Teenager earns £20,000 by playing video games on Facebook

Byron ‘Reckful’ Bernstein shows off his gaming setup in 2019

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Kyle left college in 2020 and struggled, like many, to find a job during lockdown. When traditional work didn’t come his way, he decided to take the leap into Facebook streaming and subsequently sold his Xbox and phone to buy a basic PC. He began playing the football video game Rocket League and before long found himself with a lot of viewers watching him play.

The teen is often up all night playing video games, and earning money, which has seen him become Facebook’s first gaming partner in Wales. His skills were first noticed by his father Tim when he was just 12 years-old and beating counterparts far more experienced than himself in any game he turned a hand to.

This type of income stream is every gamers dream, and achieving such a lucrative income at 18 has seen Kyle become the envy of many fellow gaming accounts. The avid gamer plays under the name HUSKY and earns his thousands through subscriptions and donations from those watching him play every night.

His followers are generally like-minded gamers and enjoy watching him defeat challenges or asking for tips and advice for their own gaming escapades.  

Kyle reminisced on when his gaming streams first started: “It was so weird – it was small at first and nobody really [watched]… there were maybe 30 viewers. Then it was 150 somehow, and eventually one day there were like 2,200 people watching,” Kyle said. “I was like ‘what’s going on?'”

The sudden fame also meant a sudden intense need for him to deliver content to his growing followers. Now, Kyle generally logs in around 7pm every night to a whopping 16,000 followers, earning him just over £1,000 every month.

This incredible salary comes from subscription fees and donations from viewers that want to support him and help him continue his streaming. “With a Facebook partnership, somebody can come into the channel and buy hundreds of subscriptions for all the viewers in the chat. So that makes him quite a solid revenue every month,” Kyle’s father Tim explained.

Understandably, this is not the most stable of incomes, and the donations themselves vary dramatically with every stream Kyle does. His father continued: “Donations vary – in one night he made £1,100 in two hours, the next night he could only make £50.

“But the big nights outrun the quieter ones. It tends to be Sundays or the end of the month when people get paid, but it can be very random. You can have a random supporter come in and decide to drop $150 out of the blue.”

Kyle noted that his seemingly instant fame and success has been a rollercoaster ride, saying that he “didn’t expect to be making so much money” from playing video games, and his parents also commented that the revelation was a “shock” to them as well.

Kyle commented: “I’ve always been more quiet and not really talkative I guess, so [when I started] it was first to just play and talk to the people I already knew on there. I was just going on to play games and talk to them. I didn’t know it would be hundreds of people [watching].”

After his success with Rocket League, Kyle ventured out into some other popular video games, and found his viewers growing with each and every video. “I started playing Red Dead Redemption, then moved into Black Ops 2, Call of Duty, FIFA. When Rocket League first came out I think six years ago, it was just something I played and messed around with, you know. I didn’t really take it too seriously. But three years ago then I went back into it and started to actually try to get good at the game, and it just went from there. But it’s been crazy hours every day.”

The teen has totalled over 6,000 hours on the game since his vey first stream, with each stream lasting for about three hours. But Kyle added that he often spends up to six hours a day playing other games. “Some days you do longer than three hours. It depends on how it goes. Some days are slower, other days are crazy and everyone’s going wild,” he said, adding that he could sometimes play until four o’clock in the morning.

This income stream has been a life changer for Kyle, as his dad noted he had seemed to be lost with where to take his career during lockdown and that video games not only provided a bit of guidance and peace for him, but an unexpected path into money making as well.

Tim added that Kyle has also forged close friendships with some in his online community and enjoys helping his followers who have treated him as a role model. “He just sort of blew up. It was a shock to all the family and him. Because he’s only 18 and sits playing games, the magnitude of what has happened (hasn’t hit him),” Tim commented.

“It’s shown that online gaming is the future and there is a way to make money. He’s quite shy but he turns into a different person when he’s gaming. He comes alive, he’s electric. He’s got such a tight community – he gets so many comments from people about how happy-go-lucky he is and how much he helps their mental health (by doing it). He makes people smile every day doing what he does. We would never have thought he could make money doing what he’s doing, but he’s proved us wrong.”

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Kyle’s revenue has grown to such an extent that he is now able to do giveaways with his followers, sometimes forfeiting as much as £1,000 to smaller Facebook streamers to help their progress and has indulged in the income to treat his parents as well. “He’s currently paying for his mother to do the garden out,” said Tim, who helps Kyle out with the business side of things. “He bought me a £1,000 PC for Christmas. He really looks after us, we’re so proud of him, we are.”

Kyle has also reinvested most of his earnings back into his streaming career, using it for hardware upgrades and advertising. He has also taken a turn to philanthropy earlier this year, after raising £1,100 within only six hours for the UK mental health charity YoungMinds. Majority of this sum was donated by his foreign fanbase.

“He’s pretty much got fans in every corner of the world,” Tim said. “We had one in from South Africa the other night. He’s really popular in North America, and in South America he’s like a God, in Mexico and places like that.”

With money and career choices no longer a concern, Kyle aims to travel more once the pandemic allows, grow his fanbase even further and become the UK’s biggest gaming streamer in the next five years.
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