Whippy spends fifty hours a week playing Grand Theft Auto, livestreaming each ten-hour session on Twitch for his almost half a million followers. He commentates every game, volleys with his competitors, and engages with the comments thread in real time. It pays handsomely, “five figures a month,” he tells Rolling Stone over a video call from his new base in Brisbane, Australia.
His newfound success didn’t come easy. Despite just signing a deal with global creator company Jellysmack, and inking a lucrative new multi-year agreement with Twitch, the content creator says the mental health impacts on gamers are very real, and at times, “very scary.” In April, Whippy had a meltdown on camera. He wanted to quit, albeit briefly.
“Twitch streamers are expected to sit there and grind their arse off ten plus hours a day, and if you’ve got a problem with it, then you don’t get paid,” he says. “If you are not streaming on Twitch, your channel is dead. You don’t exist. You are gone. And Twitch forces streamers to get into this mindset where you have to sit there for hours and hours and hours, read abuse from members of your own community who are nitpicking at everything that they do.”
“If you are not streaming on Twitch, your channel is dead. You don’t exist. You are gone.”
The scruffy Gen Zer is confident, you can’t help but believe him. The twenty-two-year-old reveals that while he’s not yet a millionaire, he’s edging closer to becoming the seven-figure content creator he aspires to be. “I definitely don’t earn more than a million dollars a year,” he says. “It’s close, but I’m not there. I will eventually be a millionaire.”
The sunshine city is a long way from where it all began for Whippy — the gamer only recently graduated to the big smoke. Before moving north for “better internet”, he had already begun to make a name for himself in the fiercely competitive Twitch community where you’re only as good as your last game. Luckily for Whippy, his endless hours of roleplay streaming on the popular NoPixel server, masquerading as Irwin Dundee or Officer Crocodile Steve, are paying him dividends. It’s a modern-day rags to riches fairytale in the making.
Whippy made his mark from a “crappy wooden shed” with a tin roof, barely held down by a single pole in the centre of the room to circumvent it from collapsing in on him. The shed, mirroring the size of a substandard office cubicle, is nestled behind his mother’s modest home in a remote outback town in NSW, where the population is less than three-thousand. He declines to name the town on the record, but says the nearest Hungry Jack’s or Macca’s is one-hundred kilometres away. And, until a storm ripped through and took out the cell tower across the road, the internet was so bad that livestreaming was mission impossible.
“I loved games because I sucked at talking to people, and no one at school really wanted to be my friend. But because we were poor — my mum and dad split, and mum had nothing but welfare to feed us — we couldn’t really afford new games.
“And then the cell tower got knocked out, which was bad. For two weeks we couldn’t call anyone. It was terrible. No phone reception, no service, landline only. But they rebuilt it with a 4G tower, and that had fast internet. All of a sudden it gave me thirty [gigabytes] down, and thirty up.”
Whippy saw gold, got the itch for Twitch, and began streaming from the “stinky shed” that shook violently in the wind, with garbage bags over the windows to block out the light. He had no choice but to make a serious go of it. He needed to cover his mum’s mortgage, and earn enough coin to afford his own rent if he had any hopes of escaping the dusty rural town to reach the big city lights where even better internet — and more opportunities — beckoned.
While most of us are sleeping, Whippy is working, grinding, hustling. It’s not for everyone. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted, or the thin-skinned. But it is exactly how this unsuspecting dreamchaser plans to make a living, and a difference. “When this interview ends,” he tells Rolling Stone, “I’m actually going to the bank to pay off my mum’s mortgage.” He smiles, proudly. “That’s the next thing on my list today, pay off that damn house.”
This interview features in the September 2022 issue of Rolling Stone AU/NZ. If you’re eager to get your hands on it, then now is the time to sign up for a subscription.
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