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If you’re a concerned parent, girlfriend or boyfriend who has lost a loved one to a crippling "Fortnite" addiction, look on the bright side.

Research shows that there are cognitive benefits to playing video games like "Fortnite." There’s also the slight chance your loved one can transform their hobby into a career — just as Nebraska native Benjamin Lupo, known to his followers as “DrLupo,” did.

Lupo, a renowned "Fortnite" streamer, teamed with Find Your Grind, a youth organization dedicated to helping kids explore unconventional careers such as gaming, on Saturday at The Bay. He played the popular video game with several youngsters before awarding nine gaming lifestyle scholarships.

The $5,000 scholarships are intended to help recipients who have shown a passion for gaming. The money may be used toward education, the purchase of gaming systems or anything that will help them pursue a gaming career.

“Education and gaming can go hand in hand,” Lupo said. “But it doesn’t need to.”

Lupo, 31, started playing "Fortnite" — a massive online brawl where 100 players leap out of a plane onto a small island and then fight each other until only one is left — when it first launched last summer.

Over the past few months, Lupo’s growth in online viewership has made him one of the most popular personalities on the live streaming video platform Twitch.

To put Lupo's popularity into perspective, his channel ranked No. 3 on the most-watched list with more than 1.4 million hours in a single week in April.

Lupo, the son of a Creighton University professor, wants to help youths who want to explore unconventional careers such as gaming. His career in gaming began slowly and without many people noticing. He kept at it and slowly built a following, even if that wasn't his end game.

“Don’t look at viewer count,” Lupo said. “Be yourself, even if you have one viewer, or hundreds.”

Lupo also discussed that being a gamer doesn’t require a lot of money. He says some gamers are able to reach a mass audience with a simple webcam and game console.

“If you have an internet connection and a console, you’re set,” he said. “People look for content, regardless of setup.”

Of course, those searching for a career in gaming can choose to upgrade their systems over time. That’s why Lupo thinks the scholarships are important.

Because gaming has gone from being a niche interest shared by a few kids to something that is now enjoyed by people of all ages from all corners of the world, the scholarship recipients were chosen to reflect this.

* William Koslaphirom, Omaha, plans on using the scholarship to further his education and continue streaming through college. He hopes to create his first YouTube channel.

* Jason Krell, Phoenix, is an eSports gaming journalist and will use the scholarship to foster his growth as a content creator. He wants to use the money to travel to events for his stories and Twitch podcasts.

* Jessica Cummings, Lufkin, Texas, revived her school’s gaming club and hopes to use her scholarship money for college tuition. When she starts Houston State University in the fall, she hopes to create an eSports gaming team.

* John Pagkalidis, the United Kingdom, will use his scholarship money to replace his 5-year-old MacBook with a new computer to reach his full competitive potential as a gamer.

* Sophia Torres, Oviedo, Florida, will be using her scholarship money to purchase a gaming PC. She will also save it for educational purposes.

* Zachary Snider, Caldwell, Idaho, has volunteered and led local eSports gaming events since the age of 14 and will use the scholarship money to buy a new computer and travel to meet some of his gaming friends.

* Matthew Woods, the United Kingdom, is a sponsored content creator and will use his scholarship money to improve his streaming setup and travel to gaming events.

* Titus Fredrick, Williams Bay, Wisconsin, will use his scholarship money to build up and expand his local eSports gaming scene.

* Shawn Toyozaki, Las Vegas, is a competitive "Fortnite" gamer who hopes the scholarship money will prove to his parents that eSports gaming is a legitimate career option.

​Reach the writer at dmuñ or 402-473-7214.


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