While many industries experienced slow downs due to the pandemic, gaming saw an uptick.
Online play became a lifeline for many who were isolated during the pandemic — including members of the Space Force and Marines, who have taken gaming to the next level with joint competitions and fundraisers.
Some veterans-turned-gamers have benefitted from military service.
“The time I spent in the Air Force gave me a lot of discipline that I didn’t have before,” D’Juan “Deejay Knight” Irvin, an Air Force veteran-turned full-time streamer, told Military Times.
Irvin was a senior airman serving with security forces when he decided it was time for a switch. He is now a Shorty award nominee and founder of the gaming news site GAMINGtruth.
Speaking to veterans, Irvin says, “if streaming is something you are considering, start while you are in the military.”
To all veterans who are considering full-time streaming, Knight stressed the importance of community. A 2018 study found that video games help veterans with mental health challenges such as PTSD by connecting them with others and creating meaningful relationships and even jobs.
Top-tier streamers can make anywhere between $100,000 to $200,000 per month, according to StreamerFacts.
“To try and do this full time without a community is impossible,” he said. “You need a community that follows you.”
Another veteran, Michael Hervieux, is making significant headway in the esports realm. A former specialist in the US Army, he is now the head coach for Valorant at the Esports Tower and a major player in streaming.
“I love it”, Hervieux said. “Every day I show up with a smile on my face. It’s the coolest the job I’ve had outside the Army.”
The structure and veterans program at Full Sail University allowed Hervieux pursue his passion: gaming.
“While I was at Full Sail all the veterans there helped me a lot. Talking with them and seeing that they had similar experiences brought me back to that brothership I had while I was in the Army which helped me get back into video games.”
Hervieux’s way of continuing to serve his community after leaving the military has been through training aspiring players, helping them land scholarships and even slots on top-tier esports teams.
Hervieux went through some of the struggles that other veterans have upon leaving the service. His advice to other veterans is to find support and take opportunities when they come.
“First of all — you are not in it alone”, Hervieux said. “I thought I was in it alone and it hurt me. Just remember we all hit that dark spot. I hit it. I struggled with it. The best thing I did was reach out. There is someone out there who can get help you get to a better place.”
Irvin and Hervieux are both optimistic about the future of gaming and esports.
“The streaming world is going to grow- there is no question about that. There is so much possibility for joy and entertainment,” Irvin said.
Hervieux added, “I see this getting bigger than the NFL.”
Jack Erwin began at Military Times in June 2021. He is covering news on defense policy, education, foreign affairs with specific implications for the Air Force. Jack is a cadet at the US Air Force Academy, majoring in Humanities with a minor in Philosophy.