DrLupo Talks St. Jude Charity Stream, Call of Duty, and More (Exclusive)

We had a chance to sit down with DrLupo and talk with him about Call of Duty, the ever-evolving world of streaming, and his upcoming charity stream for St. Jude. DrLupo has built up a very reputable name for himself ever since he began streaming in 2015. Although he spend the majority of his time playing battle royales and FPS games, he's extremely well-known for his philanthropy. He has a kind heart and has passed that on to his viewers, particularly during his annual St. Jude livestream.

Every year, DrLupo hosts a 24-hour livestream where he raises a bunch of money for St. Jude on behalf of the charity, Build Against Cancer. Over the years, he has raised millions of dollars and his latest effort will be the biggest one yet. DrLupo will be streaming live from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee at noon CT on December 17th on DrLupo's YouTube channel. There will be all kinds of special guests, activities, and surprises. Viewers can head to Tiltify to contribute to the Build Against Cancer fundraiser. We sat down with DrLupo to talk about the event, his thoughts on the state of Call of Duty, and the evolution of streaming.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

First of all, this is incredibly exciting. I love hearing about these every time you do them. Obviously, it's very positive, but you're doing things very differently this time around by streaming it from the hospital. What do you have planned? Who's joining you? What's the rundown?

DrLupo: Okay, so this time around, just as a backfill, I'll give you the baseline information. A handful of years ago, I started a thing called Build Against Cancer during Fortnite's boom. The idea, obviously Fortnite had all the building and all that, so it just kind of made sense. We, of course, in later years added in Minecraft, which also coincidentally has building too. So it's kind of like a perfect theme.

But this has grown more and more over the years, and St. Jude very much wanted to have me take an opportunity and do something different. And they actually asked me a couple times about doing it live from the hospital, and of course COVID hit and that caused some problems with that. So we were hesitant. I didn't want a complicate the situation, but now that things have eased up a little bit and we're fully vaccinated and all that, my wife has taken the reins on what this event can become. And this year, instead of just being me sitting in front of my camera in my basement for a full day, we will be streaming live from St. Jude in their studio setup with a bunch of different, actually really cool things that she has planned that we've been building together.

A majority of it is going to be Minecraft because I feel like a good go-to, a theme for these is always trying to play a game. I want the kids at St. Jude to be able to watch what we're doing because there's a lot of kids there that are super in gaming and have a bunch of different outlets that help alleviate stress and are solid distractions. I want this to be one of those things that for 24 hours, that they can't sleep or whatever they're doing, they can pull the stream up and see us doing something silly.

So this time around it will be myself and a handful of other content creators, Darkness429, Poolshark, Ames, FaB, BrickinNick, and Stacy Roy. Nick and Stacy are actually from LEGO Masters. Are all of us going to be in studio together in person playing Minecraft. I think we're going to be going along the same route that I went last year with a bunch of automated shenanigans that will happen to try and screw with us while we're playing. And all of that is, of course, driven by donations from people that are watching the stream. I think the inclusion and the interaction that that brings to the table is a big piece of what makes these events really exciting and really fun for people that are watching, and will drive people to continue to donate, even if it's just a dollar.

Because we have stuff like that. I think last year I did spawn a chicken for a dollar or 10 bucks, something like that. It's like little silly things, but they do add up. And so that is a big piece. That's been my motto for this since I started, is being part of something bigger than yourself. And because what St. Jude is doing is more than just helping the kids that are in the hospital because it's a global charity. They provide all their research with everyone in the entire planet for free. There's kids fighting cancer all over the world. I think that is a big piece of the puzzle for what makes this such a big event for me and for the people that are watching, is that they are impacting the entire planet.

Without this, obviously, people would find ways and there'd be other things to fill in the gaps. Thankmas happens and there's all these other charity events year round, but every single Christmas now for the last, now this will be fifth year I think in a row, I've just looked forward to being able to do this because the charity streams are, for me, one of the drivers, why I continue to do this job. It can be pretty stressful, but at the end of the day, if I know that I'm helping other people be part of something that's making a change in the world, a positive impact, that continues to get me out of the bed in the morning. You know what I mean?

I know your son saved up some money to give to the charity a couple years ago or whenever, unprompted, as far as I understand. And you were also nominated for the Best Philanthropic Streamer at The Streamer Awards. Is that the general impact you want to have on everyone to inspire people to give back, even if it's not for a stream where you can see your name on the screen or whatever?

The end of the day, the thing that I think pushes me the most, I don't do it for awards. That stuff's cool, all right, neat. But win or lose, nominated or not, it doesn't really matter. Because the big thing for me is that oftentimes in mainstream media, there's a negative light put on gaming when something tragic happens, especially in the United States. And oftentimes people try to villainize gaming as this thing that is driving people to do horrible stuff. I can tell you without a doubt, I have never felt like going to do any of those things myself. I've been gaming and playing FPS games. I play gory stuff and it's violent and it's not necessarily the best thing to play. But I've never felt like going out of my way to hurt somebody.

I will continue to do these regardless of awards, recognition, my name attached to anything. I don't care about any of that stuff. Because at the end of the day, the goal is to remind people that gaming does good. It's not a source of evil. It's not a driving force for convincing people to go do terrible things. It is what brings people together. It is social. I know more of my friends because of gaming. I've done more good than anything because of gaming. And I think that gets lost when it comes to like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, because the target audience for mainstream media, like television media is an older audience. Older than me. And in the gaming industry, Cade, I'm pretty old. I'm 35! I'll take somebody on in CoD and be like, "Hey, what's it like to die to a guy with gray hair?" Cade, I've got gray hairs, man, but it's-

[Laughs] You're not that gray. I've seen you.

They're there though, dude. You're not the one looking in the mirror every single day! I see it, man.

But it is important to remind people, especially those that are older, that streamers are not just free loaders and we're not just sitting in our basements. I am sitting in my basement. We're not just sitting in our basement wasting time. I'm trying to do something with my life. And that thing that I'm trying to do with it is convince people that there are good causes worth taking.

If you've got a dollar, take that dollar and give it towards something good instead of just sitting on it or wasting it. There are kids that need it and they're fighting some of the most terrible things we've ever seen. I would never wish cancer even on my worst enemy, which I'd like to think I don't have any enemies, but it's just important to remind people of every age group that what gaming is, is not a negative thing. Gaming does good.

I was in and out of children's hospitals a lot growing up. And I remember playing games was the way to get through it. I remember playing Metal Gear Solid 3 for the first time at the hospital. That's a crazy game on its own, but that's such a great game to just sink yourself into... -

Oh dude. Yeah, Kojima games, as time has gone on, have become more and more like an acid trip. His mind is just wild!

But, your first memory of a game like that shouldn't be in a hospital, but I think it's better to have that than memories of being in misery and pain in a hospital.

Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah. I think that St. Jude is a very special place when it comes to these kind of things, especially that mindset that an oncology ward of a hospital, oftentimes people look a like it's this dire, desperate world that people find themselves living in. And my experience with St. Jude and the opinions I've heard from people that have been there, patients and their parents, is that it is not like that.

I could tell you, we did a tour and it's mind blowing how positive that place is. I think it's because the people there really truly believe in what they're doing. And they're the actual heroes. I've said it before. I'll say it again. People that work at St. Jude are living superheroes. You see a lot of comics and stuff about Superman, Spider-Man, whoever. Nah, dude. The people that are there are legendary. And the fact that they continue to do the work that they do, day in and day out, even if they're working on something that seems so impossible to conquer and they just keep going. It is truly inspirational, what I've seen there.

Yeah, it's really impressive stuff. It's kind of crazy too because right now TimTheTatman is streaming from AT&T Stadium, Ludwig's in a glass box, and you're streaming from a hospital. There's a lot going on. Just in this last month. I talked to Tim when he was AT&T Stadium, I did a short interview with him last month, and I was like, "What's going on?" Streaming has evolved in such a crazy way. What has changed since you started in 2015? Where are we in this evolution of streaming?

I think that the landscape has slowly changed and evolved because this form of media, what we're doing, live streaming, especially gaming or, now that you look at Twitch, it's like the Just Chatting category, there's political conversation, there's people doing, like you said, game shows and all sorts of crazy stuff. It was in its infancy 10 years ago, seven years ago, whenever I started and before that. And now that investors, advertisers have started to pick up on what the impact can actually be, you've seen a rapid growth and evolution, a change in what we were doing originally.

Before, you roll back the clock, five years, even just five, and before Fortnite. Fortnite really did change a lot. Everybody was just sitting in front of their camera playing games and it was relatable. People could connect with their streamers and that kind of thing. And not that it's not relatable now, but what we've seen is sponsors and the creativity of content creators, like Ludwig is a great example, take advantage of this upward trend of spending and turn it into these content pieces, these events unlike we've ever seen before.

You've seen a lot of people do copycat stuff, which isn't bad, I want to point that out. But the game show ideas, a lot of what those are is taking it a current game show and saying, "All right, let's throw streamers in it that people already have conversations with, and make them do the same thing." We've basically done Jeopardy and the Price is Right and that kind of thing, but with different names attached to it. But you look at the shows, that's the same thing. Amouranth with, I think Fansly, did the Wipeout one. That's Wipeout. It's the same show. You just put a different name on it and you threw streamers up there.

But that's great though because those sources of content are like, "Man, I really want to see this show but with these people in it." So you've got this evolution of that. You've got Ludwig in a glass box. I went in there and did squats for charity, and got a massage for 10 minutes. He got shot with a paintball gun up close, which looked super painful.

I think it is this growing evolving thing where more and more of these brands and content creators realize the connection between the creator themselves and their audience is more trustworthy. There's more weight there than if you ran an ad on TV. The ad on TV might do well with an older audience, but man, I don't even watch TV anymore. I can't tell you the last time that I saw a prerecorded ad, because if I watch Twitch streams, I've got Twitch Turbo. I don't see ads. There's ad blockers and all sorts of stuff. If I watch Hulu, I don't pay for Hulu Premium or whatever, so an ad plays, you better believe, man, I'm like, "All right, I'm going to look at my phone." You just don't pay attention to it.

But when XYZ Streamer gets on is like, "Today, Chat, we're going to shoot this person 50 times with paint balls from 20 feet away and this stream is brought to you by XYZ brand." Chat's like, "Ah, yeah, sick. Let's get on board with that." I did a thing in LA for [Escape from Tarkov] with Intel where I was playing Tarkov in a factory, like an actual movie set style factory, with flash bangs going off around me. And they hired an actor to play a Russian guy that was my connection to Nikita. He was part of the in-game lore. It was crazy. We did a Destiny thing with the San Francisco Orchestra. A 40-piece orchestra, played live music along with me playing Destiny simultaneously.

Those things are remembered now and people will be like, "Oh, that was sick. That makes me more interested, more invested in XYZ brand." And that kind of trend I think has finally been recognized by more and more non-endemic brands, non gaming brands, and they just want to jump on board with the power behind that. I think there's more impact from watching someone that you trust promote a thing than any other form of advertising in the industry right now. I think that is the biggest one and that's driven a lot of the growth.

And on the other hand, streamers are now having the ability to make their own companies. Dr Disrespect is obviously making his own video game. He has experience in that field already, but he is leveraging his success here into a game studio. Dunkey is making a video game publisher.

Yeah. 100 Thieves is making their own game.

That too. Do you have any interest in anything like that? Or are you just cool on the sidelines playing all of it?

Man, Cade, you're digging into the background here. So as a contact creators, especially in the gaming industry, we always ask ourselves, how long can I do this before I decide that I'm done? No one has ever really gone through a true retirement yet. You've had people that are on the cusp of it that are saying, "I'm hitting burnout." I remember Lirik at one point was like, "It's just so tiring to do right now." And of course, he's still around, which I think Lirik's a great content creator. Summit has been on those lines before too. I've even found myself at the point where I'm like, I don't know if I want to do this anymore or how long I want to do it. So the question of what to do after we're done is kind of always looming.

That's why you see people setting up coffee companies, and I think JoshOG owns a gym now that people go to. You have people that are trying to build a fallback, something to go to when we're done, when we're done with whatever this is. That's the thing is, nobody knows when to end. You've got people that walk their way out because they do something stupid and they get ostracized. Which is always too bad when you hear about those kinds of things.

As far as what to do when we're done, what's the plan? I would love to get involved, I don't know if I would ever set up and start my own gaming company or anything like that. But I absolutely would love to be involved in the creation of something that is meant to be a positive, entertaining impact for the gaming industry. I've had conversations, I've done plenty of consulting behind-the-scenes stuff with Bungie and Infinity Ward and Epic, and I've had some wild opportunities to have conversations with developers and put my opinion out there. I do feel like it's been trusted. So if there's a chance in the future, man, I'm on board. But it's got to be the right thing at the right time with the right people.

Speaking of that, I am the Call of Duty guy at ComicBook.com. What do you think of Warzone 2 now that it's been out for a few weeks?

Did you watch me at all today?

I did.

Did you watch the crashes?

I didn't watch the crashes. I saw you playing DMZ and shooting people off of a train and stuff, but I heard you talking about crashes.

Oh God. I have a deep respect for the people that put the time and effort into creating some of these things. I think that as far as BRs go right now, Warzone 2 is probably the best, most fleshed out that it's ever been. It feels good. I'm getting used to the mechanic changes and stuff like that, but there's always going to be little kinks in the road, little bumps, that kind of thing that do cause problems.

I think that the wind gets taken out of the sails when you have monstrous issues like what I've been facing. I think the game crashed for me between five and 10 times today. That being said, I'm in the lucky position that I could contact Infinity Ward people and so I sent them along crash logs and proof of what's happening and saying, "Here's all the stuff that's happening right now. Let me know if I can help in any way." So I'm trying to do what I can to be a positive impact on resolving the issue.

Not that I owe them anything, I don't need to defend errors, bugs, that kind of thing, and I'm not going to do that. But it is difficult sometimes to not start getting negative about it. Have you seen the Nadeshot clip of him talking about, "You made a billion dollars on this?" He was trying to get the nuke for nine hours, and got the five wins and it crashed. It just completely deflates you that you spent that much time and then it goes out the window.

So I think that it's great. I think Warzone, when it is working, it is a phenomenal experience. Tragically, it's still one of the most toxic games as far as voice chat goes. I could tell you without a doubt that I've heard more racial slurs since this game came out than probably the six to 12 months before that, in a very concentrated time period, which is tragic. It's tough to say what will or will not fix that. That's not on the developers either. That's just the nature of the community. There are just some bad people out there that really love to ruin things.

But I do think for being a free-to-play experience, I think that they've done a great job of stepping the game up to what the next stage of the Call of Duty BR experience is going to be. I think that it has mountains of potential. I think the way that Warzone 1 played out over time was good and they tried to evolve the game. I think it's difficult to keep up with what Epic does with Fortnite sometimes because their live event experiences are always just mind boggling. Actually in three days, I think this season of Fortnite ends and they'll do an end-of-season event like they always do. And I'll probably play and stream that and it'll be wild. But yeah, I think COD's in a really solid place right now and I've been enjoying the heck out of it.

I completely agree with what you said. I love the slower, more tactical feel. It's a little more... Realistic is not the right word, given all the crap you can do in it, but it's-

Oh man. Yeah, the realism is not their goal. You've got people flying out of choppers, landing on other helicopters, blowing people up. It's wild!

When you make a trailer with Free Bird in it, you're not leaning into realism.

Exactly!

What do you want to see from Warzone 2 in the coming months and years? Obviously Warzone 1 was a big surprise for them, so I don't think they really had any idea of where they could go with it. It wasn't built with that kind of longevity in mind. It's why we are where we are now. But it seems like they have an idea of creating a foundation and then building from there.

I would love to see a fleshed out storyline. Fortnite, as an example, [Apex Legends] to an extent as well, has done a good job of explaining backstory lore, creating a reason to care about characters and drive for people that are like, "All right, I'm going to get in. I want to check out this new thing that they just added and figure out what's going on with this puzzle and why I care about all this stuff." Do you remember the black hole in Fortnite? That 38 hours of... It was wild. Dude, I've never before seen clips, constant videos of kids losing their minds. "Mom, dad, why is Fortnite broken? Why is it just this?" It was a day and a half of insanity. Not that I necessarily want COD to do that, Activision, let's not go that far.

But I do like the idea of building a story behind what they're doing and caring about it. I think with Warzone 1, they tried to give some backstory, but it just didn't feel as prevalent as what goes on in Fortnite. And maybe that's because Fortnite is an unhinged version of the world. You've got Goku and Master Chief are running duos and they run into John Cena and a banana and you're like, "What am I looking at right now?" But because of that evolution of the game and the way that it has grown, I think that COD can follow, to an extent, in the same footsteps. I think they have an opportunity to get some...

Man, it would be wild to see player-created content find its way into BR. Just like in Fortnite, they had the block where people would build sections and Epic devs would go through it and be like, "Ah, I really like this one. Let's make it the featured for the week." And then suddenly your stuff is in the game. You're like, "What the hell is happening?" I think that, given the right tools, which don't exist at all as far as the consumer side goes, it'd be neat to see something like that. But yeah, I think story drive is, for me, probably one of the biggest focuses of what keeps people continuing to play. I've got friends that don't give a crap about Fortnite for the most part, but when we do play, they're like, "Hey, let's go do these missions." This is out of left field. The casual player base really does enjoy that kind of stuff and finding a reason to care about what they're doing.

I have to ask, what is your take on the SBMM situation? This is a yearly thing that always gets brought up, but I want to hear your take on it. I'm sure you've talked about this before.

Yeah, I go against the grain, I think, with a lot of content creators. A lot of them are like, "Take out skill-based matchmaking, don't weigh skill at all or lesson or whatever, because these are the people that want to run 50 bombs in every game and go nuts." That is not healthy for a majority of the player base. You're talking about less than 1% of the player base complaining about this thing that ultimately drives people nuts if it is not in the game. No skill-based matchmaking will make casual players not play the game.

On the business side of things, I understand, player retention is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. The way you find success is giving people a reason to keep coming back. And if they're constantly getting beat to death by the people that running into Jimmy, Timmy, Aiden, Cayden and Braden that are sitting in their basements that have been playing 13 hours straight jacked up on Mountain Dew and Cheetos, those kids are going to smoke you because they have the reaction times of God still because their brains are young. That 40-year-old dad that has two hours a week to play doesn't want to go against those people. He wants to go against other 40-year-old dads who miss shots sometimes and that's okay.

So skill-based matchmaking is an important piece of the puzzle as far as building a gameplay experience that will not be absolutely mentally draining and drive you to not want to play anymore. I think it's a necessary piece of the gaming industry. I think you have people like TimTheTatman that say skill-based matchmaking is killing gaming. And I'm like, "Dude, this is a click bait tweet, and you know that's not true." One of the least thought out things I think I've seen anybody ever say about it.

The real reality of the situation is that if my wife decides to play a game, she doesn't want to go up against people that are like me. That being said, the negative side of it is that if Samantha and I play together, let's say she played COD with me, and we would get put in a lobby that finds a happy middle ground between our skill levels, she's still going to get crushed. And that part sucks. The difficult part for me about it is it punishes mismatched ratings. So if I'm really, really good, I can't play with lower skilled friends because they just will have a terrible time playing.

You pay a lot of attention to the important stuff like that. I like that.

I like to try and have a more mature, thought-out, adult approach to the situation instead of just going, "Skill-based management is terrible. Remove it." That doesn't do anything for anybody. It's just a bad idea.

Do you think COD should continue releasing annually or should they make some changes to adjust to the seemingly rising issues? It seems like more and more every year, given the scale of these games, they get not worse, but a new problem gets introduced that maybe wasn't a problem five years ago.

I think that that is a difficult question to answer because I do not live behind the scenes with developers. But I will say this, the pace at which they released the current Call of Duty, MW2, what we're playing now, clearly there are issues with the experience that we're having. I'm trying to not make it a bias thing, a personal thing. I know a lot of people are suffering from crashes. Some of the looting of stuff on the ground, not being able to pick it up after the fact, it makes it difficult. There are experience touchpoints along the way with the current COD that are tough.

That being said, I leave it in the hands of professionals to know what is and is not the best approach to as far as how fast they put things out. It does seem, from the outside, maybe this one came out of the oven a little too early. There's some pretty big stuff. The crashing, the looting, some of the audio problems. I even showed on stream audio channel layering issues. Literally it happened live as an airstrike was happening. You could hear the sound get cut off because they ran out of sound channels. And then when the shooting stopped and it was just the airstrike, the full sound effect was playing. You could literally hear the sound channels getting clogged and having to get overwritten on top of each other and it was a problem. So yeah, I think with this one, maybe a little bit longer in the oven, but I can see where the effort was put in and it's a ton of fun when it works, man.

Well, thank you for your time. Very generous. Thank you for letting me ask you all these questions and I'm looking forward to seeing the event and all that. I'll be tuning in.

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I want to make sure it is known and is in the article, December 17th, 24 hours, we'll be playing Minecraft, UNO. I might finally give in and eat food from a place that I've been super resistant, talked a lot of trash about on stream. I'm not going to say it directly yet, but people have to tune in to find out. A ton of my friends will be there. There's going to be LEGO stuff getting destroyed. We will have guests you would not believe. We have actually some pretty cool stories of people that are part of the community that are now at St. Jude. One person in particular, she, I hope, will be approved to be there. I think she will be.

St. Jude is very strict about having the right people on camera and getting film time and stuff. They have to actually go through media training, which is pretty cool. But this is going to be one of the coolest, kind of craziest, most elaborate events for charity that I think I've ever been a part of. I'm excited to show people what we have at store.