Bringing my voice to YouTube

When I was in high school, memorizing and reciting poetry was a big part of my junior year English class. I distinctly remember Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken, which now, over two decades later, not only remains in my memory, but the content resonates with me more strongly than it ever has. Age and life in general have a tendency to do that.

After standing up in front of the class for the first time to deliver it, my teacher made a passing comment about how he thought I had a good speaking voice. Teens don’t have a reputation for ignoring the older generation for nothing; I got embarrassed, shrugged it off, and quickly went back to my desk. He would go on to say this a few more times throughout the school year, at one point saying I really needed to be on the radio. I would just smile uncomfortably and try to forget about it.

Why do we do this? I’ve never taken compliments well, and my first reaction — instead of doing the polite thing and saying thanks — is instead to downplay them. I mean, who knows? Had I instead taken my teacher’s words to heart, I might have gone on to study Media Communications or Broadcast Journalism in college, like my best friend did. I think he has a terrific speaking voice, and he went on to do great things on the TV news channels down in Florida.

Those words from high school stuck with me over the years. I never particularly cared for the way my voice sounded, and as a result, I never pursued anything in that realm. It’s like Werner Brandes (Stephen Tobolowsky) said in the terrific film Sneakers about his own voice, “I always thought it was kind of nasal and pinched.”

But as they say, one of the worst things you can do is have regrets in your life, so with one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 being to face my fears, this week I decided to tackle them both by bringing my own voice to YouTube.


After doing considerable research and of course, talking myself out of buying the most expensive microphone available on Amazon, I picked up a Blue Snowball USB microphone. With good reviews and an inoffensive price point, I bought one along with a Nady MPF-6 pop filter. I was going to buy a small acoustical microphone shield, but it’s an expensive addition, so for now, I’ll likely just buy a piece of foam and create a do-it-yourself one, or use a small pillow.

The microphone itself is of very high quality and is available in a variety of different colors. I went with the brushed aluminum finish, which has a beautiful, classic look to it. Packaging is nice, and although the microphone housing is plastic, it has substantial heft and does not feel cheap. It sits on a sturdy, folding desktop stand, which the pop filter can be conveniently attached.

PC installation is simple: Just plug it into an open USB port, Windows auto-detects it, and you’re ready to start recording.

There are three settings on the microphone, which are designed for speech, live music (activates a -10 dB pad), and environmental (omni-directional). Mine shipped in position 3, so if you pick one of these up, be sure to select the appropriate setting before you begin.


The pop filter came in a somewhat cheap and flimsy blister pack, and the flexible gooseneck has a disappointing tendency to float and not stay in place during adjustment. However, it’s one of the cheaper options available, and if you’re going to be doing a lot of talking, this is a wise investment. Additionally, the stand mount is very solid, and once it’s in place, it stays put.

On the software side, for recording and editing, I have the open-source Audacity, which is easy and very comfortable for me to use. In many ways, it’s similar to one of my old favorites, Cool Edit. Still image, video, and audio integration is all done in Adobe Photoshop and CyberLink PowerDirector.


So with those details taken care of, it was time for the real work to begin. I sat there at my desk earlier this week pondering what exactly I wanted to talk about. Yeah, it would be related to gaming, but how exactly? My mind raced, thinking about the massive amount of current YouTube videogame content creators, and what — if anything — I could possibly bring to the table.

Feeling intimidated, I watched some of my favorites for some inspiration. The most important thing I realized is that the ones that I really like and keep coming back to are incredibly passionate people. They don’t just regurgitate what’s been said before, and you not only learn about the games they’re playing, but you gain meaningful and lasting insight into them as human beings. Sure, some of them do it more loudly than others, but there are just as many who are quiet and introspective. For every expletive-weaving Rageaholic there’s a mild-mannered Pete Dorr, and I like that. I like that a lot.

It opened my eyes. I stopped thinking about it too much, and decided to simply talk about the game I was ready to 100% complete: NES Remix for the Wii U. Now, as I’ve said before, I didn’t really like the game all that much at first, but later on it became one of my favorites. Even looking at that re-review today, I feel the game is even better now, with fantastic replay value and very fun Miiverse integration.

I should have know this next fact beforehand, but yeah, deciding to do something and actually doing it are two very, very different things. While I knew I wanted to discuss the final stage of NES Remix, exactly what I wanted to discuss was difficult to figure out. Would I need an intro? Would I just talk while I played? Would I write a script? Would I edit out the bad stuff? Would I just do a play-by-play of what I was doing? The questions in my mind went on and on.

To get the easier part out of the way, I wrote a script for the brief intro, which went pretty smoothly. Recording it took a good number of takes, as I experimented with different inflections and emphasis, but it was more so because I kept messing up!

For the actual gameplay, I would end up trying every approach. On my first attempt, I immediately gained a new-found respect for people who can play games well and talk coherently at the same time. It’s really hard to talk when you’re trying to concentrate on not dying in a game, and after several failures, I stopped and decided to save that one for later.

Next, I recorded myself playing, and when I was finally happy with the footage, I jotted down notes and scripted out the framework for what I wanted to cover during each segment. This too ended up being a failed style for me since as I was talking about one thing, my eyes would scan ahead, tripping up what I was trying to currently get out. Similarly to what I said above, folks who can read scripts, anticipate what’s ahead, and make it all sound natural have a great talent.

Finally, feeling a bit frustrated and on the verge of quitting, I decided to just do it commentary-style on the fly. I worried about this approach since I’m not the most talkative person on the face of the planet, and am an introvert by nature. However, I set out to get this done, and get it done I did. It took a few tries, but it ended up being the most natural and comfortable technique for me.

After finishing recording and getting everything tidied up in post, here is the result:

For a first attempt, I think it turned out OK. Of course, all I can fixate on are the little mistakes, long pauses, weird choice of words, and other such nitpicks. That’s the double-edged sword of being your own worst critic, right?

In any event, it feels good to have finally broken through this long-standing sound barrier in my life, and I appreciate the comments and suggestions I’ve already received from my friends, readers, and now viewers. I look forward to creating more of these, and as always, if you have any game or topic requests, please let me know. It’d be tons of fun to cover games I would have never thought to play otherwise.


Three Months of GHG

You know, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where GHG felt like work. And not the kind of work you love, but the kind of work you dread. It took starting this blog to fully understand the laments of content creators not being able to create good content whenever they want.

It’s not the subject matter, though; I can write about games all day, every day. However, there are just some mornings where the topics don’t come to me, and even those I have stockpiled as easy backups? I’ll look at them, feel completely uninspired, and think to myself, “I’d rather take a nap.”

So what do I do when that happens? As much as I’d like to say that I run around town all Rocky-like with “Gonna Fly Now” pumping myself up full of ideas — which is a fantastic way to get energized, by the way — instead, I play something new.

I have a general rule where I like to stick to just 2 or 3 games at a time — usually from different genres — but if they’re longer games, that can get repetitive, even if I’m still having fun. I find that firing up something fresh is usually more than enough to break me out of that funk, and today, I was definitely feeling it.

So after about an hour of sitting around knowing I wanted to talk about the blog itself, I gave myself a figurative slap in the face, shook my head vigorously, took a look at my Steam library, and installed whatever jumped out at me. This time, it happened to be Guacamelee: Gold Edition.


Within the first few seconds, it was already making me smile with its clean, unique visuals and smooth controls. What beautiful music and funny dialogue too! I love it when games hook you like that, and you know almost instantly that you’re playing a great one.

I can’t wait to dive deeper into it. It’s been getting a lot of renewed attention with the Super Turbo Championship Edition that recently came out (but not yet for PC), and it’s always referred to as one of the better “Metroidvania”-style games, so it should be good. And if I do end up liking this, it will open doors for me to go back and play more of the Metroid and Castlevania series, many of which I have never played or finished.


In other news, I’ve been keeping my YouTube channel updated regularly with some random video clips, and I’ll be trying something new over the next week to make it a little more interesting, so stay tuned for that.

Editing the videos themselves has been a great experience, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing ever since high school. Although I haven’t done it for several years now, this has been a nice way to get comfortable with it again.


I use CyberLink PowerDirector 12, which is far from pro, but it gets the job done. Microsoft used to have a good built-in movie maker in Windows, but they ditched it in favor of something that became far too simplistic and limited. There’s probably a way to get that old version back, but that’s OK; it was worth upgrading to this instead. It’s stable, the editing tools are easy, previews are quick, and there are a lot of different output options, which is nice.

But I digress. Today’s update was supposed to be about the blog, right?


Last month, I was at 36,937 words across 48 posts. Today, it’s increased by 18,898 words across 20 new posts, or about 945 words per update. Total content has increased by 34%, so I’m keeping a pretty good pace in terms of new stuff. I wrote 7 reviews, which is the most I’ve done in one month. Previously, the most I’d ever done was 4, during the first month of GHG’s existence.

Thanks again for continuing to come back and read this little blog of mine. Your readership is important to me, so I’ll do my best to keep it interesting!