Gaming a smalltown girl's dream job

By Kaysha Brownlie

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Lorien Gugich, 23, plays video games for a living and was selected to join Xbox New Zealand at a major gaming convention.
Lorien Gugich, 23, plays video games for a living and was selected to join Xbox New Zealand at a major gaming convention.

Lorien Gugich quit her job to become a full-time gamer and has made herself a global sensation in the process.

She was introduced to gaming when she was young by her father, Aaron Raisey.

"I remember sitting on my father's lap as a young girl watching him play," she said.

Miss Gugich said she started off with basic games working her way up to computer games, which she began in 2013.

Now, she is in Los Angeles at E3, Electronic Entertainment Expo, invited by Xbox New Zealand to be the face of Twitch for a day.

Twitch is a leading social video platform and community for gamers.

Each month, millions gather to watch and discuss video games with more than 1.7 million broadcasters

The 23-year-old first streamed from an app on PlayStation 4 in January last year.

"I began to stream everyday ... I absolutely loved it."

Mr Raisey said his daughter was "focused and very driven".

He said her success was surprising, coming from "little old Napier playing games online" she had eroded the stereotype of a male-only environment. "She doesn't put up with any nonsense. I'm very proud of her."

After building an online community she became a partnered Twitch streamer - which means you can be paid.

People subscribe for US$5 a month, of which Miss Gugich gets half. She also gets a portion of advertisement revenue from those who play across her page.

A donate button enables subscribers to leave tips, too, which contributes to Miss Gugich's wages.

Some streamers have 25,000 subscribers, but she has 75,000-plus followers and can earn up to $3000 a night.

Despite being her source of income, the gamer said she was "in it for the pure enjoyment of entertaining people and the friendships I gain".

"Gaming has always been a passion of mine."

"It has served as an outlet for me, immersing myself into something more creative, beyond our natural world."

Artistic and creative at heart, the keen gamer was inspired at age 21 when she became hooked on someone she watched on YouTube.

"At first I watched for the game, I wanted to know the story, and what happened."

But seeing how people spoke to their viewers through a webcam while gaming sparked her to follow suit.

At the time Miss Gugich was living in Christchurch and was having a "tough time".

"I was experiencing depression after a break-up, living in a city with no family, in a job I did not fully enjoy."

But stumbling across this YouTube page helped pull her out of the fog, she said.

She quit the 9am-5pm job she had with her family's business and began working 3pm to 10pm, sometimes to midnight on her own YouTube channel which then led her to Twitch.

It is the second time she has travelled abroad for gaming. In September last year she went to Twitch's first convention in San Francisco, California.

"It was a dream. For a small town girl I never thought I would ever have a reason to go to America."

Not only is she fronting up to the world Miss Gugich has rubbed shoulders with celebrities. Earlier this year she interviewed Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore, known for his role in X-Men, and who also stars in video game Quantum Break.

When asked if it was a future career she said: "Definitely."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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