If the present and future of entertainment are online, and the power struggle over the internet rests on who owns the largest market share of the attention economy, then content creators Dream, 23, and GeorgeNotFound, 25, share a big piece of the pie. Boasting 31 million YouTube subscribers, 6.8 million TikTok followers, 6.2 million Twitch followers, 5.7 million Twitter followers (not to mention 2 million on his alternate Twitter account) and 3.3 million Instagram followers, Dream has the ability to make a topic trend with a single tweet. George, his best friend and close collaborator, has accrued 10.5 million YouTube subscribers, 9.1 million TikTok followers, 4.9 million Twitch followers, 3.9 million Twitter followers (3.2 million on his alt) and 3 million Instagram followers.
The pair met when they were working as software developers and became friends, then decided to make Minecraft content together. With the collective efforts of other notable creators like TommyInnit, Wilbur Soot, Tubbo, Ranboo, CaptainPuffy, Hannahxxrose and more, who comprise the Dream survival multi-player Minecraft server (Dream SMP or DSMP for short), Dream and George have created a veritable multiverse within the world of Minecraft, crafting storylines replete with lore, inside jokes and memes. Additionally, the pair often brainstorms inventive ways to play Minecraft, resulting in videos like “Minecraft, But Gravity Changes Randomly” — in which the two attempt to play the game while the gravity flips without notice — or “Beating Minecraft While Being Electrocuted When I Take Damage,” in which George engineers a dog collar to electrocute him whenever his character takes damage in the game.
The two chatted with Variety two days after TwitchCon San Diego, where they both made appearances.
“Essentially we created a world [in which] there’s tons of different characters, and there’s lore behind everyone’s backstories and there’s different betrayals and back-stabbings and awesome arcs that end in friendships and enemies and destruction,” says Dream of the DSMP. “It very much is just Minecraft being used as a medium to tell a story versus being an actual game.”
“We almost don’t even really play the game,” adds George.
Dream was well known for not showing his face on-screen. The only visual signifier that his fans had was the black-and-white smiley face and mask that represented his existence across all platforms and streams; its slight grin lent an ironic, seemingly Microsoft Paintified mystique to the creator’s identity. But it wasn’t just Dream’s fans who didn’t know what he looked like; most of his collaborators and friends, including George, had never seen his face — on screen or in real life — either.
All of it changed on Oct. 2, when — after several days of revealing his face over FaceTime to creators like Anthony Padilla, KSI, Bella Poarch, Addison Rae and Marques Brownlee, all of whom posted videos of their reactions to Dream’s face without revealing what he actually looked like — Dream premiered his face reveal video on his YouTube channel. The video garnered 20 million views in under 24 hours and has accumulated 39 million views to date. George’s video of the two meeting in person for the first time, published on Oct. 3, racked up 9.7 million views in eight days. In it, the British YouTuber chronicles his move from London, England, to Orlando, Fla., a process that had been hampered by the amount of time it takes to procure a visa; he now lives in a house with Dream and fellow DSMP creator Sapnap. The video depicts George arriving at the house and waiting for Dream to come out. Dream emerges from behind a gate, arms outstretched, and the two embrace, jumping up and down with excitement.
“This doesn’t even feel real,” George, a native of Orlando, Fla., says in the video — a sentiment he reiterates to Variety when asked about how he felt in the moment. “The sun was directly behind him, and it was blinding me, and he had an aura about him.”
However, not everyone was as overjoyed to see Dream’s face. After Dream premiered his face reveal video, “HES UGLY” began trending on Twitter. Dream says he anticipated the negative reaction to the video — and thought some of the memes that came out of it were funny, particularly ones that pointed out he clearly favored a certain angle. “A lot of the angle jokes were funny,” he says. “That was like a personal thing, I was like, ‘I think this is my good side.’ After seeing all the memes, I was like, ‘Okay, maybe not your good side the entire time.’”
To top it all off, the two made appearances at TwitchCon in San Diego the following weekend.
“The whole event was fun for me personally,” George says, “but I think a lot of elements of the actual convention could have been improved upon.”
“I just did not expect us to have as many people there that were there,” Dream says.
“With the meet and greet and Dream SMP panel, there was just way too many people,” George says.
“And not enough room for those people,” Dream adds.
George says that fans got “stuck outside waiting in the hallway with nothing to do, waiting, not knowing if they were gonna be able to get in or not.”
With George’s visa finally approved and Dream’s identity revealed, both now have the space and capacity to create content — and collaborate with different creators — with a newfound freedom. When asked what creators they’d most like to collaborate with, George says, “Mythical,” referring to a massive content empire started by YouTubers Rhett and Link. Another creator they’d both want to collaborate with in person is MrBeast, who, with 106 million YouTube subscribers, is arguably the most famous creator in the world right now. The two of them previously appeared in the virtual MrBeast Trivia Tournament in 2020, and George says that he filmed a video with the creator when MrBeast was in London. “Before I had my visa, MrBeast would ask, ‘When are you coming to America?’ I was like, ‘I literally can’t,’” he says. “I’m sure we’ll be going to North Carolina a lot.”
When asked what the potential collaboration would entail, Dream says that he’d be willing to do whatever MrBeast wanted. “At one point he joked about a Dream team versus MrBeast type of video, and I think that’d be something really fun.”
Although the worlds that the pair have helped create exist online, the DSMP is grounded in real relationships — ones that largely emphasize fun and entertainment, but are not impervious to the reality of grief. When Technoblade, another popular Minecraft creator in the DSMP, died from cancer this past summer, the community mourned. When asked about their reflections on their friendship with the creator, Dream tells Variety that he mentioned Technoblade when he was on stage for the Dream SMP panel. “One of the things I’ve thought about recently is that he wasn’t able to see my face before unfortunately he passed away, and that’s something that I think is obviously super unfortunate, and I really wish he could have been here to share part of the moment with me.” He adds, “Obviously the legacy that he left behind is incredible. … [I’ve] been missing him.”
Both had previously paid tribute to Technoblade after the creator’s death was announced by his family via YouTube video. George tweeted about his friend, writing: “Rest In Peace Techno. I was lucky enough to be able to spend time with him very recently and the fact that he was still just as witty and positive despite his condition really shows how strong and determined he was. Life is short but you had a massive one, we’ll all miss you.”
Dream talked about Technoblade on his Discord podcast, saying he didn’t want to talk about the creator on Twitch or YouTube, because he felt weird about monetizing content regarding the death of his friend. “It’s really tough for everyone, and I’m very fortunate to have gotten to be friends with Techno and to have had a lot of awesome times with him, on and off camera.”
It was a sobering tragedy in a world otherwise characterized by lightheartedness and humor. One key to understanding the world of the chronically online, and particularly the world of the DSMP fandom, is understanding the sense of irony and sarcasm that’s embedded within its subculture. It’s a humor sprung from a generation — and a particular niche of content — wherein the joke threads the needle between the absurd and the true, all the while struggling to not be flattened under the media in which nearly the entire universe of its meaning exists unto itself. Everyone and everything that appears to be tone-deaf or even tonally off runs the risk of being classified as cringe.
The two treat the prospect of an upcoming “Minecraft” movie with this sort of attitude — an openness underscored by a healthy amount of skepticism. The film, which has been in development for several years and is set to star Jason Momoa, has, according to Dream, become a meme.
“I feel like the Minecraft movie has been a meme for so long,” he says. “I posted a ‘Coming Soon’ Minecraft movie meme in 2019.”
“I don’t even know what a Minecraft movie would be,” George says.
When asked what Hollywood would need to get right about the film in order for it to resonate with their audience, George says, “They could just make any story they want and do it in a way that isn’t cringe, but still kind of with a Minecraft aesthetic to it, and I think that Minecraft fans would actually appreciate it.”
Dream sees two different directions that the film could go in: “I feel like they either have to go full cringe, like completely accepts the fact that it’s cringe and just go for it, or they have to go in the opposite direction and just make it completely like Minecraft-themed. You know, Jason Momoa, he’s Steve, he’s in the forest. It’s like ‘Survivor.’ It’s like a comedy movie or something.”
“I think if the Minecraft movie ends up being something that people like, it will be surprising,” says George. “I don’t have good expectations for it. I’m sorry, Minecraft.”
Both say they’d be willing to make cameos in the Minecraft movie if they were asked. As for what actors they would want to play them in a film should the DSMP ever go full Hollywood, the two have a few out-of-the-box ideas.
Dream suggests that Shawn Mendes should play George in a film, but George says, “I think it’d be cool to have Daniel Craig, even though he’s got nothing to do with me.”
As for Dream himself, his answer might be surprising — or not. “The Rock can play me,” he says. “Neither of our answers are actually legitimate, but there you go.”