Anyone who has tried to concentrate at their desk, only to be distracted by the chatter, chatter and crackling of snacks, understands the value of a quiet workplace. But for professional gamers and video creators, unwelcome sounds are not only annoying, but can also appear uninvited in video and audio content and hinder quality performance.
For background, professional gamers play video games and participate in tournaments as a career. Likewise, others create live or recorded videos or podcasts. Some are even famous YouTubers who have made millions of dollars from their channels. To provide a solution, Temple University alumni Dalton Carroll and Sam Speaker, both 30, created a soundproof gaming and recording booth called Gamrpod.
Carroll, now a resident of Sarasota, met Speaker in college when the two were paired up as roommates. They quickly bonded over a shared passion for video games and spent hours after class playing. In 2019, Speaker wanted to start his video recording career and soon discovered the high cost of soundproof office pods and recording equipment. Since it was so expensive, Speaker instead decided to spend his money developing a new product that would meet both his gaming and recording needs. He and Carroll built their own prototype soundproof micro-studio in Carroll’s garage and called it the Gamrpod.
Carroll and Speaker tested the first version of Gamrpod at the Tap Esports Center in Philadelphia. “Kids without their own recording equipment were able to jump into a Gamrpod to shoot videos,” says Carroll, “and it helped them escape the sounds of others talking and opening chip bags.” The pair then collected data and user feedback from the trials and applied it to the latest version of the unit, which was released about six months ago.
The current four by four meter Gamrpod looks like a single pew in a glass box. In it, the chair sits behind a small desk and two monitors, with enough room for one person and maybe a feline friend. The seat and back wall are covered with blue screens, which function as green screens, allowing the user to change the background image. More practically, online professors can turn it into a classroom. The Gamrpod also has built-in lighting and ventilation to keep both the pod and tower compartment cool.
While Carroll and Speaker initially designed the pod for gamers, a different market quickly emerged.
“We started getting questions about placing the units in university technical centers,” says Carroll, “that both professors and students could use for online classes instead of taking up an entire group study space.” Today, these tech centers are as ubiquitous on college campuses as libraries are and function in a similar way. Students can view cameras, laptops and other equipment just as they would view a book. The Temple University Tech Center is now home to two Gamrpods, which students use for free to complete projects and other activities, such as podcasting.
Anyone can buy a Gamrpod for the home, but Carroll says the product is really intended for use in university and corporate settings.
“One Gamrpod costs about $9,995,” he says, “and many companies will buy advertising space on the outside of the Gamrpod and use it as a billboard, which can offset the cost.” It may seem like an exaggeration, but Carroll points out that purchasing a pair of Gamrpods is more cost-effective than building a new recording facility.
Like all workplaces, the Gamrpod has its pros and cons. Illustrator and video voice-over recorder Andrew Theophilopoulos likes the privacy it offers, but is concerned about the ergonomics of the product. “I wish it had a standing desk,” he says, unsure of how comfortable the built-in chair would be for long periods.
Carroll says the Gamrpod, which is currently manufactured in Canada, is not wheelchair accessible due to building regulations. However, he adds that users who can get off their wheelchair on the bench should be able to maneuver from their wheelchair into the pod.
Professional League of Legends player Arthur Cruz, on the other hand, finds the Gamrpod futuristic and impressive. “It looks like something out of a movie,” says the 25-year-old Brazilian gamer.
Cruz often travels to larger cities like São Paulo to compete in esports championships and share a gaming office with other team members. Out of season, he trains from his parents’ house. “When I’m in the gaming office in São Paulo, the environment is designed for concentration,” he says, “but at home, my mom opens the door and starts talking to me about random things.” Cruz adds that his family usually respects his workspace and minimizes distractions, but the Gamrpod can come in handy when other family members want to share his office space while he’s at work.
“There’s a stereotype that gamers are nerdy and antisocial and just sit alone in front of the computer screen,” Cruz says, “but there are a lot of people, like me, who are sociable and enjoy gaming and other activities, such as physical sports like soccer. ”
Indeed, Carroll describes the gaming community as open and inclusive. “If you’re a pretty big professional gamer, your community will not only watch your live video recording, but also chat with you and each other,” he says.
Another bonus: While you can’t interact with professional athletes like David Beckham on the field, you can chat with professional gamers as they record live videos while you play. This level of connectivity means multitasking gamers and live streamers need to focus even more on creating quality content and meaningful interactions with fans, without distractions.
“Gaming is like normal sports,” Cruz says, “and I consider myself an athlete.”
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