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The bizarre world of the Twitch millionaires

Anorak Tuesday, 14 May 2019
*Money for playing games? *When Metro ran a story earlier this year that gaming is now bigger than the movie and music industries combined, it caused more than a few raised eyebrows. However, if you thought that simply meant people are sitting in their living rooms playing FIFA or Fortnite instead of catching a movie or listening to their Neil Sedaka CDs, think again.In short, there is more to the gaming sector than gaming – just as there is more to the sports sector than playing sport. The eSport phenomenon has brought about the concept of gaming as a spectator activity, and the live streaming channel Twitch provides the platform for gamers to perform for their fans, often for long hours every day.*$500,000 per month for playing Fortnite*The name Richard Blevins probably means very little to anyone, but this unassuming 27-year-old from the Chicago suburbs is the man behind Ninja, the most famous Twitch streamer on the planet. Ninja started streaming in 2011, playing a variety of games, but it is as a Fortnite streamer that his fame has skyrocketed. He has more than ten million followers on Twitch, plus 7.5 million on YouTube. Ninja earns more than $500,000 per month from his streams.Anyone who knows a little about the world of competitive gaming might well find this surprising. Sure, Fortnite is phenomenally popular as a game, but has not taken off to any significant extent as an eSport. Ninja’s streaming success shows just how complex this area of the gaming sector is becoming. People are not just watching Ninja’s streams to see how a game pans out, they are following him in almost a literal sense, to pick up tips and, perhaps, to emulate his success. In many respects, Ninja’s success is no different to that of many other social media influencers.*Streaming success and failure*Ninja might be the best known, but he is only one of a growing number of Twitch millionaires. While most are famous for streaming games like Fortnite, Overwatch, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the like, the phenomenon is rapidly spreading to other areas of gaming. For example, playing casino online is immensely popular and is one area in which a little expert help could, literally, pay dividends. Little wonder, then, that casino streaming has become the latest growth sector on Twitch.UK streamer Rocknrolla, for example, built a reputation as the biggest name in casino streaming on Twitch, with more than 20,000 subscribers. However, he also serves as an example of both the best and the worst of Twitch streaming.Rocknrolla’s decision to run a 24-hour stream to raise money for charity was one he would ultimately regret. Having raised more than £16,000, everything went wrong in the final hours when an internet troll managed to get under his skin. The result? Rocknrolla lost his rag and his outburst led to a permanent ban on Twitch. Just like in the real world, living in the public eye in cyberspace can come at a cost.
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