I began my live stream journey two months ago and basically became an instant success. I mean, I already have *checks notes* 40 whole followers, so at this point I am pretty much famous. A whole lot of people have asked me: “Ian, how are you so cool? You must have truly incredible technology in order to be as handsome and successful as you are.” And of course those people are correct. My setup is a thing of beauty and it would be wicked of me to keep the secrets of my success all to myself. So today I’m going to share the hidden knowledge which allowed me to reach the pinnacle of Twitch stardom in such a very short period of time.
COMPUTER: THE ASUS T100TAM
Step aside, Alienware, because ASUS has developed the true gamer’s ultimate machine. The T100 is a tablet computer that comes with a detachable keyboard. Such a small, sleek machine has excellent portability that is a key component of any streaming setup. With a single headphone jack and a single USB port, this baby has all the features I need in order to make the magic happen. At some point in its lifetime the built-in camera stopped working, but I consider that to be a feature rather than a bug. If you could see my face, there’s no way you could tear your eyes away from it to focus on my #progamer skills.
Still have doubts about the computer? Then obviously you haven’t met my processor, the Intel Atom Z3775. This sucker has a whopping 4 cores and 4 logical processors capable of a frequency of a truly massive 1.46 Ghz. Are you trembling with envy yet? Can you even begin to comprehend the sheer power of this machine? This is enough power to stream reliably at a bitrate of 1500 kbps using ultrafast CPU settings while maintaining a solid 1280×720 resolution at 30 fps. Don’t know what half those words mean? That’s okay – once you’ve been a famous streamer as long as I have, you’ll be able to rattle them off like it’s no problem. And the first step is having a computer as awesome as mine.
“Gosh Ian, you must have worked super hard to be able to afford such a sleek and sexy machine.” You’re right, dear reader, I did. I worked super hard for four years of college. I took truly challenging courses like creative writing, fantasy literature, and introduction to acting. And when it was all done, after four years of intense labor finally came to an end, my parents got me the ASUS T100TAM as a graduation present. So yeah, I earned this godlike machine by the sweat of my brow. So many long nights spent playing Super Smash Bros with my squad in the dorm lobby, but it was ultimately worth it.
CONSOLE: THE NINTENDO GAMECUBE
When you think of the truly greatest era in Nintendo gaming, which one comes to mind? Don’t answer that, because if your answer is anything other than the era of the Nintendo GameCube, I know you are lying. The GameCube is a machine of true beauty, a big purple cube with a convenient handle for portability (remember, that’s a key feature of my setup). A masterwork of console design, this baby is the pinnacle of both Nintendo’s technical performance and their game design brilliance.
Let’s start with the specs, shall we? In the CPU department, the GameCube has a massive 128-bit IBM Gekko capable of pushing 485 MHz. This is combined with a GPU known as the ATI Flipper, bringing in 162 MHz of graphical power to run the best-looking games Nintendo ever thought to make. Add on top of that 24 MB of RAM and this machine is clearly established as a powerhouse when it comes to console gaming.
Now shift over to games. This was an era where Nintendo was kicking ass and taking names, and that edge is clearly displayed in the perpetual angst of the generation’s titles. Mario fights his shadow clone. Luigi explores a haunted mansion. Link becomes a furry for an goth imp princess. All of these concepts scream coolness and maturity, and together with the GameCube’s raw power they represent the very best that video games have to offer.
You may be wondering how I got my hands on such a desirable piece of hardware. As it turns out, I had to work super hard for it. The year I turned 11 years old, I had to be super well-behaved that entire year. I couldn’t play violent video games at the arcade when my mom wasn’t around. I had to be nice to the other kids at school and not pick on them or hit any of them. And if I did something wrong on accident, I couldn’t lie to my mom about it. Talk about hard! But it was worth it, because that Christmas I had been so well-behaved that Santa rewarded me for my hard work with a Nintendo GameCube.
CAPTURE CARD: VIDBOX GAME CAPTURE GCDK1
At this point you’re probably wondering: “Ian, how in the world do you manage to capture such incredible hardware? What brilliant piece of technology establishes the connection between the two thoroughbreds that are your computer and game console?” Ever heard of a little company called Elgato? Ever heard of a capture card called the HD60, or any of its impressive enhanced models? I’m sure you have. But what I bet you haven’t heard of is the capture card I use, the GCDK1 by VIDBOX. Check out this impressive list of features: 4K passthrough. USB 3 connector. HMDI In and HDMI Out. Wipe that drool off of your keyboard, reader. It’s embarrassing to be that envious.
The question I know you’re asking is how in the world I could have gotten such a thing as this. I assure you, the amount of effort I had to put in would have broken a lesser man. First I had to climb into my car and drive it for a solid 3 hours. Do you know how long 3 hours is? I could have finished the tutorial for Dragon Quest VII and had my first battle in that amount of time! At the end of that three hours I arrived at my grandmother’s house. While there, my father handed a package to my wife, a package which I had to watch her open. Can you imagine the tension I felt in that moment? How exhausting it was to question what was inside the box while my wife tore the wrapping away from the package? My hard labor was worth it though, because when it was over I laid my eyes on a VIDBOX GCDK1 for the first time.
Now the most astute among you may have noticed a supposed flaw in my setup by this point. “Ian!” you might say, “the Nintendo GameCube outputs through composite cables but your capture card requires HDMI! How could these two devices possibly be compatible?” Worry not for me, reader – as it turns out, I was able to procure a device which receives the composite cables and then connects via HDMI, allowing me to route the GameCube into my capture cord without problems!
MICROPHONE: SADES SA930
No one wants to watch a gameplay video with no commentary. How could you stand to see my brilliant moves without hearing me explain in excruciating detail the motivation behind each and every one? Therefore, it was important to get my voice to the people who wished to hear every brilliant thought to ever blossom in my mind and enter the eager world through my mouth. I am able to accomplish this incredible feat with the aid of my microphone, the SADES SA930 headset!
You may read on other websites that you need a standing microphone with devices such as a “pop filter” in order to deliver the ultimate audio experience. Poppycock, I say! The SA930 does the amazing job of being both my headphones and my microphone. The mic is super close to my mouth so it can pick up every tiny thing I say, even the subtle rhythm of my magnificent inhales and exhales as I play video games. And my particular SA930 headset has a little bend in the plug which causes it to sometimes not connect properly, meaning that I must be vigilant and check to make sure the microphone is connected properly to the port every single stream. Imagine the dedication! The precision! Now do you see how this must be a headset for only the truly elite?
For this I had to face what was perhaps the most intimidating challenge of all. I would recommend the faint of heart stop reading immediately, for what I am about to describe is truly terrible. That’s right, adventurers – to use this headset, I had to approach my own wife and ask her if she cared for me to borrow it. Think of the risks involved! I spoke to my wife? What if she asked me for a favor?! The thought is too terrible to comprehend! Despite the many dangers involved I dared to speak aloud my need for the headset, and through my act of incredible bravery I obtained the microphone I needed to make my stream setup complete.
And now it’s time to break character. Everything you’ve read up to this point was satire, a caricature of real events and circumstances meant mostly to entertain. The setup itself is real, but I wanted to take this opportunity to make sure my meaning was clear for those who need something a little more direct. I want to highlight that my story can potentially be inspirational for others who want to enter the streaming world, but also to balance that with the fact that I had a lot of help on my way to (very modest) success on Twitch.
Do you need a $2000 computer, the latest generation console, and brand-name accessories like Elgato capture cards, Yeti microphones, and Logitech cameras in order to get off the ground as a streamer? The answer to that question is a firm no. I took what technology I had and with the guidance of a more experienced streamer (shoutout to In Third Person) managed to set that equipment to the right levels in order to make streaming possible with what I already had available. Particularly if you are interested in streaming as a hobby and not as a replacement for a full time job, don’t underestimate the gear that you already have available! We don’t have to treat streaming like a hobby which has a thousands of dollar barrier to entry; it’s okay to start out simple, and to never move away from simple if that’s the choice you decide to make.
That said, I want to be very clear that just because the equipment I have available to me is humble doesn’t mean that my story is some kind of rags-to-riches narrative. Individuals of a specific philosophical bent are sometimes wont to use a story like mine as an example of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.” Gosh, they’ll say, look at how Ian used his cruddy tablet and a headset microphone to start from the bottom on Twitch and work his way up towards affiliate! What a true American™! My story is not the story of a guy who worked hard to earn his way towards any noteworthy streaming accomplishments. Everything I use from the computer that runs OBS to the console I play on to the headset I wear was purchased by someone else and gifted to me or shared with me. Even my audience wasn’t “earned” – most of the people who watch my streams are family and friends, whether ones met in person or online through my blog.
If you want to stream, go for it. Maybe you’ve already inherited everything you would need, like me. But if you haven’t and you truly need to work your way to streaming success, know that doing so doesn’t require you to save for the biggest and the best stuff. My equipment isn’t perfect but it gets the job done, and I have a fun time sharing gaming experiences with my friends and family. Streaming, like any other hobby, is what you make of it. Think about your expectations and what you want to accomplish, and if the answer is “just have a good time,” the barrier to entry is much lower than you may think!