In the spirit of the Halloween season, I guess it’s only fair to talk about a few potential horror stories. This may be one of them, as the greatest horror here is that the game has gone silent on us. Nevertheless, I wonder how many of you know about Camdrome, the mysterious computer that appeared at PAX13 in 2013? Is it still going, or has it finally gone to sleep and most importantly… Is it watching us? Here’s the story of Camdrome so far.
Most years, James Rolfe, also known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, puts out at least one Halloween Special and each time, they’re some of his most adventurous videos. They’re always amongst his most memorable, so I thought today I’d pay homage to The AVGN by sharing three of his Halloween Specials and talking briefly about them. I’m gonna take you back to the past (and present) – To watch some Video Game Reviews. Though as a forewarning, the Nerd’s content is Not Safe For Work! Okay, warned now? Let’s do this and drink plenty of beers and watch amusing videos.
Now, we’re all familiar with the likes of Funny Or Die, and College Humour – who started doing D&D games online last year, Brendan’s a decent DM – and before I even start I can tell you that you almost certainly recognise a name or two from the short list below. YouTube has been a great space for comedy acts to get their ideas out there and appeal to a unique sense of humour that might not have reached a mainstream audience without it, and maybe that’s because network executives don’t understand, or maybe it’s that certain niche markets can’t get comedy that appeals to them any other way.
Here are some of my favourites, some of the geekier comedy groups and lesser known sketch channels that deserve a few more views… more accurately I want more people to know them so that I can reference their sketches in conversation, so help me I just want to share the joke!
I’m a great proponent of the internet as a tool for delivering easy to digest learning materials, and yes, YouTube is awash with exactly the kind of tools I’m talking about.
Movies especially have an abundance of video essayists who talk at length about films and the film industry, taking wildly different approaches to the art form. Nerdwriter is a current favourite, whose short discussions that may dissect a single scene in a film, deeply explore a particular technique, or occasionally delve into a different topic. Lindsay Ellis does extensive studies that delve deep into the industry, historical relevance of certain creative choices, or shed light on some behind the scenes processes you might not have heard about before. The Closer Look, Every Frame a Painting, Lessons from the Screenplay, there are many of incredible students of film out to share their thoughts and insights.
For academia in general, Kurzgesagt, CGP Gray, some of the extra vlogbrothers content like SciShow; for literature Tale Foundry, and to an extent Terrible Writing Advice; for tabletop RP, Monarchs Factory, Matt Colville; these are the talking heads, the voices of people who have learned enough to want to share and impart what wisdom they can. Though most of it is heavily slanted by the perspective of the author/essayist/YouTuber in question, most strive for an objective approach and back their opinions with research or extensive experience.
I have been spending vast portions of every day studying the talking-head genre, because some time before the end of this month I’m hoping to put my own videos out there. Not something you’d think I’d consider too difficult, I’ve written 500-2000 word articles twice a week, almost every week, plus Top 10 entries, and most of those have been released on time (here, the author coughs by way of acknowledgement that this does not include today’s piece). I also like talking, especially to an audience, be it a half dozen gamers sat at a table, or a hundred or so gamers who are fool enough to want to listen to my opinions.
So where’s the hang-up?
First of all, a moment of gaming the algorithms on YouTube, what I need to produce has to last for ten minutes. After some experimentation playing around with an autocue generator, I’m estimating a minimum of 2000 words, and I – unfortunately – have a tendency to write concisely, too concisely. So it has been a lesson in padding and drawing out subjects without making it dull listening. This also presumes a script, which I’ll come to momentarily.
Second… talking to a microphone is a world apart from talking to an audience. I invested in a moderate quality microphone, poor audio quality is a killer for videos like this and frankly my webcam was proving inadequate. But here this thing sits… glaring at me, unresponsive. As someone who – by necessity – feeds off the reactions of the audience to inform the content, a microphone is a maddeningly passive audience.
Do I improvise, or do I script in full? I know there are plenty of talking-heads who do one, the other, or both. In my early attempts I tried to strike a balance, writing my script as if it were a D&D game plan, a few notes on talking points, a rough idea what I want to talk about and when, enough to structure without being restrictive, but I learned afterwards that I have a maddening idiosyncrasy that makes editing that style of essay impossible: when I’m thinking, I draw out syllables so that the space in between is almost non-existent. So effort two reads straight from a script, and, while better, I find I stumble over the words that I have written. I entered into the idea thinking it would be the perfect for someone who enjoys talking as much as I do, and here I find I’m learning to talk all over again.
When I put down my keyboard I’ll be trying again, and again, to get this right, possibly trying a few other approaches. I write purely to vent, this is a topic on which there are a thousand answers, none of which right for everyone, it falls within the category of “practice making perfect” and “finding what is right for you”.
I’ll be back when I have a right answer.
Not going to lie, I have to blame Joel entirely for finding out about this. Asdfmovie is a series of random comedy skits by YouTuber, TomSka. Last month, they released the latest asdfmovie, asdfmovie12. These short animated clips always get a chuckle out of us and admittedly, there’s little I can do to support the guy except maybe buy some merch. Until I watched asdfmovie 12, that is, as I’ve now seen that he’s been working on his own card game – and considering as of the time of writing there’s only 7 days left (6 by the time you read this), I figured it’d be good to share it with you all.
This is a campaign is trouble, so this is a short article to reach out to anyone who wants to hear it.
I’ve talked Journey Quest before, it’s a series set in a D&D world without going so thoroughly referential as Order of the Stick or Goblins, more that the internal logic of things like character roles and systems like magic and the relations between races, the nearness of the divine powers, and the presence of undead, orcs and ogres and that kind of ilk. (more…)
The longer title of this article was going to be ‘Pro Wrestling and YouTube: A Look At How YouTube Has Helped All Wrestling Promotions, Large And Small’ – And then I realised how ridiculously long that title was. Pro Wrestling is definitely an interest of mine, as many of you will be aware. With the Royal Rumble coming up at the end of the month, I thought I’d do one of my usual rare talks about how ridiculous a show can be – But instead of focusing purely on WWE, I thought that it might be interesting to talk about how YouTube has played such a massive role in helping with what is effectively a boom of interest.