SPOKANE, Wash. — It's one of the most popular websites in the world - Twitch.tv - with 15 million people logging on daily, mainly to watch professional video gamers and eSports competitions live.
Young talent are using the site too, gaining more exposure and popularity through the video streaming service.
I had the pleasure of meeting a local video game professional right here in Spokane. Now he's no internet celebrity, or rich and famous, he's just a normal guy that has taken his passion full-time. Sometimes, though, it's not about how much money gamers can make, but how much they can give. And for one - it's how much that community gave back.
"So I am Steven Eisner, I'm better known online as 'Keizaron.' So I am actually an online streamer on Twitch.tv," he said
Twitch draws million of viewers to the talent of professional video gamers.
"There's that rush of, oh man, there's a ton of people watching me," Eisner said.
Through Twitch - Keizaron has built a following from the comforts of his own place in Spokane, and is now part of a larger community of gamers through a twice-a-year charity event called "Games Done Quick" or GDQ for short.
"It's just a fun, amazing time where we try to do good by playing video games," he said.
Games Done Quick has raised more than $10 million each for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and Doctors Without Borders. And little did he know, Keizaron's connection to this virtual life would end up saving his actual life.
"Because of my involvement with GDQ, and the research I did with PCF, I started doing self-checks in the shower. Men between the ages of 25 and 28 typically have a really high chance of testicular cancer, but it's not something that's really talked about too much. I'm just focused on trying to save money and buy a house one day and all of a sudden, 'Hey you have cancer,'" he said.
With medical bills to pay off, it was the very same video game community at GDQ that went out of their way to look after a colleague and a friend.
"They did an amazing thing, I had so many bills because of it, that they actually organized a marathon online and raised so much money to help me cover my bills, which just shows how powerful the community of gaming can be," he said.
As for the speedrunners, the goal isn't to set personal best times, but to now surpass the $3 million fundraising record set at the previous event.
"It's just mind boggling to think that we raised $3 million playing video games for a week. I was so emotionally exhausted at the end of it too that because of how involved I was with the event that I'm not going to lie I definitely broke down and cried. I was so proud of what we did," he said. "The run that I did of [Pokemon] Crystal at SGDQ 2019, we raised just around $105,000 during that three-and-a-half hour segment alone."
In the end, who could have imagined that playing video games for a living could do so much good for so many people.
"Just complete strangers that I'd never met before, some that I have, just people that I've talked online with cared so much about me as a person that they --- that they decided that they wanted to put their hard earned money towards me just so I can have another chance at life," he said.