Ryan Hart Says Gaming Saved Him From A Life On The Streets

Ryan Hart has made millions as a professional gamer. But two decades ago, he was homeless on the streets of London. Also known as Prodigal Son, Tsuujin, Robotnik, The Terminator, NeriahSensei and Drrrry, the fighting game player credits gaming with saving him from despair.

The 41-year-old started gaming at 10 when his mother gave him some change to go to an arcade. His innate talent soon led him to tournaments and at 17 he won his first national title. Soon after though, his family was evicted from their home and he found himself homeless, not knowing where he’d end up.

Hart says that arcades became his sanctuary, saving him from depression. In 1998, he was invited to his first overseas tournament in Japan, where he competed in Tekken 3, a fighting game developed by Namco, and the King of Fighters, developed by SNK. He ended up winning his first world title, which led to countless championship wins and world records.

In 2016, he set his first Guinness World Record after defeating 260 people in a row at Street Fighter V during an 11-hour session. Hart went on to set Guinness World Records for most international Street Fighter competition wins, most well-traveled fighting game champion, and longest winning streak on Street Fighter IV.

His success is rooted in hard work. He trains for up to eight hours a day, five to six days a week. He also streams to more than 5,000 followers on Twitch and works as a content creator for ESL’s main products, such as ESL One, IEM and ESL Pro League. In addition, he finds the time for other ventures, like modeling, and has a contract with hat brand Stetson Europe.

Currently, Hart hosts the community initiative Silent V Trigger in Germany to help local players improve. Despite his achievements, Hart stresses the importance of maintaining a work-life balance. “It’s important to know when it’s time to come up for air though,” he told CNN, noting that gaming can become problematic when “it becomes an obsession and blocks out other important areas of a person’s life.”

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