A Walk Down Memory Lane
It’s difficult to fathom that I’ve been recording my conversations weekly for almost 6 years, but it’s even weirder when I realize that so many people seem interested in those conversations.
This all started on the now-defunct forums of the Team Fremont Podcast (now Drunken Gamers Radio, soon to be a different name entirely.) Jarrod Johnston, a young gamer full of drive and imagination, realized that there really weren’t any PlayStation-specific podcasts out there, even though there were a literal ton of XBOX-focused shows out there. I’d always leaned toward the PlayStation brand since its inception, and he recognized that and asked if I’d be interested in trying to do a podcast, even though neither of us had done so before.
I thought about it for a while, especially from a technical point-of-view since I’d never produced audio before. I’d interned on the radio when I was younger, but that really didn’t help me in this instance. Originally, I approached the podcast as an opportunity to learn how to record, edit, and produce the audio, since I’ve never had a problem with talking about videogames. For essentially my entire life, I’ve been a gamer. Starting with games like Tapper and Space Invaders at the local Shakey’s Pizza in Fond du Lac, and with my first console that my father brought home one day (the Fairchild Channel-F), games have always been a constant in my life.
My parents divorced when I was pretty young, and my mother would let me go to the arcade when we were at the mall, but she wouldn’t allow anything in the house. So, my only time with home consoles was when I stayed with my father, who for whatever reason, was always pretty supportive of my early hobby. I have quite a few memories of growing up with games, be it actually burning my Asteroids cartridge out from playing it overnight (when my Dad walked in and asked “is something burning?”) to actually writing simple games when I finally got my Commodore 64, and even sitting at my friend’s house to play games like River Raid and H.E.R.O on his, at the time, HUGE tv (his dad was an electrician, so their house was wired-up pretty nicely.)
The crash hit, but it really didn’t affect me much, except for my shift from consoles over to “PC” gaming on the C64 and Apple IIe/II GS. I still always hit the arcades whenever I could, and with the resurgence of Pinball around that time, I was firmly settled in the culture. It wasn’t until the NES hit that I started focusing on console games again. I still remember buying the NES at the K-Mart on 63rd Street in Overland Park, KS. I got the pack that came with the Zapper, Super Mario Bros, and Duck Hunt. I couldn’t believe how good SMB was in comparison to what was in teh arcades, and I was quickly in love with the system. Games like Gradius, SMB, The Legend of Zelda, and Pro Wresting (Star Man!!!!) filled much of my free time, and I had a feeling even back then that my love of games was probably going to be a part of my life forever.
I can go on and on about my Grandmother buying me a Genesis at Children’s Palace across from the Metcalf Mall, or finding a Turbografx 16 with a ton of games at the JC Penny Outlet Store, off of I-35 in OP and on and on, but throughout all of those years, I’d always found friends that shared this love of videogames, and many times, we’d sit around and just talk about them. That’s something that really became a major theme with the podcast while it, well not ‘matured,’ but I guess you could say ‘hit its groove.’
I worked at an Electronics Boutique for like 3 years, and when I was there, I got to know the buyer for the company. Before E3 was a thing, the big videogame show was CES (still exists.) CES happened twice a year, Chicago at McCormick Place in the summer, and Las Vegas in January. I talked the EB buyer into helping me get credentials for CES (so I didn’t have to pay the ridiculous registration fee.) I attended both instances for probably 3 or 4 years, and actually got to know some folks in the industry, and even had a few people ask me to test some of the games for translation issues etc. Some of these folks I still know to this day, and hey, it was my chance to dip my toes into an industry that I truly loved.
So, after starting the podcast and realizing that it was something that I liked, and that had some potential, I started using some of the skills I’d honed in that past to attempt to spread our wings a bit. Jarrod moved-on to doing local theater in Portland, but Mark, who I knew from the same Team Fremont forums, had become a pretty good friend, and luckily he agreed to take over for Jarrod. Mark and I already knew that we could talk about games for hours, so his presence on the podcast was just incredibly natural. At the same time, Andrew Yoon, then of PS3Fanboy.com (a PlayStation-specific sub-site of Joystiq.com), approached us about taking over for their podcast. They were having issues getting people together consistently, and hey, we came cheap (free.) We jumped at the opportunity though, since it meant a pretty substantial increase in potential visibility (Josh said that he actually found the show on Joystiq even.)
It was a lot of fun for the year that we lived there, and being associated with such a large site definitely allowed us to move forward in many ways. Sony started noticing us finally, primarily with the help of Jeff Rubenstein, who I can’t thank enough for all of the help he gave to us. He’s become a true friend, and even though he recently left Sony, I hope to be able to know for the rest of my life. He was instrumental in helping us traverse the hidden landmines and hurdles that are almost always insurmountable for an independent outlet like we are. but I’m pretty sure that our alliance with Joystiq helped at least a little.
In June of 2009, Mark and I attended our first E3. I kind-of knew what to expect since I’d attended CES so many times in the past, but even with that experience, we were like two kids in a candy store. We had a couple of appointments setup, but most of our time was devoted to just blindly wandering the West and South halls, and checking a ton of games out. It was a valuable experience though, because it finally got us face-to-face with many of the people that we’d only previously spoken with via email or as guests on our podcast.
Let’s talk about those guests too. How the hell did we ever talk these people into joining us on this little podcast?? People like:
- David Jaffe (our first guest ever)
- Scott Campbell (Eat Sleep Play)
- Jason Coker and Travis Williams (Thrilla!)
- Richard Lemarchand (Minecarts!)
- The crew from Zen Studios: Mel, Bobby, and Neil (Unofficial Zen podcast!)
- Stewart Gilray (our unofficial third host)
- Phil Kollar
- James Stevenson (Insomniac)
- Stan Press (Astrogaming)
- Matt Pruitt (EA)
- Trickman Terry
- Walter Day (Twin Galaxies)
- The Joystiq crew that co-hosted with us, including Andrew Yoon and Jem Alexander
- Jeff Rubenstein
- Mark Healy (Media Molecule)
- Deb Mars and Matt Morton (two of my favorite people)
- Ariel Angelotti (she even filled-in one week)
- MARTIN! (my favorite person from Scotland)
- Kyle Shubel (The man, the myth, the legend)
- Dave Hagewood (Psyonix)
- The MLB crew from San Diego Studios
- Christian Phillips (The Grand Poobah)
- Eric Rodgers
- Julian Mehlfield (SEGA!)
- Ben Jones
- Nathan Vella (Capybara)
- Tsubasa Inaba – (Producer from SCEA)
- Trey Smith (NBA Jam)
- The folks from Housemarque (Dead Nation and Super Stardust HD)
- Mike Pepe (I miss Hudsonsoft)
- Eitan Glinert (Slam Bolt Scrappers)
- Tom Crabtree (GO PACKERS!)
- Ian Tornay (EA)
- Shawn McGrath (Buy Dyad!)
- Dylan Jobe (from the backseat of a cab)
- David Reid (Dust 514)
- Matt Gilgenbach (Retro/Grade)
- Collette Forcier (Extra Life!)
- Gordon Midwood (Derrick the Deathfin)
- Omar Kendall (Game Director for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale)
Not only that, but all of our friends that have joined us over the years from Scott Sauer (it’s like Risk, but in Space), Roy Blakely, MC Wilson, David Gallant, Marcello, Sara and Jessie (yeahhh, chicks), Tim (9-Volt!), Dane (Krakerjak!), Sean (Rothbart), Chris (PSNStores.com) who helped me so much with E3 this year, Sam (Amplified Gamers), Ken and Terry from Retroids (and great friends as well), Dale Kulas (On Tap Podcast), and all of our friends from the community during our live shows from Mark’s house or at MGC.
Also, the guys from our “staff” here at PS Nation, that have been so helpful over the last couple of years. Eric, who’s up for anything, Jason for being the Siskell to my Ebert (fat joke), our writers that pick-up our slack when we’re working or at events and can’t see what’s going on in the “real world”, and Rey for being the Joan Rivers to Josh’s Jay Leno (that works, right? Thoughts of Kelly Ripa come to mind as well…)
One person I need to mention, and is the best and most awesome person in the gaming industry that I know, Cade Peterson (Glasswalls.) He’s the person that brought us to PlayStation Home, and put up with all of our gaps between releases. I consider him a great friend, and I am a better person for knowing him. Those that know him would probably agree with me, and I thank him for not only the opportunities that he’s given us, but for his patience and support as well. You rule dude!
So, back to our history. Mark and I were approached by Cade (see above) to become a guinea pig for his idea, the Community Theater in PlayStation Home. Of course, my mind immediately went to “holy crap, I have to spend a bunch of money on equipment, and this will take even MORE time!) He and Jack Buser were not only very flattering to Mark and I, but had a vision that we could get behind, well, that is until Mark called me after the meeting to let me know that he was leaving. Mark and Jessie decided that it was time to start a family, and even though I hated to see him go, I totally understood. We immediately started making up a list of people that we thought would be a great fit, and with an immense amount of luck and perfect timing, the two people at the top of the list were leaving the podcast they were on.
Not many people at MGC knew that Mark was leaving, but I figured that Joel, the Retroids Community Manager at the time, should be aware of teh change coming soon. Joel and Josh were a part of 360 Nation, and after I told Joel of Mark’s impending departure, he laughed and told me that he and Josh had left their podcast. We immediately went on a search for Josh, and when we did, all three of us had an impromptu discussion outside of the hotel. I’m not lying when i said that these two were at the top of the list, so for them to be available at that particular time was just crazy. The original plan was to have them on with Mark and I for two or three podcasts, and at that time we’d discuss things and decide if it would work out. After their first appearance though, the decision was made.
We had a good run as a 3-person podcast. The dynamic was a bit weird, but somehow it seemed to work. The personalities definitely contrasted well, and the chemistry worked better than anyone could have expected. But after a while, Joel started experiencing some health issues. He started missing podcasts, and he worried the shit out of myself and Josh. After MGC 2011, Josh and I stayed at Joel’s house for the night, yet 2 days later he let us know that he needed to leave. We were not only surprised, but pretty bummed as well. Joel may not have talked constantly like Josh or I, but he brought the big guns with some insane segues and jokes. He’s a great guy, and his wife is pretty awesome as well, and I miss them. I don’t speak to them as much as I should, but I can say that about a lot of my friends unfortunately.
Which brings us to now. Josh now has a son (Hail Baby,) we (this community) dominated Extra Life, we reviewed more games and covered more events than ever before, and we’re on the cusp of recording our 300th episode of the podcast. Our community is better than ever, and the bond that we’ve all been forming for the last almost six years grows daily. I make fun of those that say they’ve been listening “since the Jarrod days” because I honestly can’t believe that anyone finds what we do to be interesting at all, let alone for 298 episodes. Over the years, we’ve been included in some pretty badass happenings in gaming, like the Starhawk Launch Event, the insane access to the MLB The Show franchise at the studio, and all of the stuff that we get to see at E3 and other events. I don’t know if it’s because of my ridiculous persistence, our true love of the games, our professionalism (no, wait, I KNOW it’s not that,) dumb luck, or just a combination of everything.
Believe it or not, we do all of this because of all of you. Sure, we enjoy it too, but we persist because we want to be able to inform all of you. We’re not some big corporate site that has an actual budget or something, yet we’ve worked our way up to a point that we can actually deliver some truly cool stuff to all of you, and that’s just plain awesome.
So, I really do hope that y’all stick with us, and I hope that we can be both inform and entertain you. It’s been a weird ride to say the least. The best part of all of this though, is that I’ve been able to get to know so many of you, and to be able to call you my friend. Without our community, Josh and I probably wouldn’t be doing this, because without you, it just wouldn’t be fun.
Thank you for 300 podcasts, and buy our shit!
ps If I get to 600 podcasts, shoot me