What I’ve Learned By Doing Let’s Plays

Back in 2011 or 2010 I was frequenting Destructoid’s blogs and decided to start my own. Initially it was just a way to spread some of my articles that I’d been putting on my own blog, but it eventually grew to me wanting to do video rants and so on. This was my first foray into this type of media because typically I just write and that’s about it.

Eventually I was introduced to Twitch and that’s when I really started taking off wanting to do Let’s Plays. When my content was about to expire, I would transition it over to my Youtube profile. Now no, I’m not telling you all this as a form of shameless self-promotion (but if you really want to look, then by all means), I’m telling you this because I’ve learned a few things about myself that I’ve had to struggle with while doing these.

I hate the sound of my own voice. Scientists have discovered that your voice sounds different coming out than when playing it back because apparently there are subtle vibrations in the vocal cords and bones in your windpipe that cause them to sound different in your head when you first say them, then you go to listen to it on the playback and you’re like “really…ughhhhh.”

But it gets worse. I don’t read out loud a whole lot, which is why this is good for me. Most of the time I read relatively fast, but don’t necessarily process everything I read. It’s easy to blame it on ADHD, but I honestly don’t know why it happens in the first place. I’m taking some speed reading and public speaking courses to possibly get better, but yeah.


*shudder*

I’m doing this mostly because there are certain more verbose games that I find harder to get through because normally my brain would auto-deduce what the dude’s trying to say or dismiss the data outright, but you can’t entirely do that in a Let’s Play where you’re reading the dialogue aloud, making grammatical, enunciation, and pronunciation errors left and right.

Yeah, there are some relatively verbose terms that I know and use well, but I don’t use them in my day to day living, so I’m not used to constantly challenging myself with a newer and broader vocabulary. It also doesn’t help that often I know what I want to say, but end up saying it with utter verbal dyslexia. Seriously, half the time I will say “how brownow oh cow” instead of “how now brown cow.”

I don’t get it, but it happens, and during a live recording, you can’t just go back and correct it. In a video rant, it’s possible to redo an entire section or various bits again and again until it sounds good and slap it together later, but not so much with a live recording, which becomes a constant, but good challenge for me. The final problem, which is probably also evidenced in my writing, is I’m not that fucking clever.

And that’s the thing. When doing a Let’s Play, you want to try to make fun of everything coming at you or at least have something to say. With a lot of these there are long moments of silence, either because I’m concentrating or because I literally have nothing to contribute at that time and I find it’s better to shoosh rather than try to add filler that doesn’t sound that great at all.


“Well, we’re at another loading screen, so let me tell you about this one time in band camp…”

Another major problem I’m finding is lately I’m trying to do horror and horror-themed games. Well, horror-themed is okay. I mean, we’re talking about things like Castlevania, Splatterhouse, Odallus, and so on. These games aren’t entirely scary, but have gothic or otherwise macabre themes and it doesn’t matter if you’re playing them blind or as a veteran.

Games like Silent Hill, Amnesia, Lucius, Doom 3, and so on, well…it’s truly better if you’re playing them blind. Reason being if you play them blind then the spooky stuff that happens elicits a genuine, first time reaction. If you’re playing something you’ve already watched or played through, then you’re probably not going to jump. You already know what’s coming or at least remember enough of it that it won’t really do much for you.

Problem is you have no idea if the game works. Sure, it SHOULD work, but you’re not entirely certain. For example, I had to wrestle with the settings on Condemned to get it to play properly and even then it didn’t look right. I found out later that that’s just the way it looks for the PC, which is why I’m glad I recommended people play it for the 360 instead.

Normally it just means something’s tweaked wrong and often the game will crash at some point as a result, which is never fun, especially if it happens unexpectedly 30 minutes into the recording and now you have a whole recording to throw out. Of course, that’s assuming the kids, dog, cats, phone, and whatever else can be quiet.


Still one of the funniest moments in Gravity Falls

Sure, normally I record when the kids are already asleep or are at school already, but in the rare event they are awake, I tell them in advance that it will only be an hour and they just need to shoosh…and do they…oh, hell no. Problem is, again, you’re doing this live. You can’t just pause everything and tell them to BE QUIET, because it doesn’t really work like that.

Even if they were, the phone itself is unpredictable and, oh hey, is right there on the desk. The final two problems are problems only in that they personally bother me, but probably nobody else. First of all, finding time to work with all of this can be tricky. This is why most people opt to do 10-15 minute episodes. Most Youtube denizens are going to tune out after about that point anyway unless it’s a full playthrough, so I get that, but 2 spoopy is meant to really showcase the game so that you can determine if it’s something you would actually play or not.

It’s hard to show everything I’d like to show in 10 minutes and I don’t want to do multiple episodes because it’s meant to be a one off impression-like show of the game. Still, buffering at least an hour (a little time for setup and shutdown, the actual recording time itself, and a bit additional just in case) can be tricky. Trickier still is sticking to the hour.

With a lot of these games I really, REALLY enjoy them, so it’s hard to stick to just that hour and not go over. Likewise, I also don’t want to pump out 30 minutes because I got my start and stop times wrong, which is why I always wear a watch while I play. And the final issue? Lack of interest. There are a number of courses I will be studying regarding properly tagging videos, getting higher search interests, and so on, but I legitimately do not know why my channel doesn’t receive that many views.

You might think “well, it’s because he’s not that clever and nobody wants to watch an hour long video,” but I don’t think that alone would mean that my views are in the single or double digits. I always feel like there’s something I’m doing wrong or that somehow people just aren’t finding my content, ergo the courses I’ve signed up for.

It can be disheartening, though, because I work pretty hard on these and then spend several hours (or days) uploading the content…only to get a maximum of 5 views in some cases. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop doing it, because I really do enjoy it. I just wish I knew what I was doing wrong. In any case, if you took the time to read all of this, I really hope you’ll check it out, at least for a little bit, and thank you for reading!

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