Level Up: How Hippie Habitat turned Fortnite into a full-time business

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Welcome to Level Up, In The Know’s look at some of the gaming world’s most interesting content creators — and the tech that helps them get the job done.

Hippie Habitat has been a gamer as long as he can remember.

Like those of so many millennials his age, his earliest games were part of the Pokémon, Call of Duty and Halo franchises.

The only problem? He was stuck in a vacuum. Hippie grew up in Ireland, where he had a bad internet connection and nowhere near enough neighbors for a multiplayer session. He once said that he couldn’t really game with others until he was 17.

Now 26 and living in the U.S., Hippie has nothing but people to play with. To be exact, he has 116,000 Twitch followers, 158,000 Instagram followers and 26,000 YouTube subscribers — all tuning in to watch him game.

The attention is relatively new for Hippie, who launched his stream just two years ago, in 2018. According to him, it was so “surreal” he could barely even process it.

“I almost don’t know how to describe it,” he told In The Know. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, this is cool, you know?’ It felt right.”

Hippie chalks up his early success to one word: Fortnite. When he started out, the massively popular battle royale game was still on the rise, leaving plenty of room for streamers to get in on the action.

“When Fortnite first came out, man, it created such a vacuum for so many creators and players to pop through and really show who they are and maybe make a career for themselves,” Hippie said.

Two years and dozens of Fornite updates later, things have changed. As Hippie puts it, the hype around the gamer — and its best players — has lost some “magic.” Being good at Fortnite isn’t enough anymore.

That’s why Hippie’s taken a wider view of things. In his mind, it takes a lot more effort to stand out now.

Standing out hasn’t been an issue, though. Hippie talks about his presence like a business, because, ultimately, that’s what it is. He spends time curating his content for each of his social platforms — whether that’s cutting short-form clips for Instagram, answering fan questions on YouTube or hosting subscriber-only gaming sessions with his most loyal followers.

He’s also getting more serious about TikTok (he just hired a social media editor to help out there). Then, there’s his collaboration with D-Cave, the gaming lifestyle brand that announced Hippie as its team captain earlier this year.

There’s an intentionality in the way Hippie describes his plans. When he talks about “beefing up” his YouTube presence or creating the foundation for a “long-lasting career,” it’s easy to see the complex, meticulous approach it takes to truly succeed on Twitch.

“I’m just trying to dominate on all the platforms,” Hippie said.

It’s harder to find that businesslike attitude in Hippie’s streams, though. Even when he’s locked in on the game, his sessions are laid-back, casual and friendly — more like a hangout than a competition.

“My idea [for the Twitch channel] was to be just as good as the pros but also have a personality that people would be drawn to,” Hippie told In The Know.

The final key to Hippie’s success? His gear. The streamer gave us a full tour of his setup, which you can watch in the video above. For the specs, check out the list below.

Inside Hippie Habitat’s Fortnite-ready setup

Hippie uses a dual PC setup. One computer is dedicated to gaming, while he uses the other to run his stream. That separation makes his gameplay just a tiny bit more responsive — which, in a game like Fortnite, makes all the difference.

“Streaming is very intensive on your hardware,” Hippie said. “I remember when I first started playing Fortnite, I wanted to play professionally. And I thought that my current system was kind of holding me back in a way … even half a millisecond would be enough for me to miss the shot that really I needed to hit.”

The hardware

Credit: Walmart

The monitors are prioritized around the game, with Hippie’s main monitor, a 240-hertz Alienware, in the center. He flanks that with two other monitors — one showing his chat and the other, running through the second computer, to run his stream.

Hippie’s mouse is a Logitech G Pro, and his keyboard, which he calls his “baby” is an Apex Pro SteelSeries.

Streaming and video

Credit: Walmart

Hippie’s mic, which he uses for his streams, YouTube videos and all of his other content, is a Shure SM7B broadcast mic. Meanwhile, he records with a Sony a6000 camera, plus a ring light and an Elgato green screen, which, despite some early mishaps, he’s been particularly excited about.

“I haven’t invested any money into the aesthetics of the room and creating a nice environment. So the green screen just takes care of all that,” Hippie told In The Know.

To control the stream and his transitions, Hippie uses an Elgato Stream Deck. Again, that process is made even easier, thanks to his two-PC setup.

“Streaming is very resource-intensive. So just only keeping a computer that’s just full of games and then all the other malarkey can just go on my other PC, it’s just really nice to have that separation,” he said.

Sound and audio

Credit: B&H

Meanwhile, Hippie runs his audio through a TC-Helicon GO XLR mixer. His headphones are Sennheiser brand, a decision he says he made specifically to help with his second passion: music.

“The reason I went for Sennheiser is because I’m also trying to get into house music production,” he said. “And they’re supposed to be good studio headphones. I wanted them for that as well.”

Staying comfy

Last but not least, comfort. Hippie streams from the cozy seat of a chair he bought at BJ’s Wholesale Club, although he told In The Know he’s considering upgrading to a Herman Miller X Logitech, which he said is now supposed to be the “gold standard” among gamers.

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