A video-blogger’s quest to develop his gaming clan into an empire
Florence teen Daniel Higgins has no shortage of ambition. He wants to do great deeds in the digital world of online gaming.
Higgins has a overwhelming passion for the intensity of first-person shooters like the “Call of Duty” series and “Destiny,” as well as an considerable attraction to strategy and open world games like “Stormfall: Age of War” and “Minecraft.”
“There’s nothing like being the last guy left on your team in a 4-on-4, six-round, rocket launcher battle,” Higgins said. “Everyone on your team is counting on you and everybody else is trying to kill you. It’s a rush. My controller shakes in my hands.”
In the beginning, video games were just a way for him to have fun occupying his spare time, but eventually games began to mean something else to him.
“There are only so many things you can do in a small community and sometimes that’s not enough,” Higgins said. “Video games give me the ability to explore other universes through different characters’ eyes and they bring my inner self to life.”
Initially, he liked immersing himself in various games’ storylines, but Higgins also grew to value the sense of community he found with other gamers.
In 2011, he founded “U.S. Gaming Clan” a competitive online gaming organization.
“At first it was just a group of friends,” he said. “I hadn’t thought of it being much other than that.”
Higgins said fellow MHS student Ezra Darnall was a co-founder of the clan. Noah Albin serves as leader of the “Destiny” team and helps Higgins with the website. Jeremy Hett is a “Destiny” soldier, while Evan Calhoun, who used to live in Marion, still plays with their clan from Colorado.
Since then, Higgins’s initial intent transformed into a dream and the dream evolved into vision of future as he began to developed his clan’s website, www.usgamingclan.com, and started his own YouTube channel dubbed, “USGC Assassin.”
Now at 16, Higgins’s purpose is to connect players all over the country by uniting them under his clan’s banner.
“We are a nationwide organization,” Higgins said. “We keep growing and trying to become bigger than we were the day before.”
Right now, he works at Flint Hills Market and Bakery in Florence to help fund his gaming equipment. His mother, Tammy Hinton, said he also used money he earned waiting tables at On the Corner Café to help fund all gaming and tech equipment he needed.
“I was always telling him to ‘buy a car, buy a car’,” “Hinton said. “He said he didn’t want one because he knows he can just use mom’s car, and he spent his money on his passion.”
However, Higgins’s said, he just needs to find the right team to help turn his aspirations into a moneymaking endeavor.
Higgins interests have shifted from becoming a professional gamer himself to attracting the right talent to his clan so he can manage those players.
“I enjoy playing, but I know there are better players out there,” he said. “I enjoy managing teams, too. I’m the marshal in three different leagues, that means I’m the leader, I am in charge, and I think communication is the key to having a successful team.”
Hinton has overheard the way he interacts with players online while he speaks into his microphone headset.
“He sounds so professional when he’s talking or doing his videos,” she said. “He’s quite the talker. Then again, his dad (Gabriel Higgins) is too, so maybe that’s where he got it.”
As marshal, he initiates strategy discussions, makes sure online chats stay clean and positive, and that his clan’s in-game performance maintains an honorable reputation.
“Being a marshal of clan and a founder of an online community is kind of like being the President of the United States of America, when you make a good decision people like you and it gives you a rush and you want to do it again forever and ever and on and on and on,” Higgins said. “I’m just trying to be a great person.”
After he graduates, the Marion High School junior said that he would like to go into computer programming or find a career in gaming management.
“Kids at school ask me why I waste my time with something like this, but everybody is so set on sports around here,” Higgins said. “It just makes me want to do it more and more every time I hear that. I’m working toward something different. I want to accomplish what I set out to do.”
Hinton said she wanted him to be active in football and other sports, too, but finally realized that wasn’t how he wanted to spend his spare time.
“I finally said ‘OK, if that’s what you want, I will stand behind you,” she said. “About a week after he quit, his whole demeanor changed. He’s just been happy.”
Higgins has used his extra time to work and further develop his website.
Ultimately, he wants his clan to become a mass gaming organization like “FaZe Clan” or “OpTic,” both of which are well-established names in the realm of competitive gaming.
Each clan earns money by playing games professionally, and draws advertising dollars by posting regular videos to their YouTube channels that are followed by millions of avid gamers.
Comparably, Higgins’s clan is much smaller with 114 registered players spread between different gaming platforms it offers, but it is a start.
“YouTube is one main thing I am looking at to help make this a career,” he said. “In no way whatsoever am I making any money at this right now, but I’m definitely getting to the point where I could start to make some.”
His YouTube channel has 118 subscribers. Like many YouTubers, he posts regular videos. Some are recordings of his in-game performance. Others are video blogs of a personal nature, but he plans to start blogging more about issues specific to his clan and gaming world news to attempt attracting advertisers.
“He just got a few ads being put on his website,” Hinton said. “He’s a minor, so I’m probably going to have to step in and help him with the business part until he’s old enough.”
Higgins said he is looking for employees. He is also excited about is getting clan T-shirts that will be printed soon.
“Being so young I am practically unable to do it all myself,” Higgins said. “But you never know. This clan could be the biggest thing that has ever happened in the gaming world.”