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Top streamers may make playing games for the internet look easy, but there is a lot going on behind the scenes for it to run smoothly. Setting up for a stream takes more than just turning on the computer. There’s a lot you’ll need both physically and program wise if you want to be a professional. You’ll also need to know some tricks to manage your stream while it’s happening. Here you’ll learn some of the basics on:
Of course the most important thing you need to stream is the games themselves. That, and something to play it on. Whether you choose to play on a console or a computer is up to you, you’re the gamer after all. If you go for an older console, you may need to be connected to a computer in order to stream anyway. However, more modern consoles such as Sony’s Playstation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One are built to be streamer friendly. It’s as easy as hitting a button to connect to your streaming service, which we will dive more into later. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars for either console.
A lot of streamers prefer PC’s over consoles because of the customizable options. Most parts in a PC can be upgraded, improving the quality of graphics, running speed, and other things based on what you buy. Newer graphics cards for example can make your game look more high-definition--and more appealing to your viewer. Other parts of a computer setup are just as important as what’s inside it. Your monitor, mouse, and keyboard should be comfortable for you to use. They don’t necessarily have to be the most advanced available, but the ones you like and can operate well. Getting used to your own gear will make you play better in the long run. Some streamers use two monitors so they can play the game on one screen while keeping an eye on chat or look something up when they need to. The second monitor serves as a window into what’s going on outside the game.
Depending on what kind of stream you have, you may need some things to add more of your personality to the game. It’s common for streamers to commentate while they play and some even have a facecam to capture their reactions. Sometimes monitors come with a facecam built in, but there are separate face capturing devices on the market if necessary.
A microphone is what you need if you plan to provide commentary. The quality of the microphone is important because it could be the difference between a good and bad stream. Your voice could sound perfectly fine outloud, but a poor mic would turn it into a staticy mess. Viewers won’t stick around if their ears are constantly in pain. Good quality microphones can be a bit pricey, but are essential if you intend to be talking a lot. There are a lot of different kinds to choose from, everything from radio-style mics to podium mics. The variety allows you to find one that works with the rest of your setup. Don’t forget to test your voice before you buy it if you can! Some mics come built-in headphones, another important part of streaming.
Headphones can offer better sound then regular computer speakers, allowing players to hear more sounds at a higher definition. There are a ton of different headphone brands on the market designed specifically for gaming.
You can find all the parts you need at most electronic retailers new and used. Typically, online is a great place to look as well, but you may want to avoid buying used items this way. It’s better to see the product in person so you can make sure it is intact and works. It’s also a good idea to shop around as you may find great deals on the same product or a different brand that better fits your budget. A little bit of extra effort can save you a ton of money.
Once you have all of it together in one place(with maybe some noise cancelling wall foam), you’re ready to get started with software.
There are more than a few things you’ll need digitally to stream professionally. The first and most important thing is a streaming platform. For a long time, Twitch was the primary service to choose for streaming and still remains a top pick. However, with the rise in popularity of stream viewing, more companies have been delving into the industry. Google has implemented live streaming into YouTube while Microsoft released its own streaming service called Mixer in 2016.
In order to make money from these services, you must start small and work your way up to partnering with them. Each one has a certain criteria you must meet, such as a certain number of followers to your channel or a specific number of hours streamed in the previous month. Their goal is to find streamers who are committed and hard-working that will eventually have a large returning audience. If you’re serious about streaming professionally, keep at it! Even the biggest streamers started somewhere.
Before you can start broadcasting, you’ll want to download some streaming software. Streaming software will allow you to take control over much more than just capturing your screen--you can grab image files, mess with your audio settings, and more. Think of it as the flight controls of your stream. The more you can do with your stream, the more unique and appealing it becomes.
Most professional software is actually free with some having premium package options. Two of the most frequently used stream tools are OBS Studio and Xsplit Gamecaster. Both are free to download and user friendly, so just about anyone can learn how to use them. Streaming Software will take your stream to the next level in terms of potential content.
Another thing that's important is a strong and stable internet connection. The last thing you want is for your stream to buffer or constantly cut out completely because of your signal. This will ruin your intended experience, not to mention drive away new viewers. Sometimes it can be unavoidable, such as during electrical storms, but you’ll want to have a continually reliable signal so your stream can reach the world. Shopping around for a quality internet provider will help you find one you can trust, especially if you research their past reputations for streamers. Speeds and reliability reports specifically for streaming along with user reviews are easily available online. Don’t overlook the importance of good internet--it’s a streamer’s bridge to their audience.
Ok, so now that you have everything you need to kick off your streaming career, let’s look at what you can do to keep it fun for everyone.
Remember that you are just as important as your viewers. Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need one--there are options for posting a ‘be right back’ screen on the streaming software. It can become draining to stream for a long time, and if you’re not having fun, your audience won’t either. This will give you an opportunity to rejuvenate and come back more refreshed. If you need an actual refreshment in the form of food or drink, remember your manners! You don’t want to sound unprofessional by crunching through a popcorn bucket while talking. This would distract from your actual content and likely annoy a majority of viewers. It is generally better to stay small, there’s nothing wrong with having a water bottle or an energy bar next to you to keep you going. This keeps the focus on the stream and still lets you recharge.
One of the biggest aspects streamers must manage is the chat. Chat can be a fun place for viewers to interact with the streamer and others watching with various tools. However, it is inevitable that someone will come along and have something not-so-nice to say. Some of these can be internet trolls who just want attention, or a kid who doesn’t know any better. Either way, the best thing to do is ignore the comment and hope they leave. You can take action if it the comments continue and become a problem. There are ways to block someone temporarily or ban them altogether if need be. Worried that it will be too much to handle on your own? Never fear--most platforms actually let you choose users to act as moderators and help keep the trolls away! Chat is supposed to be a place that adds to the experience of the stream positively, and doing your best to keep it that way will give your stream a quality boost.
You will eventually run into a problem, maybe even multiple problems at once. It’ll likely happen when you are still new to streaming and figuring everything out. Just remember to stay cool and work through it. It’s ok to be frustrated, but don’t let it negatively affect your audience. There is a sort of leadership responsibility to live streaming. People (and maybe children) are watching, and if you work through your problems calmly, you may influence them to do the same when they have problems of their own. Plus you’ll gain bonus maturity points for acting like an adult and a professional. Problems may persist that you can’t seem to solve, but don’t give up! The more you stream, the smoother it will become.
Now you have the hardware, software, and know-how to start Live Streaming professionally. With some hard work and a little luck, you could end with a successful and fulfilling career. All you have to do is hit start.
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