Not only is Austin Cook one of the latest additions to PopWrapped's growing rank of talented journalists, but he's also been a prolific part of the Arizonan gaming community for the better half of a decade. Known to his fans as Fanta, Cook has been scouring the greater Tucson area alongside his YouTube partner, White, in search of amazing yard sale finds. Together, they have gained over 10,000 subscribers over the past couple of years alone, becoming well-known facets of the local scene in the process. To top it all off, Austin is also a good friend of mine, and over a few cookies courtesy of Jacqueline Frahm, we had the opportunity to have a bit of a chat over how his YouTube journey began.
Jonathan Frahm:For starters, could you let our readers know what YouTube channels you take part in, with a brief description of each?
Austin Cook:As of now, I’m a part of three YouTube channels that are actively in progress. The main one is Craigslist Game Finds (CLGF) which has over 11,000 subscribers now. We go to yard sales, we’re starting to do gameplays, and stuff like that.
Then, there’s FantaFinds, which started sort-of as a spillover because we only wanted to do one video a week on CLGF so the series wasn't overwhelming for the people watching. It’s funny because we went thrift store hunting and yard sale-ing so often back then that we ended up with a ton of stuff, and that’s why we needed FantaFinds at first. Finally, CLGF Gaming is our gameplay channel, where basically, well, we play games.
JF:When it comes to your YouTube work, at what point did you decide to take your passion of gaming to that next level by taking on YouTube and why?
AC:I have been on YouTube for over 5 or 6 years now doing game stuff, but the whole Craiglist Game Finds thing that I’m more serious about, that really took off and has been more recent. That started for me because I saw someone else on YouTube who was yard sale-ing and they found a ton of good stuff, so I figured, “might as well do this myself.”
So I started recording it, and at some point, the guy that I had been watching on YouTube at the time… He came into GameStop, where I work, and I saw him trading in a ton of stuff that I’d actually seen him buy on YouTube. He made like $60 right there and then, and I was just like “Oh my god, you can make some real money with this!” and that inspired me to go game hunting on my own on Craigslist.
The first person I was going to buy from actually ended up being the same guy, and as it turns out, my friend Stephen knew him through his brother, and so this guy is like, “Why don’t you come yard sale-ing with me next week and we’ll see what happens?” It worked out great and I ended up as a big part of the channel from there on out.
Before that, though, I wanted to make gameplays and walkthroughs on YouTube. I was quite successful, but ended up stopping for some reason because I only had one series that really took off, which was a Goldeneye for N64 gameplay. That, and I didn’t have an actual recorder to take straight from the game. I only had my camera on a tripod placed a few feet away from the TV, and so it was guerrilla style. [laughs]
It’s funny because all of those videos got 1,000+ views each, and I really don’t know why when the TV would be stabilizing its image, and you’d see lines going down the screen every so often. [laughs]
JF:What have been some of your craziest finds yard sale-ing thus far? Being in the business for a while now, you must have come across a few strange situations.
AC:The completely boxed Super Nintendo with a box full of games for 16 bucks! That’s worth like $300. Another one that was actually a weird, crazy experience… Well, we asked this woman if she had any Nintendo stuff for sale, so she invited us into her house and she took us over to this room with crates and crates of SNES games.
I just started pulling them out and stacking up the ones I didn’t have and ended up stacking up 30 or 40 games, and as I was doing this, she just kept saying that these were her son’s, like in the past tense. Then, as time passed some more, she ended up saying, “Oh yeah, he was about your age when he died,” and I’m like, “This is the most depressing thing ever. I swear to God I’m going to be haunted for this.” [laughs] His name was on a couple of them, too. It was such an awkward experience, but I ended up buying the games and finding out that a few of them, like TMNT Tournament Fighters, could sell for quite a bit of money on eBay. So, it was a darn good find, just a little awkward.
Another really awesome find was back in the day when I was hooked up with the manager at the local Salvation Army. Every time he’d get something new in, he’d text me and say that I needed to come in and see what he had on offer. One of those times, it was a like new TurboGrafx-16 with a cart of games and a memory expansion pack, as well as a Sega 32x, all for like, $20. And to top it off, I traded that memory expansion pack for a Zelda-themed 3DS with another YouTube friend, Inboden, once it was all over. You can really find some amazing deals, man!
Lastly, we might be getting a crate of factory-sealed Tengen Tetris games from a guy we’d met at a local swap meet who used to work with Capcom in the game localization field. To put this into perspective, just the cartridge of Tengen Tetris goes for $60 on eBay. The complete in-box is $200… and I can’t even imagine how much a factory-sealed copy would go for! So, White and I are just crossing our fingers on this, really hoping we can get them.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bv9IrG0z1mU
JF:To wrap things up, what games are you playing currently, and what are some that you would really like to recommend to our readers, whether retro or new?
AC:One game I’ve really been playing a whole lot is NHL 15. I know, it’s surprising. I’m not really into sports games, but for some reason, I can’t stop playing this game. It’s just fun punching people in the face. [laughs]
And then there’s Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare which I’ve been playing religiously, even after Destiny came out… Which is boring. There is no story mode in Destiny. It basically becomes an endless grind for loot in a cave so you can get high enough to do Raids, too. They may as well call it The Cave of Loot.
But yeah, retro games are some of my favorite things. Once you get older, it’s like, nothing can really affect you the same way that it did as a kid, all the way up to the point where you go back to games from your childhood to relieve those feelings of nostalgia since you just keep getting staler in the real world. [laughs] Anything from back in the day, really. I love a ton of retro games.
JF:Anything you’d like to say before we wrap up, like where you’ll be going from here [in terms of your career]?
AC:Well, I’m gonna be joining PopWrapped! Other than that, I have a Twitter page and a Facebook page now so I’m just trying to reach out into social media and take it by the horns, you know? We’re going to keep the videos coming, and I’m going to write some opinion articles here based on gaming, too, and hopefully this’ll lead to a job somewhere neat in the gaming industry sometime in the future.
Like, Blizzard was hiring for a Copywriter recently and you only need a writing-based bachelor’s degree and some experience, which I’m going for! So hopefully, there’ll be that for me, some day. Either way, you’ll see me around PopWrapped often, very soon, bringing you some cool gaming articles, so I hope you’re lookin’ forward to it!
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