So I thought because today is CYBER MONDAY and the holiday season I would deconstruct what is in my office and what tools I recommend for you. Just in case you also want to put together an office capable of putting out a marketing blog every single week.
Note that I included affiliate links in these tool listings so I may earn a small commission when I link to these products. But please understand that I am only recommending the things that I used every single day. You can see almost every single one of them in the above photo. I truly do depend on them to help me do what I do.
I broke my gift guide into 3 separate scenarios depending on who you are and what you need.
- Gifts for the nights-and-weekends game designer
- Gifts for the public speaker (on zoom)
- Gifts for the streamer
Gifts for the nights-and-weekends game designer
If you still have a full-time non-games-industry job or are a student and can only do your game development on nights and weekends, these are the perfect tools for you.
If you are working nights and weekends you are probably working on your game while your kids, parents, or partner is asleep. I know those clackety-clack mechanical keyboards are what the cool kids use, but sometimes you need to put a silencer on your weapon of choice. For that reason I recommend you sometimes use this keyboard. It is super cheap and SUPER DUPER quiet. I can be one room over and nobody can hear me typing away. HIGHLY recommend it for people in small apartments and shared living spaces. Shhhhh quiet typing. Get it here.
When I was designing 1 Screen Platformer I drew out every trap by hand on paper. My dad was a landscape architect and taught me how architects sketch layouts using tracing paper. It is a great design tool and I highly recommend it. Get some sheets here
The older I get the less time I want to spend crawling under my desk looking for plugs and USB adapters to plug in my phone, my airpods, my various lights (I will get to those in a minute), and batteries. I want everything within arms reach. So I got 5 of these surge protectors and plugged each one into each outlet in my office. Then I used 3M Command strips to stick them to the wall. I also bought a bunch of extra long Apple lighting and USB 3 cables and plugged them in each USB port. I don’t have to spend more than 1 second and 1 step to plug in anything I own. So convenient. Get them here
I know there are better microphones out there but this is the best one for ease of use, sound, and price. Have used it for years. Get it here
If you are spending hours working on your game you need to feel comfortable while you are doing it. These just add a touch of class to your office. When people visit they ALWAYS compliment my office lighting setup. They really do impress and make you feel like you are in some classy steam punk news room. The other cool things as they can be dimmed so if you like working in dark rooms you can still add a subtle ambiance effect. Get the lights and cables to hang from your ceiling.
Making games, recording audio, and video generates a lot of data. It can quickly fill an SSD. So I use this as a good local storage option for my terabytes of data. Get it here.
Gifts for the public speaker (on zoom)
If you ever need to give a GDC talk (either on zoom or in person) here are the tools that I use.
A good speaker should be able to move away from their laptop and still be able to advance to the next slide. It just appears more natural to the audience. Even if you are presenting from your computer on a zoom call, when you slap that spacebar or right arrow button to advance to the next slide everyone will hear a loud THWACK. I use the DinoFire Wireless Presenter to solves both of these problems. You will see it in my right hand in every talk I have ever given. This clicker also comes with a laser pointer which doubles as a cat toy. Get it here.
Ring lights just make you look good. You can place them right in front of you and you look like a fashion model. However, the head-on lighting layout does create these neon cheerios around your irises. If you don’t like that look, you can position the ring light to be 45 degrees from you and the camera and it still looks professional without the rings. If you are giving a lot of zoom presentations, you must get this ring light. Get it here.
Professional Microphone Setup
If you are a professional speaker, I recommend you invest in a pro microphone setup that uses the more advanced 3 pin XLR format. It is a step up from that USB Snowball I recommended. The sound is just richer and the gear is just nicer. You need 3 parts to get this to work. A pre-amp which converts from 3-pin XLR cable to USB and does all this magic sound boosting that I don’t fully understand, a 3-pin XLR cable (I got a 6 feet one so I can run all over my office), and a microphone that has the XLR connector. And yes this is the gold mic that you see in all my GameMarketingIdeas.com videos. I told you I use all this gear.
You don’t want to sound like you are recording in a racquetball court with a ton of echo. It is distracting. So I bought 2 of these 50-pack Acoustic Foam Panels. They come with double-stick adhesive and I put them on every hard surface in my office. You can see them in my office photo at the top (they are all those black squares.)
Gifts for the streamer
This year I got into recording video of me analyzing steam pages. I could easily use this gear to stream myself playing games (but I don’t have that kind of time right now.) In this section I show you all the gear I use to record and look as professional as possible.
Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera
I really don’t like the look of standard web cams. They turn my lily white skin into a weird pinkish blobby color. I know it is expensive but this year I invested in a high end camera that can stream 4k video. I did a ton of research to narrow it down to this Sony Camera. Most professional twitch streamers use it. All of my conference talks recorded after August like this one use it. I also paired the camera with this 16mm lens that allows me to get super close to it but also get a nice wide shot of my green screen (more on that in a bit). Finally for a video stream you need to hard-wire the camera to an outlet so you don’t deplete the battery. I use this adapter to do that.
When I give a live talk my video feed travels through the following complicated set of pipes before it arrives on your screen: from the Sony Camera, then to a HDMI cable, then the Elgato 4K to USB adapter, then my PC, then OBS, then the streaming platform like Twitch or Zoom. So to get the video feed off the camera I need 2 tools. The HDMI Cable and the Elgato 4K adapter.
Fancy lighting for cheap
You know how streamers appear to live in a dreamy pink and blue space ship? In reality they usually live in a boring studio apartment with egg-shell colored walls. But, they make it look amazing with strategically placed lights. I have been able to replicate the effect with 2 tools. The first is a portable Pixel G1s RGB Video Light. It is so cool because I can adjust it to be any color in the RGB color range. If you ever see me speaking in front of a purple wall then an orange wall, it is this light doing the magic.
Then to add another splash of color I just throw these colored transparent pieces of plastic (called gels) over a bare bulb spotlight that is really bright. The gels instantly change any white bulb into a radiant splash of color.
For GameMarketingIdeas.com I do all my Steam Page Teardowns by walking in front of a green screen that is chroma-keyed to a video feed of my web browser. The masking effect is all handled by OBS: see this tutorial. The greenscreen I had to purchase though. I used this Chromakey Photo Backdrop Seamless Muslin Cloth clamped to this Background Stand. They are cheap but get the job done.