Wearing one ear bud so that one ear could keep track of his three kids while shopping in a supermarket, Michael “Kodak” Cameron said that he was a huge fan of video gaming, which had, to date, defined almost all of the important moments of his life.
The 31-year-old American, who moved with his family from Salt Lake City to Shenzhen in 2013, said that he had been gaming since before he could even walk.
“My dad told me a funny story about the first time I spoke as a baby,” said Cameron, whom everyone calls Kodak. “He said that one day he heard me in my crib begin to talk, I was saying ‘Ma, Ma.’ My Dad called down to my mom. ‘Gail, come quick! Kodak is about to say his first words!’ He said when my mom came in the room her happiness quickly turned to concern when I said ‘Ma Ma Mario. Super Mario (a popular console game from the 1980s)!’”
His mania for video gaming and everything else related to it got him in big trouble at his wedding, and his wife is still mad at him to this day.
“I found the DJ at my wedding and I snuck him a CD,” he said. “I told him ‘when my wife walks down the aisle, I want you to change the music to this.’”
The CD Kodak gave the DJ had the old electronic theme song to the game Super Mario Brothers from the 1980s. Kodak thought that his wife would think it was funny.
“As she came down the aisle, the DJ changed the music to Super Mario and as she was walking, her dad asked her: ‘Do you want to turn around and go home now?’ To this day she is mad when I show people the video,” he said.
To his relief, video gaming hasn’t always brought him doubters. After he came to Shenzhen for his electronics business and T-shirt company, he diverted his attention to a YouTube channel he started last year called “I Remember Gaming,” which mixes coverage of video game culture in China with some memories of classic games from the 1980s and 1990s.
Inspired by other expat YouTubers in Shenzhen, including South African Winston Sterzel, Kodak decided to pursue his childhood dream of working in the video gaming field.
“I actually took a lot of media journalism classes in college because I really wanted to write for a video game publication in the United States called Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM),” he said. “However, by the time I was out of the university EGM had unfortunately closed their doors during the global financial crisis. This I think is another extension of that dream.”
He bought all of the equipment and taught himself video editing skills, which enabled him to cover things like the Hong Kong Retro Gaming Fair in December and spoof other famous Shenzhen Youtubers like Sterzel.
For his videos, he does all the filming, script writing and acting. He said he can do more than 100 different voices and once worked as a voice actor in Shenzhen.
One of his videos, which shows people where they can find older video game consoles and games in China, has received a lot of comments saying it is funny as well as informative.
“He puts a lot of effort in what he does,” Sterzel told the Shenzhen Daily in a separate interview. “He puts a lot of passion into it. I think what makes a successful YouTube channel is passion.”
His oldest son, George, is also a fan of a couple of famous Youtubers and one day the 8-year-old told him that he wanted to make a channel to show his friends and family in the United States what his life was like in Shenzhen.
In one of last year’s “George Speeds to China” videos, he explained to his viewers that Halloween wasn’t really an official holiday in China but that he was going to try and go “Trick or Treating” anyway.
“He then goes door to door in his costume with his brother and sister saying ‘Trick or Treat’ at each door in our apartment building, and incredibly almost every house gave them candy and he even ran into some other Trick or Treaters along the way,” Kodak said.