Video games are amazing. They can move you to tears with their stories, transport you to worlds you could only imagine in your wildest dreams, bring you back to a more innocent time in your life, challenge you with thoughtful puzzles and given the breadth of video games on the market, there’s something for everyone, whether you play a simple game on your phone, enjoy visual novels or spend hundreds of hours on big-budget holiday releases.
It’s also at times really hard to celebrate video games despite the fact that they’re in the hands of just about everyone today in one form or another and generate billions of dollars of revenue annually. If there’s a tragic shooting, video games nearly always become a scapegoat for the media, there’s still too many cases of toxic gate-keeping by people who would rather play in closed communities than bring in new players and racial slurs still come through your headset when playing online games.
It’s easy to sit there with a controller in hand and think why bother or, I could be doing so much more with my time than sitting down wasting it in front of a screen for hours on end. Such thoughts are immediately silenced after listening to one episode of Heavily Pixelated, an incredible new podcast that looks beyond the negative stigma that is often associated with video games and shows just how much healing power they have to offer the world.
Heavily Pixelated was created by Scott C. Jones, someone who has had a long career in video games and who most probably know as a personality and host on Electric Playground that used to air on the now defunct G4 network before finding a new home on YouTube. With each episode, Jones uses his over twenty years of experience in the video game industry to tell you a deeply personal story where you not only learn about him as a person, but also the subject of each week’s episode.
In the debut episode of Heavily Pixelated, you’re introduced to Graham, a person who was going through a very tough divorce and got through it by playing with a clan in Destiny. Scott, being a veteran of the industry, uses his contacts to let Graham say thank you to Mark Noseworthy, a project lead on Destiny 2. In the weeks that would follow, we would learn about how Scott’s friend Ashley learned of her true gender identity when playing as a female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, how a couple coped with losing a child by randomly buying South Park: The Stick of Truth at a Wal-Mart and hear a touching, heartfelt tribute to Syd Bolton, a passionate museum curator of classic PC’s from Brantford, Ontario who suddenly and tragically passed away this year and who Scott knew personally.
It’s impossible not to be deeply moved when listening to every episode of Heavily Pixelated and it stands out from most every other video game podcast that focuses more on things like news and what the hosts have been playing each week. Traditional podcasts and Scott’s show both celebrate the medium of video games, however what makes Heavily Pixelated so uniquely special is its maturity in its subject matter and focus on intimate stories over talking about the characters that were just announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the latest Nintendo Direct.
A show like Heavily Pixelated also couldn’t come at a better time as people wake up each day, check their social media stream and read news story headlines. It’s easy to become cynical with the way the world is today, and a show like Heavily Pixelated is there to remind you that there’s still hope out there if you go and look for it. Not only is the show therapeutic for Scott and the people he interviews, but to the developers Scott manages to get for every episode. Creating video games looks like a thankless job sometimes for someone outside looking in, and it must be uplifting for the people who work tireless hours creating the games we love to see how the work they’ve put out into the world has helped people through some very tough times.
Whether you’re someone who listens to podcasts or not, Heavily Pixelated is something that you should make time for, even if you’re just a casual video game player. We live in a very scary time, and video games are a way in which we can escape, even briefly, from the daily insanity. But video games to some are more than just a way to get a break from the world, they’ve helped them discover who they’re meant to be and have been a comfort in very difficult times. In Scott’s own words:
“Games are fun, but they’re more than fun, they do more than what we give them credit for.”
You can learn more about Heavily Pixelated HERE and you can look for it on your podcast provider of choice.