Personally Pixelated

The podcast landscape is one of the hottest upcoming entertainment catalogues available. If you have an interest in just about any given subject you can bet there is a show dedicated to it. You like movies? There’s a cache of podcasts about movies. Baking? Download your pick of shows on cookies and cakes. Do you have a passion for Norwegian death metal?… ok, I’m not sure about that one but your odds are good.

The point is it’s easy to find a podcast on the subject you’re searching for. In fact it’s a little too easy. With the amount of podcast content available it can be easy to feel over saturated when sampling content. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve heard it all, especially when it comes to podcasts on video games. That’s why it was so refreshing when one of my favorite new podcasts fell in my lap out of the blue, providing something I didn’t even know I was looking for.

Heavily Pixelated from game media veteran Scott C. Jones is not just another show about the game space. This podcast won’t bring you game previews, industry analysis, and it certainly has no interest in debating the console wars. Instead Jones’ show takes the foundation of gaming and uses that to explore more personal stories about how people can be empowered, inspired or even healed by playing video games.

In its first few episodes Jones has spoken with a man who used gaming to cope with a cancer diagnosis, a trans gamer finding acceptance of herself with the help of Mass Effect and a married couple finding comfort during the loss of a child through the cooperative bonds of playing together. In all of these stories gaming may be the common thread that ties them together but it’s the powerful stories of the human condition that shine through.

It was the inspiration of these stories that gave me the fortitude to share one of my own stories with Jones. Earlier this Summer I submitted a pitch to the Heavily Pixelated team only half expecting to even get a response. So it was a complete surprise when not only did I get a response, but Jones informed me that he wanted to fly out to Minneapolis to interview me in person for an upcoming episode.

This took place in late August. Scott flew into town and arrived at my house one afternoon with recording equipment in tow. He met my family, complimented our home and before long we were diving head first into our discussion. One thing that made me apprehensive about this whole process was the feeling that my story wouldn’t measure up to the pedigree Heavily Pixelated had produced in its first episodes. I’m still not sure it does but I guess now that’s up to you, the audience to decide.

As we sat at my table doing sound checks I asked him what his influence for starting a show that had such a powerful voice came from. “I started making the show to explain to myself—and to others—what games really do for us.” He remarks. “My parents always called games ‘a waste of time.’ Stop playing that damn game and go outside! Are they time-wasters? Well, honestly? They can be, sure. But I believe that games do much more for us than we ever give them credit for doing. So what is it that they do for us? That’s what I’m trying to articulate on the show. That’s why I make the show each week—in pursuit of a definition of the therapeutic benefits of playing games. I make the show as a big, fat counterpoint to my parents’ argument.”

It is evident that Jones has a vision and a love for finding people, and helping them in turn find their voice. He tells me that he still sees himself as just getting started with the show and that he’s “trying to believe in it.” I take notice that the overwhelming reception Heavily Pixelated has received seems to suggest that a great many of us already do.

This week Heavily Pixelated will release that episode focusing on me and a difficult point in my life from a decade ago. It’s the story of when I went through divorce, struggled to find my way while living off of someone else’s good graces, and my journey of redefining myself. Once I began to find my way through my troubles I met and fell in love with the love of my life and the mother of my children, Kristy. All of this is told over the backdrop of some truly epic Rock Band jam sessions that brought the two of us, as well as my family together and closer than ever.

It’s a difficult story for me to relive and tell, but something that I learned going through this process is that regardless of how many highs or how many lows your life has had, all of those moments stack up to the sum of your life. And no matter how bad things may have been in the past, my life is fucking great now.

It’s also not lost on me that when this episode of Heavily Pixelated airs many, if not all, listeners and readers of Mega Dads will see a side of me that they’ve never experienced before and that is a little scary. I hope that when all is said and done it will serve as a reminder that a guy like me who you know as a jokester, podcaster, gamer and artist is much more layered than how I appear at a surface level. We all have something deeper to share and this show provided an opportunity for me to do that.

I am extremely appreciative of Scott C. Jones and the Heavily Pixelated team for not only helping me share this story but for giving voices to a seldom few of us gamers who have something to say. Listening to this podcast is a reminder to all of us that everyone has a story. Some of them are tragic, some are hilarious, all of them are meaningful.

You can hear my story as well as many others by listening to Heavily Pixelated from Scott C. Jones on all major podcast players.

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