Tyler "Ninja" Blevins on stage at the 2019 Game Awards.
  • Twitch streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins was recently interviewed by the New York Times, sharing his thoughts on parenting and more.
  • Blevins has had a long history of controversial statements and behaviors, from outbursts to refusing to play games with women.
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On Sunday, the New York Times posted a profile with gaming personality Tyler Blevins, better known as Ninja, discussing the creator's rise to fame and internet celebrity. In the expletive-laden interview, the gaming super-star, who has millions of followers across platforms, said that his move to the now-defunct streaming platform Mixer "was smart," that you shouldn't spend "a lot of alone time with a woman, in general, if you are a married man," and that he's "very good at coming up with things that people don't think of."

The internet is a bit more critical of Blevins than most other content creators because of the heights of fame he's reached. One quote in the article sparked outrage online centered around how Blevins feels about his underage audience. 

"You want to know who your kid is," Blevins said in the interview. "Listen to him when he's playing video games when he thinks you're not. Here's another thing: How does a white kid know he has white privilege if his parents never teach him or don't talk about racism?"

Continuing on the theme of discussing racism with his audience, "is it my job to have this conversation with this kid? No, because the first thing that's going on in my head is, This kid is doing this on purpose to troll me."

After Gamespot aggregated the interview, the Twitter-sphere went wild with critical opinions of Blevins. Over 60,000 tweets went out about the streamer over the course of the next three days, causing him to trend. YouTubers and streamers shared their take on the subject, some believing that content creators have a responsibility to teach their audience while others think that responsibility lies with the parents. 

Blevins' wife Jessica was quick to defend her husband against the detractors, citing that "he DOES his part" when it comes to discussing racism. 

During the BLM protests for George Floyd that took place in May of 2020, Blevins tweeted "I stand with the Black community, and all races." When some online started to criticize him, writing that he should stay out of politics, Blevins responded "this isn't politics(;) this is human rights."

 

Ninja the brand vs. Ninja the person

Blevins has been a professional gamer since 2009, when he first competed in a "Halo 3" tournament and has quickly become one of the most highly-recognized gamers in the world. He started streaming in 2011, becoming highly-successful in shooters like "H1Z1" and "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds." In late 2017, he started streaming Fortnite and his popularity took off at the same time as the game. 

With Fortnite's success, Blevins, who has 16.7 million Twitch followers, became the poster child for gamers to non-obsessives. He's appeared on Ellen, danced in Times Square on television on New Year's Eve, and drove the Fortnite's Battle Bus with Will Smith during YouTube Rewind 2018. He has his own line of Adidas sneakers, underwear, and an "official gameplay headband." For awhile, he wasn't just another Twitch streamer - he was the face of the culture.  

This consumer-friendly version of the Ninja brand was in direct contrast to how Blevins can sometimes act on stream. Clips of Ninja berating or taunting other players in a video game are not hard to find. In February 2017, while playing the shooter H1Z1 and taking down another player who says a few slurs at him, Blevins yells "what did you say to me you little sh--. How are you not in f--- school, do you kiss your mother with that mouth?" This clip has become one of his most infamous and wide-spread, becoming a popular meme in the gaming community.   

In August 2018, Blevins told Polygon that he disliked streaming with women, saying "the only way to avoid [the rumors] is to not play with them at all." He's expressed that playing with a woman can spark rumors among his fans and it's not something he wants to see. This became a massive story and Blevins' reiterated his point in the Times interview, causing criticism to flow once again.

 

In April 2020 Blevins sparked controversy again when talking about players who mock him being on Mixer, saying "I can literally purchase the bank that your house is being loaned out to you and f--- foreclose." 

 

While playing "Valorant" with his esports team of T1 players in July 2020 Blevins said, "you're seriously the stupidest person on the planet," as one of his teammates played a baby crying sound in the background. Sonii, The player deemed "stupid" was then subsequently removed from the team.  

Freedom from the masses

Ninja's level of fame is unique for an internet personality, as is the level of scrutiny applied to him, but if numbers are any indication, he may have to worry less about how he's perceived.

Blevins is no longer pulling in 600,000 viewers on Twitch to watch him play "Fortnite" with Drake. According to TwitchTracker, on average, a Ninja Twitch stream pulls in an average of 16,000 viewers who watch him play "Valorant" or "League of Legends."

With this smaller audience that isn't here to watch him play Fortnite, Blevins can feel free to let more of his inner personality through. 

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