“In my almost 16 years of experience, I began as a professional gamer myself,” Marcus Graham shared during a session at Casual Connect USA 2014. “Back then, it wasn’t going to pay my rent, but it was the love of the game, the passion for the competition that continued to drive it. And that’s probably one of the reasons I’m still in eSports today: the fire of competition and to see these amazing players and what they are able to do within these virtual games.”
Marcus “djWHEAT” Graham, the director of community and education at Twitch, is a man whose passion for games began when, at the age of four, he picked up his first video game, and he continued to be involved through middle and high school. When he discovered competitive eSports, he became a professional Quake 3 player, traveling around the country, playing wherever he could find a tournament. The lure of competition led him to become one of the first professional hosts of esports and a well-known commentator. Eventually, he expanded into other game genres, and in 2004, he hosted the first LIVE DAILY video game show, Epileptic Gaming. He reveals, “From there, my love for gaming and for streaming were eternally united, and I’m pretty sure I’m here to stay.”
A New Age for Gaming
When Graham steps out onto a stage in front of thousands of people and feels their energy and excitement flowing across the stadium or arena, he is amazed to realize that, 10 years ago, seeing thousands of people cheering for their favorite gamer was an almost unimaginable idea. Yet in 2014, we have reached the point where stadiums fill with rabid gaming fans.
Graham is equally ardent in his own gaming, playing an assortment of different games at any given time. Currently, he is playing DOTA 2 and CS:GO on his PC; on his iPad, it is Fates Forever; and on console, he plays a few Nintendo 3DS games. Although his favorite platform is PC, he also owns all the current consoles, saying every console and platform has given him a reason to play on it. And he loves mobile, admitting that he plays at least one mobile game almost continuously.
He was an early adopter of iOS, with most of his application investments on the App Store. The majority of his devices are iOS, but he also owns Android.
Twitch: Where Voices are Heard
Shortly after Justin.TV became Twitch, Graham began to work there, a natural progression in his career. He had been focused almost entirely on content when, in 2011, he had the opportunity to step off the stage to help Twitch build the eSports side of their business. He and his team have worked extremely hard to make Twitch the home for competitive gaming and eSports through securing every possible player, tournament, and organization. Being able to give back to the community and industry that have fueled his passion for years brings him great satisfaction; he believes his work on the successful build of eSports continues to contribute to the overall success of Twitch.
Over the past year, developers and publishers have realized how big Twitch’s impact has been on the gaming market. Graham insists that Twitch sits in a unique position because it offers a platform for people to showcase their gaming, and he believes during the next three to five years, more game companies will be using Twitch as a way to showcase their games, interact with their fans, and even show transparent development. He states, “In 2004, gaming blogs changed the voice for how gamers get their news and who they get it from. In 2012, this changed again, as suddenly Twitch became a platform for gamers across the world to have a voice and to share it with others.”
When Graham is not gaming or streaming his gaming on Twitch, he is a big fan of comic books and movies. His favorite comic books include Saga, Preacher, Fables and The Authority. Because he loves cinematic storytelling, he will give any movie a chance, but his favorite genres are horror and psychological thrillers. And, of course, he loves to spend time with his wife and eight-year-old son.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.