When he was laid off from his job in audio/visual equipment sales, Farmington resident Lawrence Walters decided to level up with a hobby he loves.
A life-long gamer, Walters has a channel on Twitch, an Amazon platform through which gamers who are very good or very entertaining can earn money while playing. When he found himself at home in March, he decided to ramp up his play.
“I started streaming full-time,” said Walters, 36. “I’ve basically been treating it like a full-time job.”
In addition to playing video games, he’s done streaming fishing and cooking videos, to keep the channel’s content fresh. But on Sunday, April 26, his birthday, he decide to play Fortnite, a survival/battle video game.
While streaming, Walters began to see a number of followers pop up, more than his usual average of about 20 at a time. At first, he worried about “boting”, an influx of fake accounts. Then one of his new followers sent him a chat message to explain what was happening.
Popular gamer “Dakotaz”, who has more than 4 million Twitch followers, had “raided” Walters, sending 2,500 viewers to his channel and gifting him 100 paid subscriptions – a value of $500.
“That was such a huge help for me,” said Walters, “and it encouraged others to make donations. I got $600 or $700 from that one stream.”
That evening, Walters sent Dakotaz a thank you message on Twitter that included video of the raid. The celebrity gamer not only replied, but re-tweeted the video, which now has almost 48,000 views:
@dakotaz Thank you so much for your amazing generosity. You made my birthday one to remember for sure. I have been struggling this past month being laid off from my job and being on unemployment for the first time in my life. You really gave me a reason to smile today. Thank you pic.twitter.com/0jYXQQCgeW
— ImaginedOregon8 (@ImaginedOregon8) April 27, 2020
Walters said that additional exposure “was a gift that kept on giving. I felt so blessed.” Since his birthday, his average viewership has doubled.
Because he does well with his regular job, Walters said, he likes to support other gamers. And when he let the community know what he was going through, that support came back to him.
Viewers on Walters’ ImaginedOregon8 channel range in age from teens to a man in his 70s, and they come from all around the world. While they’re all going through the COVID-19 pandemic, the gamers are sharing their different experiences.
“It just makes you feel good to see people taking care of and supporting each other,” Walters said. “It’s nice to have a community that reaches out and cares.”
View a 7-minute compilation video, with Walters’ nephew wishing him a happy birthday, on YouTube: