Professional gamer Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja, has an astounding 16.5 million followers on Twitch, 14.4 million on Instagram, 6.5 million on Twitter, and 24 million subscribers on YouTube. The 29-year-old, who is known for his Fortnite skills, has said he makes $500,000 a month from streaming.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Blevins, who discussed everything from Mark Zuckerberg to online trolls, stated that he’s ready to move on to new ventures. “Physically, sitting and streaming in one spot for eight hours a day, it’s a lot,” he said. “We’ve talked about fading out of that slowly. But I’m never going to go cold turkey. I love video games too much for that.”
In 2019, Blevins left Twitch for Mixer, Microsoft’s short-lived live streaming platform, but returned to Twitch after Mixer called it quits last July. He admits that his vast exposure has made him self-conscious, especially as he’s dealt with trolls. However, he recognizes that it’s part of living in a hyper-connected society.
“I don’t think it’s gaming. I think it’s internet culture. People are behind the screen. They say what they want and can get away with it. You have complete anonymity. Your information and data are precious and should remain private, but it sucks that there are kids who can say racist things and be incredibly aggressive and threatening to women online and have zero repercussions,” he said.
As far as the political ramifications of free speech, Blevins agrees that social media should be monitored for misinformation, especially when somebody like Donald Trump is manipulating “people with lies.” He has also called out Zuckerberg, who he refers to as “The Big Z,” for not shutting Trump down sooner.
Blevins also responded to statements he made in a 2018 interview with Polygon where he said that he refused to play with female gamers. He explained that oftentimes fans misinterpret interactions and believe gamers are flirting with their competitors.
“You know how to make that never happen? You don’t let it happen! I still stand by not having a lot of alone time with a woman, in general, if you are a married man. I mean, they could be your best friend, that’s totally cool. But if I randomly start playing with a woman no one knows, people are going to start talking. So if I am going to play with female gamers, I do it with a big group so it’s not that one-on-one interaction,” he said.
Blevins met his wife Jessica at a Halo tournament in 2010. Three years later, they reconnected over Twitter. The couple were married in August 2017. Now, Jessica oversees “Team Ninja”, which has 15 employees. Blevins, whose sponsors include Samsung, Red Bull, and Uber Eats, has an estimated net worth of $25 million. As for his next venture, he’s unsure but has come up with an idea so those driving long distances can stay awake.
“You get cold, and it’s like: I’m freezing! I’m tired! Well, you turn up the heat, and you get too hot. Now you’re hot or falling asleep, but you also don’t want the window down, because what if it’s freezing out or what if it’s super loud with that window down? So it’s right here: little stick-on chill strips you put underneath your eyes so you can have the windows up and the heat on. This would be good for truck drivers. Dude: chill strips,” he said.
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