By devise22 5 Comments
As I sit down to write this, I'm still astonished by the year. It's not just that it's 2017, it's how much has happened not only in my own life but in general. The current state of the games industry is no different. If you have been playing or following games for the last few decades, you'll know about the well documented growth and change this industry has experienced.
But this is my story, how being inspired and motivated by the long form discussion of people like Patrick Klepek and Adam Sessler somehow led me to be a long time subscriber of Giant Bomb, and eventually create my own gaming Youtube Channel with a group of friends. But I suppose we should start at the beginning right?
My name is Ryan Power and I'm pretty much your run of the mill average 29 year old living in rural Alberta Canada. I've lived in mostly central Alberta all my life, save for a few year layover in Calgary. I've been a “gamer” all my life. I remember falling in love with Super Mario Bros 3 on the NES in the early 90's, playing games like Battle Cars and Virtual Bart on SNES with friends, and then eventually falling in love with some early N64 titles like Smash Bros, Ocarina of Time, and Goldeneye.
After hitting my mid teens I went through typical teenage phases: Run away from home for a few years, live broke with friends, and drop out of school. You know, the complete non productive thing you do when you act out. During this phase of my life I didn't really game as much as I used to. It turns out gaming is an expensive hobby, and living relatively broke caused my gaming to slow down. I did play a lot of Magic The Gathering at this time, if that counts. This was around the PS2 and early 360 phase. Once I finally settled my life back down and you know, matured, I got back into the gaming scene.
Enter G4, X-Play, and eventually Feedback which was a weekly video podcast that G4 hosted that featured names like Adam Sessler, Patrick Klepek, Abbie Heppe, Blair Herter, etc. This would serve as my intro into "games journalism". Sure I knew of magazines and the rest when I was a kid. Everyone I spent time with knew about Gamefaqs, IGN, and Gamespot. But I gave little attention to videos of people talking about games at the time. Most people who found GB were followers of Jeff and crew as they left Gamespot, but for me it wasn't until after a few years that I learned of GB, and I've been a subscriber ever since.
During the G4 Feedback days, though I always had a lot of respect for Sessler, Klepek was a really inspirational figure for me. He had really in depth conversations about not just games and mechanics, but also examining how we play games. .He always made a big point of playing games from genres he wasn't comfortable with. This was something I at the time didn't realize I struggled with. I was the type who played Demon Souls for an hour and thought "this isn't my type of game." Yet now games like that and Spelunkey are among my all time favorites. I felt the push not just to enjoy games I was used to, but to try and understand what it is about games I didn’t really like, that others liked. The "maybe you are playing it wrong" excuse gets used a lot these days, but for me it wasn't just about playing, it was also about recognizing how my approach to the game got in the way of what the game may be trying to convey. One of my most memorable examples of this was recognizing that dying and learning is an important part of the experience in a Souls game.
These days I would say my gaming tastes and understanding of the medium is a bit more broad. But the fact that someone I never met, who I randomly saw on the Internet somehow played a pivotal role into how I understood and approached games in general is both weird and awesome in it's own way.
How does all of this relate to me running a Youtube gaming channel with some of my friends? Enter the Victory Hockey League (VHL). The VHL is a sports simulation league. It involves a piece of software that serves as a simulation engine. Users create players and upgrade them by points they gain by creating forum posts, graphics, and podcasts on a weekly basis. There is no visual component, and it is all run on the forum.
As a Canadian I am obligated to be a hockey fan. I had stopped following hockey as a kid and rediscovered my interest in it around the same time I started digging back into the games industry. I kind of fell into the VHL, and I'd be lying if I said this community / forum based game didn't change my life in many ways.
Before I dig in further I should give a little set up. I'm not an anti-social person, but I'm definitely not an extrovert. I've never one to go out to the bars hang out with large groups, but I have a few close friends I trust and spend time with. When I joined the VHL, I didn't really know anyone on it and on top of participating in the forum itself, used it as a good opportunity to meet some new people.
Relatively quickly, as I started to dig into the league, I was regularly Skyping with a few dudes I had never seen in person. While I had done that a few times before in my life, it wasn’t a common experience for me.
After talking on a more regular basis and realizing we had similar interests, me and two friends, Chris and Kyle, decided to start a Podcast in the VHL. This was one of the tasks you could do to earn weekly points for your players, and we all enjoyed talking about the VHL and talking in general so we figured why not.
That was in 2011 , and since then we have recorded well over a hundred editions of what was named The Pajodcast. My first player name in the league was Rauno Pajari, and I believe it was actually another member entirely on the site who suggested calling the Rauno Pajodcast. The name changed a little over the years with puns for player names, but Pajodcast always stuck until we eventually realized that it should just always be called that.
In the following years I introduced Kyle and Chris to Giant Bomb, and they immediately saw the appeal. Being in different parts of Canada never seemed to interfere with our ability to hang out, as we would just sync up and watch things together while talking on Skype. As the two of them began to really enjoy GB and it's content the conversations began to overlap. I will never forget us up late, one Christmas break several years ago, binge watching Metal Gear Scanlon 2. We also enjoyed many of the Mario Party Parties together, as well as a lot more.
I can’t understate how much meeting like minded people, and then being able to spend time enjoying what once was a more "niche" style of content together helped me grow as a person. Chris, Kyle and I eventually did meet up in person a couple of years back. Just to give you an idea of the distance, Chris is located in the Toronto area in Ontario, while Kyle is on the East Coast in Moncton, New Brunswick. With me almost as west as you can go, it was certainly a trek. But distance didn't stop us, as I took a long ass road trip with my roommate to head out to Ontario and Kyle flew in. We spent well over a week together on what was an awesome extended vacation.
I was actually really nervous initially meeting them. I mean, sure, I knew them for years, and had even video chatted with them previously. But this was the first time for me ever meeting someone online in person. But that went away almost instantly after meeting them, and I had one of the funnest vacations I'd ever had. We visited the CN Tower, took in a Blue Jays Game and as all of us are wrestling fans also attended a weekend of Ring Of Honor shows. Seeing Nakamura live was certainly a highlight.
Which brings us to now. A few months ago, Kyle Chris and I along with another close friend of mine decided to create a Youtube gaming channel, known as Pajodcast Media. It is named for the history of how we met and came to be. We know that we are super late to the gaming video party at this point but to be honest most of the stuff we record would be stuff we spend time doing even if the cameras or mics aren't on. Anyone who enjoys having random in depth discussion about games and just life in general probably knows what I'm talking about. Because we were late to the party we felt it was important to get a good catalogue of content going to show how serious we are about this thing before we made a big push to promote it. Our current video count is at least 100. We even participated in a recent Community Endurance run here on the site.
There you have it, our story. I wanted a chance to get some exposure for our channel without it being too much of a shameless plug. But as Mick Foley proved sometimes a cheap pop can be helpful. I also wanted the chance to share some of my own story. Honestly this site and the interactions I've had with friends because of it have changed my life for the better. Videos here have helped me through dark times, happy times, and in general made me constantly question my perspective about all things, not just games.
Thanks for reading and for your time, if you have any interest in the VHL or our Youtube channel you can feel free to check out the links.