What is Ready Up Live? This is a question I’ve been asking myself for the past two years. It’s a question that has caused me to lose weeks of sleep. This internet community that I founded back in 2007 has done some things I never expected it would. From massive server issues (due to a Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack contest) to some of the most memorable nights of my life at PAX Prime: The RUL Community has gone on one wild ride.
There is an immense amount of history to Ready Up Live…and yet nobody can agree on what RUL actually is.
If I asked the world via social media what Ready Up Live is I would get a symphony of answers. “It’s a YouTube channel!”, “It’s a Discord community!”, “It’s a Minecraft show”. Ready Up Live, as an idea, has always been fluid. Gaseous, even. While the first iteration of the site was just a fun forum to hang out in, the forums, for months now, have not even existed. I picked up my red phone and I told the figure on the other end to close them down. Why? Part of it is me. I often think so far into the future that I completely forget about the past. RUL has a past worth remembering.
One day, long before the birth of Ready Up Live, I created a forum called “TopicZero”. All I wanted was to personally manage that which I so loved being a part of: forums. TopicZero was hosted on a dreaded “.tk” domain. (Hey, at least we had a decent URL!) The dark colours of the website were offset by neon blue lightning bolts piecing the top of each page. Some early internet buddies and I just talked there about a variety of subjects. Then I shut it down. This part of my e-life is a bit foggy. I guess I was focusing on school and chasing girls.
Years later while visiting my uncle, he allowed me to mess around on his big fancy computer. All I wanted to do was visit Xbox.com to boost my excitement for the upcoming Xbox 360. Looking to share my excitement, I found safe haven on the Xbox Canada forums. Acting as mature as I possibly could, I interacted with now-lifelong friends from across Canada. A forum user by the name LeadingSnake was putting on fun little competitions amongst the community. Eager to become more involved, I offered to lend a hand in running the games. This sense of purpose and belonging struck a chord with me. With growing tournament popularity among our little community, LeadingSnake and I knew what had to come next: We needed to organize these events on our own website.
Xbox Canada Tournaments!
Using a free website host, we created a less than beautiful site to expand our escapades. Jade, the “Major Nelson” of Xbox Canada, provided some cool prizes to encourage participation. Investing more and more of my night-owl time into XCT, I slowly took over the whole operation. We had some fun, successful tournaments. The gaudy hit counter kept ticking up.
“We need to do more.”
News. Articles. Posts. It all had to happen. We would become so much more than the name suggested. But what if that’s a problem? What if we become so big that we bottleneck ourselves with our restricting “Xbox Canada Tournaments” nomenclature? We’ve outgrown this.
A single comment pushed me over the edge. My best Xbox Live friend at the time, Chris, asked if he could take part in our tournaments despite being American.
“Yeah, just ignore the name.”
This won’t do. Whatever would we call our new community? There needs to be a term that spans across multiple genres of video games but is still a nod to the industry… Ready Up. I’ve seen Ready Up used in an assortment of games. A quick google search of “Ready Up” turned my untarnished optimism into caution.
“I don’t want to compete with the other “Ready Up”s out there. But the name sounds so good! Maybe if I add something to the end…Live.”
I opened up MSN Messenger and asked three of my friends if they liked the sound of Ready Up Live. They all loved it.
Vbulletin would be the forum software that powered the green machine. A simple add-on created a blocky, customizable front page for news posts and forum stats. Working with forum software was a huge learning experience for me. My previous knowledge of web design came solely from simple HTML codes I used on Xbox Canada Tournaments. I broke RUL…over…and over…and over. I would go back to the code editor with slightly more insight and move on to the next line. In August 2007, it was ready.
Ready Up Live
I launched RUL just in time for the X’07 Xbox Showcase in Toronto. Living in Calgary, Alberta at the time, it wasn’t a cheap trip to travel to Ontario. My dad, appreciating my passion for Xbox, paid for the flights and headed with me to the event. To promote the launch of my new site, we made two boxes of simple black t-shirts with the RUL logo on the front. Xbox Canada would allow us to give these out in the goodie bags at the event. Sticking around until the very last bag was gone, my dad and I noticed one of the t-shirt boxes wasn’t even used. (I have a few shirts left to this day, some of which now in the hands of other staff members.)
Ready Up Live: A forum created with Canadian principles in mind: friendliness, inclusivity, and good-natured fun. It was clear that we wouldn’t run many more tournaments, but rather have “Playdates” where everyone could take part. Over the years, Ready Up Live went through a plethora of redesigns. Each version more complex both to the eye and my less-than-professional-web-designer fingers.
Like the visual feel of the site, the staff members were constantly changing. We had a wide variety of people dip their toes into the RUL Water. As the membership count grew, we kept noticing a pattern: Drama. There was always some kind of absurd drama going on both behind the scenes and plastered on the forums for everyone to see. How could this be? We tried our absolute best to make our community a friendly, caring one. The truth of the matter was that we lived in a unique reality. People normally shy of online forums were boasting their feathers for the first time. Emotions ran high. RUL became this amazing melting pot of gamers from around the world all held together with passion (and a couple banhammers).
Halo 3 – Halo: Reach
The Halo 3 community caused Ready Up Live to explode…literally. Creating fun Halo sketch comedy videos (with now unusable licensed music) sparked interest in our humble little crew. Urk, the community manager from Bungie, would feature the occasional RUL content on the Bungie.net homepage. These blog posts caused the biggest spikes we’d ever seen. SMG90, RUL VIP, was my partner in crime as we made waves in the Halo community with our hit-or-miss content.
Ready Up Live persisted through the years and came back into the spotlight during Halo: Reach. Reach videos on YouTube were garnering a ton of hits. Intricate Forge Rube Goldberg golf shots were boosting the Ready Up Live YouTube channel to record numbers. The YouTube channel quickly became an essential part of the Ready Up Live network.
Crushed into a tiny dorm room with not enough floor space to do pushups, I filmed and posted Halo: Reach content and vlogged about my day-to-day activities. In 2012 I told my parents I would no longer work a traditional job.
“I’m going to be a YouTuber.”
Halo 4, Halo 5, and Today
As 343 Industries took over the Halo brand, I was still “that kid” in the community. Covering Halo 4 news with my classmate Jeff Wood (minolta1034) shot the RUL YouTube channel’s popularity through the roof. It was viable. It was sustainable.
The next few years saw a decline in website activity despite the YouTube channel growing ever stronger. We could discuss among ourselves the root cause of this, but I don’t think any one answer is correct. A few months ago I made the final call to pronounce the forums dead. But Ready Up Live wasn’t dead. Far from it. It seemed buzzing as always…just not on the actual website. The community of RUL persisted across the internet, penetrating headsets, gamertags, and social media. Ready Up Live existed on YouTube. Ready Up Live existed on Twitter and Facebook. Ready Up Live existed at PAX Prime. There were a thousand places for RULers to go, but nowhere to sleep.
What is Ready Up Live?
Ready Up Live is an idea. It’s a sense of belonging. It’s a sense of pride. It’s a sense of family. In 2007, a centralized forum community was the origin story of RUL. 2017 is the year of remembrance. The return of the forums isn’t just a remaster, it’s an evolution combining the best of the old and the new.
Welcome to Ready Up Live.