This streaming tool may be just as useful for playing games as it is for Twitch

Last week capture card-maker Elgato sent us their new Stream Deck to test out, and of course the immediate first thing I did with it is what you see above. But beyond its overflowing potential for memes, the $150 Stream Deck is basically a button pad with a tiny screen behind each button. It's billed as a companion accessory for streamers, allowing them to set up custom commands and macros help run their shows, but it may find a use with other gamers as well.

The Stream Deck has 15 buttons, each of which can be set to do a wide variety of things, from simply executing keyboard or mouse macros to opening programs or websites to connecting directly with OBS or Elgato's streaming software to do more complex operations. So while I look forward to using this to switch scenes during The PC Gamer Show, I also want to try using it as a hotkey board, assigning ability macros in certain games to customized buttons with a picture of that ability visible.

It's not a complex piece of hardware, especially for the price, but the software behind it seems pleasantly robust and easy to use. Switching images is as simple as dragging and dropping while the Stream Deck updates in real time, letting me get Geralt on there in a matter of minutes. I also really like that each of the 15 buttons can be turned into a folder with 14 more (one of them becomes a 'back' button), meaning you could potentially have 210 different functions programmed in, organized by game, stream, or whatever you want.

We'll have a more extensive look at the Elgato Stream Deck after we test it further and likely do more stupid things with it—though I imagine I'll always have a folder full of Geralt on hand, just in case I need a pick-me-up during the day.

Tom Marks
Tom is PC Gamer’s Associate Editor. He enjoys platformers, puzzles and puzzle-platformers. He also enjoys talking about PC games, which he now no longer does alone. Tune in every Wednesday at 1pm Pacific on to see Tom host The PC Gamer Show.