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Markiplier’s Work Diary: ‘I Find a Game and I Play It. Not Much to It.’

Mark Fischbach recently had an existential crisis, ranting that he had squandered his life playing video games. His lamentations, which he filmed and posted on YouTube three months shy of his 30th birthday, were viewed nearly one million times.

Insanely, that number is rather on the low side for Mr. Fischbach, who is better known as Markiplier to his more than 24 million followers on YouTube and his 12 million followers on Twitter, where he refers to himself as a “Professional Screamer.” In 2012, he dropped out of a biomedical engineering program at the University of Cincinnati and started to record himself playing games and going about his life; since then, the clips have been watched more than 11 billion times. His most popular video, a review of the game “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” has been seen 75 million times. Even a clip about his wisdom teeth removal exceeded 3.7 million.

According to Forbes, Mr. Fischbach is YouTube’s sixth-highest-paid personality, earning $17.5 million last year. He also makes money offline. In 2017 and 2018, he spent months traveling the United States, Europe and Australia, performing in an improv comedy tour. And he became partners with another YouTube personality, known as Jacksepticeye, to start Cloak, a clothing brand for gamers, which sells $80 hoodies and $70 sweats.

We caught up in May, after he drove his Tesla Model X from his home in Los Angeles to Austin. There, he planned to spend several weeks preparing and filming “A Heist With Markiplier,” a film funded by YouTube.


9 a.m. Back at my Airbnb, after a visit to the rock climbing gym. We’re meeting in an hour with Rooster Teeth, the production company for the YouTube movie. It’s my biggest project yet — interactive story, branching narrative. Should be fun.

Depending on the circumstances, I’ll often skip breakfast. I take Adderall for A.D.H.D. and it usually suppresses my appetite. I’ve got to be careful or I could go the whole day without eating if I’m busy.

11 a.m. I usually try to eat my lunches alone so I can take some time to sneak in more Korean study. I’m half-Korean and I want to be able to connect with my family in South Korea. This year, I want to go over there for a full month to immerse myself and really appreciate the culture.

1 p.m. Doing a detailed table read with a room of 20 people, clarifying how we’re going to make every shot happen.

The project is a first-person interactive narrative where the viewer gets to decide how the story plays out. I’ve done one before, called “A Date With Markiplier.” This one is called “A Heist With Markiplier.” I wrote it, and I’m directing it and acting in it. There are also numerous guests stars to help flesh out the world we explore.

5:45 p.m. On to the camera meeting — talking about types of cameras, lenses, lighting, audio. This project is a little different than what I usually do because it’s shot in a first-person style. It’s a more complicated setup: traditional filmmaking, with wireless video monitors, follow focus, mounted monitors, all on a large gimbal, which keeps things nice and stable.

7 p.m. Headed back home, where I’ve got to walk the dogs, Chica and Henry. I brought them with me on this trip. They travel better than they used to. Both used to be car vomiters, but with time, patience and a lot of paper towels they’ve gotten used to it. It helps when we stop for regular charging breaks every couple hundred miles.


8:45 a.m. We’re in a 12-seater van for location scouting. We’ve got a few different options to look at: Prison. Office. Tunnels. Sewers. We’re headed first to some caves at Longhorn Cavern.

12:45 p.m. The cave is a great spot — a secluded, tucked-away secret. It will work wonderfully. It took hours to slowly walk and talk our way through, photographing and code-naming locations as we went so we can reference them later. It’s surreal that I would even be given the opportunity to film in a location like that.

5:30 p.m. After scouting the library in downtown Austin, and then taking the dogs to the park, I’m back home. It’s time to start recording videos of myself playing games.

My setup involves a camera to film my face, a microphone for my voice and a computer for the games — a PC that I assembled myself. Some software running in the background captures it all at once. Easy.

8:30 p.m. I’ve recorded one hourlong video and sent it off to my editor. The simplest videos are of me playing games and narrating over them. I find a game and I play it. Not much to it. Tonight it was a small game called “Don’t Escape: 4 Days in the Wasteland.”

9:21 p.m. I post a video to Twitter of me carrying Chica earlier after she chased a squirrel into the street. This one will eventually get more than 95,000 likes.


10:30 a.m. At Rooster Teeth for a costume meeting. There are a lot of different costume changes in this show: different suits, a burglar outfit, prison clothes.

12 p.m. I’m meeting with the art department to go over props and such. I didn’t have an art department on my last big movie project. I didn’t have producers, or costumers, or craft services. Hell, I didn’t even have a script before. All of this is new to me.

3:30 p.m. Next is script revisions. I’ve got to make some changes now that I’ve seen some of the locations. With a larger team and so many different departments, it’s critical that everyone be on the same page.

4:45 p.m. The change of scenery in Austin is nice. It’s good to be busy. Staying busy feels like moving forward. But I try to stay off my phone when working. I can go down a rabbit hole. Being a YouTuber, I have to keep a finger on the pulse of how my community’s doing, so I keep up on Twitter and check Tumblr on occasion. But people in that community know I’m scatterbrained — they expect that I won’t always be present because I’m working on projects.


5:30 a.m.: I’m up, going rock-climbing at Austin Bouldering Project. It’s not the closest, but it’s the only one near enough that opens early enough.

8 a.m. I got coffee and breakfast on the way back for Amy, my girlfriend. Time to shower, do laundry and study Korean.

10 a.m. I’ve been working with the Make-a-Wish Foundation for years, and this morning at Rooster Teeth I’m meeting a kid with stage four Rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer. His name is Mark as well. He just seems like a normal kid who loves playing games. It’s so hard to think about these kids going through these horrible health issues, but it’s amazing to see them bounce back. To smile. To tough through it. To enjoy the life they have.

2:30 p.m. I check in on a WhatsApp chain about Cloak, my clothing brand, where we talk about specific designs and themes. For April Fools’ Day, we gave away 20 actual cloaks. We’re going slow, step by step, to make sure we don’t overreach or grow too fast or too slowly.

7:45 p.m. Cooking dinner with Amy. We’ve been dating for about three and a half years now. She doesn’t just tag along on these shoots; she’s an essential part of the creative process. She’s there every single day watching every single shot. I’m the type of person that wants creative input from the entire team when I’m working, but there’s one voice that I trust above all others, and that’s Amy.

I usually like to make sure I have time to spend with her. I read intensively, and if I’m not careful, I can plow through a couple of books in a week. I read a lot of science fiction — I gravitate toward the “Warhammer 40,000” universe. I’ve read half of all the books they’ve had so far.

8:30 p.m. Editing. On top of gaming and comedy videos, I also do some original narratives. I have a big project called “Damien” — it’s a surreal horror story about an innocent man, devoid of choice, thrust into a situation he doesn’t understand, desperately struggling to come to terms with his own death. In short, it’s a weird one. On a technical level, it’s a really cool cinematic-animatic style of storytelling I’ve never done before.

It’s been a long, long time coming — eight months — and it’s finally almost ready. I do all the audio mixing. I provide most of the voices myself; I add effects, music. If something needs to be done, I just do it. Not that I’m immune to procrastination, but I can’t stand the thought of waiting any longer for this project to get out there.


6:30 a.m. I’m going to work out, then to the office to check in with wardrobe, then back home to work on “Damien.”

11 a.m. Hectic morning. I’m now having my weekly call with YouTube. It’s a general checkup with different departments at the company to make sure we’re all on the same page about deadlines and other things (like their guidelines about blood and gore).

2:30 p.m. We’re heading out for another location scout soon. It’s a decommissioned water treatment plant on the outskirts of Austin. The feel is 1950s government buildings. Rusted pipes. Large open vats for water, covered in algae. Underground tunnels flooded from the recent rains. It’s perfect.

4:30 p.m. Back at the Airbnb for more editing.


8:45 a.m. I always look forward to weekends because there are finally no more meetings. I can focus on one thing at a time. Today I’m excited because I really think I can finish this project. There’s a concert my girlfriend wants to go to tonight — Jim James, I believe — so I’m going to hunker down and try to get it done before then.

4:30 p.m. I can hardly believe it, but I think “Damien” is done. Rendering out a copy to have before something goes horribly wrong. I’ve sunk 100-plus hours into editing this beast of a video. The artists have sunk far more.

Going to step away for a bit and make a final pass with fresher eyes. Maybe take the dogs for a walk. Looks like we’ll make that concert.

Interviews are conducted by email, text and phone, then condensed and edited.


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