Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has been making big moves lately. First, there was the controversial switch from Twitch to Mixer, where Blevins will now stream exclusively. Blevins also has a collectible toy line in the works. And, later this year, the blue-haired Fortnite star is also releasing three things in print. One is a graphic novel; another is a notebook filled with Ninja stickers; Blevins is also releasing a self-help style book.
Ninja: Get Good: My Ultimate Guide to Gaming, out on Aug. 20, wants to make you into a video game savant. It’s a great goal, and one that Blevins can speak to not only as a top streamer, but as a former pro Halo player. The problem is that the book doesn’t really give you game-specific tips.
I mean, how could it? By the time a book is published, a game like Fortnite has probably changed a dozen times, rending many tips useless. Get Good, which was provided to Polygon via publisher Random House, is thus relegated to introducing basic concepts like mechanical keyboards, capture cards, hitscan, and shot callers. These are all things that are useful to know, but not something you need to buy a book to learn. You may already know some of the ideas contained within.
There are some good nuggets in here, and the writing is clear and concise. Blevins admits that a lot of game skill comes down to practice, and practice isn’t always fun. He tells readers that they should try to isolate and improve specific skills, but that they shouldn’t risk burnout. He mentions the SMART system, which encourages people to set measurable and realistic skills. I was also surprised to learn that pro gamers sometimes use a free rhythm game called Osu! to train their aiming skills.
This is all sandwiched between a huge number of Blevins glamor shots, ample mention of his Red Bull sponsorships and events, and advice that tells fans to do things like talk about movies and music during streams. As someone who spends time online, much of the book felt like obvious advice. If I want to get better at a game, of course I’m going to review my gameplay to see how I messed up, for example.
Unfortunately for Blevins, anyone wanting to do things like beef up their streaming setup, put together a computer, or become a better Fortnite builder is probably better off with a Google, YouTube, or Reddit search, where people freely share good, specific, and up-to-date advice for anyone who seeks it. There’s probably a video out there showing you exactly what you need to do to land that tricky move in whatever game you’re playing, or an FAQ that tells you the best build for your character. The best way to become amazing at a game is to know it inside out, and for that, Get Good can’t do much for you.
Ironically, while Get Good wants to give readers timeless advice, it already feels a little outdated. There’s an entire page, for instance, dedicated to impressive Twitch stats — but there are hardly any mentions of Mixer, where Blevins now resides.
So who is Get Good for, really? Ninja fans who want to support their entertainer of choice with money, definitely. For these folks, the contents of the book don’t really matter. But I also have the sneaking suspicion that Blevins’ book targets older folks, like parents, who maybe don’t know much about the world of online video games but have seen little Timmy playing Fortnite.