For years, Landon Hammerley ’19 has lived by the motto, “Greatness cannot be achieved without obsession.” It’s something Hammerley, founder of a Call of Duty gaming team with corporate sponsorships and about 800,000 YouTube subscribers, ought to know a lot about.
“I’m a firm believer that consistency in anything will bring great results,” Hammerley, who founded KARNAGE as a Maryland high schooler, said. “If you keep at it, you’re bound to eventually see some kind of success.
“If you want to be great at something, you can’t just be interested or investing an average amount of time into it. Greatness requires more than mediocre effort. You have to live and breathe the pursuit — an obsession.”
Hammerley, known as “Apollo” in the gaming world, doesn’t just play video games for a living. He and the KARNAGE team, which is currently based in the Houston suburbs, create content for Call of Duty enthusiasts all over the world. Simple as it sounds, “creating content” is more labor-intensive than one might think.
“[It’s] brainstorming a catchy, trendy, or interesting and challenging idea, and then recording that idea in-game,” Hammerley explained. “Taking those recordings and editing them into a 10- to 20-minute video, cropping it to the most interesting parts, highlighting key moments, and adding subtitles, effects, sound effects, etc., to add to the viewing experience.”
Add to that creating a “thumbnail” for each video, which Hammerley compared to the video’s “cover,” and making sure each video is tagged with search engine optimization, or SEO, in mind. The process can take a dozen hours or more per video.
That doesn’t include negotiating sponsorship deals with GFUEL, SCUF Gaming, RESPAWN Products, KontrolFreek, and other companies; apparel drops; fan meet-and-greets; keeping up with social media; and fundraising for the NAACP and other nonprofits.
“I can certainly say, for the longest time, that I was obsessed with the idea of KARNAGE becoming not only my full-time job but something that impacted thousands, that was seen as a lead brand in the industry,” Hammerley said.
“Seeing the brand stand where it does today is a result of being so committed for so long, thus obsession can bring greatness. Though, where I am in life now, I’ve found balance to be more so my motto. Balance is my favorite topic to speak on as I believe it is so incredibly important for long-term success, happiness, and to live a strong life.”
Hammerley, who has a bachelor’s degree in marketing, credits his University of Lynchburg experience with helping prepare him for this life. In his business classes, he learned about contract law and how to manage people. From his marketing professors, he learned about branding, brand awareness, and developing marketing plans.
He also was involved in campus organizations, like the Student Government Association, and had the opportunity to study abroad.
“[It] afforded me opportunities that I might not otherwise have experienced,” he said. “I was able to immerse myself in another culture through my study abroad to Italy and Sicily in my junior year. This was an exciting time, allowing me to grow as a person and expand my global perspective.
“Through a vigorous and engaging curriculum, and with the help of dedicated and motivating professors, I refined skills that I practice daily, including, but not limited to, writing skills, time management, problem-solving, and interdisciplinary skills, which are all critically important for success in today’s online business world.
“I knew that earning my college degree would not only help me realize my personal and professional goals, but would help me become a socially aware and well-rounded individual.”