Computers / Tips and Solutions

Livestreaming and Capture or How to Get Paid to Play

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After watching countless gaming tournaments and matches, it still amazes me how good some of these players are at their respective games. They dedicate their lives, spending hours and hours honing their abilities, sharpening their senses, eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew. Jokes aside, these pros spend as much time playing games as you and I do at work, if not more. So, how exactly do they make a living? Well, team professionals have contracts, which are supplemented by sponsorships, as well as livestreaming. With all that, baby: now you’re making bank.

Which sounds great and all, if you’re good and on the scene, but what about Average Joes like you and me? How can we get in on this lucrative business opportunity to make money playing games? Luckily, everyone can, and the best part is that you don’t even have to be playing games. Twitch, owned by Amazon, is the largest livestreaming site dedicated to gaming, but that’s not all it has. It hosts a variety of games from almost every genre and also has a section dedicated to creative content such as drawing, sculpting, playing instruments, cooking, and more. If you’ve got a special ability, this is where you go to share it, and once you’ve got viewers and subscribers, you’ve got $$$.

Now that you’ve chosen your streaming platform, where do you go from here? There are a few prerequisites, so be sure to cover your bases. Obviously, you’ll need Internet and a Twitch account, so hurry up and go make one. Starting with PC streaming, here are the recommended specifications that are necessary to get started.

  • CPU: Intel® Core i5-4670 or AMD Equivalent
  • Memory: 8GB of DDR3 SDRAM
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
  • GPU: Card that supports DirectX 10 and up

As for console users, you’re in luck, since the Xbox and PlayStation store have the Twitch app ready for you. After installing it, follow the instructions onscreen to set up the video, audio, and more. Keep in mind that if you’re going to be showing your face and talking, you’ll need a Kinect or a PlayStation camera, respectively. For PC users, I’d recommend getting a webcam and a USB microphone for better audio quality, such as the highly rated and recommended Blue Yeti (or its less expensive semi-sibling, the Snowball).

Blue Snowball iCE USB Condenser Microphone

Next up for PC users, you’re going to need broadcasting software. You’re welcome to use whatever software you have or purchased, so anything from OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to XSplit and NVidia’s Shadowplay will work. After downloading and setting up the program, take some time to explore the settings to get a better understanding. Different livestreaming platforms have different requirements, so be sure to check them out. Higher-quality streams will take more bandwidth, so a capable Internet connection is crucial. For the best compatibility across devices, Twitch recommends the following.

Video Requirements

  • Codec: H.264 (x264)
  • Mode: Strict CBR [Constant Bit Rate]
  • Keyframe Interval: 2 seconds
  • Maximum Bit Rate: 3500 kbps

Audio Requirements

  • Codec: AAC-LC or MP3, Stereo or Mono
  • Maximum Bit Rate: 160 kbps (AAC), 128 kbps (MP3)
  • Sampling Frequency: Any (AAC), 44.1 kHz (MP3)

To connect your Twitch channel to your broadcasting software, you’ll need a Stream Key. Head back to your dashboard on Twitch and select the Stream Key tab to view it. After inserting it into the broadcasting program, you should be good to go. Take it for a test run and adjust any settings as needed. This should have been enough to get you started, but for a more in-depth guide and answers to commonly asked questions, check out Twitch’s own Beginner Broadcasting page here.

If you’re into saving your awesome or fail gaming moments, most programs already have that feature built in. With a video file, you’ll be free to make montages, analyze mistakes and turning points, and shut that friend up who keeps calling you a hacker because you 360-noscoped him three times in a row.

Outside of the PC realm, gameplay recording has been built into the latest consoles from Microsoft and Sony. The Xbox One can record short clips up to 5 minutes with Game DVR, whereas the PlayStation 4 stores up to the last 15 minutes. Additionally, both systems support a certain amount of retroactive recording, so the next time you find yourself screaming, “Did anyone else see that?” you’ll be able to make sure people can. Twitch support is also built into both consoles, and all platforms support Twitch VOD (Video on Demand) saving, so you can keep your past streamed content on your channel for fans to watch. However, not all saved content on Twitch is permanent, so don’t forget to make a backup.

For all would-be streamers, no matter where you’re coming from, an external Game Capture Device can help offload the processing and let you record much longer videos. Along the same lines, if you’re going all-out and are heavily invested, you can consider a “2-PC Setup” which, as its name implies, utilizes two computers: one for playing, and one for streaming. Twitch has an excellent set-up guide on that process here. But, even if you don’t plan on streaming, you should consider recording your gameplay so you’ll have something to look back on. (If you do start streaming, though, don’t forget me once you’ve made it to the top!)

You can also catch us live on Twitch, on Thursday nights, from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. EST.

Elgato Systems Game Capture HD60 Pro High Definition Game Recorder

Drop us a comment, below, and let us know what you’re watching on Twitch or livestreaming currently. 

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