I'm no mastermind when it comes to streaming games, but I like to think that I know what I'm doing! As an avid YouTuber, I've learned that streaming games on Twitch is completely different than playing a game and putting it up on YouTube. There are more details that you need to pay attention to when you're actually playing a game on-air, plus you need to know what hardware and software is right for you. This goes out to all you future streamers- Here's a list of things you need to think about when it comes to streaming video games on Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
1. Time and Time Management
This is probably the biggest thing you need to be aware of when you start planning on being a streamer. Do you have the time to commit to this on a regular schedule? In order to hold an audience, you first need to establish one, and you can't establish an audience without streaming on a regular basis. If you're working a full time job or going to school full time, first think about how much time you want to dedicate to each of those, then set aside the time you can make for streaming. Streaming is a full time gig, as well, so balancing all of this with a personal life is very cumbersome for many.
Most people, when starting off in the streaming world, go immediately to the Elgato Hardware. I've personally used this hardware, and it works perfectly fine. Before you go out and buy it, though, do a little research. Elgato Game Capture HD60 supports streaming most systems with an HDMI output (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii U). If you're looking to streaming with older systems, the regular Elgato Game Capture HD (which is the one I personally use) is the hardware for you, as it has a component adaptor for all of those old-school systems. Outside of Elgato, there are other capture cards such as Roxio and AVerMedia, but I recommend Elgato for beginners.
Outside of home console gaming, there is also hardware for portable game systems like the New Nintendo 3DS. These get a little bit pricey (over $500 USD most of the time), as the hardware has to be directly installed into the system. For many companies who do install the hardware, it could take months for you to receive your order, due to the high demand (it took me over five months to receive my New Nintendo 3DS with the hardware installed). Some places also allow you to send in your own system to get the hardware installed, and this takes a little less time, but you also face the risk of your console being completely destroyed.
Also consider getting a good mic (like a Yeti) and if you want to show your face (which is often preferable), get a nice HD webcam.
I do not recommend using the software that comes with your capture card. The Elato software in particular has a very difficult interface and it's not ideal for streaming. Open Broadcast Software Studio (OBS) is the software that pretty much all streamers use. Its interface is easy to navigate and understand. I could go into detail on how to use it here, but I think the website offers a very good step-by-step guide on all of the software features and what they do.
4. The Juggle Act
Finally, you have everything set up! You have your hardware connected to your system and computer, you're live, and you are ready to play some games on Twitch! When doing this there are three major components that you especially need to pay attention to and "juggle".
- Obviously you're going to want to pay attention to what you're doing in the game. No one wants to watch you run at walls or constantly get head-shotted because you aren't paying attention.
- The people who are watching you are your friends. Talk to them. Nothing is more boring than watching someone play a video game without talking. Engaging with your community not only keeps them watching, but it also builds friendships. Eventually it's like they're sitting in the room right there with you.
- The friends you trust the most and come back to watch you most often are great candidates for Moderators for your stream. Having a moderator team for your channel definitely helps maintain order in your chat when you're not able to get to it fast enough (because you're playing a game)!
- When you're streaming you should always have two monitors- one for your game, and one for you streaming software. You'll always want to pay attention to your connection when you're streaming because nothing is more annoying to a viewer than a stream that constantly skips, lags, or disconnects. When you start to drop frames, it's often times a good idea to turn down your video or audio quality a little or disconnect some features you have. Never stream on Wifi. LAN cables are your friend and prove for a better, direct connection.
You can play games all day and talk to your community the whole time, but what people love to see is personality. What makes you, well, you? Be sure to show off your best self because no one else is like you. Whether you're a casual or hardcore gamer, every audience likes a good, funny, well-rounded personality to hang out with when they're watching their favorite games.
Try to avoid being negative or angry (especially with competitive games) as your attitude can turn your audience off. No one likes salt (unless it's on french fries or something)!
6. Have fun!
Come on, guys, this is a no-brainer. Having fun is what gaming is all about. Do I need to even explain this one?
There you go! Streaming isn't an easy task, but it's so much fun when you get the hang of it. If anyone has any questions about streaming games for Twitch or recording gaming content for YouTube, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter!