Many gamers spend a lifetime playing video games. Some, such as Indianapolis, Indiana's Elspeth Eastman not only play them, but gets to be in them, too.
"I am a voice actress, as well as a composer, for video games, animation, film, and other media. I love what I do, and have wanted to work in audio for games my entire life," she said. "My first experience was going to the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, in 2011, and I never looked back from there. Screaming, grunting, speaking, and / or singing into a mic is usually how I spend a typical day."
Many years before shouting into an audio mixer was part of her daily routine, Eastman discovered video gaming at a young age with an iconic Nintendo game cartridge.
"Duck Hunt, it’s still a wonderful game to this day," Elspeth recalled. "The interactivity of the gun really made the game standout to me, and I think it’s probably why I’m still loyal to Nintendo. I accidentally stumbled upon Super Mario Bros., as it was a part of the cartridge, and fell in love with Mario, as well. That Mario sure is a handsome fella."
Eastman has taken her love for video games and voice acting to YouTube. Her official channel Rated E for Elspeth has gained over 48,000 subscribers and 2.6 million views since debuting in September 2012. She says the key is interacting with her audience.
"For starters, I enjoy talking to a camera and just saying stupid things and making people laugh," she noted. "I personally really like reading the comments. It lets me know who’s watching and who’s supporting me. It can be tough to keep up with a channel as most of us have pretty busy lives already, but in the end, it’s worth it to keep a promise to your subscribers. People recognize me even with the small bit of fame I have and it feels like you've got a small kingdom backing you up."
It is that personal familiarity that Eastman says is what makes the difference between your average YouTube content creators and the ones that really stand out.
"Try to come up with something unique, or just get a gimmick," she suggested. "Cheap? Perhaps. Reliable tactic? Always. My channel focuses on not only voice acting, but gaming and development, so I am free to talk about the games I voice, and the culture that surrounds them. If you love food and art, or basketball and sewing, make a mix of your talents that really showcases who you are as a person. People love to get to know YouTubers, and I feel like I've known some Let’s Players all my life, even though I haven’t met them."
Eastman's personal reach also extends out to live events, such as the recent Indy PopCon event in Indianapolis, where she meets her audience and appears on live discussion panels.
"I truly love to talk to people in my field, gaining new ideas and perspectives," she stated. "I also enjoy seeing other developers and their respective games, which is why GDC is always a must. If you’re going to do a panel, don’t be afraid to get real with your audience. Be yourself, and really let people see how passionate you are about your craft. No BS here."
Having seen video games develop from firing at pixelated ducks to the new generation of consoles we have today, Eastman says she is hopeful future gaming technology adds a further dimension.
"I hope games become extremely interactive. I’m talking virtual reality stuff where you run, jump, crouch, shoot, and throw your powers in real time, without a controller," she added. "Kinect, Oculus Rift, and Wii U seek to do this, but I haven’t felt like I've seen a true VR just yet. It’ll happen, and I hope to be a part of that when it does."
She also noted there is a trend she'd like to see continue in the video game world, as well as one she hopes will perish for good.
"I’d also love for more people to create their own games, as the indie community is booming and paving the way for younger people to achieve their dreams," she added. "Let's have less of that 'We don’t have room for women' crap. I’m sorry, but women play games, too, and companies who deliberately choose to ignore them are missing out on a huge demographic."
As she continues her career, Eastman hopes to continue to interact with her growing audience, both online and at live video game and entertainment events.
"I absolutely love my work, as I do it full-time, as well as the people I meet on the journey," she said. "If you can talk to people like they’re your friends or family, you can do anything you set your mind to do, as we’re all on this Earth together. Super cheesy, but might as well make it fun and have people like being around you. I also like hearing from people who want to be in gaming, so feel free to throw questions / comments / small objects at me. Nothing live, please."