It’s often difficult to find something different on YouTube, especially in the retro gaming community. Wave after wave of angry reviewers and sweary lets-players with an over-reliance on extreme close-ups can wear you down after a while. Thank goodness then for people like Octav1us (real name Sarah).
*Full Disclaimer* This interview discusses topics of an adult nature.
Octav1us’ first video, a lets-play of the terrible PS2 game Mouse Trophy, was posted to YouTube a mere two years ago. Since then – thanks in no small part to her quirky sense of humour, her meticulously researched videos, and her incredible bravery in speaking out about mental health awareness – she has quickly become UK retro scene royalty.
On May 17th, 2018, Octav1us embarked on a three hour charity Twitch stream with the goal of raising £400 for Mind – The Mental Health Charity. By the end of the stream over £2000 had been raised, beating the original target by more than 400%!
Later on this year Octav1us will be appearing on Digitiser – The Show with Mr. Biffo and many other UK YouTube personalities. She also recently got her very first “Ashens clone” comment, so now she can safely say she has made it as a YouTuber!
Orange Bison: First of all, congratulations on raising so much for such an important charity. Also, on a more personal note, as somebody who suffers from an anxiety disorder myself, I cannot stress enough how much your willingness to talk about your own issues has helped me come to terms with mine. Do you find it easier to talk about your experiences, knowing how much you are helping other people by doing so??
Octav1us: Honestly, no – I don’t find it easy to talk about them at all. It is daunting to stand in front of a camera and have your self-harm scars showing after more than a decade of hiding them, and of course being on the internet opens you up to ridicule. There is still often an expectation that anyone with mental health issues should keep it to themselves, but I think in recent years it’s becoming a more frequented topic of discussion and it’s about time I started talking about my own struggles.
In my darkest days, if I had had someone like the Octav1us character to look to, I do think I would have had more confidence to go out there and do what I wanted to do. Depression has been a prison for me for the longest time. I do want to inspire people with mental health issues to do what they aspired to do – although I can’t break anyone out of that prison myself, making them believe that they can do it themselves means a lot to me.
But yes – that being said, even before I start filming a personal vlog about what kinda rubbish my brain is putting me through, I STILL become exceptionally anxious and usually have to go to bed straight afterwards. But that’s okay – that’s just how it is. You should never punish yourself for your mental health problems.
OB: There’s been a lot of talk recently about possible links to gaming and mental illness, including the suggestion that (in extreme cases) gaming itself should be classed as a mental disorder. What are your views on the issue?
Octy: Ha! This is utter rubbish. It’s not gaming itself that’s the issue, it’s addictive personalities or the circumstances of your life that might lead you to play Fortnite for hours on end.
Gaming is an escapism no different from reading a book or watching a film, and for some people who have a crappy time in life, gaming is the perfect escape.
I’ve often talked about how my first ever experience with depression is feeling a horrific sinking feeling, approx. age 13, while playing Final Fantasy 7 – knowing I’ll never be part of this fantastical world and be an adored warrior, saving the Earth. After that, I became obsessed with games – especially the Final Fantasy series – and when I wasn’t playing it I would be fantasising about myself being in the game and sculpting friendships with the characters. But it wasn’t a mental disorder caused by the game at all, it was an escape from a traumatic experience which began to affect me from puberty onwards.
Also, in all fairness, Fortnite is pretty good.
OB: You’ve been quite vocal in the past about some of the rather derogatory comments you’ve received from some of the lesser-mannered male “fans”. How do you deal with these comments and unsolicited attention?
Octy: At first it did used to upset me a lot, but I was still finding my footing with the Octav1us character and, obviously, never expected to get even 100 subscribers – so, being a woman with physical assets, I would just wear what I usually do in my day to day life in videos. I even started making jokes about it. But then once I started to get attention, my anatomy started to be scrutinised. I’ve been called all sorts – I mean, do they want me to just slip off my boobs and pop them in a drawer when I film?
Ultimately, when you present yourself online there’s always going to be some pillock jealous of your perceived success, and on a female, the low hanging fruit – if you pardon the phrase – is to have a pop at her appearance and call her a slut. There’s a couple of men in particular, I’ve had to deal with who ended up quite harass-y, appearing in the comments of every video and sending private messages to tell me my breasts are the only reason I get views. I have no doubt that my breasts get some of my views, just as attractive male YouTubers have their looks to thank for some views – but the REAL fans subscribe. And ultimately, if you’re the kind of person who harasses someone online because you don’t like how they’re dressed, what does that say about you?
OB: Congratulations on reaching 10k subscribers recently. In what ways has your popularity online positively affected your life?
Octy: Without a doubt, the most positive thing is the friends I have made along the way. I’m amazed to say that the much bigger YouTubers I used to look up to are now my close friends. And I’ve become friends with some fans too.
The retro gaming community is so welcoming and fun, and gives me a reason to keep going.
OB: You’ve been known as Octav1us Kitten for some time now, but recently you seem to be quietly phasing out the “Kitten” part of your name. Why is this?
Octy: LOL! Err… this is a tad embarrassing, but the reason I’m trying to ditch the Kitten part is because it has sexual connotations that I could really do without now I’m starting to get noticed – obviously it was unintentional when I came up with the name. It was only because when I made the Google account to set up YouTube, it wouldn’t let me go further without a last name. That was the first word that came into my head, since 70% of the time I’m usually thinking about cats.
Plus I don’t help by wearing a collar as part of the outfit, which is meant to be homage to Klonoa. I might have to ditch that too eventually, else I’ll probably have to start every video with a disclaimer “I AM PLAYING A CHARACTER AND AM NOT ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR A BDSM RELATIONSHIP PLS STOP SENDING GROSS VIDEOS OF YOUR JUNK”
OB: Octav1us is obviously a fictional character; an exaggerated caricature of girl gamers. Having said that, how much of you and your experience goes into her mannerisms and storylines?
Octy: She’s pretty much the person I wish I was, to be honest. Cheerful, bubbly, a bit mental, I have a lot of fun when I’m being her because I LOVE being daft. When you’re an adult it’s hard to get away with acting like a buffoon, but when I’m her it doesn’t matter.
As far as storylines go, there’s been plenty of times where what was happening in my life inspired the story of a video. When my videos are set in a job centre, that would be the times I was struggling with finding work. Obviously Horace doesn’t knock around my local job centre though.
OB: How’s Pac-Baby doing these days?
Octy: Oh God, I keep forgetting about him! My Pacman review was written when I was going through a horrible breakup, and I threw myself into making this insane Terminator-esqe storyline to distract myself. Looking back now, I have NO CLUE what is going on in it. But I do find it funny that I gave Octav1us a kid even though she can’t look after herself – that’s another way she’s like me, actually. I’m so prone to breaking things, if I touched a baby it would probably just burst into flames.
OB: What was it like working on Digitiser – The Show?
Octy: Our week filming in the studio was amazing – working with Biffo was such a huge honour, but his humour is the type that makes you stop what you’re doing and just go “What the bloody hell was that about?!” The amount of times I went home and just stared at a wall, trying to process everything. I reckon if you looked into his brain there would just be a load of rabbits with flamethrowers going mental in a Luton shopping centre or something.
OB: You write, direct and edit all your videos yourself. How long does it take you to put together an average video?
Octy: Oh God, some of them take ages! Days, weeks even, of going back and forth and fact-checking, and editing is a nightmare for me. My computer likes to melt occasionally and destroy hours of editing, and very often I’ll get paranoid about offending someone and cut huge chunks out of finished videos.
OB: Which of your videos are you the most proud of?
Octy: I think my Softporn Adventure review is my proudest one – not least because I was having a dreadful time when I filmed it. I had moved into the most grim flat in Ilford you have ever seen – absolutely minuscule, there was power sockets next to the bath and the windows were smashed, plus the front door of the rickety house the flat was in was a fly-tipping area. I used to have to clamber over old mattresses and bin bags to get to it. Utterly grim. 750 quid a month to live in a slum, for anyone thinking of moving to London.
I filmed the video in the only corner of my bedroom where I could fit a green-screen, and while filming it bits of plaster from the wall kept falling down because the floor was shaking so much while I walked.
But dressing up as all those characters and editing it together meant you couldn’t tell how much of a damn heap my home was – and it gave me an escapism too. It’s a ridiculous video but that’s why I like it.
OB: We recently met at Revival 2018, and you might remember that I completely fanboy-ed. During your time on YouTube, has there been a YouTuber you’ve met who’s made you have a similar reaction?
Octy: Oh God yes, meeting Nostalgia Nerd was very much an OMGOMGOMG moment, and when I met Guru Larry the first time I was so conscious of trying not to fangirl that I had a cheeky little panic attack while talking to him. However, both have become amazing friends since – now when I see them I can just go straight in for a hug without needing to prepare for a half-hour long panic attack afterwards.
Meeting Ashens the first time too was pretty intense, but also sort of underwhelming – he’s such a nice well-spoken and polite bloke. He’s just – normal, I suppose? I mean, I don’t know what I was expecting – for him to be gold-plated in real life, or for rainbows to drop out of his mouth as he spoke – but it was just like meeting a nice bloke.
OB: For the final question of my interviews I like to hand it over to my 10-year-old daughter, who is excited to learn what your favourite animé is?
Octy: Hallo Martin’s daughter! I don’t really watch anime, I have such a short attention span I find it hard to watch anything unless I’m doing something else at the same time, like looking at photos of cats being liquid. I do love the Studio Ghibli films though, Howl’s Moving Castle is my favourite. I kind of wish I had a massive walking castle to cut about in.
If you’d like to donate to Mind – The Mental Health Charity, you can still do so through Octy’s Justgiving page.