Review: Ninja’s new book is a handy guide for newcomers to the gaming and streaming scene
Tyler "Ninja" Blevins is as close to a household name as can be for gaming. His star power is unparalleled in the esports scene, and I'm including players like the legendary League of Legends champion Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok in that list.
He struck digital gold with his career in Fortnite and streaming on Twitch over the past few years. Now, he's trying to strike a second time with his brand new book, Ninja: Get Good: My Ultimate Guide to Gaming.
Who is this for?
I'll admit, I was skeptical when I saw the book waiting for me one morning at work. A book about how to “Git Good” by Ninja? What fresh hell is this? It has to be filled with trite aphorisms that any 15-year-old with a mouse and keyboard has heard 100 times.
And you know what? I was right! Get Good: My Ultimate Guide to Gaming is riddled with obvious information from cover to cover. In the six sections of the book—Gear Up, Power Up, Level Up, Team Up, Blow Up, and Grow Up—we're told countless basic strategies like don't charge straight at an enemy in an entrenched position or make sure to socialize with your viewers when streaming. Or my personal favorite, how awesome the platform Twitch is to stream with (if you don't know, Ninja just signed to exclusively stream on their direct competitor, Mixer).
None of that really matters, though, because I'm not the target audience for Get Good: My Ultimate Guide to Gaming. I don't enjoy Fortnite or other battle royale games, I don't particularly like watching them being streamed, and I'm entrenched in esports and hardware so I have knowledge aplenty.
So when you look at it from the perspective of who Ninja’s audience is and the target audience for this book, it’s decidedly on point. It’s perfect for young kids just getting into gaming after watching streamers, like Ninja, and their parents who may not know much about gaming and streaming.
It’s an all-in-one checklist of everything you need to start up on a streaming life. This book breaks down complex and sometimes obscure concepts in gaming that many non-gamer parents may not know about or the kids know about instinctually but can't put into words.
For example, one concept from FPS games is hitscan versus non-hitscan weapons. Basically, it's the difference between how bullets fly once you pull the digital trigger. If it's hitscan, there is no travel time for the projectile like there is in real life. You'll know instantly if you hit the enemy. Non-hitscan weapons require you to lead the target because the projectile has to travel to hit them.
The book has a simple diagram that explains this concept simply and succinctly (pg. 43), and the book is filled with similar diagrams all equally as helpful to the uninformed. In the Gear Up section alone, there are diagrams for explaining keyboard sizes and mechanical switches (pg. 15 & 17), mousepad sizes (pg. 23), monitor refresh rates (pg. 27), and even some exercise diagrams so players can stay healthy (pg. 37).
Ninja and the rest of the team behind the book have understood how to properly reach their audience and break down the core concepts of gaming and streaming in an easily digestible way. For that, I commend them all.
However, I just have to point out the absurdity of the "Ultimate Content Creation Workstation" that he features in the "Blow Up" section (pg. 115). The nature of the publishing industry means that the setup is already out of date, but that doesn't absolve it of how crazy it is.
The setup requires three desktop computers, two laptops, three cameras, two headsets, an audio board, and around a dozen duplicators, connectors, and other intermediary devices. I can't price it out due to many of the products being unavailable or at inflated prices these days, but the workstation would probably cost well over several thousand dollars once fully constructed. It’s the kind of setup I would expect a company to have, not an individual streamer.
Keeping it simple
Throughout the book, you're also treated to pop-up style boxes called "Hot Fix!" and "Ninja's Way" that dispense quick tips or his own personal way of dealing with a certain situation. The "Ninja's Way" boxes offer a brief glimpse into Ninja's own mind and how he deals with things.
Honestly, the moments where he talks about his own experiences like the Red Bull Rise Till Dawn charity event or his evening at Times Square appearance where he wanted to get everyone to floss (the dance, not actual dental flossing) are my favorite. When he talks about the experience of blowing up and taking a step back, it really humanizes Ninja as a person, which is something I harp on whenever I talk about pros in gaming. We don't always view them as human and demand everything from them. He lets readers know that it’s okay if you get overwhelmed and take a step back. In fact, he recommends it.
His insights remind us that behind all of the fame and fortune that he has achieved, he's still decidedly human and down to earth, just as long as he isn’t yelling at kids on the internet like they’re degenerates after telling the community that bullying people is bad (just google “Ninja bullying” to see what I’m talking about).
As for Get Good: My Ultimate Guide to Gaming, it's a solid piece of material for parents whose kids are looking to get into the scene. He has collected a massive amount of essential information into an easily digestible guide that will provide young readers with an extensive overview of the commitment required to become a professional streamer or gamer and the parents the tools they need to outfit their kid and make informed decisions about what this whole life is about.
I doubt this will make the Oprah’s Favorite Things 2019 list, but it will still make a nice gift for a younger brother/sister niece/nephew who is interesting in streaming and likes Ninja.
Ninja: Get Good: My Ultimate Guide to Gaming releases on August 20th and is published by Penguin Random House.