To say that I was holding an NES controller since I was in diapers is a good way to summarize my humble gaming beginnings. My mom and dad bought the NES bundle with Mario and Duck Hunt and it was on from then. I don’t think there was ever a point in my life when I wasn’t involved with gaming.
Weirdly enough, I consider myself a PC gamer even though I didn’t really get into it until a few years ago. Sure I built PCs in the past and played AAA titles such as Half-Life 2 and Doom 3, but the Xbox 360 took up more of my time during that era. That all changed when Steam went mainstream and made it cool to buy your games online instead of in the store. Another fun fact: with the exception of the Virtual Boy and Game Boy Color, I have owned EVERY Nintendo console ever to be released. I know, who wants to friggen touch me?
Nintendo is probably my favorite game company, and always will be. Call it nostalgia or the quality of games they churn out, they will always be number 1 in my book (suck it haters). That’s not to say I don’t enjoy other platforms. I own all the current-gen systems, a trend that began in my youth. I love GAMING, no matter the company (console wars are stupid, stop partaking in them).
Asad and I started this little venture back in 2013 when The RELM Network launched. Marc Ronick, Lowell Melser and Buzz Burbank were gracious enough to allow us under the RELM umbrella and slowly but surely we’ve made our mark. I’ve known Asad for years and we always shot the breeze about gaming and other topics (mostly bizarre on his end), so the idea to team up and start this podcast was an easy one to make. I really feel though it turned the corner when Aaron and Dennis came on board. Aaron’s work ethic on getting the show produced is second to none. His editing is so meticulous and impressive it makes me never want to edit another show again (please don’t leave us Aaron, we’re royally screwed if you do). Dennis brings a humor that fits very nicely with the context of the show. His knowledge of old school gaming and online adventures is a very welcome addition.
I’m very happy with where this show is right now and it’ll only keep growing, especially now that we have a friggen website that was 8 months in the making. Aside from gaming, WWE, NFL, and MLB are my other passions. The 49ers suck now but when they win the Super Bowl next season you’ll see why they’re the best ever. The Giants already won 3 World Series rings so that’ll last me another 10 years easily. Samoa Joe and Chris Jericho are the best pure pro wrestlers ever, and contrary to popular belief I don’t hate Roman Reigns all that much (FITE ME IRL) but he still kinda sucks. That’s all I can think of for myself, so JO session over.
Games have always been a part of my life in some way or another. My father was a Computer Science major so as a kid there were always cool toys for me to play with–desktops, laptops, game consoles, etc. In my early youth I didn’t get to game much–this was during the whole “video games corrupt children” phase which my parents paid a bit too much attention to. But, as I got older I fell in love with PC gaming especially and always found it to be a fascinating medium. I love how the best games transport you to another world and place. It would be an understatement to say that video gaming served as a powerful reprieve during the more difficult times in my childhood.
If I had to define myself, I really see myself as a creator. I’m slowly inching toward making my own games and make art and write music in my spare time. My dream is to make a game that allows me full creative control over game lay, art, story, and sound.
The guys love to joke and call me a contrarian, and I do admit that I am probably the most critical and skeptical among us in terms of reviewing and understanding games. The reason for this comes for my deep love of the medium itself. My favorite games are the ones that take full advantage of this. Video games are special because we aren’t merely observers in them but participants. The future of the medium has much in store, too–I believe that one day games will be seen as essential art forms just as film and music are. They offer great potential for teaching people about the world and themselves. Yet, I think the industry as a whole often fails to reflect this. That is why in general I can come off as cynical–I think in many ways the industry has gone quite stagnant. The industry, in terms of creativity, peaked around the early 2000s, and I feel like since then we’ve merely been repeating what worked (with several incredible exceptions of course)!
This is part of the reason I find indie games so exciting. I believe the future of the medium lies in them, not in triple-A releases–just the way underground cinema pushes Hollywood forward toward brighter and more creative avenues, indie games do the same for mainstream releases.
“Immersive sims”, as coined by Warren Spector and co., are one of my favorite genres, due to their grounded and emergent nature. They allow for truly cool things to happen. Ideally, gameplay and story should be one and the same and this genre constantly creates cool stories and moments that flow naturally from gameplay and player choices as opposed to pre-defined scripts. I also love RPGs and FPS games. There are few genres I don’t enjoy, honestly, except maybe sports games and it’s only because I don’t play them regularly.
Dennis The Cynic
I love games and have dating back to the 80s when my parents bought my sister and I an NES system (and I’m still scarred by that stupid laughing dog from Duck Hunt).
At a certain point I stopped trying to keep up with the latest consoles and PC systems. However, the old school days of button mashing, simple graphics but difficult games and easy controllers still remains important to me. So I still play and talk about them from time to time. I guest hosted The Gaming Marathon back in 2015 and Adam, Asad and Aaron were too nice to shoo me away so I’ve stuck around since.
My other love as a child was cartoons so I bring my best voice imitations to the show from time to time.
I used to live in Baltimore until life brought me to the West Coast. However I still think fondly of crab cakes, Orioles baseball and all of the rivers and lakes you could find there.
Some people call me a retro guy, I think i’m a video game classics connoisseur. But I still enjoy the new stuff as well. My favorite characters in game history (in no particular order): Bomberman, Mario, Link, Knuckles, the brothers from double dragon, and Shinobi.
When i’m not reminiscing about the games I had I spend a lot of time (admittedly, probably way too much) ranting about politics, mocking stuff I don’t like, talking DIY and pro wrestling.
And Adam’s right: Roman Reigns kinda sucks.
My earliest gaming memory goes back to a Double Dragon arcade machine at a local 7-Eleven in my home town. From that point forward I was obsessed with video games! At every possible opportunity to grab a controller or a joystick I was gaming with the best of them from the mid to late 80’s onward. My first gaming console was the Nintendo Entertainment System. From Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! to Super Mario Bros. 1 through 3 I refined my gaming skills on the NES until the release of my favorite gaming console of all time; the Super Nintendo in the early 90’s.
The Super Nintendo was the console that made me a gamer for life. Super Mario World, Super Metroid, F-Zero, Super Mario RPG, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the list goes on and on… So many amazing games that I was absolutely obsessed with. The Sega Genesis also held a great deal of my interest as well during that time… In fact, I’d say in general I loved, played, obsessed over and discussed video games substantially more than all of my friends, family members and classmates combined for most of my life.
Speaking of high school, my gaming journey continued in the mid to late 90’s with the Nintendo 64, the PlayStation 1, the Sega CD and the Panasonic 3DO. An odd collection of consoles for certain but I was expanding my gaming interests and even dabbling in some PC gaming with Diablo, Warcraft, Baldur’s Gate, Half-Life and DOOM. After high school I meandered my way through community college with some help from more PC Gaming, the GameCube, the PlayStation 2 as well as the Xbox. It was the first period of time in my life that I had access to all the big consoles at the same time and it was glorious. After community college I faced that moment that everyone dreads after college… What the hell do I do now??? After a few years of working a low paying, low intelligence required job I decided to attempt to combine a few of my interests: video games and drawing. I was always into drawing. I was very good at it, so I decided to apply to DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond Washington after seeing an ad for the college on Nintendo’s website. This meant starting over as a freshman, but I didn’t mind.
I was accepted into the Bachelors of Production Animation program and for the next four years, I was on track to become an animator in the video game industry. My PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC kept me company during this time, along with retro gaming on the Nintendo Wii Virtual Console. During my senior year at DigiPen I worked for Hourglass Games, a small indie studio developing a side scroller action title intended for the Xbox Live Arcade that never came to be. In May of 2009 I graduated from DigiPen to a nonexistent job market due to the great recession. I continued to work for Hourglass Games for a few months, but eventually moved on.
In the fall of 2011, I began doing some animation and audio production work for Marc Ronick, co-owner of the RELM Network. This ultimately led me to connect with Adam and Asad, who were interested in a show producer shortly prior to the release of Gaming Marathon Episode 40: Enter the Survival Horror. My first appearance on the show was Episode 47: 2014 Gaming Spooktacular! and I became Producer/Co-Host from episode 67: April Fools Day Delay onward.