FaZe Clan signs future NBA star Bronny James on a long-term deal

FaZe

The FaZe Clan has had a long history in competitive gaming. From its early days of Call of Duty quick scope montages, it has since grown into one of the most successful eSports franchises of all time. And the latest edition to its line-up suggests they’re now ready to go mainstream.

Announced on the official FaZe Twitter account, the eSports organisation has signed Bronny James to a long-term deal. This deal will see the future NBA star partner up with FaZe as a content creator. It should benefit both parties with FaZe getting mainstream marketing whilst Bronny James can grow his streaming platform.

This is smart from FaZe

LeBron James son joins FaZeDespite his likely NBA focused future, Bronny James has established himself as a legitimate streamer. He has over 330,000 followers on Twitch and regularly streams a large variety of games. Amongst these include NBA 2K20, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Fall Guys.

It’s no secret as to where his popularity comes from. As I’m sure many of you are aware, Bronny James is the son of NBA superstar Lebron James. The three times NBA champion and 16 times NBA All-Star is widely considered the greatest basketball player of this generation.

Even if its an indirect connection, having a link like that is a huge win for FaZe. Also, it’s very possible that Bronny James could grow to incredible stardom himself in the future. When millions are watching him score baskets on TV in years to come, FaZe will receive plenty of exposure.

The only real concern for FaZe is that Bronny may not be able to focus on his steaming career going forward. Being a competitive NBA player is a lot of work and balancing that whilst actively streaming seems difficult. Regardless, it should be interesting to see how this partnership works out.

Let’s Talk About Playing Games As a Career

Career

Thinking in Playing Games As a Career?

I was minding my business coming home from work when my 10 year old nephew told me he had some news. He informed me that he had started a YouTube channel and he wanted me to check it out. I felt my heart began to race due to this turn of events. Yes, I am well aware that this is the era we live but I didn’t think this is where he would be going. My nephew loves games the way that I love games. I am probably the person who got him into playing games as a hobby. But here he was starting a YouTube channel about Bey Blades and Google Play Games. It was then I knew we had to have “the talk” so I said, ” Let’s talk about playing games as a career”

Playing Games As A Career Is Not That Easy

Twitch Logo
Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Twitch_logo.svg

I did mention my nephew was 10 right? Asking about what he wants to do when he grows up is not a far fetched question. Trying to gauge if that future included playing games as a career needed to be put into perspective for a child so I would attempt it. There have been several articles around lately discussing the issues with choosing to live as a video game personality. One such issue is not knowing when to turn off the camera.

“Several said that, starting out, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation plagued them, all stemming from the nagging fear that fans would forget about their channel as soon as it went off-line.”

A lot of people underestimate the physical toll that streaming on Twitch or YouTube can take on your psyche. When I was explaining to his mother, my sister, I likened it to working on commission. If you don’t work you don’t get paid so having it as a viable career is daunting.

A lot of full time streamers deal with a myriad of things when starting out. In an article posted via Kotaku mentions “Several said that, starting out, depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation plagued them, all stemming from the nagging fear that fans would forget about their channel as soon as it went off-line.” In the era of fads and videos going “viral” one day off line can derail days and weeks of work. That is not healthy in any respect so boundaries need to be set and kept. This is not something she would be able to shirk off when it came to a kid.

The Price of Living The Streamer Dream

Brian Poshybrid Vigneault
Image Caption: http://kotaku.com/in-the-wake-of-marathon-streamers-death-twitch-communi-1792650183

All of this came on the heels of another shake up in the Twitch community. A relatively small streamer named Brian “Poshybrid” Vigneault was conducting a 24 hour charity stream and died after taking a smoke break. This caused a conversation to be had in the streaming community about healthy stream practices. Because let’s be frank, most streamers are not healthy if they play games “all day”. Most streamers start off as regular people who would love to be paid to play games. In the regular scheme of things, a play session can be hours of sitting in front of a screen or monitor only getting up for food or the bathroom. On a day one release most of us don’t even do that.

Most streamers start off as regular people who would love to be paid to play games. In the regular scheme of things, a play session can be hours of sitting in front of a screen or monitor only getting up for food or the bathroom.

There are so many different things that go into choosing to stream or make YouTube videos for a living. I follow a lot of content creators on Twitter so there is constant conversation about YouTube algorithms and missing subscribers. Low views mean less money and that is the commission/entertainment lifestyle in a nut shell. It’s become sad to watch YouTubers that I followed for years become cynical, burnt out and jaded from trying to do what they love which is play games.

Bringing It Full Circle

My nephew is bright eyed and bushy tailed. He has no real idea how any of this could potentially work. In the meantime, I am encouraging him to continue to learn about YouTube while finishing his home work. I am working with my sister to help establish rules so that he is safe while exploring playing games for entertainment. It’s starting early folks, but playing games may not be as fun or easy as we all thought it was.

Do you stream content on YouTube or Twitch? Are you a content creator of any kind? What do you think about playing games as a career? Let us know in the comments section below.

Twitch The Place to Stream Games And Soon To Buy?

Twitch Logo

I was reading my Twitter feed a few days ago when a streamer announced that viewers could download Banner Saga for free. Since I’m a console gamer, I had a feeling that this initiative would not apply to me but to PC gamers. I was sad to see that I wouldn’t be included in this deal but a part of me wondered how and why they were doing such a promotion. Fast forward a few days later, the news breaks that Twitch will allow for viewers to purchase games straight off the stream. This is a shocking turn of events! Let’s get into the logistics of how Twitch is now becoming a place to stream and buy games.

To Buy On Twitch Or Not To Buy On Twitch?

“Said streamer will get five percent of the sale, with the buyer netting themselves RANDOMIZED Twitch Crates which include exclusive emotes and chat badges among other things.”

Twitch Buy Button
Image Caption: http://www.pcgamer.com/twitch-to-sell-games-in-streamer-supported-initiative-this-spring/

In an article by PC Gamer the “whys” of the Twitch initiative became clear. This new program was being introduced as a way to “support” streamers trying to make their Twitch career goals come true. Sometime this spring, no concrete dates were given, a “Buy Now” button will appear below a stream allowing for viewers to purchase the game they are viewing. PC Gamer reports “Said streamer will get five percent of the sale, with the buyer netting themselves randomized Twitch Crates which include exclusive emotes and chat badges among other things.” Or in other words, player loot boxes ala Overwatch or MOBAs.

How will the players get the games? Not through game keys but through existing services that will be linked to the viewers Twitch account. There is already a partnership with Twitch Prime that allows for players to receive free promotional games so it will probably work through that. There are also several developers on board for this initiative like Ubisoft, Telltale Games and Double Fine. The notable absences are Riot and Valve which, if you frequent Twitch know, dominate the directory with League of Legends and Dota 2 respectively.

Better For The Streamer Or Consumer?

On the other hand, as I understand this is a business, streamers already ask for follows and subscribers so this seems like another thing to “sell” to viewers while watching.

games on TwitchSo this is where my thoughts come into the mix. On one hand, if viewers were thinking of buying the game anyway this is probably a good thing. This would be a one stop shop to get everything you want without needing to change too many tabs and help out a streamers you many like. On the other hand, streamers already ask for follows and subscribers so this seems like another thing to “sell” to viewers while watching. At times I just want to hear the streamer talk about the game or gauge their reactions not feel like I’m watching QVC. Hopefully they will be able to find a balance.

What do you guys think? Is buying your games on Twitch something you never knew you wanted? Is this a bad idea? Let us know in the comments section below.

Craziest Things to Ever (Intentionally) Come Out of Twitch.tv

Twitch.tv has been a fascinating new form of entertainment.  The idea that watching people playing video games, and not even just the highest level players, has grown into something that rivals Youtube is a concept I never would have thought possible just a few years ago.  Not only has it become an entertainment enterprise all its own, it’s spawned some truly unique and wonderfully bizarre events that wouldn’t really be possible anywhere else.  In celebration of the recent Twitch Con, these are some of the craziest things to ever be produced by the Twitch community.

Now, I’d like to specify that this is only going to focus on events that streamers actually organized under the regulations of Twitch rather than unintentional and/or potentially illegal happenings.  I’m not going to be talking about swatting or the various times streamers have left the camera running before doing something… Unseemly.  This is a tribute to the wonderfully ludicrous ways that people have found to get the most out Twitch’s livestreaming services.

HearthstoneOligarchy

Hearthstone Oligarchy

Hearthstone‘s Arena mode is tricky as you have to draft a deck from a random selection of cards and try to make the most viable build you can and match it against other players under the same condition.  Certain cards work drastically better in this mode than others and every pick can make or break a match.  So, let’s see what happens when one of the best Hearthstone players out there hands full control of the drafting process over to his viewers and has to play with the results.  Popular Hearthstone pro Trump selected viewers of his stream at random and gave them full command over selecting one card for his Arena deck, then took the resulting deck against random opponents for as long as he could before taking three loses.  The good news is that most of his viewers honestly tried to pick the best cards available.  The bad news is that a few couldn’t resist being mischievous and sticking him with some of the worst cards possible.  Even those who were honestly trying still weren’t always making the best decisions and made suboptimal picks.  The result was one of the worst Arena decks that Trump has ever drafted and a player that averages seven to eight wins per arena run left with only four.  Sadly, he’s only done this experiment one other time since and, given the amount of changes that have occurred in Hearthstone since both of those runs, it would be a very different experience today.  You can see the first oligarchy run here and the second here.

MaximusBlack3

MaximusBlack’s 20k Celebration

Sometimes, it’s just simple, joyous insanity that is the most enjoyable.  MaximusBlack was originally a Starcraft player that decided to move into streaming League of Legends.  It was clearly a wise choice as he garnered 20,000 viewers on his first day with the game and received over $10,000 in donations from his fans.  The money was enough to pay for his wedding, which was also streamed, and he showed his appreciation to his fans the only way he knew how: singing Tenacious D’s “Master Exploder” live on camera while dressed in full chainmail armor, wielding the Frostmourne blade from World of Warcraft, and chugging a bottle of champagne.  Also, his automated subscriber alert made sure to compliment his latest subscribers in a very “special” way the whole way through.  You can check out the footage here, but be warned that there is foul language.  While this celebration may sound mad, rest assured that it’s just another day for Twitch.

VGCWBirdsVDragons

Video Game Championship Wrestling

The VGCW is a CAW League, a fan-made wrestling series made using custom CAWs (Create A Wrestler) created in games like WWE 13 and WWE 2K14.  As you might guess, VGCW mainly focuses on bringing together video game characters of all types, but it also throws in other familiar faces such as Dragon Ball Z‘s Nappa and Valve co-founder Gabe Newell as prominent figures.  You might not think a show like this being aired on Twitch is too distinct, but the match-ups don’t actually involve the showrunners controlling the characters.  Instead, the ingame AI is given full control of the characters and matches are determined purely by the unique stats and moves of the characters, as well as whatever shenanigans the AI feels like pulling at the moment.

The unpredictability of the AI has actually played a major factor in shaping the ongoing narrative, such as with the career of Link from The Legend of Zelda.  Originally, Link was intended to be a major hero for the league as the one destined to defeat his formidable antagonist, Ganondorf.  However, Link’s CAW proved to be poorly made due to the showrunner’s lack of experience with the system and he consistently kept losing matches.  Ganondorf was eventually defeated, but it was by Bowser of all people.  Link, meanwhile, was eventually forced out of the league and has become a joke within the VGCW while Ganondorf and Bowser still enjoy healthy careers.  Speaking of story within the VGCW, it’s not uncommon for cosmic beings to threaten the league and can only be stopped by an atomic piledriver.  Hey, it’s not that much crazier than John Cena fighting satanic hillbillies.  Still, I could easily make a list of the craziest things that VGCW has done alone, and I probably will.  If you want to catch up on this series, which is currently on its eleventh season and has three active spin-off shows, you can check out their Youtube channel here.

FishPlaysPokemon

A Fish Playing Pokemon

Yeah, that about sums it up.  Programmers Catherine Moresco and Patrick Facheris used a modified emulator of Pokemon Red, a webcam, and software that reads a fish’s movement around his tank as button commands.  Then they put the results up on Twitch for the world to witness live.  The fish’s name is Grayson Hopper, by the way.  The stream is available for your viewing pleasure here.  Oh, and someone else did the same thing with two fish facing off in Street Fighter II.  You can see how bizarre that looks here.  Not much to really say about this one, so let’s move on.

JasonVSPredator

Jason Versus Predator: The Live Movie

Maximilian Dood is most famous for his fighting game tutorial/sketch comedy series Assist Me, which guides newcomers through fighting games and specific playable characters while he and his friends dress in costume and act out an intentionally ridiculous storyline.  When Max heard that his favorite character, the Predator, was joining the roster of Mortal Kombat X, he naturally wanted to pay tribute with his popular series.  However, he wouldn’t do so with just a typical episode, but instead create a sort of ‘live movie’ that interspersed a livestream of Mortal Kombat X with prerecorded segments that recreate and parody the original Predator film.  Max played live and directly interacted and discussed with his viewers while remaining in-character for all of the filmed segments that would seemlessly interrupt the stream.  You can check out the Assist Me episode, with all of the prerecorded bits and an indepth tutorial for playing the Predator in MKX taking the place of the livestreamed segments, here (language and spooky skeleton warning), but it just can’t compare with the experience of actually having been there and seeing Max’s coy roleplay.

TwitchPlaysPokemon

Twitch Plays

I’m pretty sure you all saw this one coming.  Watching games on Twitch is one thing, but who could’ve expected that we’d be able to play games through it.  For those that haven’t heard of Twitch Plays Pokemon, it’s a series of one-of-a-kind MMOs playable only via Twitch chat as the entire audience/player base simultaneously controls a single character.  The series began with Twitch Plays Pokemon Red and it quickly exploded into a cult phenomenon.  I mean that literally as a full-on religious movement (jokingly(?)) spawned out of constant attempts to use an unusable item from the inventory.  Yeah, the roleplaying that users had to explain events was beyond ridiculous, and it made the events of the playthrough all the more irresistible.  Of course, the flailing incompetence of our hive-minded shenanigans was a spectacle all its own with the simple act of walking in a straight line being a monumental task.  You can imagine how maddening things got when actual navigation puzzles got involved.  It was so hectic that the game’s creator had to overhaul the system mid-playthrough for the game to even be beatable.  Again, Twitch Plays Pokemon is something that could easily fill a list on its own.  Currently, Twitch Plays Pokemon is pitting its chat against itself by choosing sides in the versus mode in Pokemon Battle Revolution.  Oh, and there’s another channel on Twitch doing the same thing with Dark Souls.  And they already beat it.  Welcome to the future.

Knowing Twitch, I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of what the site has produced.  There’s bound to be dozens of bizarre things that I haven’t touched on, some even crazier than the ones I’ve listed here.  Be sure to leave a comment below with your craziest Twitch moment, though be sure to restrict it to actual planned events.

Fantasy eSports AlphaDraft Scores Two Big Tournaments

Fantasy eSports

Fantasy eSports

AlphaDraft, one of the few fantasy eSports platform that’s growing with the ever popular scene, claims that they now officially support the most eSports titles. Today they added the highly popular Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment to their list of already supported titles: League of Legends, Dota 2, SMITE and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

So what makes AlphaDraft so popular in the eSport scene? The site allows their users to pick a team, without the need to commit to just that one for an entire season, track their stats and win money or prizes depending on the outcome.

AlphaDraft also announced that they have reached an agreement with Team Archon (whose top-ranked player Firebat won the BlizzCon World Championships 2014) and will be sponsoring the first Archon Team League Championships. The tournament will feature a total prize pool of $250,000, matching only BlizzCon’s own historic Hearthstone 2014 prize pool. AlphaDraft will also partner with competitive gaming platform FACEIT and eSports channel/producer Beyond the Summit to sponsor their Dota 2 America’s Cup.

The Archon Team League Championships span seven weeks, followed by a redemption challenge, a special caster’s cup, two weeks of post-season and the Grand Final. It will feature twenty-four of the top Hearthstone pros from eight sensational teams, including Team Archon, Cloud 9, Nihilum, Team Celestial, Team Liquid, Tempo Storm, Value Town and FORSENBOYS.

Matches will be streamed live on Twitch every Wednesday and Thursday starting at 10 a.m. (PDT) / 1 p.m. (EDT).  As for the Dota 2 America’s Cup Tournament, it begins July 1, 2015 and runs until July 19, 2015, where the Grand Final will be held at 2 p.m. (PDT) / 5 p.m. (EDT). Live broadcasts will stream on Twitch (or within the AlphaDraft portal).

Twitch Streamers Haven’t Stopped Getting Swatted

Twitch

A few days ago, popular video game streaming service Twitch announced its first ever convention, Twitchcon, will take place in September in San Francisco. The event will apparently be co-produced by Twitch and ReedPOP, the producers responsible for events like PAX and Comicon. Twitch is emphasizing the convention as an opportunity for fans to see their favourite broadcasters in live events, as well as for fans and creators to mingle. In a blog post about the event, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear said “Twitch broadcasters have the most passionate fans, so we want to create an amazing experience where they can come together in person… TwitchCon will be an opportunity for the entire community – broadcasters, game developers, viewers, and us – to play and learn together.”

Shear is right – Twitch can be an “amazing experience” – but there’s another side to the Twitch community that its CEO probably doesn’t want advertised. In August 2014, popular streamer Jordan Mathewson, who is known online as Kootra, was in the middle of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive when police stormed into his stream. In the video, which can be seen here, Mathewson is in the office from which his company, Creatures LLC, operates. After he hears some noise from outside, he says, “I think we’re getting swatted,” shortly before police enter and throw him onto the ground. He is searched, patted down, a little while before the police notice the camera and shut off the stream.

What did Mathewson do to get himself into so much trouble? As it turns out, nothing at all. Mathewson was a victim of swatting, in which a hoax call is made to police reporting a serious crime occurring at the streamer’s location. The troll makes the phone call, and then sits back and watches their victim raided by police live over Twitch. Although swatting had been going on for celebrities for a while, it was around this time swatting video game streamers took off. How are these trolls able to trick emergency forces into raiding random people’s homes? It turns out it’s not that hard. All they need are their target’s phone numbers, easily acquired through a range of methods, and their approximate location. From that point on, the attacker can find websites where they can download programs that mask their caller identity to make their calls appear to be coming from another number. There are even apps they can get for their phones that help obscure their real phone number from identification. Overall, the act of swatting somebody is quite simple, but while some would call it a prank, that word seems a little too soft considering some of its consequences.

It’s been 8 months since Jordan Methewson was the victim of swatting, but not much has changed. Swatting incidents have become more and more frequent on Twitch, with the trolls responsible rarely caught. And it’s far more serious than childish internet pranks. For one thing, swatting wastes police time and money that could be spent preventing real crimes. And for another, it’s often incredibly dangerous for the person being swatted. SWAT raids are some of the most dangerous work police carry out, so depending on the location they often come heavily armed. Couple that with the possibility that innocent people having their homes raided may try to defend themselves, and it’s easy to see how accidents could occur.

Last month, a professional Runescape streamer called Joshua Peters, known as KoopaTroopa787, fell victim to swatting. Only instead of the 27-year-old streamer answering the SWAT team’s knock, it was his 10-year-old brother. An emotional Peters returned to the stream after 15 minutes to say, “Your gripe is with me so let it be with me and do not involve my family in any way, shape or form with this… They could have been shot, they could have died because you chose to SWAT my stream.”

Not every swatting results in the appearance of an actual SWAT team. Depending on jurisdictions, some police services will only send a couple of officers to check out a situation. It seems to be most common for American streamers, where many police departments have, over recent years, received funding for upgraded gear. While some place blame for swatting squarely on the trolls, many others also blame police departments for being too heavy-handed in their responses. In this Vice documentary, we see a police department in a “low crime” area equipped with, among other things, a $400,000 armoured truck. With police increasingly using this paramilitary equipment in raids, including non-violent raids for things like drug offences, it’s easy to see why some people think police are also partly responsible.

The trolls responsible for these raids often go unpunished. A combination of a modicum of hacking skills and a lack of cybersecurity experts in many police departments means they are often never caught. But there is hope. Just last month, a 19-year-old named Brandon Wilson, or Famed God, was arrested in Nervada over a July swatting incident. He’s not the first swatter to be caught, either. Police are becoming more aware of the presence of swatters and are slowly getting better at bringing them to justice.

If you’re a streamer and you’re wondering what you can do to avoid being the victim of swatting, there are some simple precautions you can take. Don’t give away your address or phone number to any service that doesn’t need it. Make sure your password isn’t “1234” and change it every so often. If you want to go the extra-safe mile, you can also get a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to mask your identity.