Live Streaming

What is Live Streaming?

Video game live streaming has been growing in popularity over recent years. Similar to recorded videos on YouTube, streamers provide content for viewers all over the world, playing video games and sometimes giving commentary or discussing topics. The big difference between a video and a live stream is that streams are live. The downside of being live is viewers have to sit through the more boring parts of games. The upside is that live streams can be interactive, allowing viewers to chat with the streamer and other viewers in real time.

There are more types of live streams than video game streams, including ones where streamers craft, garden, eat, or just chat. Many streamers find ways add even more interaction with their streams, and it is fairly popular to live stream online games that may even get the viewers involved. The most popular streaming website is Twitch, though there are others that are growing. For example, YouTube and Facebook both have streaming capabilities. Most live streaming websites save a recorded copy of streams for viewers that miss a stream or want to rewatch one.

Live Streaming Websites

The Basics of Live Streaming

If you're interested in live streaming, most streaming websites have guides on how their platform works, and a lot of that varies depending on what website you use. Below is some general information to know regardless of which website you choose:

  • In most cases, you will need streaming software. There are various options out there, however the most popular free software is OBS Studio. After downloading the software, spend some time figuring out the layout you want viewers to see.
  • Before committing to live streaming, run at least one test streams to verify your computer and internet are both up to the task. Live streaming requires a constant internet connection, and older computers might show some performance issues when live streaming. If you have performance issues, you may have to adjust the software settings.
  • If you plan on streaming games or software that will be played on your computer, verify that your computer can handle the extra load. Beyond the system requirements just for your game or software, your computer must be able to run the streaming software and maintain steady internet throughout the stream. This once again may require test streams and adjustments of the streaming software settings.
  • A microphone is not required but is recommended. Most viewers prefer a live stream where they can hear the streamer talking. High quality microphones can make a huge difference, but they do not come cheap. A lower quality microphone is usually better than no microphone, assuming it's clear enough for you to be heard and understood.
  • A webcam is worth considering as well. Viewers are more likely to watch live streams where they can see the streamer. A webcam is not as important as a microphone and many streamers get by without one, so just keep it in mind. You can always add a webcam later.
  • If you want to live stream a game on a gaming console, you will likely need a capture card. Capture cards connect consoles to a computer, allowing the game video and audio to be picked up by the computer you're live streaming from. Capture cards are not free, but most capture cards work with any console that has HDMI outputs. Older consoles may require special capture cards, and handheld devices usually require hardware modifications that can get pricey. Capture cards aren't cheap either, but they usually be used with multiple devices and can be used for both live streaming and recording gameplay. Elgato is what most live streamers use, though there are other options. A capture card is not needed if you're live streaming from the computer that you're streaming from, but remember the computer needs to handle both tasks simultaneously. If you're streaming from a console, your computer can be considerably less powerful.
  • Think of your overall setup. A live stream can last less than an hour or several hours. A comfortable chair is helpful. Make sure you can see everything you need to see (including the computer streaming and the television, if applicable. If you have a webcam, make sure the camera can appropriately see you and that the lighting isn't interfering. If you want to use a green screen, make sure to set that up in advance. If you have a microphone, make sure that you can be heard clearly and there is not too much background noise. Try to keep water or some other beverage within arm's reach and remember to stay hydrated. Don't be afraid to take breaks. Considering enlisting friends to help moderate the stream as well. If you are open for donations, make sure you have a system set up to do so.