Byron Bernstein / ReckfulImage copyright Byron Bernstein / Instagram

Tributes have been paid to video games streamer Byron Bernstein, known as Reckful, who died on Thursday.

Mr Bernstein was a well-known and loved e-sports player and had 960,000 followers on streaming site Twitch.

His brother Gary Bernstein confirmed that Reckful had taken his own life, aged 31.

Twitch said Reckful was a “streaming pioneer” and that it was “devastated” to hear of his death.

Mr Bernstein had built his following in part by playing World Of Warcraft.

When his death was reported on Thursday evening, fans held virtual memorials inside the game.

Before his death, he had been working to create his own video game, called Everland.

In January, he shared a video on YouTube in which he talked about his own struggle with depression and said he had lost one of his brothers to suicide.

“Byron was someone who talked about his struggles to help make room for others to the same,” Twitch said in a statement.

“As we process this loss, we have to recognise that the stigma around mental health and treatment often prevents people from seeking and getting the help they need.”

Paying respects

by Steffan Powell, Radio 1 Newsbeat gaming reporter

Never before has an event organised organically by gamers seen so many of the Mages, Warlocks and Warriors of Azeroth gather together in such numbers.

Pictures of World of Warcraft players meeting in the game’s central cathedral to pay their respects, in record numbers, show just how much the death of Reckful has affected people across the world.

Not all had followed his journey from top-ranked player to game developer, but they came in any case – such was his impact on World of Warcraft and its community.

For some, this was also a way to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding mental health. Reckful had openly discussed his personal struggles on his platform.

Many of those kneeling to remember him in Stormwind Cathedral last night will have related to his experience.

Today, many prominent members of the gaming community – from streamers to senior bosses at Twitch – are talking about how people need to be kinder to each other, and questioning what more needs to done to help people with their mental health.

The games industry has been doing a lot of soul-searching recently, with many coming forward to share their experiences of sexual harassment at events and online.

That soul-searching will no doubt continue, now with an added focus on mental health, as gaming communities figure out how to be a safer and more inclusive place.

His former partner, a gamer known as Becca, said – in a blog post – that Reckful was “amazing”.

“We need better support for those with mental needs. I remember Byron telling me how traumatised he was when he had the authorities called on him for being at risk of suicide,” she wrote.

“Anyone that knew him knew how much it scared and affected him. This can’t be how people feel about the places that should be keeping them safe.”