After receiving a harsh comment from Haley in Stardew Valley about my perceived lack of fashion sense the other day, the animosity grew with this latest interaction. Refusing to even look me in the eye, I decided to find another way to her heart: through my phone.
In one hand, I picked up my phone. The other hand was holding down the button to my new voice changer. Now sounding to the viewers as if I was actually on the phone, I left a pathetic voicemail of my character begging for Haley’s attention.
As I hung up the phone, the Simp Phone was born. What started as a silly spur-of-the moment test of my new voice changer became a recurring segment. More importantly, it was a step towards shoring up one of my biggest weaknesses as a streamer.
It’s generally accepted as best practice that streamers should be talking constantly. Even when there are zero viewers on stream, keeping a constant conversation going gives new users plenty of opportunities to engage without it being awkward for them. With a lot of practice and some experience as a radio announcer, my ability to carry a conversation is my biggest strength.
However, my conversational strength lies within the realm of complementary content. The game is happening on screen, but I’m carrying a conversation about something completely unrelated. I love talking about gaming news, pop culture, music, movies, and life experiences. Veering into off-topic territory is my specialty.
At times, it’s great. Even if Tetris 99 is a newer build, Tetris at its core is still a 30-year old game with not a lot to talk about. As many Tetris streamers spend most of their time holding their game faces while stacking blocks, I’m able to play the game at a fairly high level while also maintaining a full conversation. It gives viewers a unique reason to watch me over other players who are probably better at the game.
But when it comes to talking about or riffing on the games I’m currently playing, I come up woefully short. After burning through a couple of related topics, I resort to simply commentating on the decisions I’m making as I go. Solid way to add some colour commentary, but there are other creators who really excel in this regard.
The above clip is a brilliant example of her work. Playing BitLife – essentially a text-only version of The Sims – she immerses herself into her character and that world. She adds a lot of background commentary that expands on the lore of the game, from debating the merits of studying so that her character is 5% smarter, to the stress in her voice as her character slows down her baby production. She speaks with the primary purpose of making the core game better, not adding a different conversation on top of the gameplay. I want to be able to do both.
Leading up to this Stardew Valley stream, I bought a voice changer. Not for the purposes of Stardew Valley specifically. My original intent was to have access to Auto-Tune style voices when I thank viewers for following or subscribing to the channel. But when I heard the phone filter, I immediately thought of R&B songs where they cut to an interlude of the singer calling their lover, pleading for them to listen. What if my character in the game did that with Haley, the one whom I have the frostiest relationship with?
After one go, it felt like I had something. By the end, I had done multiple voices for different characters. More importantly, I found a way to add to the gameplay in a way that made sense while also being fun to do.
I’m always working towards improving my stream. There’s more to it than just buying better equipment. The gear is worthless if you can’t make compelling content with it. More than the use of a voice changer, the important takeaway from this stream was that I was able to use my voice and my camera to add to the gameplay rather than add something beside the gameplay. Now that I’ve taken baby steps in this direction, I hope to make more of an effort to build on this streamer skill!
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