Author’s note: There is little news in Nats-world aside from a Bryce Harper tweet. We promise normal coverage of the Nationals will resume soon. In the meantime, read along if you want a breakdown on Fortnite, streaming, baseball, and Trea Turner.
Last season, Fortnite entered baseball at an overwhelming speed, as players spent nights playing with teammates, mimicked the game’s dances on the field, and even blamed the game for carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, Trea Turner is streaming it live on Twitch — but let’s back up for a minute.
First, what even *is* Fortnite?
Fortnite is a free-to-play game available on any console or computer. If you have a teenager in your life, you’ve probably heard about it in passing once or twice.
The game takes place as a “battle royale” — meaning that 100 players, split up into different teams, land on an island, try to find weapons and other tools, and spend the rest of the game fighting other players on a shrinking island until the last player (or team) standing wins.
Financially, the game has done wonders for Epic Games, the producers of Fortnite.
Okay, so what does streaming Fortnite entail?
Most players on Fortnite simply play on their own without any streaming attached, but increasing numbers live-stream their gameplay along with a camera pointed on their face on the live-streaming service Twitch, which also broadcasts professional sporting events and other video games.
Top streamers bring in six figures a month (more than players like Turner bring in on rookie-level MLB minimum contracts), but the majority make much less money with far fewer viewers, if any at all.
Enter a select number of players like Turner: well-known figures in the baseball world with tens of thousands of followers on social media. While a number of major leaguers stream, the Twins’ Trevor May, a reliever who pitched to a 3.20 ERA last season, has nearly 120,000 followers on Twitch and has become the most prominent figure in the Fortnite/baseball world. In other instances, former Padres infielder Carlos Asuaje has streamed the game (notably, since his stream caught Wil Myers bad-mouthing Padres manager Andy Green).
So, what does this have to do with Trea?
Occasionally on either Instagram or Twitter, Turner sends out a link to his Twitch channel, where he’ll be live-streaming himself playing Fortnite.
Here’s the cool part, though: Turner will often answer questions from fans in the live chat that runs next to his streams, talking about everything from general baseball skills to his teammates (he apparently hasn’t talked to Patrick Corbin yet). He also spends tons of time artfully dodging questions about Bryce Harper. (As a sidenote, Nats’ first-round pick Mason Denaburg also live-streams Fortnite, though he seems to receive fewer questions about Harper.)
Turner hasn’t said (or maybe he has, buried deep into a stream where few could ever find it) if he’ll continue playing into the season or even into Spring Training, though it seems hard to imagine that late-night streams are compatible with baseball’s schedule.
Even so, it represents an interesting way for fans to interact with players, and it could lay the groundwork for a team-wide tournament — or perhaps a league-wide tournament to see who wins the services of Bryce Harper for next season and beyond.