To start a gaming YouTube channel you will need an appropriate PC or hardware, capture card/software, a microphone, video/audio editing software, and a plan to build your audience online through social media or marketing.
YouTube is a true media revolution in today’s day and age. While I miss what I deem as “The Golden Age of YouTube” in the mid-to-late 2000’s, it’s grown to become a viable form of income for some people, and for others a creative outlet that nourishes the artist within them.
Gaming is a huge portion of YouTube’s content diet, with hundreds of thousands of Channels dedicated to gaming content in its many forms, whether that’s speedrunning, competitive/eSports highlights, raw or edited VODs of Twitch streams, or any number of other veins of categories under the sun.
But what do you need to get started in such a venture?
An Appropriate PC and Hardware
Now I say “appropriate” in that technically any PC will allow you both the ability to upload your videos to your YouTube Channel and edit/export your captured footage. However, investing in a setup to handle such operations or building your own PC to a custom specification is the ideal way when approaching this, or indeed any computer-based venture, but it can be a very pricey undertaking indeed.
With YouTube growing into the high production value platform that it has (which comes with both pros and cons), the unconscious standard that many people expect to see in the content that they view has been raised to an almost unrealistic level.
Gone are the days when you could use a handheld camera to record grainy footage from a CRT television. Now you have some viewers snubbing channels immediately if your footage isn’t shot in 4K or running in at least sixty frames a second.
While a prefab build from a store/manufacturer is fine, it’s almost always beneficial to “frankenstein” your own machine together, even if it’s just for the experience of learning more about computer hardware.
If you’re going to be serious about doing this, you’ll want to invest in a powerful CPU, graphics card, at least one monitor, and a decent amount of storage space (exported MP4 video files tend to be quite large).
If you want to look at prebuilt PCs, you can always check out standard mainstream outlets like Amazon, Currys PC World (UK), or Cyberpower.
For one of the best ways to culminate parts for your own build, take a look at PC Part Picker for a good comparison site.
Depending on if you’re going to be playing on a console or PC, you’ll either need a capture card if your weapon of choice is Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch.
Alternatively, if you’re going to be playing on PC, you can use a screen capturing software like OBS Studio.
When it comes to capture cards, the majority of people go for the main two brand champions of Elgato with the HD60 or the Hauppauge and its HD PVR. There are some other companies and products out there, but you can’t really go wrong with either one of these options, as they’ve risen to the top of pricing and review rankings on many websites for a reason. These are also another fairly sizable investment, with both of the products being north of £100/$100 in price.
On PC however, you can grab software like OBS Studio or FlashBack Express for free, or you can consult this list from TechRadar for a range of different options.
Whether you’ll be doing live commentary on your next Super Mario Odyssey speedrun or post commentary for your latest walkthrough for Resident Evil, you’ll need some kind of audio device to do this.
There are a plethora of microphones on the market and it can be quite overwhelming without being an audio buff or having a fairly stable plateau of pre-existing knowledge. Much like the issue with the current standard of visual fidelity on the website, the same can be said (yet to a slightly lesser extent) with audio, with a “bad” or “cheap” sounding microphone keeping your Channel confined to the depths of single-digit views.
The masses usually start with the Blue Yeti Snowball Microphone as it’s an inexpensive option (among the chosen hardware) and is USB-based, so no other equipment is needed to be able to run it. It’s as plug and play as it gets.
If you want an upgrade in sound quality, it’s wise to invest in a mixer/audio interface and an XLR microphone of some kind. While these have a higher price tag, the proof is in the pudding when you hear the results.
Some good recommendations for the best streamer mixers money can buy for YouTube are:
A good recommendation for a mixer/audio interface for streamers:
The channel Alpha Gaming covers a lot of this kind of stuff and is a great resource for new users.
Video/Audio Editing Software
Even if you plan to do minimal editing or just upload raw VODs, you’ll still need a way to do this.
The industry standard has come to be Adobe Premiere Pro, but again this will increase your costs. Also if you’re going to be getting this, it’s probably worth becoming acquainted with Adobe After Effects and Adobe Photoshop to broaden your creative horizons and allow you a greater capacity for making unique and ultimately better videos.
You’ll also then need Adobe Media Encoder to output your videos (which can then output in a whole host of other video file types most people on the planet have never heard of or didn’t even know existed).
A thing to note as well, uploading to YouTube can be an arduous process if you’re dealing with big files. Having a fast internet connection that has a plump amount of bandwidth will serve you very well.
Optional Extras – Social Media Pages and a Discord Server
While I hate to use the word as it’s often thrown around by PR people as a hollow offering, but building a community of fans that genuinely like your content and want to interact with you is one of the biggest building blocks to establishing yourself as a serious and authentic content creator.
The main tool for doing this is a Discord Server, where not only you can interact with others, but where those fans or viewers can interact with each other. A great guide from Stream Scheme can be found here (it’s technically for Twitch, but it largely translates to YouTube).
While the Discord Server is more of an essential implementation to help with natural growth, having a social media account of some kind for snippets of clips or as a tool of promotion doesn’t hurt either.
Speaking from personal experience, setting up a Facebook page is fine but (in my humble opinion anyway) I kind of think that the blue F is somewhat fading away. Instagram generally doesn’t get as much interaction, but it’s a bit easier and streamlined to upload content, and the site/app is more set up to favor this kind of content.