Michael Cameron was taking a break from PC gaming to focus on server work, and doing light console gaming on the side, until he got bit by the zombie virus.
He was teaching Computer Systems Technician at Durham College when a student told him about a zombie survival game called DayZ.
Cameron, already being a fan of the zombies genre, quickly became hooked on the game.
Then, he learned about Twitch streaming, and a single thought ran through his head: “I can do that.”
Today, Micheal Cameron goes by “GamerDadTV” to his over 50 thousand followers on the Twitch streaming platform. He’s also active on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram.
Cameron calls himself a “jack of all trades” and a “master of a few things.” He’s built up many accolades alongside his decades of experience.
One of those accolades is the eSports Arena inside the Student Centre at Durham College. One step inside, and you’ll be greeted with more computers and gaming consoles than anyone could count on one hand.
The arena came to be after a meeting with Cameron and Don Lovisa. Cameron made his case that there was large engagement with gamers, and 75 per cent of students played games. After hearing this, Lovisa and his management team had the “foresight” to see the eSports Arena arena through.
Even after it was built, it wasn’t always sunshine and roses. The COVID-19 pandemic spelled doom for the arena. According to Cameron, it “killed everything” for a social space that was meant for in-person gatherings.
“The whole reason this is interactive, the way it is, is that students could have used it to run events and all that stuff,” he said.
Eventually, the Student Union took over the space and it opened back up again. Cameron still has full confidence in the arena and its future.
Alex Estrela, a former student of his and at the head of the eSports and Lounge Coordinator today calls Cameron “well known” and even heard of him from word of mouth before joining the eSports Management program around 2020-21.
Estrela credits Cameron as approachable and a “wealth of knowledge.”
“Even if I was just to meet him in the arena, I’d be able to approach him and we could probably strike up a whole conversation about something gaming related,” he said.
Every day, students like Alex wait for the eSports arena to open at 12:30 p.m. Sometimes, in that group of people waiting for the gate to rise, is the man behind it all. None of it would have happened without Michael Cameron.
That might be unbeknownst to a lot of the students waiting to get inside, but according to Cameron, that’s unlikely. Many of the students spending time in the Student Centre and inside the arena are former and current students of his.
Cameron also says there aren’t a lot of people like him today.
“I’ve been described as a purple dragon,” he says, “I’ll be 61 in a week, so I’m an OG gamer, that happens to be a college prof, that streams on the internet and does social media.”
He says he laughs at younger people telling him they’re happy to see older people just getting into games today. “Noob, you’re a noob,” he says.
For Cameron, his experience with gaming dates back to when arcades were the main source of entertainment for many kids and games like “Pong” were the most popular games on the market.
Even though he started with his first PC in the 80s, he’s not alone in gaming at his age, in fact, according to him he still plays with friends he met as far back as his arcade days 44 years ago.
Michael’s escapades on Twitch are well-known around campus, and his personal life, streamer life and professional life often overlap. He says he gets caught by people on campus that recognize him from his streams.
Despite finding moderate success on and off stream, Cameron said he wouldn’t leave his job to pursue a full-time job streaming.
As of right now, Cameron has no plans to retire from his job as a professor any time soon. Even if he did, he said he’s likely find something else to do with his time.
“Not doing something is not in my nature,” he said.