Sports leagues around the world have shut down across the world due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, athletes have taken this opportunity to express their interest in streaming games.
We got your back, fam.
Here is a bare-bones checklist on exactly what you need to stream your favorite games, as well as tips from some streaming pros.
PC / console
Microphone and headphones
Internet and accounts
Programs to stream
Let's go through them one by one.
PC / console
Your computer is where you will set up all your programs to stream, and might also be where you play your games. Just remember that the more complex the game is, the slower your computer will perform, and that might cause some hiccups in your streams. With that said, anything you have bought within the past several months should be good to go (even a laptop if you're going that route). You will need a couple of HDMI cables and other cords to connect everything, but what you buy (a webcam or mic, for example) will usually come with cords you need.
You can use the same PC that you are streaming on to play the games if it's powerful enough, but you can also play on PS4 or Xbox. You can stream directly from the consoles very easily without even needing a PC if you just want to have a go at a couple streams for fun.
If you want to patch your console into your PC, the one piece of equipment you will need is a capture card. Elgato has many of them, like this one. This piece of hardware will ensure your console can be seen on your PC when you want to stream.
You can skip this step if you don't want to show your face, but your audience will appreciate it more if you have it. Here is the one I used from Logitech, but feel free to go shopping and find any one that has a USB input.
Pro tip: Good lighting is way more important than a great camera. A lower quality webcam with good lighting will look more polished than a great camera with poor lighting. Either have daylight in front of you for your setup, or get a ring light / key lights (plenty on Amazon or Elgato to choose from).
3. Microphone and headphones
I use an external mic with separate headphones, but you can buy one that combines the two, like Astro, or if you want to go higher end, use one with a mixamp, but that's not absolutely necessary. For a bare-bones but completely workable setup, any USB mic is fine. If you need options, the Blue Snowball is a great value for the sound quality you get.
If you don't want to spend money, you can even try pairing your air pods to your PC, or another bluetooth device you already have.
ESPN Daily newsletter: Sign up now!
4. Internet and accounts
Definitely the most important part. The stronger the better. If you have dial-up speeds, you might need to upgrade. This might matter a bit less on console. Try an internet speed test and see what you are getting. Speeds of 100 Mb/s for uploads and downloads should be good enough, but the higher the better.
Now, accounts. You'll need to set up accounts on whatever platform you want to go live on. Most people consider Twitch, with Youtube, Mixer, Facebook and Caffeine as other options. Twitch is still the most popular, with Youtube in hot pursuit. Many top gamers like Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Mike "shroud" Grzesiek are on Mixer. You can also push to all of them at the same time using a website like restream.io.
Important: If you use social media, definitely tell people that you are going live. Self promote to your heart's content. Ask people to share, especially if you're going live for the first time.
5. Programs to stream
You can skip this step if you are streaming through the console directly. So you've connected everything to your PC (you'll need a few HDMI cords if you don't have them already) and are ready to go. First, download Streamlabs OBS. This is the program that will allow you to go live.
Videos like this one give you a full tutorial on how to set up streamlabs to be ready to stream for the first time.
Then, you're all set. Press "Go Live" and have fun.
Tips from the pros (identified by their Twitter handles):
@Momo: "Be yourself, have fun, engage with your audience and once again, don't forget to have fun."
@SeltzerPlease: "Don't try to max out your streaming hours every week -- instead find a schedule you can sustain and viewers can depend on."
@AnnaProsser: "Your enjoyment is an important asset to your business. Don't force yourself to stream what you don't like."
@Nathanias: "Consistency is everything. Be like your favorite TV show, familiar and consistent."
@WavePunkRL: What's the thing you never shut up about? The thing that when you start to talk about your friends are like, 'Oh no, here they go again.' That's what you should make your stream about."
@Shado_Temple: "It's not going to turn into a career overnight. Let it be something you enjoy as a hobby before trying to make a living out of it."
@RealLeTigress: "Find what YOU enjoy about streaming. Trying to be someone else will burn you out, and audiences will detect inauthenticity anyway. Don't be afraid to experiment and take your time doing so! There's no 'right' timeline or path."
@BritanniJohnson: "Have fun with it, but create a safe environment and encourage it from the beginning. Your viewers will find comfort in your content and community. Isolate and break down any toxicity at the grass roots."
@BanKsEsports: "Stream what you love, stream what you are passionate about and let your true self show. You will attract the right viewers and community from that."
@WTFMoses: "Streaming is just like working out. At first, you're going to feel awkward, self conscious and you probably won't be very good. If you stick with it, and truly work at it, the gains will come."