Being a ‘gamer’ doesn’t mean what it used to. Just a few years ago, the term implied actually, you know, playing video games. But these days, watching others play on platforms like Twitch and YouTube is arguably an even bigger market.
And it’s growing. In 2019 alone, over 740 million people logged on to Twitch to catch a gaming stream. Most tend to drift to the big-name channels, following popular streamers like Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins or Jaryd ‘Summit1g’ Lazar.
But you don’t have to be chasing the millions (Ninja makes about $800 grand per month) to become a game streamer. You don’t even have to be any good at games. It’s all about enjoying yourself and sharing that experience with others. Here’s how to get started.
What is Streaming Exactly?
Okay, so you probably know the basics: streaming is using the internet to broadcast your screen as you play a video game live. People can follow you on pretty much any device, as long as you’re using one of the major services.
The biggest name in streaming is undoubtedly Twitch. But Facebook and YouTube are nothing to be sniffed at, with each boasting millions of users. There are other less popular options like Mixer or DLive, which are also worth checking out.
Have Realistic Aims
The game streaming market is relatively small, but it’s growing rapidly. And most people tend to watch the big names, especially if they’ve managed to carve a name for themselves outside of streaming.
So when you first start out, don’t expect a massive audience. To be honest, you’ll be lucky to have your mom watching you play. But that doesn’t mean you won’t build a following or small community in the short term. Just don’t expect to hit the big bucks in just a couple of weeks. Be patient.
Find Your Niche
If you want to succeed in the game streaming market, you need to find yourself a niche that works for you. It may not get you the huge crowds of AAA games, for example, but it’s very doable to build a cool community that can expand into $$ (if that’s what you’re going for).
For example, most beginners tend to go straight to Minecraft or Fortnite. And they are shocked when they get a grand total of zero viewers. Do you know how many channels focus on Minecraft alone? Spoiler: a lot (right now there are over 3k going on live). If you can get yourself a crowd with that kind of competition, you’re a better streamer than I’ll ever be.
That’s why I tend to opt for games that have a decent following, but nothing crazy. Or I go for something that’s not a video game in the traditional sense, but what I absolutely love, like poker or blackjack. In Canada, where I live, casino games are hugely popular, especially as options have opened up online, drawing a bunch of new players who learn by watching others (like me) play.
Get Yourself Decent Equipment
Sorry to break it to you, but an entry-level machine is probably not going to cut it. Twitch offers minimum recommendations, including an Intel Core i5 processor (or an AMD equivalent), and 8GB plus of RAM.
But you’re going to want more than that. Your wish list should include a dedicated mic so that your commentary is clear and easy to listen to (people will hit that ‘x’ if you sound crackly) and your built-in camera won’t be enough either. The Razer Kiyo is a good cam bet.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend big cash right from the word ‘Go’, but it really does help to save up for a reasonable initial outlay. If you’re going to push me for a single essential purchase, I’d have to say the microphone is an absolute must.
How to Choose Your Name
If you plan on making Twitch a money-making venture, then choosing your name is about as important as coming up with a company name. If you don’t want to make a blunder when you open up your account, follow these tips:
. Want To Be Called That?
Most people will end up calling you by your Twitch name. Don’t treat it as a login name, but something you’ll actually be called.
. Keep it Easy to Remember.
When people stumble upon your channel, you want them to be able to revisit without having to trawl through the back of their memory banks. Keep it super easy to remember. Avoid weird spellings or complicated names.
. Keep it Clean.
That clever ‘in-joke’ just isn’t funny, okay? Your nickname should be something you’d show your grandma.
. Personal is Best.
Generic nicknames can work (heck, the biggest streamer is called ‘Ninja’, not exactly uber-creative), but I recommend going for something that’s personal, a nickname that oozes you.
You’ll Grow Out of the Newb Stage Soon Enough
The final tip I’m going to give you is an easy one: just do it. I’m telling you this because a lot of potential streamers pull out due to stage fright. They look at all of the excellent Twitch accounts out there and think they can’t live up to that standard.
But don’t be embarrassed and get started. Do you really think big-name streamers like Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins knew what they were doing when they first opened their Twitch accounts? Get out there and you’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll have along the way.