Very early on, I knew I wanted video to be a part of the In Third Person content mix. Though I had no experience with the medium, it was the next great frontier for gaming content and I wanted to explore that space.
From getting the right equipment, to learning how to operate video software, to getting a feel for what I want to make, working with video has been a climb. Before we close out the decade, I think it’s worth taking a stroll down memory lane to see how my video content has evolved in the last decade(!). Maybe my story will inspire you to push forward with your video dreams!
2010 – Grainy Beginnings
I had an idea for a series of fighting game posts. Called “Jett Vs.“, I would break down my Street Fighter IV match videos in an attempt to educate myself and others. With no other way of capturing video, I pointed my Macbook webcam at the computer. The in-game audio was also captured by the laptop’s onboard mic.
It’s awful. Horrendous video quality. Terrible audio quality. The match isn’t even that good, as I was still in the early days of my development as a fighting game player. Even so, going through that experience was enough inspiration to press on.
Though I made videos at a sporadic pace, I still made them with the limited resources available. My now-wife Steff kicks my butt in what would count as my first-ever Let’s Play. Leveraging video editing software and music I made myself, I even made a few combo videos. The process of making videos became enough of a habit that I would finally make an investment on game capture hardware.
2013 – Capture the Moment
By this point, my Macbook was on the brink of death. As a birthday present, my mom bought me a new laptop. Not long after, I finally made an investment towards video content creation by buying an Elgato Game Capture HD. Still use it to this day, though I’m finally looking to upgrade.
Getting the capture card finally allowed me to capture footage that wouldn’t make one’s eyes bleed. For the most part, I used it to capture hundreds of Street Fighter matches. However, I also started experimenting with Giant Bomb style quick looks. Though my computer never had the horsepower to display my camera in tandem with the gameplay, and even though my voice sounds like I’m in a cave thanks to my built-in laptop mic, it served as practice for commentating over gameplay. This experience would come in handy once I started streaming years later.
During this time, I actually made some of my most successful videos to-date. A handful of my combo videos were viewed thousands of times. A few of my fighting game guides also generated thousands of views. Most notably, the Rolento video above was actually featured on shoryuken.com! To be recognized by one of the largest platforms of fighting game content in the world served as validation for my efforts and a motivation to keep going.
2014-2017 – On With the Shows
Inspired by my burgeoning addiction to comic books, I decided to try my hand at producing my own comic book show. Stepping in front of my computer’s potato-quality webcam, it was the first time I presented myself as an on-screen personality. The production values are still poor, but it proved to be valuable practice for creating a style of content that works well on YouTube. These videos look bad in their production quality, but many of them performed decently well because they better fit the type of content that the YouTube audience wants to watch. We will come back to this insight later on.
Years later, I would revisit the concept with another hobby: board games. Armed with my wife’s DSLR camera, the visuals turned out a lot better. I learned a lot about the logistical challenges that come with creating this type of content, such as lighting a room to properly showcase the game, to having a place to mount a camera, to my approach to talking while holding the camera in one hand and manipulating game pieces with the other. It also pushed me to develop as an editor. There’s so much more in the world of board gaming video content I want to explore, but I don’t think I’m quite ready to revisit this challenge just yet.
2017-2018 – We’re Doing it Live
On February 7th, 2017, I broadcasted my first-ever live stream. Leveraging the same laptop that couldn’t handle gameplay and webcam footage at the same time, these first streams were essentially just live versions of my quick looks. Streaming on YouTube and Facebook, these streams failed to draw an audience.
Even so, I learned a lot. It taught me the importance of streaming on a platform I’m comfortable with. I realized how far behind I was in the production value department relative to other streamers. Most importantly, it made me realize how difficult it is to inspire others to watch one’s stream. Just playing video games on a live stream isn’t nearly enough.
At the end of 2017, my office was clearing out old PCs and my IT manager gave me one. Though the machine was far from the latest and greatest, it was powerful enough to at least get my webcam and gameplay on-screen at the same time. From there, I went through the arduous process of trying to figure out what my computer was capable of broadcasting.
This era of video creation caused more headaches than any other, but I wouldn’t be where I’m at without taking all of those lumps. My grasp on the technical side of streaming has leveled up tremendously. I can now broadcast a stable stream with a custom template, on-screen alerts, share the spotlight with with others, and even create game show style experiences. The fact that we were able to play Codenames from remote locations and still make it feel like we were all sitting around the table is magic. At this point, I’m chomping at the bit to get even better and push the boundaries even further.
Making this push also opened me up to the world to a new audience that never would have found my blog. I appreciate everyone that’s come by to give the stream a chance and grateful for all the friendships made along the way. Hoping to continue making a broadcast worth watching and a community worth being a part of.
Most importantly, I’ve been able to leverage this platform to make a positive difference on the world. Together with my family and friends, our Extra Life marathons have raised over $2,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network of Hospitals. A decade ago, the thought of playing games for anything more than personal enjoyment hadn’t crossed my mind. The fact that we’ve used it in this way to aid children in need is a concept that I still struggle to grasp. These events take a herculean effort to produce, but it’s all worth it for the impact it has on the lives of children and the medical staff taking care of them.
2019 – Friends in Low Places
Going through the process of streaming changed how I view and approach the medium. I came into it with this idea that I was providing you with a service. That you would watch my stream to receive the service of me covering the games I was playing. In reality, those who stuck around were here for who I am as a person more than who I am as a gamer or as an “influencer” (shudder). To be frank, the part where I play games has grown to be a secondary appeal for me. What I enjoy most about streaming is the experience of connecting with others from around the world through common interests.
For most of 2019, I’ve tried to improve everything in a way that emphasizes that connection we can make with one another. When you come to the stream, I want you to feel like we’re longtime friends hanging out in my basement. I made a conscious effort to decorate my space with art, plushies, and other bits of decor to make the space look cooler. In order to see more of me and more of the space, my intermission camera takes up the entire width of my video.
Playing particular games is a draw, but I want the experience to be more than just whether or not I can win in Tetris 99. Let’s talk about games of all sorts. Discuss topics completely unrelated to gaming. Share stories. Update each other on our life experiences. Take part in healthy debates. Let me pull an assortment of gaming artifacts off of my shelf and let’s geek out over them. At the end of the day, let’s make this an experience that’s better when we’re all a part of it in our own way.
2020 – ???
Going forward, I really want to grow the video side of In Third Person. It’s only now where I feel like I’m starting to hit my stride and there are so many more things I want to tackle. I want to try my hand at making content that’s more “YouTube friendly” now that I have a lot more experience with video. Cover more games with Quick Look videos and not saving everything for the stream. Host a Dungeons & Dragons stream. Figuring out a way to make board gaming content. Execute on show ideas that are different in scope than Boss Rush. Odds are, a million other ideas will arise between now and this time next year.
I want to do it all. But if this process has taught me anything, it’s to take everything one step at a time. The growth may not have seemed like much from day-to-day, but the gap from where I am now versus where I started is impressive. Let’s keep building on this into 2020 and beyond!
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