They say William Shakespeare wrote King Lear during quarantine for the plague in 1606. During Covid-19, my brother, Adam Gossage, created his own masterpiece of sorts in his basement: a 100-foot working replica of the most beloved (and loathed) racetrack from Mario Kart: Rainbow Road.
The inspiration for the project was Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit, an augmented reality game for Nintendo Switch that lets you race webcam-enabled toy cars IRL against virtual opponents — around a course you build in your home. But the real impetus for all of this was being laid off from his job back at the end of March as a sales consultant at a high-end speaker manufacturer in Lawrence, Kansas.
Amid shutdowns and an impossible job market, Adam decided to go all in on gaming. Since the NES days, he’d been obsessed with video games, particularly Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) like Persona 4 and Final Fantasy. He’d obsessively followed gaming YouTubers like Cooltoy, RKG, and BeatEmUps, and had dreamed of starting his own channel. He teamed up with his brother-in-law and next-door neighbor Jordan Goldsmith, and they launched Complete Geek TV on YouTube and Twitch in April. (Clearly, a lot of other gamers had a similar idea: Between February and April, the number of streamers on Twitch nearly doubled from 3.8 million to 7.2 million, according to TwitchTracker.)
Since the launch, Adam and Jordan have tried a few gimmicks to gain followers, including eating atomic wings as punishment for dying in Dark Souls and eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jelly Beans as a punishment for dying in Mega Man. They’ve also unboxed collectibles and arcade cabinets, the kinds of things they would be buying anyway. They initially preordered the Mario Kart Live race cars (which go for about $100 each) with the idea of unboxing and reviewing them on YouTube.
“We were basically unboxing the cars the day I got them, and I said to Jordan, ‘How are we going to differentiate ourselves?’” Adam recalls. “Because there’s already a lot of reviews out there, and they’re pretty informative. So I said, ‘What if we built our own racecourse? Not just one…