The game of life
Pirie uses popular online reputation to help family recover from tragic loss
Fort Dodge’s Konner Pirie was in the middle of doing what he loves when he heard the news that broke his heart.
Little did Pirie know that the gaming world he has embraced would help both himself and his family pick up the pieces after a crippling loss.
Pirie, a 2015 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate, is a full-time online video game streamer — most notably on Facebook. Pirie’s profile page, listed under the “Kaptive Gaming” handle, currently has nearly 80,000 organic followers while accruing more than 10 million views since its inception in late 2018.
On Sept. 15, Pirie was in the middle of a live stream when he received a call that would change his life. His three-week-old niece, Kadyn Jo, had died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome — commonly referred to as SIDS — at the home of Konner’s brother, Kody, and his girlfriend, Mackenzie Alstott.
“I ended (the game) abruptly as my family’s world was suddenly shattered into pieces,” Pirie said. “Baby Kadyn meant something special to us. Kadyn was our bloodline, to keep the family tree alive. Coming from a small family, a loss like this was devastating.
“My brother and Kenzie had just rushed to finish the remodeling on the house so it would be ready for Kadyn, putting them in more debt than they (ever were before). I felt that I had the power to do something … that by sharing this genuine story, and that if people worked together, I could really do something to help (Kody and Kenzie) out.”
The gaming community rallied around Pirie. Between two eight-hour fundraising streams on Facebook and a “GoFundMe” page, over $8,000 was raised to help with the family’s expenses during their time of tragedy and suffering.
“Upon starting the first charity stream, I immediately started receiving donations. It hit me hard,” Pirie said. “I even turned off the camera to gather myself. When a local friend donated $200, I turned it back on … and thanked (those who contributed) in tears. I chose to stay strong and get through it.
“I’m beyond proud (of what was accomplished). It represents what Facebook Gaming is all about. I always said it showed how many relationships I have made during my gaming career … to see so many people donate, it reminded me what I was doing was big.”
Pirie’s first Facebook stream in Kadyn’s memory attracted the attention of gamer “Kingslayer,” who has over 250,000 followers. Kingslayer shared and promoted the GoFundMe information, which then caught the eye of NFL player Ryan Jensen.
“Ryan is a center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a big fan of Kingslayer,” Pirie said. “He made a huge $2,000 donation.”
As of Saturday, the GoFundMe page — which is still active under the title, “Kadyn’s Funeral Fund” — has raised $4,254. Pirie also accrued nearly $4,000 through a Facebook Gaming payment system, where each star represents a penny. Almost 400,000 stars were donated to the cause.
Alstott, a former all-state softball player and all-conference basketball standout at FDSH, lauded Pirie’s efforts during an inconceivable and emotional period for her new family.
“Kody and I were both surprised and overwhelmed by Konner’s generosity,” said Alstott, currently a Fort Dodge Middle School fifth-grade transition coordinator and coach in the district. “We are grateful for his dedication in doing everything he could for his niece.”
Pirie does consider himself a professional gamer at this point, though he technically hasn’t obtained sponsors or advertisers yet. He’s been streaming full-time for the past 14 months, and his devotion to gaming dates back to elementary school.
“I’ve played religiously my whole life,” Pirie said. “I’ve always found (video games) to be my favorite hobby, pastime and getaway.
“I would classify myself (as a pro). I have a professional-grade setup, with about $8,000 invested (in the product). I am currently out-performing some of the biggest names in Facebook gaming when it comes to viewership. My last two videos (this past week) had a post reach of 770,000 over a nine-hour period of time. This month has amassed 3.2 million post views and 2.9 million three-second video views.”
Pirie’s specialties are “modifying” games. He said he has “gone viral” with some of his “Grand Theft Auto V” mods, which includes various popular superheroes, villains, entertainers and other public figures.
“The creativity when it comes to coding is endless,” Pirie said. “So there is no stream out there exactly like mine. Uniqueness and complexity has really helped me get to where I am now. The stuff isn’t simple to pull off — there are many knowledge barriers and equipment needed to run these mods the way I do.”
Facebook Gaming launched in 2018. The company says more than 700 million of its 2.4 billion active users “engage with” some form of gaming content.
Pirie said he is hoping to obtain a Facebook Gaming partnership by March.
“Making this a solid living is my current goal,” Pirie said, “because this is my passion. I plan on rolling with the opportunities as they come.
“Outside the gaming world, I just want to focus on giving my attention to the people who deserve it.”
Pirie knows there is a stigma attached to gaming, due mostly to lack of understanding and acceptance. Despite little face-to-face interaction, Pirie emphasized the social benefits that come with being a part of the online community — especially when adversity strikes.
“I’ve had countless people message me about how my community has helped them get through rough times,” Pirie said. “I’ve had people tell me that I’ve been a motivating factor in pursuing their dreams. I’ve had people tell me that I helped them get through stages of depression.
“Games in general are a getaway from reality. It’s something people of all ages can enjoy. I think society has started to realize that over the past decade. Plus, I’ve made friends from all cultures. When you stream and you see names from other countries, it reminds you how big the world is. It helps your communication skills, it helps build character … gaming is something that brings people from all cultures together to enjoy one thing: video games.”