Let’s cover the gear. Whether you game, host talk shows or stream IRL — you will need hardware. The reason why this is important is that you can’t create content without these tools. Examples include a computer, a phone, or Streamlabs OBS. Certain things will give you an edge, especially if you are a gamer. An example is a nice mouse and mousepad. An advantage in your game will have a positive relationship to your growth, and since this book is about growth — we will cover hardware briefly.
One obligatory disclaimer before we dig in: Everyone’s needs, preferences, and situation are different. We may disagree on what is the best GPU or mouse or mic, and that is okay. Take everything we say with a grain of salt, form your own beliefs, and act. The one thing that is not up for debate is that in a vacuum, more money gets you nicer things. Everyone’s financial situation is different. That is life. If you are unable to afford some of the things we discuss here — that is perfectly okay. You can do great things with what you have.
‘Note: if you are a content creator who is not a gamer, a lot of this section will not be relevant. You are welcome to skip. We are adding this section simply because a sheer number of people who are aiming to be a live-streaming content creators come from the gaming background.
A mechanical keyboard is considered to be superior to the non-mechanical keyboard. The reason is 2-fold. First, your input registers better. There is less chance of a misclick. Second, it is a lot more durable. Your AWSD will not be worn out.
We recommend a wired keyboard because it is one less thing to worry about. Batteries may die. There might be extra latency. And wireless mechanical keyboards cost more. A keyboard is one of the areas where you want to be safe than sorry.
There are volumes written about the mechanical keyboards and switches so going in-depth here is beyond the scope of this book. We suggest you try a few out and see what tactile feedback you prefer.
Similar story as with a keyboard. We recommend you get a mouse designed for gamers. Why? It will be more reliable. It will feel better. It will be more durable. The teams that design gaming mice interview and study dozens of professional gamers to align on the design, look, feedback, and buttons for these mice. They are designed with a gamer in mind
Our personal preference is to select a wired mouse. The number one reason is the price.
Adjusting your mouse settings, specifically DPI, is something you can and should do after you purchase the mouse. That is yet another reason why its best to invest in a gaming mouse rather than using a default mouse that ships with your PC. Typical gaming mice today come with software custom-designed to tweak the mouse settings.
Mousepads are a critical part that many overlook, especially if you are trying to excel at a specific game genre. Gaming mousepads are not expensive but will go a long way to improve your gameplay and overall comfort.
Consider a different mousepad size for different genres. FPS players are known to have the largest surface area for their mousepad for a reason. They want a full range of motion when tracking a player. You can pick a different mousepad size based on the game you select or you could also opt for a large carpet-like mouse that will give you enough room for any game. You never have to worry about sliding.
Another absolutely critical part. Now we are getting into components of your set-up that are useful for anyone — not just gamers. If you plan on doing a lot of talk shows, you may want to invest in a mic such as Yeti, but a headset with proper audio is a great start.
You want to be heard, and you want to hear. You will be part of discord groups, premades, scrims with your community. You are talking to your chat. Much more on that later in upcoming sections
The bottom line — a headset is essential. Here are three key things to consider: comfort and wired vs. wireless. On comfort — we recommend reading reviews and ideally trying. If you order something and it does not fit great on your ears. Return it. It is okay. Few things are more frustrating than feeling as if your headset is heating up your head or sliding. Wired vs. wireless is a simple decision based on all the research we’ve done. We recommend wireless.
The #1 most important thing for a gaming monitor is the refresh rate. Do not assume that larger resolution or larger screen size necessarily means better. A large screen can refresh poorly will make the game appear not smooth. There are three main refresh rate gradients, and each one will cost more money. We can’t tell you what to pick, but what we can say is that the most important differentiating factor among the monitors, especially from a gamer’s perspective, is a refresh rate.
Folks care about resolution, aesthetic, brand. These things do matter for some, and it is entirely up to you what you pick. For example, if you decide you want to play many tables of online poker on one screen — resolution might be more important to you.
Configuring a gaming or a streaming PC is beyond the scope of this book. There are troves of advice on this. Budget and your goals will be the largest factors. We do want to call out three things: GPU, CPU, and RAM
GPU is important. GPUs receive meaningful upgrades less frequently then CPU and RAM, so investing in a GPU today means that it will be more relevant for a longer time. As a gamer, if there is one area that you want to invest in — it is probably the GPU. As a non-gamer, a GPU will be less relevant.
RAM is also important. A simple way to think about RAM is multi-tasking. How many concurrent things do you normally do? You have your game, Streamlabs OBS, browser with many tabs, discord, what else? You do not want to skimp on RAM, however, there is no way to go overkill. Anything over 8MB might be overkill.
CPU. Similar story as the RAM except that CPU is the one area out of the three that receives the most frequent upgrades (look up Moore’s law). You want enough to support your activities, but you likely do not need tons of core with the latest Intel or AMD chips.
The beauty of this section is that, for the most part, this is all within your control. That’s right! Limited to no money needed. General set-up of your desk may seem like a small thing, but it is crucial because little things compound to larger things in the long-run.
There are three key things that we recommend.
- Maintain a monitor at eye level. You do not need a fancy monitor stand or arm for this. You can literally use books. Place a few books under your monitor to match your eye level when you are sitting down straight (key!). Why? Avoid slouching. Good posture is not just beneficial for your health but will put you more in the zone. When you are sitting upright and present — you are ready to engage at 100%, whether it is a game or a podcast or something else.
- Make sure there is some distance between you and the screen. You want to preserve your eyesight. Plus, it will make it difficult to process your screen if you are too close.
- If you are using a gaming chair or an office chair that has a reclining functionality — consider setting that to a stiff angle. Your default position will not be slouching, and when you are sitting upright and engaged — you will be more alert and do better. All these small things add up. Let’s start the day strong!
Bonus, if possible and yes, this one costs money — consider investing in a standing desk! Studies show that these are healthier for you!