Shay “Young Kiv” Kivlen after winning the championship at the 2018 Madden Bowl during the NFL Draft last weekend. (EA Sports Photo)
Stop telling your kid that playing video games will never pay off — or, maybe don’t let them see this story if that threat still works in your house.
Shay Kivlen is a 20-year-old video-game-playing kid from Edmonds, Wash., and last weekend he won a good chunk of change doing what he loves. Kivlen, who goes by “Young Kiv,” won the 2018 Madden Bowl championship during the National Football League’s draft. The grand prize for the first ever Madden Ultimate League champ — and our latest Geek of the Week — was $100,000.
“It was awesome!” Kivlen said of winning the title and the prize money. “I’ve always loved video games and ‘Madden,’ but didn’t play a lot growing up because I was very involved with sports. When I hurt my arm, I couldn’t play baseball anymore so I turned to Madden for that competitive edge and just kept working at it.”
While he’s currently attending community college, Kivlen is already focused on winning another belt.
“Winning the Madden Bowl just made me hungrier to compete and win again,” he said. “So that’s what I’ll be focusing on this upcoming season.”
A full recap video of Kivlen’s win, in which he bested another young player named Drini, is available here. Last year, GeekWire watched him play at the Museum of Pop Culture in a tournament hosted by the Seattle Seahawks. He explained what separates the best players from the so-so players.
“It’s a lot about scheming, it’s a lot about stick skills, it’s a lot about making the right decision on every play, and then it’s also about anticipation on defense and anticipation on offense,” Kivlen said, adding that adjustments in the game are also key.
When he’s not plugged into “Madden,” Kivlen is obviously into other video games — he calls “Grand Theft Auto V” the greatest game ever, below, but he also plays “Fortnite,” “NBA 2K,” and “MLB The Show.” He also likes movies, music and fashion and thinks someday it would be fun to get into coaching baseball and helping kids.
Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Shay Kivlen:
What do you do, and why do you do it? “I am a professional ‘Madden’ player because EA has given the opportunity for the best ‘Madden’ players in the world to do what they love.”
What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? “I think the single most important thing people should know about competitive ‘Madden’ is if you love football or competition of any kind, you will love ‘Madden.’ It’s a fast paced version that’s super exciting and very skilled.”
Where do you find your inspiration? “I find inspiration in my favorite athlete of all time, LeBron James.”
What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? “Probably my PS4 because that is the getaway for me. It’s where I can just sit, game and relax.”
What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? “I have a pretty basic workspace; it’s just a corner desk with a monitor and my laptop. But it works for me because I can play ‘Madden’ while watching film or just chilling.”
Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) “Make goals for your work and your life. It sounds cliché but it really works. If you stay focused on your goals and just keep working on them the right way, eventually, your goals will become your reality.”
Mac, Windows or Linux? “Mac.”
Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? “Kirk.”
Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? “Time Machine.”
If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … “Probably try to develop a ‘Battle Royale’ game.”
I once waited in line for … “‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.’”
Finally did it!! Been working on this for so long I finally achieved my goal. I just wanna thank everyone that supports me. I especially wanna thank my family my friends. They’ve supported me so much through this journey and to finally make em proud is awesome. I love y’all! pic.twitter.com/uNDODo31wF
— Kiv (@young_kiv) April 29, 2018
Shout out to Seattle native @young_kiv who brought home the #MaddenBowl title in dramatic fashion! 👏🎮 https://t.co/KpOxCChebp
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) April 29, 2018
Your role models (And why?): “My role models are my parents because of how hard they work and LeBron James because of his story, his work ethic, and his mindset.”
Greatest game in history: “‘Grand Theft Auto V.’”
Best gadget ever: “PSP.”
First computer: “Not sure. It was one that you would see at a thrift store now though.”
Current phone: iPhone X.”
Favorite app: “Twitch.”
Most important technology of 2018: “Phones.”
Most important technology of 2020: “Still phones.”
Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: “My advice is bet on yourself. If you love something and are willing to put in the work needed to be successful then just do it.”