Gamer Spotlight: Brandon Jones

Brandon Jones (Editor-in-Chief, Co-Founder of Easy Allies)

Brandon Jones has been covering the games industry for nearly two decades, having created the popular website GameTrailers.com back in 2002. In the early days of online games coverage, GameTrailers was the place to go for gaming news, previews, and entertainment. The company was acquired by Viacom in 2005 and then Defy Media in 2015 before shutting down in 2016.

Brandon and his team of former GameTrailers staff found new life though when they launched Easy Allies a short time later. Funded largely through crowdfunding on Patreon, this new venture would allow them greater freedom to produce the content they wanted, including a wide variety of gaming shows, podcasts, and live streams each and every week.

In June of 2019, Brandon and his wife Amanda received a surprise when their son Milo decided he couldn’t wait any longer and arrived two months before his due date. The couple and their happy, healthy son enjoy life from sunny southern California.

What is the first video game that you remember playing?

“Pitfall! for the Atari 2600. I was at a Christmas party and my parents let me hang out in a bedroom with some kids who had it plugged in. I think I was the youngest, so I probably was horrible at it, but I’m almost positive I demanded that I grab the controller at some point.

The first video game I really tested my skill against was Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! for the NES (because I’m instantly drawn to games with exclamation points in the title). I distinctly remember the frustration I felt at not being able to finish that game, and I still have yet to best Tyson to this day.”

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What are your favorite games of all time?

“GoldenEye 007, because it’s hard to make a more satisfying movie-licensed game than that. Final Fantasy VI, because it was the first time I actually connected with characters in a video game beyond just enjoying playing as them. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, because I believe it’s the best game anyone has ever made given the resources available.

And Red Dead Redemption I and II, along with almost every Grand Theft Auto game, because I’m a sucker for open worlds no developer does it better than Rockstar. If I didn’t try to cover as many different games and genres each year for my job I would probably spend most of my gaming hours in GTA Online.”

Which hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy besides gaming?

“Since I don’t get paid for it, I would consider all the creative writing I do on the side a hobby. Hopefully I can turn those efforts into another career someday, but video games are just too much fun to talk about. As an Eagle Scout, I developed a love for camping and hiking at an early age, and I feel that love even more when I enjoy games like Horizon: Zero Dawn, Firewatch, and Red Dead Redemption II. I’ve also been completely obsessed with Disneyland, and other theme parks, since I was 2-years-old. I try to get to Disneyland every other month if I can.”

Do you and your children play video games together?

“Milo is 7-months-old, so the only controller he’s worked on so far is one that makes fun noises and flashes bright lights (which is not unlike the Dualshock 4, to be honest). But I have 2 godsons that are currently 6 and 10, and I’ve played and discussed games with them on many occasions. I was very proud of the older of the two boys when he continually mocked me for my paltry collection in Pokémon Go.

It’s been fascinating seeing their interests and talents evolve over the years. Some things are gone in a flash, like Cuphead, and others stand the test of time, like Minecraft. I’m doing my best to accept the fact that my son, Milo, might not be that interested in video games. I’m looking forward to discovering his interests, instead of forcing my own upon him. That said, I’m looking forward to playing LEGO games with him if I can.”

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How do you make time for gaming with a busy family life and career?

“I am incredibly lucky in that I get to work from home, which helps me balance the time I spend on Easy Allies and the time I can commit to looking after Milo. I also work with 8 incredibly sympathetic guys who were very courteous in letting me take a few months off to adjust my lifestyle.

They’ve also been very patient with me in showering our online community in pictures and stories of the little guy. To balance out their generosity, I try to make myself available for projects in our studio whenever I can. Milo was the first child born since we started Easy Allies, so the process is paving the way for how we can handle paternal time-off in the future.

I’ve seen and heard stories of people that can play games while taking care of their children, but Milo is so laser-focused on me whenever we hang out, that it’s hard to do something else without him getting fussy or confused. So I certainly don’t play as many games as I did before June of last year, but I wouldn’t change a thing.”

What is your proudest moment as a parent?

“Milo spent three weeks in a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, because he was premature. He was actually very healthy at birth, just early. While it was never a scary situation, driving to the hospital every day and learning all the things we needed to do to ensure his proper development was exhausting, even on the best days. So nothing has really topped the relief we felt when we finally got to bring him home.

It went from hanging out with a friend, to actually being his parents. For some reason (possibly because of my age) I was never weirded out by being called “Dad,” but after we brought him home, the first time someone called him my “son,” it really hit me emotionally. Second place is every night where I can get more than 4 hours of sleep. That feels like winning the World Series.”

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