Fast forward six and a half months, and over 300,000 people are on the edge of their seats, watching timthetatman play the viral video game Fall Guys on his Twitch stream, waiting for Tim to finally “take it to the house.”
After several days of trying, multiple losses and fits of rage, Tim finally earned a victory in Fall Guys on Wednesday, much to the delight of gamers and fans everywhere.
“I was just on cloud nine,” Betar told ESPN in a phone interview on Wednesday night. “I can think of one other time that I was playing a video game and I had a feeling like that. It was when I was actually playing World of Warcraft, which I played for years. Me and my guild got one of the big bosses down. And I don’t know what this was back when I was like 20 or younger, and I just remember that moment, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, this is incredible. I’ll never get this feeling again, we finally did it.’ And I had that exact kind of feeling today, where I’m like, this is incredible. I finally did it.”
Fall Guys has become a gaming phenomenon since its August 4 release. The premise is simple: 60 people playing customizable bean-like characters per game go through a series of levels that include obstacle courses, team games, and survivor challenges. Each level, people are eliminated until there is only one bean (or pigeon, or dinosaur, or milkshake) standing. The game is inspired by the TV Game Show Wipeout and the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle. It’s one of those “easy to learn, difficult to master” games that has captured the attention and hearts of gamers everywhere.
It is consistently the most viewed video game on Twitch, over heavyweights like Fortnite, League of Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone, even at times the perennially leading “Just Chatting” category. The Fall Guys Twitter account is sitting at over one million followers. Mainstream brands (including fast food chains Wendys and KFC), gaming figures, and organizations are consistently vying for the game’s attention. They post clips from the game and lobby for in-game cosmetic skins. There is even a bidding war currently transpiring on a charity auction to get a skin in the game, which is currently at $420,069.69, where bids have come from everywhere from Tyler “Ninja” Blevins to Jimmy “MrBeastYT” Donaldson to esports organization G2 to even bidet attachment company Tushy, with the proceeds going to Special Effect, a UK based charity that helps gamers with physical disabilities.
To put it another way, Fall Guys has become an overnight sensation.
Betar attributes two key factors to Fall Guys being great as a spectator experience.
“I think it’s a really simple game, it’s really simple to understand. And it’s really unpredictable,” Betar explains. “You’re a little guy. And your objective is to beat other people in a race and get to the checkpoint, and it’s like a battle royale style. It’s really simple to understand. I think a lot of people can just sit down, watch it and understand.
Fall Guys’ chaotic nature also produces some extremely memorable moments.
TIM NO WHY! ��
“There was one (stage) where I think it was 39 people qualifying,” Betar recounted. “Seven people had qualified and I was right there in the pack. I’m like, Oh, this is simple, right? I’m just gonna jump over the lines. And then randomly, one guy turned around, grabbed me. I was like, okay, that kind of slowed me down. And then all of a sudden, from behind me, someone else got swung forward, knocked me over and so I fell over and I’m like what the heck? Then my guy stands up. And I got like, hit by a ball and I fell back and then just like that I was eliminated. And I’m sitting there, like, What just happened? I was two feet from the finish line. And now my chat is ripping and roaring. They’re all getting a kick out of it … I think that unpredictability, that’s something that a lot of people love to watch. ‘Did you see what happened to Tim, Can you believe that?’ I think that’s what makes it really, really entertaining to watch.”
Betar began playing Fall Guys last week and admitted he was struggling with the game early on. Progressively, he would get better, but it seemed the further he got, the more he couldn’t quite “take the crown.” What started with playful ribbing from his chat turned into keen interest from all corners of social media. Coinciding with the rise of the game in the zeitgeist, Betar’s chase for a win became must-watch streaming. With it, came equal amounts of support and jabs.
“He’s really terrible at Fall Guys,” Ali “SypherPK” Hassan told ESPN with a smile in a video interview on Wednesday after playing the game with Betar on stream the day before. “I’ve watched him play.. he’s taking the losses and raging about them but he doesn’t ever stop, I don’t see him at least, stop and think ‘what could have I done better?'”
Perhaps the most diligent with the “disses” was the Fall Guys Twitter account itself, which took any and all opportunities to remind everyone that Betar was still without a W in its game.
@timthetatman Hey Tim, we just ranked all of our players by how well the are doing and I thought you’d like to know you aren’t actually in last place 👌
There’s one other account that’s done worse than you… but it’s actually a developer account that we use for testing AFK
— Fall Guys 👑 (@FallGuysGame) August 16, 2020
The affable Betar has taken it all in stride and was grateful to have what has grown to be a cultural moment in gaming, which started completely organically — when asked about how it all unfolded and whether any of it was staged, a member of Betar’s team replied “it was all Tim.”
“I just think that ultimately it’s something that was kind of fun,” Betar says, trying to explain how this has become one of the biggest stories in gaming of the year. “I think a lot of people know me in the sense of, I don’t really take stuff personally. So like when Fall Guys started to pick on me, everyone knows that I’m fine with it. I don’t mind that and it was just this fun little banter and it’s so simple, right? And I think that’s part of the reason people are so drawn to it. Like Tim, just jump, (press) up square, what are you doing? Right? And there’s me struggling to just do something that is such a simple task, right? And then by the end of it, you got everyone just rooting for me. I got people tweeting me videos of them, cheering for me. So I just really think that it drew a lot of eyes because it was so simple, and so light hearted.”
On Tuesday, Tim broke his own personal viewership peak record, exceeding 150,000 viewers on Twitch. Betar said that the longer it took to win and the more people started to watch, the more nervous he got, because he didn’t want to let them down. The win still eluded him and time did as well, as he had sponsorship obligations to fulfill for the remainder of that day. In that time, ESPN put out a story covering Betar’s Fall Guys futility that included an ESPN app alert that many received to their phones, including Betar’s family.
“The first thing that popped in my head when I saw that ESPN pushed an alert out for [me] on people’s phones and stuff was my dad is going to be very confused,” Betar joked. “My dad is going to look at his phone and be like, wait a minute, like, what is going on here? Why is Tim popping up on my ESPN app? I think I was just kind of it was surreal for me, because (as a) kid I played sports my whole life. I’ve always watched a lot of different sporting events, you know, I’d watch SportsCenter and ESPN all the time and to see me on ESPN. That’s like, not something I never would have thought it would have happened. So it’s really cool. I was very humbled.”
Then on Wednesday, the moment had finally arrived. With many major streamers rallying around him, including Ninja, Benjamin “Dr Lupo” Lupo, Jack “CouRageJD” Dunlop and more, Betar would finally take it to the house. After days of yelling and screaming, putting his head in his hands, storming out of the room in pure anger, this time he looked straight at the camera and yelled “LET’S GO! YOU SAID IT COULDN’T BE DONE! THERE’S THE KING!” His Twitter mentions also blew up at an unprecedented pace.
“The amount (of mentions) really shocked me,” Betar said. “Stuff was trending, I’ve never seen anything like that in my regard. That was a first time thing for me.”
When asked tongue in cheek what he has to say to all of his doubters now that he has finally done it, Betar, much calmer without a camera in front of him, jokingly said “Look at me now, King of the castle! I got my one crown. Meanwhile, you got (people) with 50 crowns. But I’m proud [of] my one.”
So, if it didn’t happen on Wednesday, how long would Tim have tried to win? A week? A month? Several months?
“I told Alexis, my wife I was like, I just gotta go until I get a win,” Betar said, laughing. “Like there’s really nothing else I can do right now. I was thinking about other games that I normally play off like Call of Duty and stuff like that, and I like Call of Duty, but I was in my mind, I was like, I gotta do this. There’s nothing else on my mind right now. I got to get this win. I got to figure this out.”
Despite finally catching a dub, the trash talk doesn’t seem like it will stop, especially from his inner circle.
“Hey Tim, glad you finally got a win in Fall Guys,” Twitch Streamer and Betar’s high school friend Action Jaxon told ESPN in a statement. ” Looks like things are really looking up for you and you’ve had a lot of success. JUST KIDDING loser, it’s me PJ from high school. You go by Tatman now? Looks like you can still barely win anything. Remember Tirzah from math class? The girl you had a crush on? Well we’re married now. I make $200K a year and drive a Jeep Wrangler. I guess some things never change huh Tim? Nice catching up. Pathetic.”
It’s unclear whether or not Tim will continue to play Fall Guys at the same rate he had for the past week, or whether it will remain in the rotation of games he plays on stream, but naturally the question from many will be, he got one … can he get two? For now, Betar can take a moment to relish the final chapter of gaming’s greatest saga of 2020.