By most measures, 2020 wasn’t a great year, but Dr Lupo used his name, time, and energy to try to make it better through his involvement with “Build Against Cancer” and St. Jude’s Hospital. Because of a previous fundraising partnership, he has always had a soft spot for St. Jude’s. “I’m super lucky in that I’ve never had to deal with childhood cancer in my family, but I know a lot of families have. The impact [of St. Jude’s] cannot be overstated, because it is truly a global charity.” During a charity marathon this past December, he was able to help raise $2.3 million dollars. “The goal is to remind people that gaming as a whole is a positive thing!”
So when was the first time he realized gaming could be used for a greater good? “I think gaming has always been in my life something that’s driven toward positivity. It’s inspired me to do good. It’s inspired me to meet people. And honestly, to step outside my comfort zone,” he says. “So gaming has always been a super positive thing to me.”
While 2020 may not have been great for many industries, gaming has had a different story. Dr Lupo has seen quite a few changes over the past year. Gaming is now rivaling — and in some areas, surpassing — traditional media like TV and movies in sales. Large companies like State Farm, who aren’t usually thought of when you think of streamers and gaming, are now main supporters of gaming and e-sports. “The reach that the gaming industry has had in a bunch of different avenues of entertainment is crazy.” Actors, singers, musicians — you’ll find them all playing things like Among Us. “I think it makes people more relatable, and for an entertainer, you’re trying to build an audience, and relatability is huge,” he says.
The popularity of games like Among Us, Fortnite, and Minecraft before that, have shown the appetite for simple, straight-forward games that don’t need high-performance machines to run. Why does “simple” seem to be winning right now? “I think it says gameplay is such a huge thing for people. For a long time, we went through this ‘gaming arms race’ of who can the higher-fidelity graphics, the crazy [light] ray treatments — that whole thing existed because of the arms race of gaming. I think we’ve gotten to a point now where people say, ‘Ok, yeah. It’s super pretty, but…’” But when you look at something like Among Us, with its simple design, it’s 100% about the interaction between people.” And during a global pandemic, the importance of those relationships and interactions can’t be overstated.