What today’s video game streamers use to look and sound like a pro

Solo content creators depend on their star power and personal brands to lure in audiences. But just as important is the tech that enables them to live stream their gameplay to the masses.

By Henry Stenhouse — October 20, 2023

There was a time when playing games all day alone in your room may have seen you ridiculed. Now, it can earn you millions

Since platforms like Twitch and YouTube opened up online broadcasting to the masses in 2011, video game live streams have exploded in popularity. In 2023, millions tune in daily to watch competitive esports experiences or see their favorite streamers play games like Fortnite, Valorant, Grand Theft Auto V, and more.

August 2023 saw YouTube Gaming rack up over 496 million hours of live-streaming viewership. This year, Twitch has averaged more than seven million active streamers a month. The streaming professionals currently attending this year’s live-streaming convention TwitchCon in Las Vegas — and those looking to ignite a career — depend on technology more than ever.

Established streamers like Leslie Ann Fu — known better online as fuslie — had to work their way into the spotlight. For Fu, what began as a hobby streaming to less than a hundred fans in 2015 has burgeoned into a full-time career in which she regularly draws tens of thousands of viewers a day.

In recent years, she has partnered with gaming organization 100 Thieves, been invited to present at award shows, promoted charities, and even appeared in a music video. It’s a journey all born from a college obsession with the video game League of Legends and one friend’s encouragement to switch on a camera while playing.

“I was just baffled,” Fu recalls of that time “Why would you ever watch someone play a game when you could just play it?” But her roommate spurred her on. He said, ‘You should be a streamer — you’ve got the personality for it.’” 

Gaming prowess and star-power on its own, however, isn’t enough to guarantee viewership. Modern live-streaming audiences expect a certain level of quality in what they watch. Without the right gear and the knowledge to use it, no one is likely to tune in for long.


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Creating a creator

Fu started her streaming journey on little more than her college laptop, resting a phone on her knee to read comments in her chat. But things are no longer so simple. 

For most beginners, live streaming can feel a bit like running a one-person studio. You’re expected to manage everything yourself: transitions and camera angles, lighting arrangements and audio balance. 

“I started with just a capture card and a cheap mic,” horror variety streamer Guy Woodward, known as NightmareModeGo, says. “Now it’s the latest capture card, two cameras, a professional mic, adjustable arms for the mic and second camera, two lights, and a Stream Deck… it's a lot of work to keep it all running.” 

To make that load lighter — and more affordable — a new market has arisen: peripherals for homegrown content creators that help them look and sound like pros.  At TwitchCon, HyperX is showcasing a suite of new products designed specifically for up-and-coming content creators. 

One in four of the younger generation want to be influencers,” says Sean Peralta, director of product management at HyperX. “That’s their career path. We want to simplify the experience and make it super easy and intuitive for anyone to join. [In streaming] there’s a lot to learn. You’re creating your own overlays, your brand. And you really have to leave a really good first impression. Otherwise it's tough to stand out.”

A picture of the HyperX ProCast Microphone, Vision S Webcam, and HyperX Audio Mixer.


Left: HyperX ProCast Microphone and Vision S Webcam. Right: USB connection to a gaming PC.

Devices such as the HyperX Audio Mixer combine studio-grade equipment like volume sliders and an XLR microphone input into a box compact enough to sit within reach on a crowded desk. A 4K webcam like the Vision S is far beyond what most online work calls require. But for a streamer? It grants the clarity their viewers crave at a price point far below that of a DSLR camera, the current pro-grade option for upgrading your stream’s look.

When Fu first wanted to level up her streaming setup, she had no idea where to begin. Researching in Reddit communities, she relied on the kindness of online strangers to advise her about equipment within her budget. The arrival of streaming-specific gear means that’s a headache newcomers need no longer face.

“We’re seeing research that some two in five people across the globe create content, whether it’s social content, composing music, podcasting, or streaming their gameplay,” Peralta says. “That’s why we’ve developed a creator lineup filled with thoughtful products and features that enhance the gaming, content creation, and streaming experience.”

The Covid boom

People across the globe found themselves confined to their homes when the pandemic hit, with gaming experiencing a major boom as a result. And right alongside it, there was live streaming.

“Compared to previous years, 2020 saw by far the largest growth in live-streaming viewership,” says Eduard Montserrat, CEO and co-founder of gaming and esports analytics company Stream Hatchet. Hours watched live-streaming content doubled from 14.5 billion to 29 billion from 2019 to 2020, according to Stream Hatchet’s data.

For streamers, social games games like Among Us and Fall Guys became overnight hits. They offered both players and viewers a means by which to hang out and laugh together, forgetting real-world worries.

With so many new eyes on stars like Fu, it’s no surprise that interest in how to become a live streamer grew in turn. Monstserrat notes that 2020 also saw a 45% year-over-year increase in the number of unique channels streaming. The figures did dip as the world reopened, but they remained 10% higher in 2022 than in 2019. And the increased appetite for consuming live-streamed media doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon.

Connection and content

When Fu began streaming on the regular, she excitedly connected with an audience of similarly passionate gamers. She discovered that, unlike traditional media, live-streaming grants both presenters and audiences something unique: the chance for a conversation.

“Nowadays, I think people yearn for more of a connection — that back and forth. That’s something streaming offers that TV can’t,” Fu says.

With increasing accessibility, live streaming is a more competitive market than ever. Finding a niche — and building a personal brand — is no minor feat. But programs like HyperX’s Queued Up and experienced streamers like Fu are  establishing the foundations for the next generation to succeed. Having recently run her fourth Streamer Camp to help promote exciting new creators, she’s now an expert in offering up advice for anyone hoping to get started.

“I really encourage people to view it as a passion project,” Fu says. “And if it works and you make money, make friends, and get to play games along the way, then that’s just the bonus.”


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