Want to be the next Ninja or PewDiePie? This startup can help gamers level up in the industry

Yup.gg CEO Raiford Cockfield III said his team's goal is to professionalise all gamers.

Gaming has been looked down upon as merely a recreational activity, a pastime, or, worse, an addiction; but former Twitch executive Raiford Cockfield III begs to differ, saying that playing games are an "important tool" for anyone who is looking to work in the modern age.

Gamers like PewDiepie and Tyler "Ninja" Blevins who earned $15m and $17m, respectively in 2019, have also proven that gaming is more than just a “hobby,” but can actually be a source of income for many.

With these in mind, Cockfield co-founded Yup.gg—a social network accessible to all, where gamers, influencers, developers, and enthusiasts can find opportunities, products, and people they need to build a career in the industry.

"[It is] a place to create business profiles for yourself or your businesses and grow your entire career from literally a casual gamer, just showing off the things that you care about gaming stats, all the way through to any type of profession [whether as a player, developer, marketer, designer, and many other possible career paths available in the industry]," Cockfield told Singapore Business Review.

Yup.gg aims to teach the basics of the gaming industry through its content, network of people, and insights feed.

"We want a teenager that is very passionate about, say League of Legends, knows that they can enter tournaments and make money until they can't, at which point, they will have all the ability to research how to become a shoutcaster or analyst and be hired by Riot to do content, or manage their tournaments within their market or apply for jobs at Riot, and work at the company that produces the games they love,"  he added.

Looking for the Lebron James of gaming

To further show its dedication to providing opportunities in the gaming industry, Yup.gg also created a TV reality show about gaming where they find the next gaming superstar.

Through the show, publishers such as Riot Games and Activision Blizzard, can feature their games; whilst gamers, streamers, and content creators can show off their skills and talent and win a prize of $200,000.

The show began airing on 10 June on Warner TV for Asia-Pacific and OGN for Korea.

Cockfield said they also aim to give participants and the industry the chance to reach the general audience through the show. 

"As the general audience consumes the content, they feel better about what the kids are doing, and they will start thinking that there are careers in the gaming industry," he said.

"Gaming is an incredible tool to build skills to better your life. Good Game Asia is a great way to connect the general audience and gaming audience with some incredible talent. we're helping them become crossover stars, like LeBron James, of gaming and eSports," he added.

Let the kids play

The Lebron James of gaming could be any teen playing Valorant or Minecraft in their rooms, which is why Cockfield encourages parents or guardians to be “smart about gaming.”

“If you have a kid, and you're concerned about them spending too much time, pay attention to what games they're playing, how much time they're socialising, and playing with their friends. And what is the skill level of the game? Do you see them having to strategise and communicate with each other? If so, let them play,” he said.

“If they're a professional, just like a professional athlete, they're going to have to game a lot, they're going to have to practice otherwise, they're not going to be good enough to be professional,” he added.

Cockfield endorsed the public to think of gaming as a tool or asset more than just a form of entertainment, adding that skills kids learn from games are “useful when used correctly.” 

“The reality is the strategy that's needed, the quick thinking, the teamwork, the communication, everything that is needed in modern games today, is incredibly applicable to the jobs that are coming tomorrow,” he said.

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