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Advice on how to stay comfortable while streaming

From chairs to monitor placement to posture, every little thing helps

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A comfortable streaming setup Image: David Jones-Krause for Polygon

As someone with ADHD who suffers chronic pain, I (understandably) have a difficult time sitting still. So in my time streaming D&D, I’ve developed some techniques for making it through three hours without aches, pains, or jitters. Everyone has different needs, to be sure, but I put together a guide that will hopefully be broad enough to help most folks figure out how to be comfortable while streaming.

1. Make room for the essentials

Your play space should always have room for character sheets, dice, your secondary devices if using apps, etc. If it doesn’t, I recommend getting a collapsible music stand with a relatively even, flat surface. I love these, even if I only use one to see whole character sheets at once.

2. Kick your feet up, or don’t

Comfortable foot placement is the basis of a sustainable, ergonomic sitting position. No matter how you like to sit, your feet are the foundation for the rest of your posture. Make sure that they’re level, hip-distance apart, and ideally, far enough away to keep your hips above your knees. Maintaining this relationship between your feet, knees, and hips should help to prevent pain in all three.

3. Chair(y) picking

As you can imagine, the posture I’ve just described is easier for certain body types and in certain kinds of chairs. Gaming chairs and office chairs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, but here are some of Polygon’s staff picks.

I will say, as a bigger person with hip issues, the bucket seats of gaming chairs tend to be a bit … snug. If you, like me, get achy hips after sitting for hours, I’d recommend a kneeling chair like the Sleekform Alpharetta. Of all the ones I’ve tried, it’s the only one with an adjustable seat angle. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no one makes a kneeling chair with a weight limit over 275 lbs, so if you’re large like I am, and longevity is a concern, consider sticking to the Big and Tall section.

4. A real pain in the neck

Text neck, less judgmentally called forward head posture is a fairly consistent cause of pain for anyone stuck staring down at a book or screen for more than a couple of hours. I recommend a drastic alternative: Don’t.

Given the general trend away from external monitor usage, the odds are good that you might feel a little called out by this one. Hear me out, though … While top-of-the-line new monitors run as much as $600, for less than $200, you can still find some fairly high-end monitors. If that still breaks the bank, eBay and Goodwill both have options of varying quality at all price points. If you’re going to stream consistently, I strongly recommend either a monitor and a USB camera or a laptop riser. If money is an absolute non-starter, you can stack boxes or books to create an effective — if precarious — alternative. Not that you need another reason here, but you’d be surprised at the difference camera placement has on your appearance.

A photo shows the author from a flattering angle
Shot taken with a monitor-mounted camera
Photo: David Jones-Krause for Polygon
A photo shows the author from an unflattering angle
Shot taken with a laptop camera
Photo: David Jones-Krause for Polygon

5. Want for nothing

The name of the game is need anticipation, and you’re playing against yourself. Water and a snack are a great starting point, but I’m serious when I recommend grabbing everything. No one wants to get burpy on-mic knowing they’re hours away from the Pepto Bismol fairy’s salvation.

For my neurodivergent siblings, this includes stims too. Give yourself the tools to be comfortable and present in those idle moments. Discomfort takes lots of forms, and the goal here is to check off Maslowe’s Hierarchy of Needs like it was a shopping list.

6. Know thyself

At the end of the day, we all have our own distinct needs. You know your body and your space, and you get to decide how best to make it suit you. Except maybe the camera thing. No one needs to see the inside of your nose.

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