Jacksepticeye: The Secret Superhero of Thankmas

Sean McCloughlin - better known to tens of millions by his Superheroic pseudonym, Jackspeticeye - has established himself as one of YouTube’s most wholesome and lovable celebrities. As a vital and hugely influential voice in gaming he has spoken up for others both within and without the gaming landscape, and raised staggering sums to support the most vulnerable and needy within society, and all while delivering consistently entertaining videos for his legions of fans.  

The Log Cabin Gamer

Jack was born in County Offaly, one of the poorest regions of Ireland, in 1990. His father, John, worked for the Electricity Supply Board, while his mother Florrie worked odd jobs before becoming a full-time carer for Jack’s grandmother. The family moved several times before eventually settling in the tiny village of Ballycumber in Offaly, where Jack lived in a log cabin adjacent to his parent’s home. At first, he had wanted to become a musician, and was the drummer for a local indie band while studying music technology at university, but his love of video games eventually drew him to YouTube, and he began to make Let's Play videos and other gaming content for the platform in 2012. 

Jacksepticeye: The Secret Superhero of Thankmas

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Sean McCloughlin - better known to tens of millions by his Superheroic pseudonym, Jackspeticeye - has established himself as one of YouTube’s most wholesome and lovable celebrities. As a vital and hugely influential voice in gaming he has spoken up for others both within and without the gaming landscape, and raised staggering sums to support the most vulnerable and needy within society, and all while delivering consistently entertaining videos for his legions of fans.  

The Log Cabin Gamer

Jack was born in County Offaly, one of the poorest regions of Ireland, in 1990. His father, John, worked for the Electricity Supply Board, while his mother Florrie worked odd jobs before becoming a full-time carer for Jack’s grandmother. The family moved several times before eventually settling in the tiny village of Ballycumber in Offaly, where Jack lived in a log cabin adjacent to his parent’s home. At first, he had wanted to become a musician, and was the drummer for a local indie band while studying music technology at university, but his love of video games eventually drew him to YouTube, and he began to make Let's Play videos and other gaming content for the platform in 2012. 

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At first, this proved challenging due to technical limitations; his internet service was extremely patchy and he recorded his early videos without a dedicated microphone. He also initially pretended to be American in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the largest target audience, and his early inspirations were fellow Secret Superhero Markiplier and the hugely popular Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie, but he swiftly dropped the accent when his channel began to take off. He was even noticed by his two idols, and began occasional collaborations with Markiplier that still continue to this day. Much like Markiplier, Jack has combined gaming content with a mission to promote positivity among his community, and this has at times led him into conflict with other Youtubers, most notably when he publicly criticized PewDiePie for a highly controversial video that attempted to use antisemitic messages for comic effect. Although the pair subsequently reached an understanding, Jack’s stance made it clear to all where he stood on social issues and bigotry. 

The Ballycumber cabin where Jack began his career

Father Thankmas

Jack’s commitment to producing positive content led to him taking further inspiration from Markiplier. He participated in his friend’s remarkable charity fundraising streams for several years, before making charity a key part of his own output. This began in earnest in December 2017 when he hosted two charity streams for Save The Children which raised over $260,000. Throughout the following year he ran streams in support of charities including the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, CrisisText Line, raising over $1m in total, titling the Crisis Text Line campaign, held in December, “Thankmas.”

The following year saw many more streams, including a drive which raised $260,000 for Emilia Clarke’s SameYou charity, and December 2019 saw the advent of the second Thankmas, this time in support of Child’s Play, raising over $300,000. Jack was just gathering steam, and as Covid-19 took hold in 2020 he redoubled his efforts, raising over $650,000 over just 12 hours to support pandemic relief efforts. He also ran a stream in support of various charities involved in the Black Lives Matter campaign, raising over $600,000 in the process, and Thankmas 2020 raised $1.4m in support of Red Nose Day. He also encouraged others to support Thankmas with their own charity streams, with the total raised across the whole Thankmas effort running to over $4.6m. This collaborative approach to fundraising continued to pay dividends in 2022, with $7.6m raised in support of homelessness charity New Story, and Jack has set a target of $10m for Thankmas 2022.

Jack delivering some Thankmas cheer

A Vital Voice 

In addition to the remarkable fundraising efforts, Jack has been a vocal advocate for social inclusion throughout the gaming industry, and its associated streaming communities. In 2021 he weighed in on the long running controversy about the toxic workplace culture prevalent in some high profile game companies, saying “I hope whatever culture we're shifting towards is in [a] more accepting, open space. There's still a lot of groundwork to be doing, just like in real life, with things like LGBTQ representation. But I think we're going in the right direction.” Although optimistic about the future of gaming, it is clear that Jack is disappointed to see that more progress has not been made, particularly in the vital field of tackling casual racism among gamers: “I thought that stuff had gone away… It’s really sad to see that some aspects of that still remain, but you see it all the time if you go live on Twitch… people will say things under the immunity of ‘gamer words,’ which is obviously just ridiculous.” Given his consistent opposition to such behavior in the world of gaming, his disappointment is not surprising, but his influence is such that he can only be seen as a vital corrective to the more unpleasant elements of gaming culture.

He is also clearly aware that his influence has led a great many young people to follow in his footsteps as a streamer and YouTuber, something which he clearly views as a mixed blessing. He is fiercely critical of the pressures placed on online content creators by algorithms that dictate search rankings on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, and has referred to his own problems with creative and mental burnout. As an advocate for the legion of content creators who follow him, an influencer of the tens of millions of fans who adore his content, and most importantly as one of the most active and successful charity fundraisers on the planet, there’s little doubt that Jacksepticeye’s pseudonymous success qualifies him as a remarkable Secret Superhero.  

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