P.E.I.-born gamer cashing in by streaming his play online
Gaming is a full-time career for Lucas Thompson
P.E.I.'s Lucas Thompson took a chance in the fall of 2016 and quit his job as a chef to play games online.
It has paid off for the 28-year-old. He said he is raking in between $10,000 and $12,000 a month playing games on Twitch, a popular game-streaming platform, from his home in Vancouver.
Thompson says he makes his income from subscriber donations, sponsorships and merchandise sales.
Thompson — who plays under the gamertag Bawkbasoup, an ode to his days in the kitchen — said it was a surprise to his mother when he came home in October of 2016 and told her he didn't want to continue a career as a chef after graduating from the Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College.
"I begged my mom — because I lived with my mom — I'm like, 'Please mom let me quit my job. I know I can do this.'"
He said she wasn't sold at first, but after showing her other successful streamers she gave in and let Thompson try his hand at gaming full time.
"I didn't really make too much money until I got into something called speedrunning," Thompson said.
Speedrunning is beating a video game as quickly as possible and Thompson said this genre of gaming gets pretty competitive, especially when it comes to classics like the original Super Mario Bros.
That's because gamers have spent years setting and breaking records by shaving time off of their runs.
The biggest thing that could happen to my career is when a new Resident Evil game comes out.— Lucas Thompson
"There is just milliseconds to save in that realm. One, two milliseconds at this point and all it is is holding in the run button and holding in right, but it's a lot harder than it sounds."
He said picking a specific genre of gaming helped him gain an audience.
Thompson now has more than 60,000 followers and more than 3,000 subscribers on his channel.
He also said marketing is a big part of gaming and anyone thinking about starting to stream needs to take it into account.
Marketing and branding important
It wasn't an easy road. He was streaming while working multiple chef jobs on P.E.I. before he decided to take on gaming full time.
Thompson said he started to see a career in gaming when he went to the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, Wash., in 2015.
At the event, costumes for digital characters — called skins — for the popular game League of Legends were being given away. Thompson snatched up 40 of them and when he started streaming, he gave them away to viewers.
Another marketing tactic he used to increase his online presence was playing a different horror game every day in October.
"My channel is mostly known for the Resident Evil franchise."
It takes a lot of time and a lot of luck and I managed to get my big break a couple times now.— Lucas Thompson
He speedruns pretty much every iteration of the game and when a new one comes out it always brings views up because it is what his channel is known for, he said.
"The biggest thing that could happen to my career is when a new Resident Evil game comes out."
It's the first game he started speedrunning with and he has a few world records, and said the record he set for Resident Evil 2 kick-started his love for the speedrunning niche of gaming.
Gaming is a full-time gig
Doing charity work and attending events also helps gamers get attention as thousands of fans often attend.
He said he's been going to an semi-annual event called Awesome Games Done Quick in recent years.
It is a speedrun event that has raised millions for various charities over the years — this year the event is raising money for Doctors Without Borders, Thompson said.
Thompson said if you are getting into gaming for an easy way to make money, it might not be right for you. He said he typically streams for eight to 12 hours a day and if a new game is released with a lot of fanfare, he can end up streaming for up to 90 hours in a week.
"It takes a lot of time and a lot of luck and I managed to get my big break a couple times now."