You may be tempted to quit your day job and take up gaming full-time, but before you can become a world-famous streamer, you’ve got to upgrade your gear. In this article, we’ll cover what essential gear you need, and what essential info you need to know to make a splash in the world of streaming.
FIND YOUR NICHE
The first essential piece of gear you need for a successful stream is a game that people actually want to watch you play. Don’t get me wrong—Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a great title, but no one wants to watch you play it for 11 hours straight.
On the other hand, streaming the same game as everyone else has its drawbacks as well. With over two million unique monthly streamers on Twitch, it can be difficult to stand out amongst the sea of Fortnite clips, League of Legends matches and World of Warcraft raid videos. Your best bet is to find a game that’s popular, but not oversaturated—something you can put a unique spin on for every play-through to keep things fresh.
Next, it’s time to work on what separates you from everyone else streaming the same game—your personality. One of the main reasons streaming is becoming so popular is because it gives viewers a direct line to content creators. It gives them an opportunity to interact with their favorite streamers and get to know them on a personal level.
How will you interact with your viewers? Will you be funny and carefree, or serious and focused? Will you provide comic relief or informative tips and tricks? What happens when you have a bad match—will you keep your cool or scream your head off?
We’ve all played a few matches with the gamer who thinks they’re better than everybody else, the gamer who spams the same moves over and over, and the gamer who throws their controller across the room when they lose. Nobody wants to watch that—be kind.
Pro Tip: Watch your favorite streamers and see what makes them so much fun to watch. Take notes on what you like and what you don’t to help shape your stream.
CREATE AN INSPIRING SPACE
Now that you've found your niche and are armed with need-to-know info, it’s time to set up an inspiring backdrop for your gaming adventures! Streaming is a surprisingly personal experience—you’re essentially inviting your viewers into your home. You wouldn’t invite a guest over to your place without picking up your dirty laundry, making your bed, and throwing away your collection of Red Bull cans, right?
It really doesn’t take much to transform your room from “troll’s nest” to Michael De Santa’s mansion. A simple vinyl backdrop, some draped fabric and a few colorful LED lights can quickly convert your parent’s basement into a professional film set. If you’re on a budget, there’s no need to remodel your whole room—just the corner the camera sees. Save those Nuka Cola Caps for something else!
Pro Tip: For added versatility use an inexpensive green screen and transport yourself to Hyrule, Skyrim or even Rapture!
Yeti Pro inside a portable vocal booth
KEEP IT DOWN!
Nothing is worse than being in the middle of an intense match and getting interrupted by a barking dog, a noisy roommate, or even worse—your mother. Everyday sounds like computer fans, refrigerators and even the sound of your air conditioning can add unwanted noise to your stream. On average, Twitch users watch 421.6 minutes of programming per month—that’s a long time to have to listen to noise. This isn’t a Radiohead concert!
Some basic acoustic treatment can go a long way towards improving the sound of your stream. You don’t have to hire a construction crew to come in and build a soundproof streaming chamber—a thick rug and some simple foam tiles can make a huge difference. For more information, check out our recent article on DIY soundproofing—it’s focused on recording music but the same concepts apply.
Next, it’s time to set some mood lighting! Unfortunately, the pale blue glow of your computer screen doesn’t provide adequate lighting for a quality stream. As a gamer myself, I know we don’t spend a lot of time in the sun, so natural lighting probably isn’t going to be an option either. Overhead fluorescent lighting can make it look like you’re streaming from a cubicle or the supermarket, so that’s out too.
In order to ensure your adoring fans get to see you at your best, it’s a good idea to invest in some simple studio lighting. A few daylight bulbs on stands with reflective umbrellas or soft boxes can be a highly effective, surprisingly affordable solution. With a little smoke and mirrors, you can transform your basement into the Batcave. Studio lighting can illuminate your inspiring space, show off your sleek streaming gear and keep you looking good while you’re gaming.
DIY Tip: Build your own DIY gear to save some Gil. Just use a standard umbrella and some reflective spray paint for a quick and easy reflective umbrella, or put together your own soft boxes using a cardboard box and a sheet to diffuse the light.
While the gameplay is certainly the focal point of any stream, the camera feed is a close second. Part of gaming is enjoying the jaw-dropping visuals, but using a cheap web cam leaves a nasty 480p blemish on your stream that can really ruin the view.
If you’re on a laptop you may be tempted to use the built-in camera, but not only is the picture-quality lacking, it can’t be moved from its universally unflattering angle. Unless you want your viewers to stare at your ceiling or up your nose, spring for an external option.
For as little as $89.99, you can pick up a Logitech HD webcam capable of capturing pristine HD 1080p video. If you really want to go all-out, you can splurge on a DSLR camera and start creating cinematic streams worthy of winning Webby awards!
Pro Tip: While a DSLR camera may seem like a big investment, most of them feature XLR inputs, which allow you to connect microphones directly to the camera, without the need for an additional audio interface, which can save you $ in the long run.
At the end of the day the most important thing for any streamer is to continually and consistently create new content. The only way to build a following is to set a steady schedule and stick to it—otherwise your fans have no idea when you’ll be back!
Look at it this way—if you say you’ll stream once a week and stream more, you look passionate, but if you say you’ll stream every day and only stream four days, you look unprofessional. Remember, the Mushroom Kingdom wasn’t built in a day—it will take time to cultivate a sizeable following. Don’t forget to stop and smell the Fire Flowers along the way—make friends with your followers! It’s one of the most rewarding parts of streaming—aside from the loot, of course.
Now that you’ve got the cheat codes to level-up your streaming channel, all that’s left is to do is grind! Ready, Player 1? Stay tuned for more tips and tricks on taking your streams to the next level!