Markiplier: the Secret Superhero Taking Streaming to the Final Frontier

Mark Fischbach has over 34 million subscribers on YouTube. They know him by the name Markiplier, a Secret Superhero who has led the gaming and internet communities as one of the earliest - and most successful -  innovators of the charity livestream. Over the years he’s raised millions of dollars for worthy causes, and helped to shape the social conscience of gamers through both his reach as a content creator and his powerful belief in philanthropy. What’s even more remarkable is that his popularity continues to grow at an incredible pace, with his widely acclaimed interactive videos such as In Space with Markiplier taking YouTube by storm and reinforcing his position as one of the most important and influential figures in modern entertainment. 

Markiplier: In Space!

United Through Gaming

Mark’s father, Cliffton, was an American serviceman who had met Mark’s mother, Sunok, while he was stationed in South Korea. Like most military families, the Fischbachs moved around a lot, with Mark’s older brother, Tom, being born in Massachusetts in 1987, and Mark was born two years later while his father was stationed in Honolulu. Eventually Cliffton retired from the army, and the Fischbach family settled in a rural area on the outskirts of Cincinnati. 

Markiplier: the Secret Superhero Taking Streaming to the Final Frontier

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Mark Fischbach has over 34 million subscribers on YouTube. They know him by the name Markiplier, a Secret Superhero who has led the gaming and internet communities as one of the earliest - and most successful -  innovators of the charity livestream. Over the years he’s raised millions of dollars for worthy causes, and helped to shape the social conscience of gamers through both his reach as a content creator and his powerful belief in philanthropy. What’s even more remarkable is that his popularity continues to grow at an incredible pace, with his widely acclaimed interactive videos such as In Space with Markiplier taking YouTube by storm and reinforcing his position as one of the most important and influential figures in modern entertainment. 

Markiplier: In Space!

United Through Gaming

Mark’s father, Cliffton, was an American serviceman who had met Mark’s mother, Sunok, while he was stationed in South Korea. Like most military families, the Fischbachs moved around a lot, with Mark’s older brother, Tom, being born in Massachusetts in 1987, and Mark was born two years later while his father was stationed in Honolulu. Eventually Cliffton retired from the army, and the Fischbach family settled in a rural area on the outskirts of Cincinnati. 

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Cliffton introduced his children to computers and gaming at an early age, and Tom and Mark formed a close bond thanks to their shared love of video games. They were also united by the racism they faced within their community, and particularly in their school. Mark has recounted how they both experienced bigotry, which was especially serious in Tom’s case: “It was worse towards my brother because he had more Asian features growing up than I did, so his teachers would openly discriminate against him, and belittle and berate him.” Life at home was also difficult; their parents divorced acrimoniously, and the brothers stayed with their father in greatly reduced financial circumstances. This led to them having to change schools, which Mark remembers as being highly disruptive. Worse was to come when Cliffton died of cancer in 2007, when Mark was just 18. He has described how these events left him isolated and confused about his future ambitions; he went to college to study engineering, but then encountered health problems of his own after a burst appendix led to doctors discovering a fist-sized tumor in his adrenal gland. The operation to remove the tumor was successful, and during his recovery period Mark decided to abandon college and pursue his dream of becoming a comedy sketch artist. He invested in a camera, and set out on a new career.

Let’s Play

In 2012, he set up his YouTube channel under the pseudonym Markiplier; the “Multiplier” part of the portmanteau referring to the multiple characters he intended to portray in his sketches. The YouTube audience had other ideas, however, and seemed far more interested in his Let’s Play videos, no doubt in part due to his sonorous and suave speaking style. He quickly built a small audience of subscribers, which suddenly exploded when he began to make videos about the horror game Five Nights at Freddy’s. These videos are by far his most popular creations, with the first installment alone having over a hundred million views on YouTube, and spawning countless imitators who have tried to ape the videos’ style of extreme reactions to jump scares. 

This increased success helped to fuel Markiplier’s passion for philanthropy. From the very earliest days of his channel, Markiplier would run charity fundraising streams for a wide variety of causes. An early example was a stream in October of 2012 in support of the Living Through Breast Cancer charity, which raised $3720.19. In the description of the confirmation video Markiplier posted to his channel, he wrote to his sponsors: “Thank you so much for everything that you have done, you should be amazingly proud of what you have accomplished as I am so proud of all of you! I'm living my dream to be able to organize events like this and I can't wait to see what we accomplish in the future!” 

Charitable accomplishments

The full extent of what Markiplier and his subscribers have achieved in the last decade is hard to tally. He strives to run a charity fundraising stream every month, alongside regular contributions to the fundraising drives of other streamers. By 2017 Forbes estimated that he had raised over $3m through these events, and in the years since the level of generosity from his subscribers has, if anything, increased, and extends beyond just his fundraising streams. For example in 2018 he celebrated reaching the 20 million subscriber milestone on YouTube by releasing a calendar titled Tasteful Nudes. Although available for just 48 hours at a price  of $30, the campaign raised half a million dollars for the Cancer Research Institute, who rewarded his efforts by naming him the 2020 recipient of the Oliver R. Grace Award. Other huge fundraising drives have included raising $500,000 in less than 24 hours for the homelessness charity My Friend’s Place.

Markiplier’s ability to marshal his subscriber base to raise huge sums for charities is tremendously important, but he is also a leading figure in promoting a caring and supportive outlook within the gaming community. He’s a vocal supporter of LGBT rights, and has taken numerous stands on controversial social issues, such as his outspoken support for the Black Rights Matter movement, the need for stricter gun control in the wake of school shootings, and his support for abortion rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturning Roe vs Wade

A dream date with Markiplier?

Of course, none of this would be possible if the content didn’t draw subscribers in to begin with, but happily Markiplier’s career as an entertainer is just as strong as his philanthropic work. In recent years he has moved into producing innovative interactive storylines, beginning with 2017’s A Date With Markiplier, which presented the viewer with a branching narrative involving a variety of his most well-known characters in either a romantic or horror setting. This has been followed by 2019’s A Heist with Markiplier and In Space With Markiplier in 2022, both of which have received rave reviews and raised the bar for original YouTube content. As his career moves forward it seems highly likely that this Secret Superhero’s contributions as both an entertainer and philanthropist will continue to amaze. 

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