Puck Goes Pop

J.T. Brown honing his keyboard craft for Fortnite

J.T. Brown
(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

J.T. Brown made adjustments in more areas than hockey this past year. The Lightning-turned-Ducks forward is an avid gamer with a long history playing video games of all forms.

Starting 12 months ago, Brown brought his passion for gaming to the world when he started live-streaming his gameplay to audiences of tens or even hundreds.

Over the last year, however, Brown’s game of choice has shifted. While he once was primarily a Call of Duty and Battlefield player, a new game called Fortnite Battle Royale took hold of his stream. Fortnight is a new entry by veteran developers Epic Games in the Battle Royale genre that is sweeping gaming, where a large number of players (typically 100) are dropped onto an island and fight to be the last player or team standing.

After this change to his gaming habits, Pucks and Recreation decided to catch up with Brown to discuss gaming, Twitch and why he loves Fortnite so much. Between his departure from Tampa Bay and arrival in Anaheim this winter, he answered the following.

What is Twitch and why did you start using the streaming platform?

Twitch is a platform people use to broadcast gameplay for video games and In Real Life (IRL) content to a live audience. Really, it’s a giant community of mostly gamers who are streaming their gameplay, building their own community and finding a way to express themselves through the gameplay. For some people who utilize the platform, it is a way for them to make a living as well.

Going off of that, you donate the money you make from streaming to charity if I am correct?

Yeah, once you become a partner with Twitch, you are able to generate profits through subscriptions, doantions and ad revenue during streams. In my case, I decided to donate all of those proceeds to Hockey is for Everyone once I found out I was getting partnered. We are still going back and forth on the best way to make that work, but we will get that sorted out.

Awesome, it’s great to hear all this fun is going to a good cause.

On to the big gaming questions of the day. You are traditionally a Call of Duty or Battlefield player, but recently you’ve been going all in on a new game called Fortnight. So what prompted the change to Fortnite?

For me, I actually really enjoyed the new Call of Duty while I was playing it, and Battlefield I had a great time with as well for a while. But, for me, the concept of Fortnite and the Battle Royale is something that is just different. Obviously it’s been out there for a little bit on PC, but on console it’s relatively new. With Call of Duty, it somewhat gets repetitive over time.

With Fortnite Battle Royale, I could try to play this game the same exact same way each time, but it will always be different. You never know which way the storm is coming, if there will be a chest or a drop in the same location or even what weapons you will get. You have your tendencies, but you just don’t know what is going to happen.

In Call of Duty, I can run the same route, and even with different players I will get similar results. It’s a smaller map that funnels players into each other in a way that can get repetitive as you do the same thing over and over.

Yeah, you can plan a lot more in Call of Duty than in Fortnite.

Yeah, of course.

So that leads to my question. Is that random nature of Fortnite part of what makes it such a good streaming game for you?

I think it is a popular game right now in general, so people are streaming it and want to see it streamed as well. At the same time, it is different. Even with NHL, it may be different teams but it is the same game each time. If you play Search and Destroy on Call of Duty, it’s the same thing over and over.

Also, there’s a hundred people in each match, so there is something to the excitement of trying to be the last player or last team standing. It just makes for a different kind of gaming experience.

Yeah, and it makes for some very tense moments at the end of a game as well.

There’s been plenty of tense moments on stream. The times when those happen you know, you either make the fatal mistake that costs you the game, or you pull off the perfect play to win. It is pretty exciting.

Well, and along those lines, have you had any moments in Fortnite that have really stuck with you as a gamer?

JT: I’ve had some good Fortnite moments (laughs). I’d say getting my first Battle Royale victory was a special moment for sure. I also had a moment where I was playing with a buddy of mine and went down early, so I got to watch the match as a spectator and he ended up winning it all by himself. I’ve had plenty of other stunning moments as well when we die early in a match that are just funny or a perfect stream moment to get everyone watching to laugh at our expense.

So you play Fortnite alone, but do you also have a group you play online with?

For the most part I have a group of buddies from back home in Minnesota that I play with and usually we are planning it from the beginning of the day. We use group chat and start messaging each in the morning. “Who all’s getting on tonight, who all’s getting on tonight?’’ Sometimes we end up getting two groups going, one squad of four and a group of two for duos but theres usually a number of us who play on a regular basis either way.

And now that you’re in Anaheim, have you found anyone over there to play with?

Not yet, but (goaltender John) Gibson plays a little bit of Fortnite, so I’m thinking about trying to get him to play on here one night.

That would make for a fun stream.

Yeah, it’s always fun when you can get another NHL guy to come out and show up on stream with you. It’s pretty cool when you can get guys on to show them in a different setting.

Yeah, it’s really cool to see that. We know some of the hockey players are also playing video games now, too, so I imagine it’s going around the locker rooms some.

JT: Yeah, there’s quite a few out there who play. I mean, it’s on all different platforms: Xbox, PS4 and it’s taking over little by little.

Besides Fortnite, are there any other Battle Royale style games you plan on trying out in the future?

I like watching Player Unknowns Battle Grounds (PUBG) on PC, but I haven’t played it on console and what I’ve seen of it, it just isn’t the same game as the PC version. I’ve watched other streamers stream it, so I can see that it just isn’t optimized on Xbox enough yet. I’d be willing to try in on PC sometime, but I also need to learn PC to do that. I’ve tried Fortnite on PC and…

It’s a whole different beast, right?

Yeah. I’m just so used to the controller that trying to use the keyboard and mouse…really just the keyboard. I can handle the mouse fine, but the keyboard is just foreign to me for gaming. I’m just constantly having to look at the keys to figure it out. I find that the precision of the mouse is quite good, even though I already knew that already, but I’m just used to a joystick.

Yeah, using a keyboard is almost like speaking a different language compared to a controller.

Exactly. But at the end of the day you can use the Keyboard to do more, if I could just learn where everything is at in the first place (laughs). Once I can get past that, I could see myself playing a few more PC games. That way I can eventually play cross all platforms: PC, PS4 and Xbox.

That way you can build communities on all three, right?

That’s all I have to ask today. Would you like to plug your Twitch channel?

So, my Twitch is simple. It’s twitch.tv/JTbrown23. I don’t have a set schedule due to the nature of my schedule. I do stream while on the road some, the night before a road game. At home it’s a bit different since we have the baby now. That makes it a little bit more difficult to get on the Xbox than it used to.

All those real-life responsibilities now?

Yeah, I’ve got to deal with that real life first now. I know a lot of streamers have a schedule that they stick with, like Monday through Thursday 9 to 4. But with our schedule, that’s just impossible. I’ve got to just do it whenever I get the chance.

Yeah, you never have three nights off in a row to plan for, so you’ve always got to be moving.

And when I’m on the road I’ve got to work with different time zones as well, so you never know when I’m going to be starting my stream. That changes things all over the place. But for me, streaming has been on a whole new level. Like you can meet fans of my streams after a game when you’re signing autographs, or at the mall just around town.

I like how this is an open window into what I like doing in my spare time when I’m not on the ice. It really is something special to me.

It makes for a fascinating view of you as both a player and a person outside of your work as well.

Exactly. You get to see beyond the pads and the ice and get a glimpse into what I like to do with my buddies for fun. And while I would like to just focus on streaming more and trying to build those communities, I also have my real job to do each day. That comes first.

Yeah, the streaming is for fun and the hockey is for real life.

Exactly.

Thanks again for talking with me today, JT.. It’s been awesome as always to hear from you, and good luck on the rest of your season. I know your one-year streaming anniversary is in May, but hopefully you’ll be too busy playing hockey to get to celebrate it until later on.

Thanks. After the season, we will try to plan a big event for the anniversary. Maybe we will be able to work out a 24-hour charity stream with groups and players across the country and world. It’s a long ways off, but I’ve already asked the wife, so that’s good. (Both laugh.)

Always an important thing.

Yeah, it will be a lot of work to get that figured out, but I think it would be cool. Hopefully we can work something out to pull it off. It wouldn’t be until, like, June or July when everybody is on break. But I still want to try and put it together.

Well good luck putting that together. Hopefully you can get it all figured out and have big blowout come the offseason. It would be fun for both players and fans.

Yeah, exactly. It would be great for both sides, I think.

Well, until then good luck with the rest of the season and thanks for the streaming. It has been a lot of fun to watch you over the last nine months.

Thanks. I’ve enjoyed doing it and I look forward to continue streaming and growing as a streamer.

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Eugene Helfrick

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