Do you remember what you were doing when you were eight-years-old? Probably getting ready for school or staying at home watching TV if it was a holiday.
You might go out to play with friends or spend some time playing the latest video game. This eight-year-old does all of that—except the last part. He plays video games, for sure, but he does so professionally and has earned $33,000 (INR 2,326,833) as a signing bonus for becoming a professional Fortnite player.
Joseph Deen, a young school-boy from California has loved the game since he was four years old. He has literally spent half of his life playing and getting better at this tactical, shooting-survival game. Fledgeling eSports team noticed his talents one and a half years ago and got him signed up as a player last December for Team 33. He is officially the youngest paid-Fortnite player in the world so far.
Joseph told the BBC he felt amazing at the opportunity. “I’ve thought about being a professional gamer a lot, but no-one took me seriously until Team 33 came along,” he said. This is understandable as people would generally react to a dream of 6-year-olds like becoming a professional video gamer or astronaut with equal nonchalance.
It is interesting to note that while he is now a professional, he is officially too young to be playing the game in the first place. Due to its violent content, the game is certified for “teens and above.”
Gigi Deen, his mother, isn’t like the other mums. “I’ve looked at the game and I don’t think we’re doing anything wrong. He’s a balanced child and comes from a good family and he’s not affected by it,” she told BBC.
Tyler Gallagher, Team 33’s chief executive and co-founder, said his scout told him, “you’ve got to sign this kid. If we don’t, someone else will.”
While a serious (and violent) game, most Fortnite players are quite young teenagers. Website esportsearnings.com reports that eight of the top 10 highest-earning Fortnite players are under 18. In 2019, 16-year-old Kyle ‘Bugha’ Giersdorf won the Fortnite World Cup. He received $3m (INR 22,01,82,000) as a prize. Bugha also happens to be Joseph’s idol and he wants to be and play like the World Cup Winner.
Joseph thanks his mom in part for his dexterity with the keyboard and mouse. She is a piano player and has been teaching Joseph for a long time.