Fortnite

Jack Schneider practices "Fortnite Battle Royale" in his apartment in Kissimmee, Florida. He practices up 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Amidst the pressure of earning a college degree, a former University of Kansas business student turned his gaming skills into a full-time paying job, and has not looked back since.

Jack Schneider’s last semester at the University was Spring 2018. With two semesters remaining to graduate, Schneider decided to break off from the traditional route of college and prioritize his passion in "Fortnite Battle Royale" competitive gaming.

“I've earned around $50,000 total from gaming and streaming 'Fortnite,'” Schneider said.

Schneider first started playing "Fortnite" for fun, but realized he was skilled enough to make money. He said the $50,000 was accumulated from nine months of tournaments and Twitch streaming.

For example, he said he earns anywhere from $350 to $10,000 a week from the world cup qualifiers, which is a tournament in which players earn money according to their combined rank at the end.

"Fortnite" is a free-to-play game where 100 players drop onto the map from a bus with nothing. Players start by frantically searching for items to outlast other players to be the last person, or squad, standing. Epic Games, the creator of "Fortnite," makes its money from online purchases such as cosmetic items for the characters.

Epic Games and Schneider are not the only ones benefiting from the game. The most famous player is Ninja who makes more than $500,000 a month from Twitch streaming donations, according to a report by Forbes. Twitch allows people to watch their favorite player while streaming and donate money. 

When Schneider decided to move to Kissimmee, Florida, to get serious about streaming and competitive gaming as a job, he said his parents supported his decision, despite having two semesters left at school. He said his parents' support strengthened his decision to pursue his passion.

However, he said some of his friends criticized his decision, questioning its practicality. Schneider said it did not take much to prove them wrong.

“Once they realize how much I’ve made in a couple of months, they just laugh and think it’s cool,” Schneider said.

He said at this point, college is a backup and he has no plans to leave Florida.  He plans to finish his last semesters in the business school at Liberty Online University.

“I'm going to finish up school online, but I do think this will be my future; whether it's gaming, or something within e-sports,” Schneider said.

Schneider has been friends with Kyle Stubler since elementary school and moved to Kissimmee specifically to room with Stubler, who already lived there. Stubler said he does not play competitively like Schneider, but still earned about $1,000 from two open tournaments in summer 2018.

“I thoroughly enjoy playing video games, especially 'Fortnite,' and I figured why not try to make some money while I am having fun,” Stubler said.

Stubler said he seldom practices, besides playing for fun five to seven times a week. He said Schneider practices an upwards of eight to 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Schneider said people perceive video games as casual and fun, but playing "Fortnite" as a job adds 100% more stress to the game. He said he does not play for fun anymore but has fun playing competitively.

“Setting yourself apart from most others is hard when it comes to gaming, so you have to have a certain drive and work ethic to be successful,” Schneider said.

Schneider said he has earned enough money from "Fortnite" to feel confident living on his own. However, the distance from his hometown in Olathe, Kansas, to Florida presents its own challenge.

“The biggest challenge I face is being so far from home, considering I’ve never lived this far away from home,” he said.

Schneider said he is grateful for the opportunities competitive gaming has provided him.

“If not for 'Fortnite' I would probably be selling cars and continuing school at KU,” Schneider said.