Uploaded last week, YouTube Street Fighter videos have already garnered well over 5 million views, and counting. That’s not just due to gamer nostalgia over the coin arcade classic, or because it’s currently featured on YouTube’s home page. A lot of the views are generated by the way the videos were made.
Created by Canadian indie filmmaker Patrick Boivin, this version of Street Fighter is a fiendishly clever series of 112 stop-motion animated videos, woven together by embedded screen links. Much like a “choose your path” adventure, you play as the well-coiffed hero Guile, selecting one of three enemies (Dhalsim, Zangief, and sumo wrestler E. Honda, also from the original), then click an attack button (punch, kick, flip, etc.) that links you to the next video in order to see the results. That also means an individual viewer who plays the game must view several videos or more to complete it. After the first week it went online, Boivin told me by email, the videos had earned him $5,000 in YouTube advertising revenue.
Boivin created the series as a showcase of his talent; he’d made a similar interactive video before, but this time, contacted several toy companies, offering to make a viral video for their products. SOTA Toys accepted, and gave him their Street Fighter action figures to work with. He did the animation in three days, then took five more to edit the videos and link them together. Despite working so quickly, Boivin’s animation has a lot of personality and charm, evoking the quirky animations from the old video game. (When Honda hops, for example, he kicks his feet ballerina-style in mid-air.)
Martial arts combat aside, the interactive element is such an inventive way to engage YouTube viewers and keep them furiously clicking, I wouldn’t be surprised if other developers start employing a similar technique in other kinds of video series. In any case, Boivin himself is planning to put out a follow-up next month.