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Dublin: 13°C Friday 12 August 2022

How Minecraft has made this Irish couple into a YouTube sensation

They have amassed millions of subscribers that tune into the daily adventures of their characters Little Kelly and Sharky,


THEY ARE BETTER known as Little Kelly and Sharky, and if you’re a parent of young children, there’s a fair chance you’ve heard their voices before.

“It’s not that I don’t like your voice,” Kelly Fitzsimons says parents tell her, “it’s just always on in the back somewhere in the house.”

Kelly and her partner David May have been using the game Minecraft to entertain young children since 2015 by voicing their character-avatars on their gaming Youtube channels.

Minecraft lets players build structures with Lego-like blocks in which whole environments can be created with activities that encourage gamers to explore, gather resources and craft things.

screen shot 3 Source: YouTube/Little Kelly Minecraft

For Kelly and David, their Minecraft journey began when Kelly’s brothers, twins Ryan and Scott Fitzsimons from Co Meath, who had been running a successful gaming channel since 2012, were looking to create a female character.

“They saw that there were a lot of boys doing the Minecraft gaming and not many girls doing it,” Kelly says. “My character didn’t speak for a while because we were just toying with the idea of introducing a female character and then it just took off.”

For David, his character of Sharky is a vegetarian shark who has a human best friend while Little Kelly is a princess that “doesn’t need saving by a prince” and encourages “girl power”.

They have subscribers in the millions and generate an income in the hundreds of thousands. Little Kelly’s channel alone has 2,227,677 subscribers.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean making videos for kids interested in gaming is easy work.

“It’s a very demanding job,” says David. “An average office day can be 12 or 14 hours and that can be a half day sometimes depending on the days you do.”

“We’re putting up 4 to 5 videos a day across all our channels,” says Kelly.

screen shot 5 Source: Youtube/Little Kelly Minecraft

They both recounted times when they’ve had to sleep in the office due to the workloads. But the kids’ dedication to their channels makes them motivated to keep on going and push themselves creatively to explore new ideas and stories.

And from a team of 8 people in a small house, they now have 45 employees over two office floors.

“They can go from coders to editors to people who do setups and other people who are making modifications on Minecraft for things we need to make possible for our stories,” says Kelly.

While those employees set up the 3D Minecraft environments, Kelly and David can focus on scripting, story and doing voice work.

“The guys that are here are absolutely incredible, they work very hard and they’ve saved us a huge amount of time,” says David.

But it wasn’t always that way.

“One of our least favorite memories in the early days,” says David, “[was when] we worked on a map for 18 hours, took a break, and when we came back the computers had crashed and everything was lost.”

Now backups are made and what took 12 to 18 hours for a ten minute video can now produce two videos a day that are 20 minutes in length each.

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screen shot 4 Source: Youtube/Little Kelly Minecraft

And what do the creators of Minecraft themselves think of all this?

“People always ask do they charge you for essentially making a living off it (the game),” says Kelly. “And the answer is no. They’re getting free advertising on it, it’s the best thing for Minecraft itself.”

Parents have been equally high in praise for the couple’s work.

“Parents have said to us, ‘you bring our family together,’” says Kelly.

“‘They argue about everything but as soon as they have an ipad or are watching you through the TV, it’s something that they can all watch together.’ That’s really rewarding to hear.”

With their Irish accents travelling across the globe, they love the idea of children in far away places where English isn’t the first language saying to their friends and family, “What’s the craic?”

“Anyone who’s Irish is proud of being Irish and knowing there’s a touch of Irish sayings going across the world is wonderful,” they say.

“And to think they enjoy listening to our accents is amazing.”

Adding to their skills, Kelly and David had their first MCing gig at Dundrum Shopping Centre for Santa’s Arrival, with the big man being there till the 24 December.

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