To listen to the audio version of this post, simply click the play button above!
This past Wednesday I did something rather unusual. Rather than post on my blog about a video game – like, I don’t know, maybe the Wargroove post I said I was going to do – I instead re-shared an older article about the topic of safety tools in tabletop roleplaying games. Now trying to boost an old article is certainly not an unusual act in and of itself, but in this case I shared it again because I added something new to the post. For the first time ever, my voice is on the internet! Instead of having an epic buildup to a whole new kind of content, I simply shadow-dropped the first ever Adventure Rules voice reveal and the SoundCloud profile that comes with it.
So what the heck happened? Why is my voice on the internet? When can we expect more articles to be read aloud? How can I possibly justify the thought process behind this unorthodox reveal? These questions you didn’t ask and plenty of others you probably didn’t ask either will all be answered in today’s update!
Let’s start with Adventure Rules Audio Archives. Many months ago I was suddenly struck with a thought: I want to expand the kind of content that Adventure Rules followers can experience. I love blogging as a creative outlet, but it’s not the only outlet I’m interested in. My background is in theater, after all – performing is in my soul. Not to mention I’d love to justify the shiny degree that’s gathering dust somewhere, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m limited in the content I can create by the equipment I have available and the finances I have to get the equipment I don’t, so I decided that my first goal would be to add audio content to the site, something like a podcast.
I did a little online research on the subject and saw one or two sites recommend that getting into podcasting can be as easy as recording some conversations on your cell phone. “Most smartphones have a pretty decent mic these days,” my research said, “so you can jump right into podcasting without spending an extra dime!” So I downloaded some audio editing software, a media converter for changing the sound file type, and started recording myself on my phone. What I quickly discovered is that while someone out there might have a cell phone mic sufficient for recording their voice, I sure don’t. My voice sounded terrible, and when I tried again with the built-in microphone on my computer, that didn’t work out either. Disappointed but not particularly surprised, I decided to stick to writing for the time being and the thought of creating listen-able content passed from my mind.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year. Another blogger reached out to me to ask me about participating in a collaboration which would involve the recording of my voice. I told this person that I would love to do the collab but wasn’t confident in my ability to record. They kindly offered to do a test run with me in advance of recording – if my gear was really that bad, we wouldn’t move forward, but if I sounded alright then we could do the collab. This time I used my wife’s PS4 headset to record, and the results were decent. The blogger said we’d keep in touch and the thought once again passed from my mind.
Fast forward one more time to Sunday night, a mere five days ago (if you’re experiencing this post on the day it goes live). My wife is out of town for a whole week and since she is the primary caretaker for our son, he’s staying with family so I can continue to go to work. The result? I have the whole house to myself. Now I could have thrown a wild party with the totally massive amount of nearby friends that I have, but instead I decided to try out the headset a second time, this time on my own. I pulled up a post that I thought might be fun to record, read it out loud, did some basic editing, and shot it to my friend @tcclockworth to get a second opinion, wanting to pull from his expertise in working on the wrestling podcast Gift of Podcast. We agreed that while some work certainly could be done to improve, most of that work involved purchasing new equipment and overall the recording was good enough to go live. And so on a whim, with almost no legitimate planning or preparation, the Adventure Rules Audio Archives were born!
While the posting of my first recording was a spur of the moment decision, the type of recording I did and my future plans for audio content have been bouncing around my noggin for quite a bit longer. Adventure Rules Audio Archives is exactly what it sounds like – an audio version of the posts available to read on this website. It’s an opportunity to hear me read my posts out loud, lending my voice and personality to add context to the written word. While I won’t record every single post for the site due to the sheer logistical difficulties of that endeavor, I do want to backdate some of my more significant posts as well as already having the recording available for some of my future posts (as I did today with this update).
I was asked on Twitter by my delightful pal Jett over at In Third Person what gave me the idea to do listen-able blog posts. I have three main reasons. The first is that listening is my primary way of engaging with content online. While I do read some blog posts from the others in the WordPress community, reading is a difficult task to do while multitasking. It requires my full focus, and giving a single thing my full focus isn’t something that often fits well into my schedule. It is much more convenient for me to be able to do multiple things at once, so content I can listen to – podcasts, YouTube videos, etc – gets a lot more of my attention. I listen to them while driving to work, while cooking dinner, while playing games so that I can write blog posts about them; listening is an easy way to multitask that allows me to experience a lot more creative work from cool people online. Since I know from my own personal usage that audio content has a useful convenience factor, why not offer that convenience to people who want to engage with my work?
A second factor is accessibility. I have the privilege of having no significant impairments when it comes to vision and reading. I mean, I use glasses, but as long as I am wearing them I can still clearly see and my life operates as normal. There are plenty of folks in this world for whom the necessity of reading could potentially be a barrier in experiencing Adventure Rules. I’m not going to pretend to know all the reasons why that might be the case – what I do know is that I want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy the site. Whether that means reading exclusively, listening exclusively, or listening to my voice while reading along with the words, I want lots of different options available to people who want to come hang out here so they can experience this community as effortlessly as possible.
Here’s the third and final reason for Adventure Rules Audio Archives: this is a great way to ease in to the world of creating audio content. I own little equipment for recording and my knowledge of editing is based exclusively on Google searches. To try and create complicated podcasts with multiple guests or to do more ambitious audio projects involving sound effects or tunes would be to run before I can crawl. To invest in the equipment necessary to do so before I know whether I have an audience for the content or a passion for creating it would be financially irresponsible. Creating an audio archive is a great way for me to test the waters, develop my basic skills, and enhance the site all at once. If it goes well, if people want to hear more of my voice, and I learn that I truly enjoy doing this, then perhaps a time will come when more ambitious audio projects happen here on Adventure Rules. For now, we’ll try this and see what comes out of it.
So what will the rollout of this new content look like? Currently, I’m not setting a hard-and-fast schedule as far as recording and posting. Work is busy, there’s a lot going on in my personal life with family being sick and babies being born, and while this week has been a golden opportunity for recording most of the time I’ll have to be respectful of the needs of my wife and wary of the noisiness of my son. Additionally, I don’t want recording to take away from what is currently the primary form of engagement on Adventure Rules, written articles. As such, we’re going to take this slowly. Sometimes I’ll bring back an older piece via audio, and others I’ll post a brand new blog post with the sound already added. As for how often that will happen, I can’t make promises so I won’t try to. For the time being consider this feature to be a bonus rather than a core piece of the site. If everything goes smoothly, it will be a core aspect of the site soon enough.
I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has already listened to the first recording and who made the effort to follow on SoundCloud! I’ll try to fill it up soon with interesting things to listen to, so I hope you are looking forward to it. I’m quite excited by the addition of audio to the site, not just for what it means now but for what it could mean in the future. As always, your support is appreciated and I hope you continue to come to Adventure Rules for all of your gaming blog needs!