While the exact origins of Many A True Nerd are sadly lost to history, we can be fairly confident that the idea formed sometime between May 1453, when Constantinople fell, and early 2013, when Claire considered setting up a general interest geek blog.
In a brainstorming session where multiple names were considered, Jon suggested Many A True Nerd. As this was Jon’s suggestion, it was naturally a pun – a play on the expression ‘many a true word is spoken in jest’. Everybody liked it, and the Many A True Nerd site was founded.
Sometime around March 2013, Jon offered to run the YouTube channel, which is something he’d been thinking about since 2011 or so, when he’d gotten into watching gaming on YouTube, and felt like giving it a go.
It wasn’t until May 2013, however, that Jon actually got round to making a video, as Claire was away for the weekend, and Jon was bored. The video was terrible, and was never seen by anyone other than Jon and Claire. In late May, Jon and Claire made a slightly less bad video, and uploaded it to YouTube. It was mainly supposed to be for friends of ours, who we emailed about it. A month later, we had 32 subscribers. We knew most of them by name. The video has since been watched over 30,000 times.
The early videos weren’t actually gaming focused. Like the site itself, which featured articles about books, film and TV as well, the YouTube had a little bit of everything, including baking, and UK convention discussions. Some of those videos aren’t even available anymore, given they’d probably be mostly confusing to today’s community.
From there, Jon slowly took the YouTube channel in a gaming direction. An experiment into killing everybody in Fallout New Vegas went rather well in August 2013 after catching some attention on the Fallout subreddit, and we had the first day in which over 10 people subscribed, passing 100 subscribers in total. This was extremely exciting. That video has now been watched over 1,000,000 times.
We just managed to pass 1,000 subscribers at the end of our first year, on December 9th 2013.
In early January, Fallout: New Vegas – Kill Everything concluded, and the conclusion was well received on the Fallout subreddit. We gained over 500 subscribers on January 12th, and even now, that’s a respectable amount of subs to gain in a single day. By the end of January 2014, we had over 3,000 subscribers.
From there, we did the most logical thing imaginable, and started killing everything in Fallout 3. This is the period in the channel’s history where Jon thinks the videos are actually pretty good, and still hold up well today. Between Fallout 3, Hitman: Blood Money and the beginning of Why Not Wednesday, there are some really solid videos from this era.
On the other hand, this is also the time when, despite an excellent effort, the old Many A True Nerd site fell into disuse, after not gaining the same traction as the YouTube channel. It would go on to confuse its visitors for years, given it featured barely anything from Jon, or about gaming. Claire would go on to be an occasional guest on the channel.
At the end of August 2014, Fallout 3: Kill Everything concluded, and pleasingly the channel passed 10,000 subscribers at the same time. Two days later, Kotaku ran an article about the run, and subsequently so did much of the gaming press. We gained 3,500 subscribers in a single day. It remains the biggest subscriber-gain day in the history of the channel. A week later, we passed 20,000 subscribers.
Jon also came up with an odd idea for a new challenge run – could you possibly complete Fallout without ever healing under permadeath rules? You Only Live Once was born. The rest of the year was quieter, but we passed 30,000 subscribers on the last day of 2014.
In April 2015, Jon took part in the GTA Heists series with Dan of Nerdcubed. Given Nerdcubed was one of the channels that inspired him to start Many A True Nerd, this was both surreal and amazing. Since then, Jon started doing a podcast thing with Dan too, and is a regular guest in the Nerdcubed streams.
You Only Live Once went on to catch the attention of the wider world, and by August 2015, a year after hitting 10,000 subscribers, we reached 100,000. We should also remember the other fine series of this era, including Red Faction: Guerrilla and Life Is Strange. Roguelikes also became a common part of the channel here.
It was also this time when Jon considered going full-time with YouTube. A few months later, he took the leap, supported by a surge in new subscribers from videos about the upcoming Fallout 4, and strong backing from the community on Patreon.
Fallout 4 gave us a great November 2015, which was a fantastic way to kick off doing this as a job, and by the end of the year, we had 147,000 subscribers. A little over a year later, we hit 250,000.
The rest, hopefully, you remember. Because it happened fairly recently.