Fortnite has opened the door to a new wave of popular streamers and pro players. It amplified everything. Larger streamers like Ninja and Nickmercs grew to astronomical heights. Mid-size streamers like SypherPK and and Tfue blew up, and complete unknowns became household names.
Fortnite is responsible for paving the way for the careers of so many young players. There’s a whole new batch of famous friend groups popping up – all revolving around Fortnite. The game that so many people love – and love to hate – has done indisputable good for so many people.
As any top streamer will tell you, though, fame and success come as a double-edged sword. These young players are surpassing their wildest dreams at only 15, 16, and 17. Unfortunately, they’re also facing problems that grown men and women struggle to deal with.
Cody ‘Clix’ Conrad has been as successful as anyone since Fortnite took off. He went from an unknown gamer to one of the most popular streamers on Twitch. He’s one of the only players to qualify for all of the major competitive events, and regularly pulls tens of thousands of viewers on his streams. Right now, streaming his DreamHack heats, Clix has only 10k fewer viewers than Shroud. He’s 20k ahead of Sodapoppin and 30k ahead of Summit – all at 15 years old.
During a stream on August 19, Clix opened up to his viewers about the pressures that come with being a top streamer at such a young age. He discussed the pressure, being swatted, being blackmailed for thousands of dollars, the difficulty of discerning someone’s intentions, and generally wanting to be a normal teenager.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love where I am – the community I have,” Clix told his chat, “but I want to go back to high school. I want to live my normal years.” He went on to clarify that he’s incredibly grateful for where he is, but that he can’t even go back to his normal high school. “They think I’m gonna be a distraction to the students.”
Clix went on to talk about one of the most common pitfalls of fame: wondering whether people are there for you or for your money and fame. He’s 15 years old, and he already has to think about this stuff. “Money’s not happiness … I’m a normal kid just like you guys, bro, and you guys are probably less stressed than I am. I always gotta worry about s**t.”
One word seemed to come up again and again while Clix was talking: scary. He was thrust into the limelight out of nowhere – just a kid playing video games in his room. Being rich and famous sounds great, but for Clix and other young Fortnite players, it came at the cost of living their normal life.
“This is the one thing that pisses me off,” he explained, “if I’m sad, they’re like, ‘how the f**k are you sad? You’re 15, you’re a millionaire, and you’re famous?’ Like, shut the f**k up, dude. It’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s not about any of that s**t, dude.”
All of this is something that almost no one reading this article can relate to. Clix’s fans are, largely, around his age or younger. They look up to him, but as he freely admits, he’s normal kid just like they are. He has an immense amount of pressure on his shoulders – none of which he asked for. He just wanted to go pro at Fortnite. You could say “this is what he signed up for,” but we’re willing to bet that he had no idea what the cost would be.
As a 15-year-old streamer who averages tens of thousands of viewers, Clix is likely set for life. He has a profitable career and a dedicated fanbase that will almost certainly follow him to the next game when Fortnite’s lifecycle ends. It’s important to understand that this came at a massive cost for him, though. Cody Conrad sacrificed his teenage experience for online success. He might not be willing to trade it all for a normal life, but we can’t blame him if he would.
We’re not talking about a 28-year-old streamer who blew up from Fortnite and can now live the dream while the rest of his peers are sitting in a cubicle. Clix is a teenager. He’d be in school, goofing around with friends. He’d be experiencing the time that most adults reminisce about – making mistakes that didn’t get analyzed by thousands of voyeurs.
We think that this is an important perspective for people to see: a young streamer dealing with the pitfalls of having money and fame at such a young age. Think about this stuff before you tweet about these kids. Would you have done better with tens of thousands of viewers at 14 or 15? Probably not.