What does it take to coach and profess a popular battle royale game like Fortnite?
A question which perhaps eludes most, is best answered by famous YouTube star thatdenverguy. When it comes to developing and nurturing young esports talents from the grassroots level, there is simply no one better.
Over the last five years, Denver has established himself as one of Fortnite's foremost content creators. Mentoring numerous young players and shaping the future of Fortnite content creation, Denver has inescapably become a friend, philosopher, and guide to the community.
Denver is also distinctly popular for his family-friendly behavior, preaching a toxicity-free community that inspires youngsters to be more mature about life, Fortnite, and everything in-between.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda Esports’ Dipanjan Dey, thatdenverguy opens up about his struggles, dreams, and aspirations moving forward.
YouTube star thatdenverguy opens up about life, Fortnite and everything in-between
Denver's journey from creating tutorial videos to becoming a role model in the Fortnite community is one for the history books.
His popular YouTube channel, currently booming with 1.09M subscribers, usually focuses on in-depth discussions that enlighten the Fortnite community. At the same time, Denver teaches a highly-effective "How to be a Fortnite YouTuber" course at ProGuides.com.
Here is an excerpt of the conversation:
Q1) First and foremost, give us an origin story. Tell our readers a bit about "our second favorite PE teacher" and the journey that led you to the path of becoming a Fortnite content creator?
I’m Denver, aka thatdenverguy. I was a 4th-grade teacher for 4 years and moved to teach PE for 2 years before going full-time on YouTube.
I started in Stardew Valley tips videos and eventually moved to Fortnite tips videos but now cover news and updates on my channel.
I have a wife and two children and am pursuing a masters degree to hopefully return to education as a principal someday when all this fun is over.
Q2) Without further delay, let's address the elephant in the room; perhaps the most frequently asked question in Fortnite Chapter 2 - do you think Fortnite is dying?
I do think it is declining, which some would call dying, but most games have a pinnacle and then a slow decline eventually into obscurity.
I think Fortnite might be able to survive though, with more effort by Epic to bring players back to the game and have more frequent updates.
Q3) Another point to focus on would be the intercommunication between developers and the FN community. Do you think the lack of patch notes has had an adverse effect?
Epic decided at some point to communicate less with their fanbase and the success of the game has suffered from that decision, I believe.
Patch notes, social media replies, and even video messages from Epic employees made the community feel connected.
Many now feel disconnected, and the game is facing negative consequences because of it.
Q4) Let’s focus on the competitive community for a minute, most importantly the clout-farming culture that is being promoted. What are the changes needed to nib this at the bud?
The competitive community is in an interesting spot because a sort of friendly toxicity has become the norm.
Sometimes it crosses the line from friendly to purely toxic and disrespectful, but most of the time, the pros seem to know each other and respect one another. But, young viewers mimic this behavior as if it were real.
To prevent it from reaching a level that might shine a negative light on Fortnite, Epic needs to be consistent with the consequences, especially when competitive players break the rules.
Q5) On the topic of competitive Fortnite, what would you say is the ideal way to groom/train/promote youngsters who have a knack for Fortnite? How to propagate a culture which doesn’t follow the current pattern?
I think having set consequences for unprofessional behavior is the best thing Epic can do right now.
I feel that most competitive players joke and troll one another but younger, impressionable viewers see that as regular behavior and repeat that in creative matches and Discord servers.
Many players have complained about the toxicity in Fortnite, and I feel we need role models to teach the younger players how to act toward one another.
Q6) One cannot but agree that Fortnite is currently experiencing a rapid downfall in viewership for Fortnite content creators. While most think that talking about this is equivalent to calling Fortnite a dead game, on the contrary, how would you best address this situation?
It’s a sensitive topic for sure, but it's factual that content creators, including myself, are seeing a huge reduction in views.
Many players still enjoy the game and see the best aspects of it. Other players notice how many content creators and pro players have left the game and look to Epic for solutions.
The pandemic has made things difficult but Epic may still have time to turn it around, similar to how Minecraft had a resurgence.
Q7) You have been called several names in the past like “boomer/cringy/bum” for your family-friendly Fortnite content. However, that has not stopped you from propagating a much more refined culture that youngsters need in the esports/content creation business. Would you agree that this aspect is the most defining feature of your YouTube career?
I actually rarely see that which is why I tweeted that email I received. Fortunately, I can count a small number of instances in my 5-6 years on YouTube where someone was vocal about being family-friendly and I pay it no attention.
I chose this because I had many students watching my YouTube channel as I grew and plenty of my former students still watch so I try to remain clean for them and their families.
It is extra work muting and censoring much of social media images and other content I present, but it is worth it in the end.
Q8) Anyone who knows you, knows that you’re a teacher at heart. Will, you ever consider coaching gamers interested in YouTube content creation, competitive Fortnite, gaming influencer, and live streaming?
I teach my Zero to Legend YouTube course and it’s a passion of mine to discuss all things YouTube - the ups and the downs.
One of the big aspects of the course is the mental side of facing challenges and failures and constantly overcoming them to learn and grow.
I learned everything I could from YouTubers who served as my mentors and role models as I grew and I try to impart that knowledge to others who are interested in taking the same path.
I would love to teach Fortnite but am unable to sink as much time into the game with so much going on.
Q9) Given the route Fortnite has taken since the beginning of Ch.2, with so many collaborations, many would agree that the game's original narrative is slowly fading away. Now, this has directly affected content creators, essentially locking them out from a lot of good content that was once available.
With such an imminent focus on collabs, the game's mechanics are also starting to feel unusual, with people beginning to dislike overpowered weapons, arbitrary map changes, and so on. Is this the future of Fortnite?
I’m afraid this is the future of Fortnite. Epic is working on plans to increase users to their online store and other goals they hope to accomplish, and I feel Fortnite is being placed on the backburner for the time being.
I hope that Epic will put more effort into Fortnite, aside from collaborations, and we might see a World Cup again soon to spark life into a weary community.
We used to have storylines and meaning and now we have superheroes and recycled weapons. It’s sad to see a game many of us once loved go from a cultural phenomenon to just a regular video game. I hope to see a resurgence but I feel we are far away from that for the time being.
Q10) Is there anything you would like to say to your fans and the next generation of rising esports talents aiming to hit a homerun with Fortnite?
I sound like a cliche teacher but people forget they can do just about anything they choose to do no matter where we come from.
We had no money and a tough home life growing up. None of it matters and anybody can be great.
Through hard work over a long period of time, and learning everything you can as you go, you can be a pro, a content creator, or even develop the next Fortnite.