AGTube is a community on YouTube where content creators (known as "AGTubers") upload videos of their American Girl Dolls. AGTubers consist of people of all ages and genders, though most creators are in middle and high school. Being a part of the AGTube community allows you to film videos with any American Girl doll you wish and upload them to YouTube. The AGTube community is generally very positive and supportive; AGTubers will often like and comment on each other's videos.
AGTube has had many eras of content, and it is common for AGTubers to reminisce on the days of "Old AGTube"; in the present era, this is referring to the actual era of Old AGTube, but the concept of an older, more nostalgic and active time in the community has always been prevalent. There are videos dating back to as early as 2012 mentioning the concept of "Old AGTube", but the concept did not become popular until around 2015.
This is shift was caused by major creators departing and new video styles and technology being introduced. Most AGTubers refer to the Old AGTube era as the peak of activity mainly because that was when the "classic" AGTubers were around; the creators who popularized AGTube, such as anttonina and girloftheyearstudios, became mostly inactive after 2014, causing a major shift in video styles and the attitude of AGTube as a whole.
Early AGTube (2007 - 2008)
The exact origins of AGTube are unknown, however, some of the earliest traces date back to 2007. Many AGTubers consider xmollygirlx as the first AGTuber, as she was most likely the first popular AGTuber. The community was fairly small then, and live videos were more common; though stopmotions did exist, they were lower quality than that of Old AGTube.
Old AGTube (2009 - 2013)
Although the concept of "Old AGTube" has existed since before this era began, this era is most often referenced as Old AGTube. Many AGTubers consider this to be the golden age of AGTube, referring to it as the peak of AGTube's creativity, connectedness, and activity. This era serves as a prime example of AGTube as a community: creators were very supportive of one another, and many people made friends because of this. One of the first meetups was held during this time when girloftheyearstudios hosted one with AmericanGirl077 and AmericanGirl088.
The nostalgia for Old AGTube can be explained by numerous factors; the first being that most, if not all, of the "classic AGTubers" started their channels were mostly active during this period. Similarly, the community grew enormously from the small community of Early AGTube, and many videos even went viral, causing AGTubers now to refer to this era as a golden age of content. Due to the popularity of creators and the prevalence of viral videos, most AGTubers from this era and onwards were inspired by Old AGTubers to create videos and start channels of their own.
Transition Period (2014 - 2015)
This era of AGTube began when many of the Old AGtubers left. While some people thought AGTube was declining, many famous series and became popular at this time, including Aspen Heights and The Realm of Arragara. Although series were prevalent in the years prior, the live-action series format began to take off during this time. This period is more of a transition from Old AGTube to New Generation, as much bigger changes began to occur in the period following this one.
New Generation (2016 - 2018)
Although this period was often referred to as a very inactive time for AGTube, the community was actually very active. It became perhaps even more common for videos to become popular, with some AGSM movies (such as The Living Project and Who Is Rae Payson?) accumulating over 100,000 views.
Old AGTube began to be regarded as a sort of "Golden Age" of AGTube, which is one reason why many creators thought that AGTube was "dead". Attempts to "revive" the community were often called something along the lines of "New Generation"; one main example is a livestream that was held by Rainbow Lollipop Productions in 2016 entitled "#NewGeneration".
Another defining characteristic of this era is creativity; many AGTubers during this time tried new things and attempted to redefine the video formats that were popular in previous eras. AGSM movies became longer; in 2016, rockstar13studios released Wildwood, a half-hour long AGSM movie that held the record for longest stop-motion film in the community for several years. In the years following, more creators have been inspired to create longer videos as well. Additionally, the short-lived but popular trend of making a custom to be the main character of a (typically live-action) movie and then subsequently selling the custom after the movie's release took place. Notable examples of this include Briar Towne and Elena.
Evolution of Video Formats
AGMVs began to change in format; typically, live AGMVs were parodies or less serious videos, while stop-motion AGMVs were more serious before this time. During this era, live and stop-motion AGMVs were equally as common, and often more serious than the likes of the "Tik Tok"-style AGMVs that defined the previous era. Videos covered more serious topics in music videos such as "Elastic Heart", "If I Die Young", and "A Thousand Years".
With the creation of the AGIG community, the AGPS video format became much less popular, though not entirely nonexistent. Despite this, "Best Photography" continues to be a popular category of the Sophie Awards, with several nominees each year.
Post-COPPA AGTube (2019 - 2020)
With the introduction of YouTube's new child content policies in late 2019, AGTube was dramatically changed. Although most AGTubers make content for a general audience, rather than strictly children, the use of dolls in videos placed many popular creators under scrutiny. As AGTubers become more popular, they begin to attract a larger and larger audience of children, rather than an audience of mostly fellow creators and collectors. This causes YouTube to label their channels as "for children", and since they have a large child audience, they must use this label in order to not risk facing legal issues that result from children viewing targeted ads.
Being labeled as a channel "for children" results in: comments being deactivated, post notifications being disabled, demonetization, videos being unable to be added to playlists, and lower chances of videos being recommended to viewers. This is incredibly disheartening for creators, as they now have lost connection with their audience and a way to make money off of their hard work.
Although YouTube's response to COPPA created many issues for many AGTubers, this era is also full of numerous positives. Creators push the boundaries of content, similar to the previous era, through making longer and higher quality stopmotions. AGTubers such as VioletDollies and DancingDollphins helped set a precedent for longer and smoother AGSMs. Other AGTubers such as TheAG11Studios and americangirlmegan11 have helped keep the series format alive with more creative series concepts. In addition, photo contests popularized by foreveranddollways' AGNDM in the previous era have become even more popular, with more and more AGTubers beginning their own photo contests.
With the implementation of child content policies in 2019, many creators either left the platform or had to adapt to the changes once 2020 came around. However, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine caused numerous AGTubers to create more videos, as well as some former AGTubers to return to the platform. This combination of long-running channels (such as rockstar13studios) becoming inactive and popular AGTubers returning (such as Akeelah1998) changed the landscape of AGTube.
The Present (2021)
With the growing availability of vaccines in the United States, as well as most schools returning to semi-normal instruction in the fall of 2020, the spare time enjoyed in spring and summer 2020 came to an end. The previously established phenomenon of long-running channels leaving and former popular channels returning occurred on a more substantial scale as well. In spring 2021, AGSmiless, one of the most popular AGTubers, announced her return and a spinoff series of The Realm of Arragara. In summer 2021, mixiepixie7, the longest-running channel on AGTube, announced that she was leaving the platform. Along with being a constant presence in the community, she was also the host of the Sophie Awards, a popular aspect of AGTube culture. Such major changes indicate a turning point, signaling a new era of AGTube to come.