It is probably pretty foolish to expect to find any Korean fried chicken in the city of St. Louis, a place known as the “gate to the west”. Nevertheless, I searched as far and wide as I could, because there was someone who I thought should really give it a try. Since it was the Thanksgiving season though, a turkey was just about all I could find.
The silent suburb named St. Peters is located about 20 minutes from St. Louis by car. There, a special encounter awaited me. I was invited by the famous 64-year-old PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS (PUBG) streamer, who is enjoying a retired life with his wife. Some may say that it is not so unusual to see a 64-year-old gamer nowadays, but when that 64-year-old streamer is someone who served his country in the US Navy for 20 years and also conquered disability and cancer, it’s a different story.
GrndPaGaming; he is one of the most viral PUBG streamers and gamers out there. He shot a TV commercial with the computer company Dell and was also invited to TwitchCon, where he stood on stage with other popular streamers. He has possessed various name tags in his life - US Navy diver, disabled, the cancer survivor, and gamer. My conversation with him was the path to earning a “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” in PUBG; pretty long, and full of intrigue.
20 years and 4 months in the US Navy
I am a United States Sailor. I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.
GrndPaGaming had served the country as a diver in the US Navy for about 20 years. He visited a number of places in the world including Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Guam, and Palembang. When I told him that I was also from the Navy, I could hear the pride in his voice as he said: “I’m proud of your dedication to the country.”
It’s probably because of his 20 years of military experience. He tends to enjoy military shooters such as World of Warships, World of Tanks, the Battlefield franchise, and the Sniper Elite franchise. He even boasted about his 27:1 KDA in Battlefield 3 with a level of excitement I’d only seen in kids.
Q. It must’ve been a great influence on your life, working in one sector for more than 20 years. I would like to hear a story from that time.
The military life is ⅓ of my life, and I can’t deny how much influence it has had. I also met my wife in the Navy. I had my left ankle injured really bad during service, and it was my wife who took care of me when she was a civilian Navy. Our relationship has carried on all the way here.
My taste in games has also been influenced by my military experience. I feel like the experience helps me play shooting games better. I can still hit a target at 25 yards with a GLOCK 35, and I can do the same in the game.
Just like many others, I began my life as a soldier at NAVSTA Great Lakes in Illinois. I got on board the USS Oklahoma City, a 7th fleet flagship after training was done. I went to Vietnam during my service on that ship and also worked as a lifesaver. I was lucky to live with really good crewmates. I will never forget the time I had on that first ship.
I then had a turning point in my life after getting on the submarine tender called the USS Dixon AX37. Colbin the master diver was in the submarine and he told me that I would be a good diver. Meanwhile, Carl Brashear the master diver was touring the ship and I was able to go to the diver school with his help.
Although my main position was a diver, I spent a long time as a military police. I served as an MP in the Philippines and Japan, and was put in charge of the security at the Navy hospital in Balboa. I spent the last 5 years before retirement as an arms safety supervisor in Guam.
Q. So you are a veteran of the Vietnam War?
I didn’t fully engage in the Vietnam War because our ship was doing operations far from the coast. We supported the Navy operations needed on the seas, and soldiers who landed in Vietnam used to call our 7th fleet flagship the “Yankee Station”. Anyway, I never landed and fought, nor did I place myself in the line of fire. I was always on the outer line of the coast.
Thanks to my service in the Navy, I experienced rare things around the world. I was able to watch, listen, and experience many cultures including Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. It felt really great whenever we were greeted in every country. Come to think of it, I believe that experience became a good foothold for me to understand Asian culture. Though the culture I experienced in person was different from the one I had heard of from outside the actual nations, people were all the same. They were all human after all. The 4 years of service in Japan was the time when I began to gain a sort of insight into diverse cultures.
One of the things that I personally hate the most is racism and discrimination towards different cultures, and I think that my service in the Navy helped to establish this thinking. Ah, I also stayed in Korea for 6 months. All I could see from the ship at the time was an agricultural countryside. I heard that it’s not like that anymore.
Q. Things have changed dramatically. You can’t even see a trace of farming.
Hahaha, is that so? Can you see my hand? It’s not normal because of the injury I had during service. The bullet went through my wrist and came out from the palm, and I had to cut off the nerve. That’s why I don’t have any senses with these three fingers. The other two fingers were dislocated by accident, and it’s not easy to move them. There’s a plate in my neck and I lose all senses from my shoulder to my fingers if I sit too long.
So, my hand still shakes and often twitches. I can’t control the hand when it hurts during the game. So, I can’t really feel even when my hand slips from the keyboard. It’s a constant issue I keep having, so I setup the keyboard and mouse to prevent my fingers from slipping.
A video game which helped him conquer cancer
A hobby made his hand function again and cured the agonizing pain that constantly harassed him every two hours even during sleep
Alongside his wounded fingers, GrndPaGaming had to fight against prostate cancer. Not only that, but his ankle and Achilles tendon made it difficult for him to walk and embolism threatened his life. In such a situation, most people usually despair instead of hope, and simply give in to the cancer and/or disability. It’s just that hard.
That’s why specialists count “healthy thoughts” as a precondition of medical treatment. GrndPaGaming said that he was able to overcome the side effects with his family’s support and games.
Q. You conquered the cancer. You struggled against that sickness and came out a Survivor. What did you think when you heard about the cancer for the first time?
It was the year of 2010. I was working at a telecommunications company, and I was always feeling tired, probably due to the work, as I thought at the time. Then, I started to feel pain on my lower back. I didn’t take it seriously, but I went through the PSA and it turned out to be prostate cancer. Thankfully, I found it early and decided to take the radiation treatment for 5 weeks.
I had to lie on a table from Monday to Friday during the treatment. It was a really painful process. After the 5 weeks of treatment, I had a seed implant surgery after 2 weeks. There are 8 plates in my neck as part of the radiation treatment, which permanently radiates an ultrasonic wave. I frequently have hematuria as a side effect. This is the reason why I go to the bathroom every 30 minutes during the stream.
Q. I can’t imagine the pain you went through for 5 weeks in order to cure the cancer. How did you endure it?
Games did help me a lot during the treatment. The burning pain from the cancer and plates in my neck constantly harrasses me. But, I am relieved from this when I play games, and I was able to release my mental stress. Of course, it differs from person to person, but I believe that games can be helpful in relieving your pain.
Also, I enjoyed fishing at the nearby lake. I’m pretty sure that I threw more than 2000 pieces of bait in that lake. This helped me maintain the strength and function of my disabled hand and wrist. Just like games, fishing made my mind free from the pain.
I registered myself as disabled after having ankle and Achilles tendon surgery two and a half years ago. I suffered from embolism 6 months ago. I let Coco out of the room and went to the bathroom, and everything suddenly went dark. I don’t know how much time passed, but I woke up and went to the hospital, because I realized something wasn’t right, and was diagnosed with embolism. All respiratory internists, cardiologists, and urologists told me that I won’t stand up again, because 98% of my lungs were already clogged. I had to keep my body in a concentrated medical installation for 7 days after the bronchial tube expansion surgery.
It was really a tough time. The respiratory internist told me that I won’t stand up after the surgery, but I managed to stand somehow. Since then, I’ve been trying my best to relieve the pain through playing games. Embolism is a very terrifying disease, and you need to be careful with everything - laughing, walking, and standing up quickly. As I can’t fish on a boat anymore, games help me forget the pain.
I often say this when I stream; based on my experience, I recommend you to have a regular checkup if you are in your 30 to 40s. The checkup saves your life. You can really die if you don’t know when the cancer already spreads to the bones.
Q. My god, and you still seem to play better than I do…
The game maintains my hand’s functionality. I suffer from the pain thinking that I would be lucky to sleep more than 2 hours because of the side effects, and the game helps me maintain my mental health.
Also, playing games make you to track down movement, make judgment calls, and move your hand as a result, which helps to maintain your senses. You need to frequently use your hands at my age, but it’s not easy in a daily life. This is proof that games can have positive effects for elders.
Of course, I did think that it would’ve been much better if I were young when playing the game, but I think I’m still doing okay. I even think that I play better now than before I had cancer. I scored 27:1 KDA in Battlefield 3. I would’ve done better without any physical issues, but I feel satisfied enough. I may be better than you!
Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
From a grandpa playing games alone to the famous PUBG streamer
He didn’t start the game all of sudden during his treatment. He’s GrndPaGaming, who’s been playing games for ages. In the past, 64 was not a common age for someone to start to playing games. And of course, he lacked the common understanding of software, and thought that he had to make a new account whenever he switches to another client. Despite these early misunderstandings, he is now a famous streamer invited to events by Dell and TwitchCon.
Q. What made you start playing games? It must not have been easy to even learn about games during that time.
It was probably 1976 when I played a game for the first time. I was a somewhat promising football and softball player. I even received a sports scholarship from the college. I was riding on a car to some random store, and an employee there reached out to me saying “Hey, you should definitely check this out.” That was a computer game. It looked very impressive.
Computers were the type of machine that you could only see in a library, and I went straight to the library and played B-1 Nuclear Bomber. It truly was a remarkable game. It was a whole new world to a person who’d only been working out during his high school and military life. There were arcade centers, sure, but it was PC games based on the DOS that showed me a whole new world. I have been playing games ever since. I am proud to say that I have played all shooting games released in the market.
That’s when I started to have a connection with computers. All computers except the one sponsored by Dell have been assembled and installed by me.
Q. Wow, do you remember all the games you’ve played so far?
Of course, the most fun game I’ve played is Privateer. It was not a single-player sandbox game where you need to complete quests. You could venture through the space, capture pirates, or become a pirate yourself. The game had a really vast world. I still can’t forget the sensation of moving between planets and venturing through galaxies. It deserves the title of a work of art. Most people picked Wing Commander as best game, but Privateer was the best game for me, and it still is.
Freelancer, the rebooted version of Privateer, would be more familiar to the young people. Freelancer was also a futuristic game, but it was disappointing when video cuts in the middle of the game had too many bugs. EVE Online can also be said to have been influenced by Privateer. That may be the reason why I enjoyed that game as well.
Medal of Honor was my first MMOFPS and I also enjoyed the next two expansions. Call of Duty came out after them and was really fun. People didn’t really know about this World War 2 based game at first, but it became a great success in the next release. Though it went downward when they adopted the future era into the game…
Besides FPS, I also played Dark Age of Camelot and EverQuest. I personally think that Dark Age of Camelot is the best out of all MMORPGs that have been released thus far. Raids, PvP, and arcade are all excellent. I haven’t seen any other game with a better party play system.
Q. I thought that you only play military games, but it seems that you play a lot of different types of games.
I tend to play all famous games - PUBG, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Diablo 3, Overwatch, ArcheAge, Division, Sniper Elite, Battlefield, and so on. I like competitive games. Although I do have a handicap, it can still be overcome. I can mingle with young people, and sometimes I play better than them!
Q. Then, what made you start streaming?
It was when I started playing ArcheAge. Oh, this was actually a Korean game as well. In fact, my daughter asked me to play this game together with her. I joined the clan as I was playing the game. One of clan members was Hawaiian, and we chatted about computers and I told him my custom built computer’s specs, and he was shocked and said “You should stream with those specs!” and I didn’t even know what streaming was at the time.
Then the guy recommended Twitch to me, and set up the whole thing remotely. It was Battlefield 4 when I set up the camera and started playing the game. The installation and setup were not that difficult, as I used to build computers myself, but the software was really difficult as I had no knowledge about it.
Then, my stream managers came to help me out a lot. They resolve issues remotely when there are some problems. They are truly good staff members. They don’t get paid for helping me out. I would like to thank Kim and Rogue XD from Norway, Tony from Australia, 28G Kurtis from Vermont, Faceless Soul, and Ares 79.
Q. How did you start playing PUBG at first? You don’t seem to be the type who plays steam games a lot, by looking at your library.
I was one of the high-level players in ArcheAge. I was once grinding to make the obsidian gear at some place, and a female clan member from NACL killed me. One of my viewers who was watching my stream was an NACL clan member, and he told that female member that I am a grandpa.
After a few days, the clan called Bloodthirsty killed me and NACL suddenly popped up and started to protect me. They said that it was their way of apologizing for the event from a few days ago. Fun things like this happened quite often in the world of ArcheAge. It was also when I was placed as the no.1 streamer of ArcheAge in the USA for 6 months.
The reason why I quit ArcheAge was because it was not possible to compete with others who use the specific program. As soon as I quit playing the game, the number of viewers started to go down, and it became 35 in the end. I was playing Battlefield at the time and this Norwegian viewer recommended me the game called PUBG, and I realized that this game was perfect for me as soon as I started it.
Q. The number of followers increased as you started streaming PUBG. What do you think is the reason for that?
The number went from 28,000 to 66,000, mostly from Mexico and Brazil. To be frank, I was lucky. The streamer Shroud tweeted my video and the number went to 58,000 in a week. Dr. Disrespect retweeted it afterwards, and my cellphone kept ringing for the whole day with more follower notifications. There was also a $15,000 donation from U.A.E.
To be honest, I am not famous. I am just slightly popular. People like Dr. Disrespect or Shroud can be called famous. I’m just a little bit more known than before compared to these people. But, I am still glad to have someone from Korea to see me. I would like to have more viewers than now.
Like I said before, my fingers are not normal. Not only do I have senseless fingers, but there are others unable to move freely because of dislocation. I sometimes become frustrated because of that, and some people get mad at my character. There are times when I even prepare a keyboard and mouse camera in order to show my handicaps.
Also, a few people sometimes don’t believe the explanation about my fingers. When I played well, I saw a thread on Reddit saying that there must be someone else playing for him behind the camera while this grandpa just shows his face on the screen. I once acted like someone else was really playing for me in order to fool these guys, as if someone was really there.
I love making jokes and sharing them with other people. It is how I was able to communicate with young viewers. You must communicate with fans if you are a streamer. You need to make your fans laugh, give them something fun, and give them a reason to watch the stream again. This is what I always keep in mind. So I try to do my best by making an interesting story and communicating. This would probably be my motivation for keeping followers.
Q. Your performances are quite remarkable; a few moments have been clipped as PUBG highlights. The game shows 101 patterns of behavior when there are 100 players, what is GrndPaGaming’s playstyle?
My playstyle is similar to the real strategy used in the battlefield. I don’t like a foolish charge, because I can’t react fast enough with my uncomfortable hands. So I prefer to find a good place and safely gain the lead.
To define my playstyle in one word, it would be “patience”. I never go out to find people in order to make some kills. Instead, I try to play by using various terrain. It is important to make a proper decision when the enemy appears while maintaining your position patiently. I never make a shot when I think it won’t hit the guy. There’s no reason to expose myself to the threat.
However, I try to engage actively when I hold a Kar98K. I am confident I can kill anyone who’s within 600 yards. The target dies without knowing where the bullet flies from. Of course, it may be a somewhat boring playstyle, probably because I am used to the military principle “Never go out where the danger lies.”
Q. You get praised for having good aim or being even better than young players, but people also point out that you complain too much when you die. What do you think about that?
I complain mostly about desync. It’s not only me, but Shroud and Dr. Disrespect also agree with me on this. Simply speaking, the problem occurs when what I see and the player’s actual location differ. This is the reason why the target gets headshot three times but still doesn’t die.
PUBG is planning to officially launch in December, and it seems like it’s not prepared properly. Also, the anti-cheat program doesn’t seem to be fully prepared. This is a big issue.
The ESP multi-hack is the biggest problem. This allows a player to see other players’ name, location, weapons they carry, and even what they see at the moment. This is not all. The program tells you where all equipment is located, reducing the looting time after landing on the ground. This disrupts the game balance drastically.
Also, there are the aim hacks and recoil hacks, and they are really the worst. There’s even a program that allows you to automatically aim at the target and fire at a constant speed without any recoil. I may seem to be complaining a lot because I talk about these issues so much.
I hope gamers try to always be honest. There’s no reason to use cheats. The cheat program only hurts the user. There was one case. When I was playing Call of Duty, I suspected someone was using the wall hack, because I saw him tracking down another player who was behind the wall and instantly killed the guy when he left through the door. You may think it is a coincidence once or twice, but this repeated. I enquired about it to that player’s clan master, and he turned out to be a cheater after the clan investigated the issue. In the end, he got banned from the game and never had a chance to play again ever since.
Q. You seem to be very enthusiastic, as you caught the cheater yourself. Do you have any objective to fulfill as a PUBG streamer?
I tend to watch a lot of summit, glitter explosion, and Dr. Disrespect. One time, I watched League of Legends being streamed by a 16 or 17-year-old Korean, and I was quite astonished by his incredible play. I watch League of Legends eSports, and although I keep playing PUBG nowadays because it’s fun, I will go back to play League of Legends sometime later.
My objective is to become the Streamer of the Year. I would like to become like Dr. Disrespect. I don’t believe that Dell reached out to me for no reason. I believe that they judged my influence from one of my streams where I was wearing a Ghillie suit. During that stream, some fellows who are 40 years younger than me were expressing their respect for and we just chatted; we influence each other like this. Looking at moments like that, I feel like I’m walking the right path.
▲ Dell TV commercial
A 64-year-old gamer overcoming cancer and disability
The reason he could live such a joyful life like this obviously lays in his family’s dedicated care and support, as well as his body being fit from 20 years of exercise.
However, it is hard to deny that games have played a role in fulfilling him mentally and letting him communicate with the younger generation after his retirement. He has spent a longer time playing games than the amount of time I’ve been alive. He realized that communicating with younger folks through games isn’t hard and wishes to keep on playing as long as his health allows it.
Q. You spent about 40 years playing games; if you were to pick some games you enjoyed playing the most so far, what would they be?
I’d like to pick PUBG, Overwatch, League of Legends, Diablo III, and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim out of the games I’ve played recently. If I were to pick out of the games I played throughout my whole life, then I’d pick MechWarrior, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Dark Age of Camelot. I really wish a remake of Dark Age of Camelot would come out.
Q. You communicate with younger generations via games. Is there any difference in values that you’ve noticed, since there tends to be gaps in views between generations?
None, although I did realize we are different. The younger generation always looks for something new and tries new games. That’s why they have the tendency to go for the easier methods when they play a new game. Old gamers like me who have been playing FPS games since their early days are experienced so we are able to give them advice if they seek any.
I usually get many questions about how well you can play, although that differs depending on the players’ play styles. It would change depending on what you want to do. For example, there are people who like to play aggressively, while there are people with a tendency to hunt and stalk. There is no best answer to this since everyone has different tastes. Players should play according to their own play style.
I have absolutely no problems in communicating with younger people. I am always interacting with the younger generation, and know how to play and communicate with them in a fun way. I sometimes play Wizard101 with my grandson, and we have such a great time. You can play regardless of your age. Having a great time chatting with my 14-year-old niece while playing World of Tank is what I want to do and how I want to communicate with youngsters.
Although there are times I’d tell my niece, “Get your butt into bed now!” when he stays up until 1 in the morning watching game streams… Haha...
Q. Korean parents, just like American parents, do not feel positively towards games. However, they don’t tell their kids to move their butts to their beds; instead, they tell them to get their butts into a chair at their desk and study.
I never ever stream games like GTA5. I would never recommend it to children, and because of that, many children try to get past the regulations to play it, which is probably also the case in South Korea. I never recommend games like these to my niece. This is similar to how I would never stream games like Hitman or Wolfenstein even if I do play them.
I set 5 principles for my streams - no racism, no discrimination based on cultural differences, no cussing about parents, no discrimination based on sexuality, and no conversations on religion or politics. If one of my viewers does not comply with any of these principles, I regard them as breaking the rules and block them from watching my streams.
Back to talking about GTA5; this game has every bad thing you could ever have in a game. GTA shows how you can be a bad guy, a real bad guy, in such a casual, detailed way. That is why I don’t like this game.
Instead, I prefer to play games from fantasy genres, or games where you can choose to play as a nice person like PUBG or World of Tanks. These games may have bullets flying around, but give players the chance to choose how they’d like to play the game in a good or bad way.
Q. Some people said that shooting games cause players to become violent, and some politicians take this seriously and are trying to enforce legal restriction on games. What is your take on this as someone who has served in the military for 20 years and enjoys playing shooting games?
I don’t think the issue lays in the games, but in the home. Of course, games like GTA can influence players, but it is not a game children can legally come across. The tendency for violence usually come from the environment the child is brought up in, and if they are brought up in a violent environment, any FPS games can have a negative influence on them. However, if they are brought up in a nice environment with decent education and welfare, then it is likely that they won’t cause any problems.
Even though my niece plays many shooting games, he has never been influenced by them. This is because he was brought up in a nice environment. However, I cannot agree more that these games can become a serious problem for people brought up in environments that are not very safe.
To add more to this, I meet many people while I stream. I absolutely keep myself from playing with children under the age of 16, because if any parents see their children playing games with someone old like me, they could think, “What in the world is this old guy doing to my child?” Likewise, I don’t play with them in order to protect the children, protect their parents, and protect myself. I think it is up to the children’s parents to decide.
Q. Do your neighbors know that you are a well-known streamer for PUBG?
People don’t know that, except a few people. One time, my aunt was surprised when she saw my YouTube channel because she saw me going around killing people and swearing. She said, “I have never seen you swear before so I was shocked to see you do so in your video.”
Q. Is there any advice you have for people your age who haven’t started playing games yet?
If people around my age would like to play games, there is something they must remember - never ever get too excited while playing games. They shouldn’t be upset physically or mentally. This isn’t about destroying your keyboard or mouse; it has to do with issues like blood pressure. Haha, I know this is difficult, but they need to learn not to get angry.
Q. Do you have any plan to form a team with gamers of your age, or become the oldest professional eSports player?
Actually, I got an offer similar to that idea. This group in Illinois was planning to form a team that consists of middle-aged members. They wanted to have me in their team, and offered a sponsorship. That’s all that’s happened for now though.
Although I’m not in a good health, I’m ready to go anywhere. Brazil, Mexico, Korea, Japan, Germany, Norway, etc. I’ll always be there if someone wants me there. My luggage is always ready, with a suitcase and four pairs of shoes.
Below are the photos taken during our meeting with GrndPaGaming.
* You can watch GrndPaGaming's streaming on this link.