Online streaming is an activity which many of us never saw coming. I personally thought the idea to be more than a little bit ridiculous – that is before I gave it a chance. Once I put some real thought into it the idea seemed quite simple and rather brilliant. Streaming is a way of combining old-school game playing hang-out sessions with modern day lifestyles and technology. Hang out with like minded people, and have some fun.
What, then, do we need to keep in mind when starting to stream? A great deal, as it turns out. You are inviting people into your virtual living room to hang out with you. People can be great, people can be fun and funny, but the opposite can also be true. Keep the following factors in mind and you’ll be well on your way to running your own stream in a way that contributes to the overall field, rather than detracting from it.
Make sure you have the right setup
Streaming isn’t free, at least not completely. While it is possible to start streaming without spending a dime, you also need to keep in mind the extra overhead on your system that is required to not only play your game, but also broadcast it to the world.
Simply put – you need a computer capable of capturing the data, processing it, and an internet connection capable of transmitting this data in order to even think about being a successful streamer. What are the more common requirements? You can check here for the requirements for Twitch – the most popular streaming service available.
You will need to meet both of these sets of requirements in order to think about creating a seamless and high-quality experience, and this is just for a start. You should also seriously consider adding a capture card to your setup to help offload a lot of the work to dedicated hardware.
Plan Ahead – have some trial runs
The way you do something, anything, the first time is probably not the way you will always do this thing. Streaming is no different, in this regard. By spending some time doing dry runs and checking your recordings you can get the jump on a whole host of problems before they rear their heads for a public audience.
It can take a few attempts to get everything here set completely right. From your webcam (if you choose to use one) to your volume levels and stream quality settings, there are a wide range of factors which need to properly set in order to guarantee a quality experience.
As an activity which usually requires the players remain somewhat stationary – being comfortable is key. Any setup which puts undue strain on you can cause major health problems in the long-term, so make sure to take a position which is both comfortable and ergonomic.
While understanding exactly what qualifies as bad for your health might be a bit tricky, have no fear – there are many guides out there which can help you ensure a correct posture. Better health, better streaming! You also need to remember that sometimes your current setup simply might not be conducive for healthy streaming, which can be unfortunately expensive or complicated to fix, can also result in better long-term health.
There is more to worry about than just posture, though, and it is important to understand all of the potential health risks of gaming for long periods of time.
Communicate with your viewers
Remember that analogy at the start of this article – that streaming is like hanging out with people?
Well, a big part of hanging out with people is proper communication. Many streaming programs allow the user to display a live chat feed over their game screen. Joking around, answering questions, and generally showing an interest in your viewers is a great way to build a rapport, and building a rapport is a great way to build a viewer-base.
Don’t get too comfortable
Hanging out with friends and playing games can be some of the most fun you can have, but this is not without its caveats. As much as you might feel you are with friends, and in a nice private place – you are not. The services which allow streaming have a very strict set of rules and policies which need to be followed. Breaking these rules, even by unintentionally settling into a joking tone, can spell out the end of a streaming career before you have even begun.
If you are the type of person who gets frustrated and sweary or the type of person who favors off-color humor, then you will want to keep this in mind. It is hard to build a base when you are banned, after all.
Don’t give out personal information
Having fans and friends hanging out and watching you stream, or even streaming with you, can be a lot of fun. Just as in real life, some of the people you meet are not those who you would invite into your home. The difference here is that a person cannot choose who they let watch their stream, aside from basic age restrictions.
Keep in mind what the worst people might do if they can figure out where you are from your stream, and use this to guide your anonymity. Swatting is a very real and very dangerous thing, and the threat only grows alongside your popularity.
Don’t leave your stream running
The act of setting up a stream, for long-time users at least, can be fairly automatic. Some streamers even have any game they start automatically kick them into streaming mode. Others, so used to streaming, might accidentally leave their stream running when they shouldn’t.
This can cause problems in personal safety, for one thing, but there is also a great risk for privacy. Accidental nudity, off-screen unacceptable language, and other unintended outcomes of leaving a stream on can kill a career. Be vigilant, make sure your icons for active streaming are as obvious as possible. Nobody wants another DSP incident, least of all DSP himself.