the questions whereas the text within the boxes are The Exploring Series' responses. As a note, whenever I refer to his "main channel", I am referring to his present-day most popular channel, even if it was not his "main channel" originally.

Interview Questions:

How did you first come across the SCP Wiki as a reader? I believe that you mentioned finding it during 2011. Have you been a constant on the Wiki since then or have you taken breaks here and there? Also, before our preliminary interview together, you had never actually created an account for the site, why was that and why do you think most readers on the site never end up doing so?

My introduction to SCP came from the /x/ board of 4chan around 2011 or so. I have a terrible long-term memory so I can't recall too many specifics, but a discussion led me to the wiki, which I first thought was some sort of weird government website before realizing how interesting it was. I've been a fan of the horror genre for decades, and I don't mind reading, so I quickly went through all of series 1 at the time, with my favorites initially being the Red Pool and the Red Sea Object. I kept up with the site for a little while after that before just moving on for a few years. I checked back in in the mid-2010s and discovered Sarkicism had become a thing, which I thought was incredibly creepy and fantastic, so I read most of the articles about that before fading away again. I was drawn back to it when SCP won my viewer polls to determine what series I should cover on the channel. As for the account, I tend to be a lurker on pretty much every social website I'm a part of, as I generally don't feel inclined to add much to a conversation. I love that there is a place for discussions on the wiki, and if I read an SCP, I always read all the posts related to it, but I just tend to be quiet in general. I imagine I'm not alone in that sentiment.

What drew you to the Wiki's content? You are a self-proclaimed fan of Lovecraftian horror. Where do you believe we are set apart from some of the modern-day cosmic horror writing? As someone who directly interacts with the massive offsite community of SCP, what do believe is the main draw of SCP is to them?

So as I said, I'm a big fan of horror in many different forms, with a soft spot for cosmic or Lovecraftian horror. A lot of SCP falls under that category, with the horror often stemming from the unknown and the unusual rather than just gore or violence. Lovecraftian horror, in general, is certainly at a height of popularity now, but I think SCP's popularity comes from a couple factors, one being the sheer variety of the anomalies, from an anomalous bag of potatoes to cosmic gods. The other factor I think is how connected it all is, which really separates it from a lot of creepypasta. I don't just mean the big sprawling pieces like the end of death canon or the kaktusverse, but all of the basic concepts that we as fans just come to understand, like d-class and the O5 council. The authors and community have really built up a universe here, albeit one with a fairly loose canon, and I think there's a natural camaraderie that comes from sharing that universe.

Your first YouTube video, Let's Try Star Wars - The Old Republic!, was posted on your ManggsLPs let's play channel on December 17th, 2011. The video has 350+ views which is admittedly higher than the majority of the 2,889 videos that you have on that channel. That channel is still very active despite never really getting off the ground in terms of popularity. Why do you still maintain that channel? Do you just really enjoy creating content for it?

Actually my first video on YouTube was on my main channel, which was a Modern Warfare 2 montage on March 13th, 2010. From there I eventually started making Let's Plays in February of 2011, and have never stopped since. I like to say that YouTube covers both my job and my hobby, with the Exploring Series being my job and Let's Plays being my hobby. The views for each are drastically different, and even though I do enjoy making Exploring videos, I don't know if I'll ever stop making LP videos. For whatever reason, just sitting down while playing a game and chatting is relaxing, and even if those videos got 0 views I'd probably still do it.

Your first video on the main channel, Cube Retrospective - Cube (1997), was posted on October 11th, 2013 and has garnered almost 5,000 views. For those who haven't seen the video, what was it about? Why did you decide to create this channel? Also, and this is just an assumption, but did your main channel originally have a different name from The Exploring Series?

So yeah, I've unlisted a lot of my other videos from my main channel so as to not clutter it up, which mostly consists of hundreds of gaming videos and RPG stuff. I left a handful of things publically visible that I thought people might enjoy, such as those Cube reviews, the original of which is one of my favorite horror movies. I originally created my YouTube channel just to share some Modern Warfare 2 videos, and then I progressed into doing Let's Plays after watching a guy named DavetheUsher play through some classic SNES RPGs. My first LP was Disney's Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse, recorded with probably the cheapest microphone in existence that I pulled out of my closet. I believe the original channel name was just ManggMangg, a name I've been using for years after having it randomly chosen when playing Dark Age of Camelot.

Your content was staying at relatively the same level on the main channel before you posted your last video on there in 2014, Mangg Plays Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth - Part 19, prior to a 2-year break. Why did you stop posting to your main channel? When you returned on January 12th, 2016, you released Exploring the Cthulhu Mythos: Cthulhu which was your first real "successful" video on the main channel. To this day, it remains your 3rd highest-viewed video ever at 3.0 million views. Why was this one successful and why did you create it?

I bounced back and forth between my two channels for years due to copyright strikes, which were really annoying, but I just couldn't stop making videos. I'm not exactly sure how it works now, but back then you were restricted to only making 15-minute videos if you received a strike, which was really obnoxious. I created the Cthulhu video because I've been a fan of Lovecraft for quite some time, and would often mention certain details or references while making Let's Plays. I randomly came across a video on YouTube one day titled something like The Cthulhu Mythos Explained, which was about 15 minutes long. I felt that there was no way you could explain all of the mythos in 15 minutes, and decided that I should make a little video series for my small group of fans in which I go through each mythos deity in a bit more detail. Originally I was planning on just doing it unscripted, which would have been a rambling disaster, but in the end, I went with scripting it, thank goodness. At the time I don't think there was anything really like it that went into that sort of detail, or at least not one that was wrapped up in a neat little package with nice artwork.

Your first SCP-related video was released on August 13th, 2018, and was called Exploring the SCP Foundation: Introduction to the Foundation thus beginning your Exploring the SCP Foundation series. Currently, that video sits at 1 million views, but it must have been received well enough for you to begin your coverage on the SCP Foundation. How did you come to creating SCP content and how was this video initially received among your fanbase? Do you think you already had a good number of SCP fans before this video?

So after making a few series covering some topics that I was really interested in, such as the Cthulhu Mythos, I decided to do something a little unorthodox and open things up to my viewers. I began putting out viewer polls in which I had really no input whatsoever on the results, with viewers able to vote for practically any series or mythology they wanted me to cover. For me, I'm just a big nerd, so I find practically any sort of lore to be at least somewhat interesting, and I figured it would be a learning experience and I assumed that the masses would generally pick some popular stuff. This went on for a while, with me covering everything from the Elder Scrolls to Celtic Mythology, and it's been great. When SCP finally won, I was pretty shocked, as I had no idea it had become that popular over the years, and I was initially not even sure how I would end up covering it. I don't recall the series being an immediate success, as whenever I switched series viewership would take a dip. I must've had a fair number of SCP fans for it to win the polls in the first place, but afterward, the channel has really been dominated by SCP people, which is perfectly fine, although I maintain that I'm not an SCP channel.

Exploring the SCP Foundation: The Ouroboros Cycle (All Parts) is your most popular video as well as your longest video on the channel. It is of course based on The Ouroboros Cycle by djkaktusdjkaktus. How long did it take you to complete the 4 parts? You cover a lot of videos in the "Kaktusverse". Kaktus is especially popular among the off-site community. What is it about his writing that appeals to the off-site community the way it does? What do you believe his strengths as a writer are?

The only answer I can really give as to how long it took is weeks, as I have no idea how many hours. Working on The Way It Ends especially felt like it was never going to end, ironically, and it makes me hesitant now to start any sort of project of that same caliber, although I'm glad that it's been so well received. I think djkaktus excels for two reasons, one being his characterization, with all of his dialogue and scenarios always coming off as rather believable amidst the generally extraordinary circumstances. The other reason I guess would just be his ideas and the way they're executed. The man clearly understands horror and can present it in a myriad of different ways, from hellish mine shafts to Lovecrafitan slasher villains, but he also just makes the world of SCP seem that much more fantastical and deep, even without outright stating it. The sheer worldbuilding put in works such as SCP-4812: Wrath or SCP-4840 make me so excited to learn more, and that's why we have something called the kaktusverse that people want to hear more about. A universe within a universe so to speak.

Your 2nd most popular video is Exploring the SCP Foundation: SCP-093 - Red Sea Object which is based on SCP-093 by NekoChrisNekoChris. You mentioned to me that it surprises you how this particular video has performed so well. Why was this video's performance a surprise to you? With this being your livelihood, you of course have to release a steady rate of videos, but for quality-sake, you have to invest considerable time into each one. As someone who puts out a lot of content, how do you balance the quality vs quantity conundrum?

I think SCP-093 being a popular video surprises me just because of how old an SCP it is. As I said, it was one of my favorites back in 2011 or so when it really stood out, and now it still manages to stand out despite there being so many other grand exploration SCPs in the meantime. I think it also surprises me because I don't think it's a great summary, with there being a bit too much cut out. That was one of my first SCP videos, when I was still focused on making shorter videos that could just grab people. Now of course I've seen that people don't mind longer stuff, or even really longer stuff, so I kind of feel like I should redo that one. I'd be lying if I said I haven't occasionally sacrificed quality just for the sake of keeping to a weekly schedule. Most of the time it's not a problem, but there have been times where a video becomes a bigger project than I anticipated, and I decide to cut some corners just to make the release. That being said, I would hope that people look at my channel and get the impression that I value quality over quantity.

Exploring the SCP Foundation: SCP-3000 - Anantashesha, based on SCP-3000 by A Random DayA Random Day, djkaktusdjkaktus, and JorethJoreth, is your 3rd most popular video. Many of the articles on the site mention the use of amnestics, although most do not reveal where these drugs originate. What do you think about articles like this that attempt to explain some kind of constant within the SCP universe? In a previous interview with Kaktus, he explained to me that A Random Day was the one responsible for the SCP's link to the Anantashesha, one of the Hindu primal beings of creation. What do you think about articles which link real-world entities, mythologies, or concepts?

I'm generally not a big fan of anomalies being explained, but I am a big fan of human elements being explained. Sure, the foundation's amnestics never needed to be explained, and as it stands we have several possibilities, but explaining things like that just makes it much more interesting. The implications and moral quandaries that pop up when lifting the veil a bit on how the foundation operates I find to be pretty exciting, as the foundation is not meant to be anomalous and inexplicable. If they could just snap their fingers and solve all their problems, it wouldn't be interesting, so learning how they solve those problems is good. I generally really like when mythological entities appear as SCPs, as I'm not under any sort of impression that this universe is the same as our universe. I do think that these entities need to be presented in a unique way, however, making them more than just mythological creatures dumped into the world. If SCP-1000 had just been bigfoot as a furry bipedal creature that wandered the mountains of the U.S., it wouldn't have been nearly as interesting as the SCP-1000 we ended up getting.

Something somewhat unique to your channel verse many other SCP YouTubers is that you do not read straight from the article whenever doing your videos. What is your process from start to finish of selecting a new video topic, creating a new video, and then releasing it to your channel?

I do take suggestions from viewers on SCP topics to cover, but oftentimes it's mostly based on either site ratings or if I can think of a compilation topic, such as Aquatic SCPs. I wish I had the time to simply read every article published on the wiki and decide from that what's worth covering, but I need a little more help curating than that. Sometimes that's really easy, such as the winning article of a big contest, like SCP-5000, but other times I'll just sit there and browse for a couple hours before landing on another video idea. Unless I'm doing a compilation topic such as Aquatic or a group of interest, length is generally the single biggest factor. If I'm going to spend the time to release a video on a single SCP, it has to be long enough to be worth it, otherwise it has to get lumped in with other similar SCPs. I know most other SCP channels don't do compilations like that, and will often release an 8 minute video about a single SCP, but I just prefer to give more bang for the buck I guess. The process is pretty simple after that, just mostly reading the entire thing I'm working on, and then going through line by line and deciding what needs to be summarized, or what needs to be cut out. This is time-consuming, but I don't really find it that difficult mentally at this point unless I'm dealing with an SCP that I am struggling to comprehend, in which case I generally hope that either the wiki discussions or Reddit discussions provide an answer. Recording the audio is usually the least time-consuming part, and I do very little editing compared to many YouTubers, so I'd say the writing part consumes the bulk of my work, as it should.

You mentioned to me that your 3 part video series on Apotheosis, based on the site's Apotheosis canon, did not receive as many views as you would have liked versus the amount of work you put in. With this in mind, what would you say was the best video that you created quality-wise that didn't perform as well as expected. Alternatively, what would be the one that vastly outperformed your expectations for it?

If we're talking strictly about my SCP content, I would say that my video on SCP-3043 is my favorite thing that I've done, as it was really fun to bust out some voices and bring in some nice noir music. I really hope that the viewership on that one continues to grow, as it was well-received, but it's certainly a long way away from being my most popular video. I think on the other end of the spectrum, the fact that the Ouroboros cycle is my most popular is really shocking, as I believed for so long that no one was interested in videos longer than 15 minutes or so. For so many people to not only watch 3 hours of SCP but to watch it multiple times, is really crazy to me.

Something I found kind of humorous as a long-time subscriber on your channel is when you mentioned that you would not watch your own videos. When you expounded on it, you mentioned that it is the same for lore videos and other SCP videos. Why do you think that is the case? Whenever you do research on a certain group or article, do you only use the Wiki as a resource?

The main reason I don't watch my own content is due to me not liking the sound of my own voice, which I think is a problem plenty of people have. As for other lore videos, I don't really watch them due to preferring to read things rather than watching or listening. That goes beyond just lore stuff on youtube, as a lot of times I would rather just read a few paragraphs of text rather than watch a 3-minute video about a subject. I think my brain just processes information better in text form. I do primarily use the Wiki as a source, which honestly I think is to my own detriment sometimes. I would likely benefit greatly sometimes from actually asking people questions when I'm a little confused, but I usually would rather skip over it or stumble through than do that. As I said, I do use the discussions on the wiki and on the SCP subreddit if they exist, but usually, it's just the articles themselves.

Speaking of resources, how do you go about gathering art for the backdrops of your videos? Also, there have recently been some tensions between SCP artists and a number of YouTube channels regarding properly giving credit for their works. What are your thoughts on this given you are someone within the YouTube community who uses community art, although not being part of the ones who do so without attribution?

Originally, when I first started making exploring videos, I wouldn't attribute the artwork whatsoever, until an artist reached out and we had a friendly conversation about my stupidness. I really don't want to have any sort of bad blood with the legion of incredible artists out there that post their work online, and so far I've had practically no issues, as the grand majority of them just want to be properly credited. I really think that's the bare minimum you should do as a YouTuber if you're using that art, and if an artist isn't comfortable with me using their art, I'm perfectly willing to remove it or come to some other agreement. I think the same goes for properly crediting the SCP articles themselves, something I also didn't use to really do, but have been corrected on.

When we spoke back in December, you mentioned that your Exploring the SCP Foundation: SCP-5000 - Why?, based on TanhonyTanhony's SCP-5000, was still rising quickly in views. Is that still the case? As of right now, it is at 2.5 million views. Why do you think this video has been particularly successful for you?

On a month-to-month basis, Ouroboros still blows it out of the park, but I'm very happy with how it's doing. It's definitely an incredible SCP, but I'd be lying if I said I had any idea why one video is more successful than another. I imagine the fact that it was one of the first videos released about 5000 was a factor, and general word of mouth about an SCP in which the Foundation declares war on humanity helped out. Like I said, it's a great SCP, but so are most of the ones I cover, so it's hard for me to say.

Your usual content consists of videos about singular articles, summary videos on GoI's and canons, and videos about singular tales or summaries on a tale series. If you had to rank the types of videos you make based on the amount of time and effort they take, what would that ranking look like? Have there been any particular videos that you had a really good time creating?

So the absolute least amount of work is the tale readings, in which I just sit down and read the tale from beginning to end, usually with a little scripted intro. These I only do when I need to take a break from Exploring videos, so they're basically my vacation. After that, singular SCP articles are usually the easiest thing for me to cover, as I don't have to scavenge around and read article after article to get the complete picture of the topic. Even if it's a longer SCP, it's still generally straightforward. I would say compilation topics such as Beneficial SCPs or Aquatic SCPs are next, as I don't really have to connect the SCPs in a meaningful way outside of them all being related in topic. Groups of interest are next, as I have to paint a meaningful picture of who the group is and how they operate, as well as read a bunch of articles to decide which to include or which ones to skip. I think covering an entire canon is the hardest, as tales are usually such integral parts of those, and it's a massive time crunch to try and read and comprehend as much as possible. I believe these are where I've mostly dropped the ball so far, such as my lackluster End of Death video.

I mentioned it to you before, but your videos are actually responsible for my return to the SCP community and as such my little interviews I do around here. In particular, it was your Exploring the SCP Foundation: SCP-3001 - Red Reality video, based on OZ OuroborosOZ Ouroboros's SCP-3001, which I found after watching a random horror game video. I loved the way you presented the article, as well as the article's content, of course, and I ended up binging on a lot of your SCP videos which rejuvenated my interest in the Foundation once more. Whenever I mentioned this to you, you made an off-hand comment about me "finding the best article on the site" with your video. Is that one your favorite? Even if not, what do you believe works so well in that SCP?

I bounce around occasionally on what my favorite article is, especially as I read more and more, but SCP-3001 is easily top three for me. I think 3001 really exemplifies the best aspects of SCP, the combination of humanity, particularly humanity at its most fragile and vulnerable, and the unknowable. This is the essence of cosmic horror, the idea that there is a much, much wider universe out there, and we are such a small and insignificant part of it. 3001 paints this very literally, with Scranton alone in an endless, unfeeling, uncaring abyss, left to fade away into nothing. Despite this though, he perseveres, he fights against this reality with the hope that things will get better. I think that really works to describe the entire SCP universe.

Over the years, it is common knowledge that YouTube as a company has not always been kind to its content creators. What are some of the particular struggles you have faced over the years as a content creator? Does it ever worry you that one day YouTube might do something that severely limits your monetization as a creator who relies on YouTube for a living?

I don't know if there's a full-time YouTuber alive that doesn't worry about that to some degree. I know a lot of viewers have nothing but vitriol for Youtube, and in some cases, they're right to feel that way, but I'm personally a big fan of YouTube. I've had issues here and there, such as a temporary demonetization and some behind the scenes nonsense, but by and large, YouTube has allowed me to pursue what is quite literally a dream career. Occasionally I worry that something will happen to SCP, or to YouTube in general, and thinks might not be as rosy, but mostly I try to just keep my head down. My hope is that if that ever does happen, I'll be able to pivot into something similar, such as voice acting, that might not be quite as dreamy of a career, but still pretty nice.

Are there any big upcoming projects you would like to tease or ongoing projects you would like to plug? I normally dedicate this question as a plugging question, so feel free to do so.

I wouldn't say I have any big projects currently in the works, although I do want to get around to some more multi-part series in the future. There's a number of canons out there that I have never even mentioned but I think deserve at least one long video or two each. Mostly I'm just keeping on as I have been, and hopefully people keep watching. I have begun a side series covering the story of Final Fantasy XIV that could use some more love, but that's neither here nor there.

So, who is the user "The Exploring Series"?

I'm just a nerdy guy from Wisconsin with a penchant for summarization and a love for practically anything in the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres.

I believe the readers and myself would love to hear about your cats.

I have three: Kitty, Boogle, and Locke. Kitty and Boogle we grabbed out of the woods near my parents house years ago, while Locke was bought from a crazy cat lady that had about 20. We couldn't really agree on a great name for Kitty, so that's what he ended up with. Boogle I named after the sidekick from an old PC game called Torin's Passage, and Locke I named after the main character from the Gentleman Bastards series of books. I can't really imagine life without at least a couple cats around, but even though I'm generally a cat person, I'm planning on getting a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy soon named Korone, so that should be interesting.

This concludes the interview. I hope you enjoyed it! I would like to thank The Exploring Series for agreeing to do this with me. He is a great person who produces great content. As per usual, I already have the next interview in this series setup, and I believe everyone will enjoy hearing from my next interviewee!

Thank you for reading!

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