Gamer Spotlight: Jeff Bakalar

Jeff Bakalar

Senior Editor / Reviews – Gaming, Video for CNET, Co-Host on The Giant Beastcast

Twitter: @jeffbakalar

Jeff was born in Brooklyn, NY and studied film and video production at Towson University in Maryland before joining the CNET staff in 2007. He is a host for CNET video as well as the founder and co-host of  The 404 Showwhich is the longest running CNET podcast and has to date produced over 1,600 episodes. Jeff is regularly featured on both CBS and CBSN as well as being a regular co-host on the popular (and awesome) gaming podcast The Giant Beastcast. He lives in Hoboken, NJ with his wife and son.

What is the first video game you ever played?

I believe the first home console videogame I ever got my hands on was Pitfall for the Atari 2600 in 1985 or 86. This now confirms I’ve been playing games for 30 years and I thank you for the great wave of depression that is currently washing over me.

What is your favorite game of all time?

Tough one. I’m terrible at answering any “favorite all-time” questions and I’m sure my answer would change if you asked me again in a month. BUT, for now I’ll say Super Mario Bros. 3, Half-Life 2 and let’s throw in a little Bioshock for good measure. There are so many more though.

Which hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy besides gaming?

I am an diehard hockey and New Jersey Devils fan. I still play too, I’ve been in a men’s ice league for seven years or so and I grew up playing roller hockey in NJ. Aside from that I ski a lot and I like to think I’m pretty nasty at table tennis.

I’m also really into comics, high-end action figures (stuff like Hot Toys) and just weird vinyl toys in general. I’m a bit of a stationary nerd too and have a thing for Japanese notebooks — I’ve also recently fallen down the rabbit hole of fountain pens. When I was a bit younger I used to draw and write short stories but haven’t in a while.

Do you play or plan on playing video games with your children?

As of now I think I do plan on it. My son is only 1 so it’ll be a while before he can play. He’ll eventually start to notice me doing it, so I’d imagine he’d have some kind of a desire to try it — like he might with hockey. Let’s just say he’ll be afforded every opportunity to try it.

The thing I go back and forth with is deciding how I’ll attempt to introduce him to what I grew up playing. I think that’s important. Same thing with music. I really appreciate my Dad introducing me to Queen, The Police and Billy Joel at such a young age, so I’d want to have a similar positive effect on my kid but with games.

How do you balance gaming and family life?

It’s tough, but luckily I am married to an amazing woman who not only understands the hectic kind of binge-gaming I occasionally need to do, but she also digs a lot of the stuff I get to play. It’s really great getting to experience the wide range of stuff that’s out there with her and I always look to her for a second opinion.

Having a child is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, so it wasn’t much of a challenge adapting my life around him and my wife, all while still making time for games in the process. It’s all about compromising and realizing what’s important. If you do it right, you can really have the best of everything.

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