So you want to be a commentator…

Currently, YouTube and similar sites are commentator crazy. The cost of recording gameplay and then yabbering over the top has come down so much over the past year or so means that gameplay commentary has become feasible for many more people. If you’re thinking of getting in to commentating then this article should give you some idea of how to go about it and the best way to get the most out of it. What this article is not about is how to become “YouTube famous” or gain oodles of subscribers.

What you’ll need:

1 – a mic
2 – recording software
3 – something to talk about

That’s simple right? Sure it is. Go for it!…….. Was it a breeze? Are you an instant success? If so then you’ll probably not need to read on. But if it wasn’t quite as simple as you thought it would be then read on.

Let’s have a look at each of the items we need and then we’ll work on putting it all together. Firstly, the mic – how can you get your commentary done if no one can hear you!? You can use literally any microphone available, from one built in to your computer (if necessary), to some really expensive bit of kit that you purchase especially for the job. But let’s be honest here – for the majority of people out there, you’re not likely to make much, if any, money out of doing commentaries so to begin with that in mind to ensure you keep your costs down.

I’ve personally tried a variety of different microphone setups with varying levels of complexity and success, but what do I use to do my commentaries? An £8 ($10) mic with a £5 ($7) pop filter. Some people use their gaming headsets to record their commentaries and others use more professional equipment – but if you work out the limitations of your equipment you can produce excellent audio results for a fraction of the price. Obviously the acceptable tonal or volume range of a cheap mic will not be as large as that of an expensive mic so you’ll notice distortion quicker from plosive speech sounds (‘T’, ‘S’ and ‘P’ sounds “Test Pop”) and if YOU YELL IN TO THEM. Chances are, you’ve already got a mic suitable for the job, you just don’t know it yet.

Next you’ll need some recording software. Again, you can pay hundreds, or even thousands of your favourite currency on some swanky piece of software, but in reality the majority of commentators are currently using a free audio program called Audacity (Download Link for Audacity). It’s simple to use and that’s basically all you need – but obviously software choice is a personal thing so if you’ve already got something you’re comfortable with, use that.

And lastly…. something to talk about. Okay, I’ve played fast and loose here because there’s more to it than just having something to talk about. I’m sure everyone has come across a commentary and have clicked off it because the commentator’s voice does not work for us. They could be talking about the most important subject on earth, but still we mute them, or watch something else. Why is that?……

This is why: Most people are familiar with the saying: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” and this is very important to remember when you’re communicating with others without them being able to see you, your expressions or body language.

One study at UCLA indicated that up to 93 percent of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Another study indicated that the impact of a performance was determined 7 percent by the words used, 38 percent by voice quality, and 55 percent by the nonverbal communication.

So, what you’re looking at is that when doing a commentary you’re already missing 55-93% of your effective communication skills. And how people interpret what you’re saying is broken down to a sort of 80/20 mix of how you say the words you’re saying. Before a word comes out of your mouth the odds are not in your favour to be received well if you don’t get your personality across straight away. Which means that if you talk in a way that is not interesting to other people, chances are they’re not going to listen.

What to do? Don’t be shy. Don’t mumble. Be positive and upbeat. Avoid ‘ums’, ‘ahs’ and awkward pauses, and for the love of the baby Jeebus and his little cotton socks never ever say “So…. um….. yeah” (that’s a pet hate of mine, say it if you like, but it is incredibly annoying). Let’s get something straight here: You can make your commentary in as many takes as necessary so if you screw it up, or become a stuttering bumbling fool hit STOP and do that bit again. You don’t have to restart the whole thing – record in sections if you have to, no one will mind, and chances are most people won’t notice either (a ten minute commentary of mine can be made up of up to thirty separate audio files).

Positivity is really the key. An important tip that will help you come across more positively in your commentaries is a really simple one: Smile. You don’t have to be a grinning fool, forcing your words out through gritted teeth but smiling, especially when you’re relating something that is supposed to be funny or amusing will lift your vocal tone and put some emotion in to what you’re saying.

Even if you’re talking about a seemingly negative subject you don’t have to sound like a miserable old sour puss. The most popular commentators have an upbeat and positive vocal commentary style – even when they’re being negative about something. No one wants to listen to someone who sounds bored or uninterested. If you are actually bored and/or uninterested when doing a commentary then either you need to take a break, or do something else. Putting out negative commentaries will not serve you well (and I can promise you that).

You’ve got the technologies, you’ve got the attitude, now what to talk about? That’s the million dollar question. The best advice – talk about what you know. Talk about what your listeners don’t know. If you’ve got a gameplay up then in most cases you won’t need to give a play by play description of everything that’s going on as people will most likely be watching it. So you telling them what they’re seeing will be redundant. It’s better to mention specific points in the footage without discussing the entire game like a sportscaster.

You may want to discuss other things that are going on other than the gameplay. Many people do that with great success. However, you’ll do well to remember “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. People will misinterpret what you say, and others will completely miss the point, so be careful, especially when sailing the seas near the rocky shores of contentious subjects (don’t know what a contentious subject is?…… best stick to the gameplay then).

Don’t talk about something just because everyone else is – YOUR commentary should be YOUR commentary, not a rehash of what someone else has said (especially if it’s complaining about something). If you’re starting out, chances are you’re really low down on the priority list for people to watch/listen to so you could be the tenth person whining about whatever it’s cool to whine about – and by that time people will be bored of hearing it. Why complain anyway? Complaining doesn’t solve anything, it just makes you in to a moaner.

For best results – be yourself, and be positive. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Do your own thing. Do what you want, not what you think people want you to do and you’ll be fine. The most successful commentators out there got there by being themselves, not by emulating someone else.

And that, my little satsumas of joy, is that. I’ve been David, and I hope you’ve found that useful, interesting or somewhere in between.

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

David Nicol is Articles Editor for, YouTube gaming commentator and blogger based in the UK.

YouTube – Where the trolls live, and other animals…

BobGodz and I2awInstinct have both put up videos over the past couple of days lamenting YouTubedom.



BobGodz says:

I have decided to take a break from the Youtube Cod Community, because I feel that a great majority of it is loosing touch of what commentaries are meant to be, and why we upload.

After that Machinima post, more people critized me on being a ginger, which im not, then on my gameplay. If the community is going to write comments about one’s appearence or ones voice or anything unrelating to the actual purpose of the commentary then it seems all pointless. I wouldn’t be making a big deal out of this, if it wasn’t occuring so much. I feel that people now just watch commentaries to judge the person not the gameplay, and this all seems pointless now.

One of my biggest goals was to be apart of Machinima, however after seeing that community react the way they did to me, and to many others, I am disappointed.


If I do decide to come back, I am going to try and change how people see commentaries and people. I want to tell all of you, as my subscribers, as BobGod’s viewers to respect every single commentary and to give every person a chance, because people put so much into Youtube, and some of us just seem to get little back. Respect.

The problem is not YouTube, but the perception of it. The people who post the douchey negativity seem to fit in two brackets – the first being those whose hobby it is to just hate. I can’t put it any plainer, I could go on for pages and pages for the reasoning behind why they do it – but when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter. Just the same as honking your horn at the idiot in the car in front will not improve their driving ability, giving an anonymous internet troll a piece of your mind is not going to alter their behaviour. The second type are those people who think that EVERY video that is put has been created to entertain them, and only them, and also has to meet some unwritten quality criteria to be acceptable.

There are people who attempt to please all the people all the time, and it’s not going to happen. Making videos should be about fun, whether the fun of making them, or the fun you had in them. If people like that, then great, if not…. well, there are plenty of other videos out there. Popular channels/commentators are also Douche-Magnets…. sort of. Statistically, the more views/subs you have, the more likely you are to attract Douchery. But you also reap what you sow – which is why those commentators with poor or negative attitudes also have a higher level of negativity (not necessarily negative comments aimed at them though) on their channels.

Failure to effectively moderate or police your channel is like carte blanche for YouTube douchery. If you allow abuse on your channel then pretty soon the hyenas descend and any good you may be trying to do goes out the window. Machinima is a prime example of this. Because they are only interested in views (for advertising revenue) they don’t take any action against abusers – which is why it is such a negative channel for comments and mob mentality. But if you post to Machinima you’ve got to expect it. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s the reality.

One issue that both I2awInstinct and Bobgodz mentioned that I totally sympathise with is the time and effort that goes in to making videos. While writing this I have a video rendering, it’s just over five minutes long and is going to take…………. just over *edit four hours to render (normally render time is about an hour on a vid that length, but this one contains footage from about two and a half hours of gameplay) an hour (left a marker in the timeline that screwed it up). I then have to check it to make sure it’s kosher, then upload it. For a 5 minute video in HD to upload will take about 40 minutes (90 minutes for a ten minuter) then wait for it process to at least 360p (why YouTube doesn’t do this automatically I do not know) before making it public. Total time for this vid: about two hours processing time, and that doesn’t count the time it took me to edit it.

That’s not me complaining. I don’t think that ANY uploader has the right to put it on to viewers that they should be more appreciative of their videos just because they take one lunar cycle to upload. If making videos is a chore then don’t do it. I know that I schedule my video making/rendering/uploading around quiet/sleep time (although not always). That way it doesn’t matter that the machine runs like a dog, or that the internet connection is choked. I make vids because it’s fun – and if other people share the fun then it’s high fun fives all round!

So the point of this post? Something to do while a video renders. Give my tuppence worth on YouTubery. And…. that’s pretty much it.

Peas and loaves.

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Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

Player Info

Eight Thoughts Goes HD

One of my favourite YouTube commentors EightThoughts has taken the train to Technoville and got himself an Hauppauge HD PVR.

Originally his videos were standard definition recorded using a video camera, and to be honest….. I almost didn’t subscribe to him when I first came across his commentaries. But then I heard his commentary and it just cracked me up. At a time when everyone else was being a try hard his commentaries were like a breath of fresh air. Despite the pretty rubbish video quality, the commentary was just pure…..quality. So I subbed, and never regretted it – I would have stayed subbed even if he’d never gone HD as his videos are great.

I think the most appealing part of Eight’s vids are that he makes them for him rather than to be YouTube popular, or to appeal to a certain type of gamer. He just makes them, and if other people like them too then great, and if not then……. big fat hairy deal.

Keep up the good work Eight!

And here’s his first ever HD vid (not any talk on the gameplay, it’s more him discussing the recording and where he’s going from here on):

Check him out:

Peas and loaves.

Want to know how to comment on or subscribe to this blog? Click here.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

Player Info

Three to Watch Week 6 (MW2 and BFBC2)

Three to Watch Week 6 is finally up, and has a slight change of format this week as it contains two Battlefield Bad Company 2 clips and only one Modern Warfare 2. The main reason for this is that a lot of commentators are switching to BFBC2, and those sticking with MW2 seem to have been injected with complain-o-matic.

This week we have StoneFaceLock who is producing some excellent guides to BFBC2. Erik52193 a newish Modern Warfare 2 commentator, and blackjester40 who produces a little bit of everything in his videos.

As usual, check them out – rate (or thumb up if you’re on the new layout), comment and subscribe and all that as the amount of activity on a person’s channel really does help.

You can check the previous editions here:

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

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Three to Watch….but on steroids!

What happens when some of the most popular YouTube commentators get together and create a channel dedicated to up and coming commentators? UnderratedGamer that’s what!

Optic Predator, GoldGlove, MuzzaFuzza and Tucker are the peeps behind it, and between them they have over 90,000 subscribers so anyone who makes the grade is pretty much guaranteed a massive boost to their channel.

Kudos and props and all that jazz to them for giving their time to helping the new guys on the scene (especially at a time when a lot of commentators are complaining about the amount of new guys).

The link again:

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

Modern Warfare 2 – Three to Watch Week 5

Okay, I’m late getting this weeks Modern Warfare 2 Three to Watch video up. But, when a friend is in need of help you do your best to help (which also means no gameplay tonight). It’s not too late anyway, it’s still Wednesday in some parts of the world….

***Update – I did upload the video at 12.30am, but as it was still processing at 1.30am (it’s only 2 minutes long!) I decided to call it a night and make it public in the morning***

****Update – 29-04-2010: Macaroconi has been removed from the recommended list because of this ****

So this week we’re looking at B3ATNIK, Macaroconi and MrPatch247. My favourite out of the three is MrPatch247 whose commentary reminds me of Mark Curry who used to present Blue Peter when I was a kid.

As usual, check them out – rate, comment and subscribe and all that as the amount of activity on a person’s channel really does help it become bigger and better.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

And another one gone….

Less than a week since OnlyUseMeBlade announced his sabbatical another YouTube Modern Warfare 2 commentator has decided to pull out the ‘goodbye and thanks for the fish’ card. This time it’s SneakyMode who recently was tinkering with a new video layout…..but not to be.

I originally subscribed to Sneakymode after seeing his dual commentary with SeaNanners. However, after watching his arrivaderci video I realised that I had actually seen his original commentary the first time round (but that was a long time ago)!

As always, good luck to him and whatever he decides to do.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

Slice the Terminal Pie with sasbenjr

Geoff (sasbenjr – more click throughs than Wings of Redemption or Hutch yesterday!) has two videos up about tactics in Terminal. Specifically staying inside around the metal detector and shop side. It’s not actually two different videos, it’s the same video, but one is a dual commentary with WoodysGamertag

In Modern Warfare 2 there are a couple of maps that I seem to have particular difficulty with: Favela, Skidrow, Wasteland and…Terminal. I don’t know if it’s because I avoid my team mates most of the time, but where ever I go someone has me in their sights or they magically appear behind me. And frustratingly, if I decide I’m going to hold down an area, the other team decide they are going to stay at the other side of the map! So it was nice to see Geoff’s new video and get three commentaries for the price of one.

It was also nice to see inside ‘Burger Town’ or whatever it’s called as I have never actually been in there – that section of the map is like a massive bullet magnet as it’s at the end of not one, but two major corridors. Which is why I tend to avoid it. Maybe I’ll be a bit more adventurous on there now – but it is officially the weekend which means that my K/D is about to go through the floor…..

In the meantime, if you don’t know who sasbenjr or WoodysGamertag are, click on their links and check out their channels – show them some love. For those who don’t like to click on links “I ain’t clicking on no steenking link amigo!” here are the two Terminal videos. If you like them, be sure to rate them if you have a YouTube account.

Geoff’s vid:

And Woody with Geoff:

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

Weekly-ish Update Post

So here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my game related existence:

I’ve now subscribed to 70 YouTubers. Some popular, some YouTube famous and a lot of overlooked and new uploaders. If you’re interested, check my subscriptions list by clicking on the YouTube icon coming up. There’s a lot really good peeps on there, so have a look and show them some love.

Three to Watch
My little montage videos of YouTubers whose videos I particularly enjoy watching has reached week 3. I’m getting positive responses from those that are featured – in most cases the first they hear from me is when I send them a message letting them know. They’re not going to get masses of traffic from my teeny tiny channel but in most cases just that little bit of recognition is a boost for morale in a place as angry and negative as YouTube.

Those featured so far:

Watch the three montages here.

Hauppage Fund
Slowly slowly catchy monkey – apparently. Except the monkey keeps getting bigger and my foot is nailed to the floor 😀 Damned monkeys!
My now ex-surfboard got to its destination so the Hauppage fund is looking a bit healthier:

The hump has been broken so it shouldn’t be long now…..

Search Terms
As I mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I take note of what searches bring people here and try to accomodate what they’re after as much as possible. Here’s the search terms for the past two days – the majority looking for WoR’s face!

I’ve outlined one search term in red to see if you guys have any thoughts on what it’s referring to. After a quick brain shake of the in games sounds I’m thinking that it might be referring to the Scavenger perk sound? What do you think? And how popular is WoR’s face!?

That’s it in a nutshell. I think that my resolution for the following week is play more and post less. This week I’ve been seriously side tracked by the goings on in the gaming community and its been a bit of a downer. I’ve felt as though some of my posts have been quite negative and I want to avoid that – who wants to be negative, or more importantly – who wants to read a load of negativity? It gets boring and spreads to other things so I’m chucking negativity out the window. Positivity rocks, and rolls – it should be the new rock n roll, or at least the new black.

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE

Modern Warfare 2 – Three to Watch Week 3

It’s Wednesday….well it was when I started editing the video, it’s technically Thursday now, but I haven’t gone to bed yet so it still counts as Wednesday.

And Wednesday is Three to Watch Day (until I run out of people to pimp).

This week we have MrDazzybee69, IAmThevPReMoNiTioN, and EightThoughts.

Check them out, if you like what you see, then show them some love – comment, rate, subscribe. You know, the things that all the cool kids are doing.

As always if you know of something that you think should be included, then let me know!

Peas and loaves.

Find me on PSN – evaDlivE