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The life of game

Jason Hooft tells story about career in entertainment journalism

Jay Hooft reviews the Nintendo Switch on his YouTube channel JKB. 

Jay Hooft is a Canadian game and film reviewer who produces content for his YouTube channel JKB, which currently has 55,600 subscribers. 

Hooft started his career with his friend Mike Colangelo in 2009 with his premiere video being a review of the original “Paranormal Activity,” which amassed 10,000 views overnight.

“That literally kicked the door open for us to go, ‘OK, what’s next?’” Hooft said. “Next video got 5,000 views, and we’re like, ‘OK this is weird, it’s lower.’ And the next one got 13,000.

“We had absolutely no idea what we were doing, in terms of working with companies, in terms of getting review copies, going to free movies to watch them, getting a product sent to us, registering your name — any of that stuff. When you start out, you have no idea what you’re doing, especially in 2009.”

Hooft said his channel and the show on the channel was originally called 3 killa bytes, 3KB, as Hooft, Colangelo and their friend Kat produced the show for eight years before Colangelo decided to leave, leaving Hooft as the host and Kat as the co-host. When Kat left a couple of years later, Hooft renamed the channel JKB.

“It’s the same channel, I just changed the name, because essentially, it’s just me,” he said. “I decided to carry on everything, because I built huge relationships with all those companies, and I didn’t want to throw it all away. I still enjoyed reviewing stuff. So, I said, ‘Even if I get a fraction of the views, I don’t care. I’ll still have fun.”

Hooft has worked with all the major companies in the gaming industry over the years. 

“I believe Xbox was maybe the first relationship. They were very open. Once we got into Xbox, I used that to get us to PlayStation, eventually Nintendo — that was very difficult to build a relationship with them.

“I’ve been lucky enough to build relationships with one, and I use that one to go to the next one and say, ‘Listen, I work with them, this is what we do, I’d love to do something with you,” he said. 

Hooft has also worked with film companies. 

“I have worked with Cineplex, which is the No. 1 theater chain in Canada,” he said. “I was the on-screen host before the film would start, and I’d be talking about video game stuff before the movie started.”

Hooft also went to premieres for horror movies and smaller indie companies. He hosted a second YouTube show where he talked about horror movies. He continues to review products whether it be products he buys himself, products that are sent to him or products he gets paid to review or showcase.

“I’ve technically been paid by some of the companies to do sponsorship videos or stuff like that,” he said. “Samsung would reach out and say, ‘We have a new monitor, do you want to do a video on it?’ And because I was a huge fan at the time, I said, ‘Sure, why wouldn’t I do something like that?’ I use Samsung monitors on the show, so why not?”

The COVID-19 pandemic stopped Hooft from traveling to produce gaming content in other places.

“In terms of my show, my favorite types of videos to do are usually going places,” he said. “For instance, Xbox would randomly call me on a Friday night and say, ‘Can you be on the plane within four hours?’ which happened a few times, and I would just say, ‘Where am I going?’ And they literally would say to me, ‘You have to sign something before we can tell you where you’re going’ or ‘Just say yes, and trust us, it’ll be worth it.’"

Hooft got to visit the Xbox One launch party in Vancouver, for example.

xbox launch party
Xbox One launch party in Vancouver. Photo by Huffington Post. 

“I would just get on a plane and end up in Vancouver, where they had built a two-story Xbox One that opened up and had all the games in it,” he said.

While at the Vancouver launch party, Hooft got the chance to meet other content creators, and appear in a commercial.

“They did five hours of makeup on me,” he said. “I was a zombie for a zombie game that came out for Xbox One, ‘Dead Rising.’”

dead rising
The launch party for Dead Rising that happened during the Xbox One launch party in Vancouver. Photo by Polygon.

It was always Xbox who and ask him to take a flight on short notice, he said.

“One time they called me and said, ‘Where would you like to do a livestream from?’” he said. “At the time, I had just visited one of the best beaches in the world. I said I wanted to do a live stream from the beach.”

Xbox built a large trailer at the beach for Hooft to promote Microsoft Xbox’s streaming platform at the time, Mixer.

“It was on Xbox’s official channel,” he said. “It was when they were really pushing the Xbox, like live streaming and Mixer, (which Microsoft axed on July 22, 2020). Obviously, that’s no longer a thing, but at the time, they really spent a lot of money. I’m assuming they spent a minimum $20,000 to build that thing.

“The setup had a barbeque on the back of it — it was insane. People were coming up to the booth like, ‘What the hell is this?’ I tried to explain we’re just streaming video games. Older people had no idea what the hell it was. Younger people were like, ‘This is amazing.’ So it was kind of funny to be in the wild, live streaming from a beach in midday.” 

Hooft said he gets a lot of previews before something is released, or even announced to the public. 

“That’s a huge bonus,” he said. “I am a gamer who grew up playing video games. I never imagined I’d ever get to do anything like this. Nintendo let me play the Nintendo Switch one week before it was basically revealed. I had no idea what to expect. And you just look on the table, and it’s a Nintendo Switch and it had “Breath of the Wild” on it at the time. (I’m a) huge Zelda fan, I got a triforce tattoo. So, moments like that — absolutely incredible. “

Hooft has to abide by review embargos which are legal regulations companies put in place to prevent their product from being announced or revealed to the public before the company does. 

“In terms of just being a fan of games and getting a company literally calling you saying, ‘What we’re going to send you is super serious and you can’t mess this up,’ and you just agree to it, because you want to know what it is,” he said. “And it turns out to be something absolutely insane.”

One of the hardest review embargos was for Ubisoft and Nintendo’s first entry in the “Mario + Rabbids” series, titled “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.”

kingdom battle
Hoofts thumbnail for "Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle."


“I played that game two years before anyone even knew it existed,” he said. “I went to the studio. It is one of those moments that was batshit crazy. You got to remember that Nintendo used to be so protective of their IP’s. You never see Super Mario on anything. Walking into a Ubisoft room at the studio in Toronto and seeing on the table it’s a “Super Mario” game, your head explodes. And then all of a sudden, they say, ‘Oh, it’s the Rabbids’ — at the time Rabbids didn’t have a great reputation. I don’t think anyone cared about them. Your mind is exploding because it’s Super Mario, but then you see the rabbid — what the hell is going on here?”

Hooft couldn’t say anything about it for two years or he would face great consequences.

“I don’t think many people realize this, there’s an actual lawyer that gives you the info,” he said. “They say basically you have zero rights to say this to anybody, and if you say anything, you can be sued for hundreds of millions of dollars. That right there is a prime example of just being a fan of something, seeing it and being like, ‘My mind has exploded.’

“For two years, I couldn’t even say a peep about the fact that Mario is going to be taken over by Ubisoft. The good news is, the game turned out to be pretty good.” 

Hooft said it can be hard for some people not to say something online, but if they do, they can be blacklisted by a company, which can lead to other companies to blacklist the content creator.

“All the PR companies talk to each other,” he said. “If you mess up with one, you’re done. That’s what happened with Nintendo — somebody leaked a 3DS game at one point and Nintendo put an axe to the whole program for a while and it was impossible to get anything (to review) because someone leaked it. So, you have a bit of a responsibility.”

Hooft said he receives so many requests to review games, he doesn’t have time for them all. 

“Reviewing stuff early is a nightmare, but it’s also amazing,” he said. “Depending on when the embargo is, you sometimes don’t have much time to play a game. It’s frustrating because you want to play a whole game. I was full-time reviewing, I’d be doing “Elden Ring” or “Dying Light 2”— you know how many hours all of those would be? It would be impossible for one dude to do it. You have to pick and choose, and I have to turn down something because I physically can’t do it.” 

In addition to producing content on his channel, Hooft freelance edits and edits full-time for Review Tech USA, a channel that produces tech, gaming and entertainment news.

Visit Hooft’s channel, JKB, at


Category: Features