Video games have a massive presence online thanks to platforms like Twitch and YouTube. If you're a gamer, and you frequent YouTube, chances are you're subscribed to a few gaming channels. If you ever wondered how to start a gaming channel yourself, this is the article for you.
Before you jump into creating your gaming channel, you need to nail down the basics first. What will your channel focus on? Who's your target audience? Do you know how to dress up your profile and videos? Let's go over a few common questions most people have when starting a gaming channel.
What Is a Gaming Channel?
Gaming channels, and specifically YouTube gaming channels, are ways for you to share your expertise with fans around the world. It's a platform that lets you show off to an audience what you know about gaming. More than that, it's about your personality! You don't need to be the outgoing type to engage an audience and keep them coming back for more.
Part of how to start a gaming channel is about nailing down who you are. The way you present yourself is just as important as gaming your content, if not more. We'll get into that later on. For now, let's get into the basics of where to start out when creating your gaming channel. While you can go in blind, it helps to have a general idea of where to take your first steps.
How to Start a Gaming Channel
Since you're thinking about how to start a gaming channel, have you considered what type of content you want to produce? Gaming channels can focus on certain types of videos, or they can have a range of different content. It's up to you to decide what you'd like to explore. Take a look at the following categories and see if any of them are a good fit for you.
Any gaming channels that have funny videos are comedy channels. These can range from humorous game clips, satire videos, purposely bad and/or funny gameplay, or scripted comedy content. Your gaming channel doesn't have to be strictly comedic. Some popular YouTubers like AngryJoe feature funny skits as introductions to informative game reviews.
There's a great variety of lore channels that focus on the history, characters, and settings of a game or series. VaatiVidya has found success in producing well-researched lore videos on games developed by FromSoftware. He dives into the backstory of the games, sharing enlightening details on things that players may have missed. If you're an expert in a series' lore, consider compiling your research into these types of videos.
If you'd rather stick with gameplay, then this is a category to think about. Voicing over your gameplay videos with commentary for a Let's Play is great for showing off your skills. Or if you want to help new players, walkthroughs and tutorials are your answers. Walkthroughs typically require more commitment, as these are usually full recordings of an entire game with or without your commentary. Tutorials are better for more specific aspects of a game that players might have trouble with.
It's true that the most prominent gaming outlets have a monopoly on game reviews. But there is still a niche out there for lesser-known games. These titles typically go ignored by the bigger outlets, since they don't have time to review everything. You can carve out that niche for yourself by reviewing the unknown gems. Or you can do your best to fit in with the rest of the review market.
Shaping Your Channel's Identity
Once you decide what type of videos you'd like to produce, decide how you want to present your content. Your format will define your channel's identity. Will you produce informative videos with jokes thrown in your script to get your viewers laughing? Would you rather make a name for yourself as the next popular game reviewer? Or are you more comfortable with pure gameplay with zero commentary?
This largely depends on your personality and your strengths. If your goal is to help gamers be better players, then choose a format to reflect that. If you want to entertain your viewers, do that instead. Your style will become your brand. Viewers will want to keep coming back for your brand. You are your own unique person with a passion for gaming and for YouTube. Take the time for some deep reflection and figure out how to reflect yourself in your work.
If you're an avid YouTube viewer, see if there's something missing in the market. Is there a type of gaming channel you haven't seen anywhere before? Is it something you think viewers would enjoy? If it's something you would want to see, then trust your instincts and go from there.
Choose Your Audience
It's important to know who you're speaking to when making videos. Having a target audience in mind helps you keep that viewer as a subscriber. Informative videos will naturally have a more adult audience, but you might not want to limit yourself to that age group. If you want to reach audiences of all ages, be mindful of the games you have on your channel and the language you use.
Scope Out Your Competition
The gaming channels you're subscribed to will become your competition. Other competition includes channels similar to what you have planned for your videos. Still, you want to look at what others are doing. Learn what to avoid and how to distinguish yourself. See what mistakes a channel makes and see what they do well. Don't copy them, but use their failures and successes to guide your own beginnings with how to start a gaming channel.
Figure Out Your Brand
The word “brand” has a clinical feel to it, but it's really about what makes your channel unique. While wondering how to start a gaming channel, you may know how you want your profile art and logo to look, for example. If you're not an artist, commission one online who can bring your vision to life. Your channel name is another important part of your brand, since it should reflect the spirit of your content, presentation, and style. The aesthetics are important, as you want your viewers to associate these things with you.
Make a Memorable Intro and Outro
Along with your brand, your intro and outro are additional ways to make your mark on YouTube's platform. Hook your viewers in with a great intro that fits with the aesthetics and presentation you have in mind. If you will produce comedic content, having a low-key intro might not work unless it's part of a joke. The same goes for your outro. If you don't have the tools to create these yourself, consider outsourcing the project to someone who does. Pick a style that's consistent with your channel's content for viewers to remember you by.
Decide on Your Channel's Variety
How far will you branch out with your videos? Some gaming channels focus specifically on one type of game or genre. Others are broader and cover many games that the creator is interested in. Narrowing your focus to something specific can help viewers know what to expect from you. However, keeping your options open gives you more freedom with the content you produce.
Handling the Video Production
The more technical aspects of video production can be intimidating. If you don't have any experience with creating and editing videos, you may have your work cut out for you. This will depend on the content you want to produce. With game reviews and scripted comedy content, for example, the editing can make or break the quality of your videos. However, pure walkthrough videos don't have this hurdle. You may wish to base your channel's content around your technical experience, including how much you're willing to learn.
Game Capture Software and Hardware
For whichever type of content you produce, capturing your own gameplay footage is a fine option. When writing your script, you might want a specific shot of your character doing something. Having your own footage gives you more ways to be creative with your content. Consider picking up some game capture software and/or hardware. Depending on whether your game is on console or PC, you will need a setup for your computer to record everything. Research these online and find what works best for your budget.
Lighting, Camera, and Microphone
This also depends on your channel's niche and variety. If you show your face, you will need to make sure that viewers can see you. This means having a good, balanced light source in your filming area. The quality of your camera matters, too. While a laptop's standard camera can work, the video may be blurry or grainy. The same goes for your laptop's internal microphone, as your voice might not sound so great in your videos. If you can, find a dedicated camera and microphone within your price range.
If you're not showing your face and only recording your voice, you have other options to experiment with. There are some neat tricks to enhance the acoustics of your voice through your microphone, like recording in your closet or in your car. Being isolated this way is a lot like recording yourself in an isolated voice booth. Make sure your voice is clear and easy to understand in your videos. Viewers won't stay for your content if they can't hear you!
Tips on Promoting Your Channel, Engaging with Your Viewers, and More
Once you get past the initial hurdles of how to start a gaming channel, you want your audience to grow. Make it your goal to reach as many viewers as you can. Producing your content is one part of the process. The rest involves working with YouTube's algorithm on the site, along with promoting yourself off of the site.
Make Sure Your Audience Finds You
When you found this article, you likely looked up the question, “how to start a gaming channel?” Those keywords brought you here. The same applies on YouTube. When viewers search for videos on YouTube, they input keywords that match the content they want to watch. When uploading your videos, make sure that your keywords match your content, so that viewers can find your channel. Your title and description should also include these keywords.
Keep Viewers Watching Your Content
As mentioned before, a great intro helps to hook viewers in. Having quality content will make sure they keep watching. The longer that a viewer watches your video, the higher your rating grows on YouTube's algorithm. Collectively, the more time people spend with your content, the more popular you'll become. The more videos you have, the easier this will be. Be consistent with publishing new content, at least once a week. If you go for long periods without putting out videos, you risk your subscribers forgetting about you.
As your views and subscribers grow, your videos will show up at the top of relevant search lists. So make sure that your videos are polished from start to finish!
Balance Your Calls to Action
A call to action is when you, the content creator, ask your viewers to do actions such as giving your video a like, leaving a comment, or subscribing to your channel. It's perfectly fine to ask them to do these things at the beginning or end of your videos. Asking them any more than that could turn viewers off, making them do the opposite. You don't want to beg them with calls to action, as annoyed viewers can and will leave dislikes without subscribing to you. Stay modest and humble with minimal requests for viewers to like, comment, and subscribe.
Interact with Your Viewers
YouTube comments are a mixed bag. But, they can be a good way to engage with your audience. When someone comments on your video with feedback or questions, talk to them. Make sure they feel heard by you. Having that one-on-one interaction with them can be a special experience they will remember you by. If you find that the comments aren't so helpful, there are other ways to speak directly with your core viewers.
Build a Social Media Presence
Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram are ideal for staying connected with your audience beyond YouTube. You can use your social media pages to make announcements, post sneak previews of upcoming videos, and chat with your viewers in between uploads.
Your posts don't all have to be about your gaming channel. You can use your social media to show your viewers who you are off-camera. Let them see your other interests. Give them a glimpse into your everyday life. Promoting yourself online will also promote your channel, as potential viewers might just find you through these platforms instead.
Learn How YouTube's Advertising Works
YouTube's advertising and monetization policies can and will change over time. Regardless, advertisers won't want to stick with you if they feel you aren't good for their bottom line. Be sure to look up YouTube's current rules for what you can and cannot have in your videos. If you run into de-monetization issues, consider alternatives like Patreon.
Stream Your Gameplay on Twitch
Another fun way to interact with your viewers is to share your gameplay sessions with them on Twitch. They'll have the chance to watch you live as you capture footage for your videos. You can chat with them as they write comments and ask questions. Just like with social media, new viewers may find you through Twitch before heading over to your YouTube channel. It's another way to reach gamers who might like your content and subscribe to you.
Know When to Take a Break
While you should produce content as often as you can, sometimes you must slow down. Putting yourself out there to an audience can be a life-changing experience. There may come a time when you feel overwhelmed by the attention and the need to engage with your audience. Manage your expectations with your presence online. Chatting with your viewers, editing your videos, managing your budget, and coming up with new ideas for new content can become exhausting at some point. Accept that it's okay to take a break now and then.
Every so often, try to take a few days to yourself. Pace yourself. If you don't, you risk overworking yourself. Your channel's quality may decline, or you may feel the need to disappear for weeks at a time, leaving your subscribers confused. Trust yourself to slow down occasionally. The last thing you want to do is burn out and lose your creative spark.
Starting and maintaining a gaming channel is quite an involved process. But for the gamer dedicated to sharing their knowledge with the world, this is an amazing outlet. You get to broadcast yourself and help, entertain, and/or inform viewers with your unique personality. It's a wonderful way to engage with viewers who share your love for gaming. Producing content for a dedicated audience offers unforgettable experiences that people will carry with them long after they've finished watching your video.
While getting started does involve a lot of effort, research, and resources, these steps are manageable. If you're passionate about the prospects, why not go for it? Give it your best shot. In giving viewers quality content with your personal voice, you just might find your lifelong career.
Featured photo via Pixabay