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Catholic university esports initiative seeks to ‘change the culture’ around gaming

‘God has a hand in everything we do in our daily lives,’ video game streamer says

A video game streamer and Catholic content creator says that his partnership with a Catholic university has been a success.

The partnership supports the University of St. Thomas-Houston’s esports initiative and provides a platform for Jon Blevins and his company, Little Flower Media. The partnership has now entered its second year.

“Having the support of a Catholic University that is trying to change the culture to a true Catholic experience has been amazing,” he told The College Fix via email. “The team at UST is mission-aligned with what UST and LFM are trying to achieve by bringing positivity to the world through authentic Catholic life experiences and personalities.”

Appropriately then, their company name reflects a saint and her virtues.

“Little Flower” takes its name from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, honored by Catholics as the “Little Flower.” The name takes inspiration from the faith lives of Blevins (pictured) and his co-founders, Matthew Marcolini and Matt McClure, all of whom have had “pivotal life experiences” that led them to a “special devotion” to the French nun.

“This was unbeknownst to us as we decided to go into business together. As we were discussing possible names for our business paperwork, one person randomly threw out Little Flower Media and we all had incredibly personal stories to share,” he said.

He called this “just another thing” that showed the entrepreneurs that “God has a hand in everything we do in our daily lives.”

Known as BeardedBlevins online, Blevins (pictured) plays video games live on the online streaming website Twitch. He proudly shares his Catholic faith and previously worked in youth ministry and evangelization for several churches. He built his audience through sharing his faith and currently has 65,000 followers on Twitch.

The partnership with the University of St. Thomas includes Catholic content hosted at the university’s studios such as a discussion show called “Around the Halo,” filmed through the campus MAX studios.

Blevins also participated on a panel about positive video game experiences, hosted by the Catholic university.

The “Gaming for Good” panel in March 2022 discussed the positive potential of video games. The Catholic university hosted the panel at a technology conference. “Challenging the widely held negative opinion of gaming, the panelists will heighten awareness of gaming’s many positive outcomes and the safe practice protocols to better ensure them,” the university’s news release stated.

Blevins’ interest in using video games for good is informed by his faith, he told The Fix.

Responding to critics who say that gaming detract from a good life, Blevins said that it “can be a distraction from a good life if misused, like almost all forms of technology, entertainment, etc. The difference is recognizing where healthy boundaries are and where God places in your life’s path.”

He said further:

One of our friends recently mentioned that his life needs to operate in a certain order, or he risks everything falling out of balance. God, family, health, work, extras. As long as gaming fits into the “extras” category then it can be a great gift if you align it properly with your values. The culture of your hobbies is what you choose to make it. We are choosing to make it one of positivity, friendship and [Catholic] faith on the BeardedBlevins channel.

The university partnership fits well with Blevins’ goals, because he said his company “has to be very selective with [its] sponsorships and partnerships as a matter of integrity over revenue.”

He gave examples of business offers that would not work, such as proposals from gambling websites or “random energy drinks that don’t align with our view of what the world should be.”

“Unfortunately, money and morality don’t often align. However, we are dedicated to the mission above all else and recognize that success may take longer,” he said. “We are fortunate to have an amazing community that is only continuing to grow!”

The university acknowledged The Fix’s questions but has not provided comments in the past two weeks.

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IMAGE: MAX Studios/YouTube

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About the Author
Jared Johnson -- Franciscan University of Steubenville