Jelle’s Marble Runs: the newest virus-free sport
I sat down with three members of the Jelle’s Marble Runs Committee (or JMRC) to see get an inside look into how videos are made, how the worldwide community interacts, and just overall why things roll the way they do. They each go by their own pseudonyms when working together: Trevor Sayre goes by Spex, Matthew Spadaccini goes by Stynth, and Callum Charman goes by Ghost.
What is Spex’s role in making JMR videos?
Spex- “I help… a lot with some of the data gathering… we’ll review the video for any details, any issues, we’ll do timing and scoring.”
“And also event review- so is this a good event idea? what are the problems that could happen? If something does happen- a marble goes off the course- how do we write the story around that? Because it’s really important to us that we only run the event once, and we just accept the results as they are so it’s fair, but we also have to come up with creative stories around why the marble messed up so poorly or why the track didn’t work out, it just happens, so we roll with it.”
He also does Graphics, score tables, and M1 (Marbula 1) track maps “it’s very much a team effort; there’s a lot of people involved to make those graphics work.”
JMRC- all events are filmed in the Netherlands, but people all over the world work remotely on it. “None of the JMRC are paid- none of them do it full time- but it consumes a lot of our time and weekends…”
Ghost- “we all have our own specializations within the team… we all contribute to the main things such as checking events…”
How were you approached to join the JMRC?
Stynth- “the process differed for us really…”
Ghost- “I got invited from [Mellacus] seeing my contributions in the marblebase discord. So, I did lap position charts for each race for M1, and I guess some people were impressed by those. And then I just was a friendly and mature face in the community I guess, and those were some of the qualities that Mel wanted I guess.”
Basically, JMRC members are approached by contributing in the community such as the subreddit, marble sports blogs, or discord.
What is Stynth’s role in JMR?
Stynth- “I would say it’s really towards the lore and building the official JMR cannon…”
The JMR universe is filled with details about each and every team, such as their history, where they’re from, rivalries with other teams, and also why certain malfunctions in events occurred.
Why do so many people gravitate to JMR rather than other marble racing channels?
Spex- “Oh man… I think what we might all agree on is the production quality- there’s just a lot of detail that we put in- we care a lot about, be it backstory, if you’re gonna get into a marble, well, you might as well also have all this fantasy concept around it with names and teams and where they came from and sort of just keeping it separate from reality- making it its own reality…” “we try to stay out of the clickbaity youtubey drama stuff- we try to focus on just having fun with the marbles… listening to the different fans and the different fan groups and trying to involve them in whatever ways make sense- there’s sort of an inclusivity to it that matters to me.”
Stynth- “The commentary- Greg Woods is phenomenal… I almost feel like we don’t deserve the amount of attention and dedication he gives to the channel and the sport itself.” “We do treat it as if it is an actual sport… to keep up the integrity of it.”
Do you still see yourself as a fan, or does working on JMR reduce the excitement you gain from the videos?
Ghost “I’m still absolutely invested in how things turn out… often we know the results well in advance but that doesn’t change the magic of when the video comes out- and everyone reacting to it- the same way that you did…”
Stynth- “I define myself as like a fan first.”
Ghost- “absolutely- it’s got to be Wisps…” “we all have our favorites.”
Spex “there’s a side to the fans as well beyond just what people might see- it’s easy to see all the fans in Europe and all the fans in America, but there are also huge fan bases that most people aren’t aware of, like china are massive snowballs fans and massive hazers fans.” they don’t host on YouTube because its banned but instead they host on Bilibili with their own system- millions of views and comments. “It’s great to see just these wide group of fans and getting into these single teams… I’m a big hazers fan.”
Stynth- “I’ve grown to appreciate all the teams from writing lore from them and creating their own stories- all of them except for the savage speeders.”
Why do some teams, like the Savage Speeders and the O’rangers consistently do so much better than others?
Ghost “at this point I think some of the teams’ performance is beyond coincidence- of course there’s a factor of luck in every marble race- and that’s the beauty of it- there’s never one team that’s entirely expected to dominate… It’s got to have something with the marbles themselves- no one is really sure what and I’m sure no one really wants to be sure what because it would kind of ruin the magic in my opinion.”
Spex- “most of them have come out of the same factories… and yet somehow they’re just on top- and you know are they more dense; are they more round, who knows? I try to not care too much about that.
The logos are a lot of people’s favorite part of the JMR; are there any changes coming to them in the future?
Spex- “that was a cool thing that someone on reddit started posting those animated logos- there’s no guarantees on it, but I would like to see more motion graphics like that.”
Stynth “I hope [the logos] are here to stay.”
Ghost- “we’ve discussed some minor things like adding a star or a crown to teams that have won the marble league on to their logos but other than that… the longer they’re here for the more they become part of the identity for the team.”
What upcoming events or competitions are you most excited for?
Ghost- “In general I’m just excited to watch all of JMR’s content… there’s so much effort put into it on Jelle’s end to make it just as entertaining as everything else.”
Stynth- “I’m excited to see… the potentials of what [M1] season two could possibly be.”
Spex- “It is Marble league that got me into JMR first… [but] Marbula 1 is something that I feel is so accessible- and there’s a lot of improvement over season one, which I actually see as a positive… something that’s gonna get better and better over time.”
Finally, what is your single favorite aspect of JMR?
Spex- “for me it’s just the positive inclusive community
Stynth “it’s the community… I love the community
Ghost “I don’t really have anything to add… all being said.”