You might not think that you could become a rich, famous, multi-platform celebrity by playing video games and streaming that footage online. But … you’d be wrong. Really wrong.
Enter Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja, who is among the most popular gaming streamers on YouTube. (And on the more gaming-oriented platform Twitch as well.) Since his arrival in 2011, Ninja has leveraged his likeable, goofy playing style into a multimedia empire worth an estimated $25 million. In fact, a recent report says Blevins is making as much as $5 million a year from Twich alone.
The vast majority of Ninja’s videos feature gaming streams of him competing in games such as Fortnight Battle Royale, Apex Legends, Call of Duty Black Ops and PUBG, among others. For those who are unfamiliar with this format, the majority of the screen shows what’s happening as he plays the game, while a small inset box pictures Ninja himself as he competes agasinst others online.
And while some might think of playing video games for a living as a pretty cushy “job,” Ninja works hard, reportedly putting in as many as 80 hours a week (as of 2018) to feed his brand’s content beast.
Ninja seems like a genuinely nice, fun-loving guy when you watch his videos. It’s not hard to see how he’s used his personality to help build a huge fan base. He’s the “cool kid” everyone always wants to hang out with.
Harsh profanities are mostly bleeped when Ninja occasionally uses them. But we do hear plenty of “oh my god” utterances fly, as well as words such as “fricken’,” “f’in” and “flipping.”
The other issue of note here is that Ninja’s favorite games to play are generally first-person shooters. Watching virtually any of Ninja’s game-related videos means watching his various online avatars take plenty of other people out.
As you’d expect for one of the biggest stars on YouTube, Ninja’s content is replete with in-screen advertising from his many sponsors. And he’s not shy about pointing people toward his own merch at teamninja.com.
Ninja has become one of the biggest social media stars of our time. His success has likely inspired many young gamers and wannabe streamers to imitate his style and perhaps to plot a career in gaming themselves.
True to his moniker, Ninja makes it look effortlessly easy. And that influence as a professional gamer and streamer may be a bigger issue for parents to navigate than the mild profanity and violence sometimes present on his videos.
Note: Plugged In’s YouTube channel reviews are not exhaustive summaries of everything viewers will find, but a representative sample of recent videos to give you a sense of the kinds of things you might expect to see.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.