Twitch streamer Pokimane on playing ‘Fortnite’ full-time, building a community

Fortnite Battle Royale is arguably the hottest thing in gaming right now, which is impressive given it’s a free spinoff as opposed to a full-featured title. Battle Royale has amassed 125 million players in less than a year, and it’s so big that Epic Games organized a massive tournament at E3 2018, one with eye-popping contestants. The Fortnite Pro-Am featured 50 two-player teams — each consisting of a pro Fortnite player and one celebrity — who battled it out to be the last team standing.

Among the celebrities competing were NBA star Paul George, comedian Joel McHale, and EDM musician Marshmello, but their presence paled in comparison to that of the pro Fortnite players. For a generation of gamers, names such as Ninja and Markiplier evoke an almost divine reverence. Before the event, we quickly caught up with one pro, Twitch streamer Pokimane, to talk about the rise of Fortnite, its impact on her career, and her advice for beginners.

Pokimane first tried Fortnite as part of a sponsorship, but the allure was immediate.

“When I played for a few hours on stream, I saw that so many of my other friends were playing as well, and my viewers loved it, so I got instantly hooked and I’ve been playing ever since.”

While streaming may seem like it’s all fun and games, it’s a full-time job. Pokimane estimates she plays Fortnite at least 40 hours a week. Building a following, however, even through a game as popular as Fortnite, requires a lot of engagement with viewers.

“I’ve been streaming for a long time, so I had my core community watching me, which I appreciated a lot,” she said. “I think, if anything, the popularity or any success [I might have achieved] really comes from community building. So many awesome people in the streamer world of Fortnite were just willing and happy to play with me.”

For those considering dipping their toes into the world of Fortnite, Pokimane has some sage advice.

“Whatever game you’re playing, just play for fun. Find some friends to join you. Having fun, at the end of the day, is the most important thing,” she said. “But if you’re trying to get better, build! Just learn to build well. That’s the key to the game!”

If you want to see more from Pokimane, you can find her on both Twitch and Instagram.

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