We run quite a lot of helpful, industry-specific posts here at FemHype! From Emm’s take on breaking into games journalism to Alyssa’s interview in regards to becoming a games writer to our Sunday Loot series with the latest job offers, there are a lot of ways you can learn more about joining the industry here. Still, it isn’t easy, and I’m hopeful that this post may give you the confidence to start or continue that Let’s Play channel you’ve been thinking about.
Ever since my sister detailed her YouTube editing escapades in “Game, Set, Match: How to Start a YouTube Community,” I’ve considered writing my own piece about being a Let’s Player. For almost a year, Paige and I have been running and maintaining the FemHype YouTube channel, and I feel like it’s about time we shared more of what we’ve learned over the past few months!
It can be difficult to build your own brand, particularly in the games space, but that’s what I’ll be helping you with today. If you ever entertained the idea of entertaining others, I’m here to tell you how you can do it! Once you’ve got your recording equipment ready (read Paige’s post!), take a look at this list.
This might seem really obvious, but it’s absolutely the most important. You’ll presumably be sitting for a solid hour—maybe even longer—and if you don’t take care of yourself first, you’ll be drained by the end of it. Personally, my preparation routine goes something like this:
It’s okay to psych yourself up before playing a game. You’ll be entertaining other people! I’m not always in the mood to do that, but by listening to my body and caring for those needs, I’m better able to represent myself effectively. It’s a bit like a race, isn’t it? And you need to train for something like that, just as you need to prepare for any Let’s Play. Make sure that you’re well-rested and alert before taking on that next boss fight.
Real talk: this advice comes straight from a literal sailor’s mouth, so take heed. I’ve absolutely slipped a few times (particularly during Twitch livestream sessions), however, there really isn’t any reason for you to be dropping the F-bomb all over the place. It doesn’t add anything of value to your commentary, and it gets old pretty fast. That isn’t to say that you should be serious all of the time, merely that you’ll be alienating a portion of potential viewers from the get-go.
This, of course, leads me to my next point, which I’m sure you all saw coming. Review what you’re saying—and I mean really review it, as if you were prepping for a presentation in speech class. Analyze the sort of language you use frequently and ask yourself whether that language is exclusionary. For instance, in the beginning, I used to open with “Hey, guys!” quite frequently. That, already, is a problem. You don’t have to constantly censor yourself (that would be inauthentic), but you do have a responsibility to think about what kind of message you’re sending to your audience.
I can’t stress this enough! If it’s at all possible for you, I’d highly recommend that you enlist the help of another person to edit your Let’s Plays. This will allow you to focus entirely on the gameplay aspect of your videos, and on the flip side, your editor will have the ability to review your work with a more critical eye.
That said, I completely understand this isn’t always an option for everyone. I lucked out having a sister who could edit quickly and efficiently (thanks, Paige!), but that doesn’t mean you’re completely stuck. Ask someone you trust to take a look at your Let’s Play so they can provide helpful feedback. Is it too long? Are the transitions too abrupt? Was there something funny in the commentary you could play up a bit more? It’s so, so important to get a fresh perspective on your work, particularly if you’ve been staring at it for the better part of a day or two.
This ties in with encouraging discussions as well! It’s really wonderful when you get to be part of something like that, and letting your community know that you’re reading along is very important. To get your creative juices flowing, here are some standard prompts I usually offer to the FemHype crew:
Make sure that you address the comments you feel are either important or just plain interesting. When you facilitate that kind of ongoing dialogue, you’ll be surprised by how much your viewers have to share!
We’re all nerds here. Take comfort in the fact that by talking about your faves, your enthusiasm will naturally draw in the viewers whose interests align with yours. It’s okay that I asked poor Paige to edit our #ElfProblems video over the course of a month, and you know why? Because I care very deeply about Dragon Age, the lore surrounding its elves, and owing my sister Starbucks for the rest of my life. (We worked so hard on that video. I want it linked on my epitaph.)
The point is that when you pour your heart into something, it’s very likely that others will respond to it. We all get excited when we talk about our faves. Just imagine how that must feel for someone else when they click with something in your video! Keep in mind that the work you’re doing is valid and important for the industry right now. You can touch lives just by making Let’s Plays.
While you shouldn’t be copying anyone’s work, it’s important to look closely at the YouTube channels you already subscribe to. Are peppy, upbeat personalities not really your style? What about laid-back, dry humor? Get a sense of what works for you as a viewer and ask yourself why it clicks with you. What about that YouTube host resonates? What doesn’t? Try to imagine you’re doing this as a homework assignment and really delve in deep. We’re all explorers, after all!
In addition, I’d poke around these Reddit guides to get you started. (Thanks for the recommendation, Melissa!) There are quite a few technical details in there that I didn’t cover here, which may be helpful to you. Paige’s post will also explain equipment and branding—two very important things to consider when building your YouTube community.
Don’t forget to have fun! If you have any questions during your process, you’re always free to tweet us @FemHype or any other social media platform we’re currently on. I’d be happy to help, especially if it means you’ll be joining us in the YouTube space.