Becoming An Online Role-Playing Celebrity: 3 Reflections On Actual Play Podcasts
So, you want to start a podcast? Or some other media by which you hope to broadcast your gaming session to the world? It seems simple, and on one hand, it is: put a microphone on the table, record everyone playing, and bam, instant content. However, if you want to produce something that anyone other than those sitting around the table would actually want to listen to (such as HLG’s Aether Sea or Black Squadron), it takes a lot more finesse. Below are three factors to consider when deciding whether to create or play in a broadcasted game.
We over here at High Level Games are a vile bunch, veritably bursting with all manner of intellectual putrescence. However, the content we produce is still closely monitored and edited to avoid giving off certain kinds of offensive messages (e.g. discrimination). While this is well and good, it forces you to be mindful of everything you say. It’s not that offensive speech necessarily gushes forth whenever we open our mouths, but we need to avoid creating situations where things can be misinterpreted. Certain words might become taboo, certain phrases or situations avoided. Thanks to the wonders of post-production editing, it’s not the end of the world should someone inadvertently promote racial genocide, but it is more work for whoever’s doing the editing. Having to censor your words and actions in game takes more forethought and planning than a regular game session and can take away some of the fun (at least until you get used to it).
Let’s say you have no ethical or moral standards whatsoever and impose no censorship on your broadcasted session. You still need to entertain your listeners and that requires a certain style of play that might be different from that which you may be accustomed. The world and gameplay need to come alive by the words of the players. This requires vivid descriptions of all environment, people, actions, weapons, or anything else which exists in the game. It requires you to put the scene into the mind’s eye of your listeners and speak life into it, accessing your theatrical sides to put on the show. That’s not to say you must do funny voices or exotic accents, but they certainly help. You don’t have to be witty or come up with hilarious quips, but they certainly help. You know that hilarious inside joke you have with your friends? No one else is going to get it, so it gets nixed. Some of us are naturally more gifted artists (not me) than others (definitely me) and it can be a struggle to produce a story to which anyone would actually want to listen. Even something as simple as reading out the number that you rolled doesn’t come naturally to us as tabletop gamers. It can make the gaming session seem more like work than play, at least until you get used to it.
3. Technical proficiency
This is a small detail, easily overlooked when thinking about creating something like a podcast. This sort of endeavor requires that there be a certain level of technical expertise in the group. Firstly, there is knowledge of audio hardware and software. If you are all playing together in one location, just one person needs to have a nice mic and be good at getting everything set up; however, if you are playing online, everyone needs to have a good mic setup and know how to set up the audio settings properly. Recording software is becoming increasingly user-friendly as time goes on, but you will need to understand how to properly utilize the software (and don’t forget to save the audio recordings). Secondly, at least one person needs to have knowledge of the post-production editing software and process (as this is not me, I can not speak any further to this, other than that it is by far the most crucial step in this whole process). Lastly, someone needs to know to put the content online and, more importantly, distribute and promote it. As this is also not me; see VP Quinn (the marketing genius behind HLG) if you want to know more about how he works his magic.
Playing a role-playing game with the intention of broadcasting it to the world can be very enjoyable. It is akin to performing on stage: your performance becomes something meant for others rather than yourself. It requires a different mindset than a normal gaming session but can be more rewarding. I mean, how awesome is the prospect of entertaining not just you and your friends, but the world?
Jake is High Level Games most devilishly handsome correspondent and plays the devilishly handsome Squall Santail in HLG’s Star Wars Black Squadron Actual Play.
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