Ninja, real name Tyler Blevins, has enjoyed the most significant surge in popularity in content creator history, noticing the potential of the equally gigantic Fortnite before anyone else and following its success every step of the the way. He’s the biggest gamer in the world, someone who has been able to successfully segue onto talk show couches without looking out of place — even your mother might know who he is.
Ninja is not just an entertainer, he’s also a brand, and a rather expansive one at that. His face has been everywhere over the last couple of years, endorsing this and that, some good stuff and some tat — he even has his own line of underwear for no reason whatsoever. So, then, when it was announced that he would be releasing his own book, Get Good, there were some raised eyebrows.
The most obvious question at the time was: why? Pitched as a tool to help potential streamers and pro gamers succeed, surely most of what could be gleamed from such a book could instead be cribbed from YouTube and the six million other similar guides online? The reasoning is simple: Ninja’s knowledge is very lucrative, so such a book should appeal to anyone who wants to follow in his meteoric rise.
Though many might have dismissed Get Good as a waste of time, or maybe even a lazy cash-grab, it’s actually far better than it has any right to be. Sure, it’s padded out to hell and the ghostwriting is far too noticeable, but this isn’t just ten pages of him telling you to buy a gaming chair and the massively overhyped FinalMouse. A lot of care and attention has been put into it, from the glossy pages to the high quality photography scattered throughout.
Spread across 140 or so pages (sans the acknowledgements etc), Get Good is divided into six distinct chapters: Gear Up, Power Up, Level Up, Team Up, Blow Up, and Grow Up. The first section, Gear Up, is the least useful of the lot — there’s little here you can’t learn from WikiHow or forum advice. Two whole pages are dedicated to mouse pads, which feels entirely excessive, while one of the most important parts of “serious gaming”, exercising correctly, doesn’t get much of a look-in.
Power Up doesn’t translate to the written word terribly well as it discusses mechanics and fundamentals that would work far better in video form. He talks about mastering good movement, yet the confines of a page don’t really allow him to illustrate his point well enough. For instance, his passage on game sense doesn’t make a great deal of sense itself and is something that people either have or they don’t. Though Get Good is intended to discuss how you can improve across all of the gaming sphere, this chapter focus almost entirely on shooters. He later talks briefly about games like Dota and LoL, but it’s not really the right amount of scope.
The next chapter, Level Up, is probably the most subjective in the entire book, it being entirely about you developing the right skills to succeed. This is what most readers will come for, tapping Ninja’s experience to see if their ethos needs changing. Again, though, there is some clear padding here, two different sections dedicated to watching replays and a whole page left blank for you to take notes. There’s even a passage about his One Night In Vegas event, which seems more like ego-stroking than anything that adds worthwhile content to the book — he even namedrops Drake and boasts about his suit.
Team Up is arguably the least essential passage Get Good has to offer, it providing information that you should organically learn from experience and your team rather than within a book — if you try to handle a situation by quoting something from a book by Ninja, that might not go down too well. There are a couple of paragraphs about leadership, but again all stuff that should come naturally. Bizarrely, there’s even an Eisenhower quote in this section. I’ve watched a lot of Ninja over the last couple of years, and I never really took him as the kind of guy to reel off presidential quotes.
The galaxy brain intel awaits in Blow Up, which attempts to detail how you can grow on — awkwardly — Twitch. Ninja’s move to Mixer must have come at a pretty bad time for Get Good as there are two glossy pages dedicated to espousing the popularity of Twitch, which is countered by no mention of Mixer whatsoever. There’s actually a lot of great information in here, particular with regards to the best setups — the illustrations, as they are throughout, give you just the right amount of information you need without over-complicating things. To Ninja’s credit, he also mentions almost immediately that there are no guarantees with streaming; not everybody can be a success.
The final chapter, Grow Up, offers some interesting insights into the mind of Ninja over the last couple of years and how he’s matured. The toxic H1Z1 gremlin is long gone, replaced by a man who apparently bases his mindset on acronyms and mantras. The chapter also offers some interesting insights into how well he handles criticism, and also how gaming can be a force for good — a sentiment that a lot of people ought to recognise. This humility is ruined somewhat by yet more posturing with a section about his time on the Super Bowl ad. This stuff really should have been saved for the autobiography as it feels really misplaced as it.
Get Good is a decent glimpse into the life and thoughts of the biggest gamer in the world, even if a lot of it is non-essential and repetitious of itself. It’s also rather padded out, giving itself too much space to talk about the obvious and not enough of the insider knowledge. Additionally, there’s a different disparity between Ninja himself and his ghostwriter, which is plainly evidenced by the “Ninja’s Way” excerpts. These text boxes offer input from Ninja, yet when the rest of the content is supposed to be from Ninja’s lips and they are wildly different in tone and language, it’s rather confusing.
What you get with Get Good is a few slices of gold mixed with misguided posturing and filler, though it’s a far glossier and more thoughtful guide than you might initially think. While seasoned gamers will struggle to get much from it, Ninja fanatics and up-and-comers might find something to latch onto in his words. Very disappointed there’s no guide for the Pon Pon, mind you.