An award-winning Filipino blogger who used to write about "cute tech stuff for women", LeeYahGrl is now a variety streamer turned VTuber (virtual YouTuber).
"The transition to streaming from blogging was fairly easy for me. I already had the equipment. I loved playing video games. All I had to do was combine the two and things went from there. I just had to get over my illogical fear of voice chat hahaha! Streaming for me came very naturally. Unlike blogging, I didn't have to have an outline or a script. It's very candid. Once in a while I would have a special program for my streams, but most of the time, it's basically just me playing games and hanging out with people online. I don't blog anymore because most of my free time goes to me editing my VODs and posting them as highlights on my YouTube channel," LeeYahGrl told Digital Life Asia.
Becoming a VTuber
LeeYahGrl decided to rebrand herself as a VTuber last year.
Asked why she chose to become a VTuber, LeeYahGrl replied: "When I was a regular face cam streamer, one of the things I didn't like about it is that I still had to sort of dress up to stream. I still had to primp and put on makeup. I still have to look nice and presentable when the only thing I want to do is sit on my chair, chill and play video games in my pajamas, while chatting with people. So I thought, 'Hey! Why not be a VTuber?' I could hide behind a digital avatar and no one would even know if I took a shower or not hahaha!"
According to LeeYahGrl, one of the biggest challenges you will face if you want to become a VTuber is deciding on your persona.
"People who like to watch VTubers usually want an immersive experience, like chatting with a cute magical cat girl, or a hot demon guy. Most VTubers have meticulously made-up personas. You cannot imagine how in-depth their character building is. A lot of thought has been put into their avatar, their design, and their story. Some people end up spending a lot of time and money on their VTuber designs," she said.
LeeYahGrl, however, took a different approach.
"I went the easy way and decided to be myself. Like, literally turning myself into a digital avatar. I just really wanted to be a regular gal playing video games online. While it's not the most popular design choice as a VTuber (because people may find it bland and boring), it works for me. I have a small tight-knit community who I love and I'm pretty happy with.
"My design came from my old blog. I have a friend who redrew my design and rigged it for me, fortunately for free. Rigging is the term used to enable your avatar to track your facial expressions and movements. Rigging can get really expensive, especially if you want tracking that is almost lifelike and realistic. Add design costs, and VTubing can get really expensive – and that’s just for your design. Then you still have to make sure that your equipment can handle the software needed for VTubing. VTubing software is not that heavy on the system, but if you combine it with streaming video games, you will need at least mid-to-high-end equipment to be able to stream smoothly. And since I'm a techie girl, I fortunately already had those on hand," she said.
Gaming and streaming
LeeYahGrl has been passionate about video games since childhood.
"I've always had gaming consoles at home while growing up. I have vague memories of an Atari system, but the first console that I ever had my hands on was a Famicom or the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). I'm not sure if you've heard of the game Solomon’s Key but that game is basically my first childhood gaming memory," she said.
Asked to name her favorite game of all time, LeeYahGrl replied: "I love stories. I'm a huge bookworm. Therefore, I love games that have good stories. My favorite game of all time would be Nier Automata because Yoko Taro is probably one of the most amazing storytellers of all time! You'll never know how the stories will go and there's always a mind-boggling (and very tragic) plot twist at the very end."
It was in 2017 that LeeYahGrl first started streaming games on Twitch.
"There are so many things I love about live streaming but the one thing I like most is meeting like-minded people online. I love being able to play my video games and share my love for them. I don't know why, but video games as a hobby still seem to be looked down upon, especially by the older generation, so it's great to have a venue where I can meet people who have the same love for video games as I do.
"I don't have to feel judged for being 'childish' just because I still play video games at my age. (How old am I? I'll never tell haha!) I am an introvert, so streaming for me is the perfect way to socialize with people on my own terms," she said.
What message would LeeYahGrl like to share with aspiring VTubers and streamers?
"For those who want to start streaming, as a VTuber or as a regular streamer, my advice is: 'Just start!' Work with what you have, and just learn and improve your setup along the way! Don't spend too much in the very beginning. I've seen a lot of people spend so much money, only to realize that streaming is not for them. There are a lot of options and information online on how to start VTubing on a budget. Research, research, research!
@leeyahgrl 😆 THIS IS HOW YOU RIDE JEEPNEYS IN THE PHILIPPINES 😆 #VTuber #VTuberClip #ENVTuber #PHVTuber ♬ original sound - Lia 🧋🐈
"Truth be told, success as a VTuber relies heavily on luck and exposure. You can have the prettiest and most expensive VTuber model, or have the funniest personality, but if you don't get out there, no one will see your content. So just start and show people what you love to do. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. They are stepping stones to success. And most importantly, have fun!"
Thanks, LeeYahGrl, for being a girl-next-door VTuber, and for keeping it real!