June 22, 2017 scottcjones 1Comment

I had a pretty serious girlfriend in New York. Her name was Jill. I was nuts about her.

Jill was a part-time teacher in the math department at NYU. She lived in New York but she was from Vancouver—the same city, coincidentally, where I was shooting a TV show every month or two. She’d grown up in Vancouver in the 70’s and 80’s. She’d been a snowboarding prodigy as a kid, which sounded terribly Canadian to me. She remembered her dad driving her down the icy mountain roads after her snowboarding meets. Her father always bought her a tuna sub from Subway on the way home—that was their ritual. As he steered the car and navigated the tricky curves of the mountain roads, guiding them both back to civilization, Jill sat in the passenger seat. She watched her father drive and ate the tuna sub.

Jill accompanied me on one of my TV trips to Vancouver. We stayed in the spare room at her parents’ apartment. It was at some point on that trip—probably over dinner with Jill’s parents at an oyster place in Gastown—that we decided to move to Vancouver together.

I phoned the producers of the Canadian TV show I worked on the next day. I asked if I could work for them full-time. They said yes. The wheels were in motion.

Jill and I returned to New York and began winding down our lives in NYC. We scheduled goodbye dinners with friends. We fantasized about our new life together in Canada. The vulture of gloom? The one that perched on my shoulders and made me flee subway stations in terror? The vulture’s days were numbered now.

(more…)

June 20, 2017 scottcjones

Canada.

It’s the wild, sprawling, underpopulated, metric system-loving Garden of Eden to America’s north. If you’re American, as I am, and you’re looking to dodge a draft, or escape the law after robbing a bank, or see a loon, Canada’s got your back on all three fronts. (more…)

April 28, 2017 scottcjones 3Comments

Traveled to Brantford, Ontario in March, to the PC Museum. Syd Bolton, the museum’s founder and curator, drove into downtown Toronto to pick me up, along with TV’s Steve Tilley and Youtube’s Erika Szabo. Syd summoned us to his museum for an event called a Game Soiree. I’ve never been to any sort of event with the word “soiree” attached to it. I was concerned that it might be sleazy. It wasn’t.

We were all at Syd’s modest estate from 2 p.m. until 11 p.m. So it was a pretty good chunk of our day.

But come on—it’s Syd, right? He’s the most eccentric Canadian I’ve met. His entire life is built around gaming, and computers, and nerd culture. It’s honestly difficult to know where the work ends and Syd’s private life begins.

Special thanks to Tilley, Szabo, Shane Luis (also of Youtube), and to Syd, for feeding us spaghetti, opening his home, and letting his calvary of tiny, precious, snow-white dogs lick our hands and faces.

Update: I have a subsequent conversation with Syd that I’ll be posting soon. Stay tuned for that.

-Scott J.

 

Play
April 19, 2017 scottcjones 1Comment

Vancouver, British Columbia. Saturday morning in September 2016. Low clouds. No rain yet, but it’s coming. Cloud cover so low and dark this morning that the city feels boxed in and claustrophobic. As soon as I step out the front door of my building, rain begins to fall, raindrops as big as Canadian nickels. I fish the umbrella out of my backpack and press the button on the handle. FWAP! The unfolding nylon sounds like an oversized bat taking flight.

The rain is merciless and cruel. It threatens to shred my umbrella, to reduce it to a nylon pulp. It’s pounding everything, myself included, down, down, down.

This is how it rains on the West Coast of Canada.

I lope towards the Rogers Arena across town. Vancouver is small enough to walk. Rogers is where the Canucks play their home games. Rogers is where I gave a Tedx talk in 2015, so the Arena and I have some personal history.

I’m attending a media event this morning. A media event is a high-strung phoney party that’s designed to introduce members of the media to a product. Media events usually contain the following ingredients: artisanal sandwiches, soft drinks, giveaways/freebies, awkward moments, sometimes sublime moments, too, and interview opportunities with celebrity and pseudo-celebrity guests.

I’ve been going to these dreaded gatherings—dreaded because they are designed to be fun and rarely are—for more than a decade.

This morning’s high strung, phoney party at the Rogers Arena is to celebrate the release of a video game called NBA 2K17.

(more…)

March 14, 2017 scottcjones 2Comments

The latest episode of Heavily Pixelated is a celebration of Mass Effect, specifically how the original trilogy of games helped one gamer understand herself better.

Note: I’m ridiculously proud of this episode.

Thanks again to the brave, incredibly articulate Ashley Cooper for sharing this story with me (and now you). You can read Ashley’s writing here: https://medium.com/athena-talks/the-artist-formerly-known-as-james-195ac1922a68. It goes without saying, but she’s worth reading.

Special thanks to Mac Walters, the director of Mass Effect: Andromeda, who took time out of his day busy day to talk to us.

Thanks to Steven Nikolic for his ongoing technical support and vaunted website-building skills. (Translation: He makes all of this stuff look good and sound good.)

Finally, thanks to my partner and friend, Sarah Deakins. What inexhaustible talent and drive that woman has. Sarah inspired me every step of the way during production.

If you like this episode, please share it with your friends, colleagues, co-workers, etc. I need more listeners.

More episodes are coming soon. Stay tuned.

xoxo,

Scott J.

Play
February 14, 2017 scottcjones 6Comments

I was invited on a media trip to Orlando, Florida several years back, to promote the launch of a tennis video game. Publishers were still making tennis video games back then for some strange reason. This was the summer of 2007. I know the actual date because people had iPhones on this trip, literally for the first time ever. (iPhones hadn’t existed prior to this.) I recall sharing a cab with a woman who let me diddle the dead husk of her depleted iPhone. I grabbed it, and proceeded to make faux computer sounds—BEEP, BOOP, BEEP, BOOP—as I pressed the nonexistent buttons on its cold, dead face. It was the first time I had touched an iPhone. Considering its inert state, it wasn’t terribly thrilling for me. The woman described her one gripe about the device: the first-generation iPhone held a charge for a comically brief amount of time.

Yes, iPhone battery life would improve. Yes, video game publishers would soon stop making tennis video games after this. The world always keeps turning, I guess.

At the event’s “press conference,” a worn out Maria Sharapova stood behind a podium and half-heartedly attempted to say a few nice things about the tennis video game she was there to promote. I observed the proceedings from the second row. I asked no questions.

Something else happened on that trip. Something I’ve never been courageous enough to speak about before.

This story is about that something.

Enjoy.

Play
January 21, 2017 scottcjones 4Comments

I worked there for six months, maybe a year. It wasn’t the worst job I’ve ever have (note: I’d find the worst job soon after this). People were pleasant to me, if a little distant and condescending. I wasn’t a New Yorker and they obviously knew this; I felt like they enjoyed knowing this. The investment bankers who stalked around the office like werewolves enjoyed knowing it; the secretaries, which was the group that I was technically a part of, enjoyed knowing it, too.

I answered telephones, directed calls, set up appointments, signed for packages, and ran an old, knucklehead computer. And I operated the velobinder. The velobinder was the office equivalent of a medieval torture device. It was a large, blank-faced machine with a long, thin slot on the front of it. Within seconds of switching it on, the machine would give off a hot, burning smell. I’d carefully feed stacks of paper into the velobinder’s dark slot. The slot heated up to a high enough temperature to melt plastic. The velobinder’s job was to fasten stacks of paper together, to bind them, with the melted plastic. I had to hold the papers very still for maybe five or 10 seconds in the slot when operating the machine. If I moved at all, even the slightest bit, the velobinder would throw a fit and not do what I wanted it to do.

The day of the office Christmas party I put in more of a workday than I’d expected to put in. I sat at my desk and went through the motions, trying to look busy, trying to distract myself. I had a tough time concentrating. I felt restless and impatient. What I was feeling was genuine excitement. I hadn’t been this excited since I was a kid.

(more…)

January 20, 2017 scottcjones

It was 1997. I was living in New York City. It was the holiday season. The office Christmas party was coming. To say that I was looking forward to the party would be an understatement. I was excited about it, excited like a kid about to walk into an amusement park. I wanted to experience the whole thing: drinking too much, eating too much, kissing a woman in the copy room who hopefully looked like Shirley Maclaine in The Apartment, etc.

I wanted to experience the gamut of joyous, ribald activities that I’d seen in office parties on TV shows and in TV movies for decades. I wanted to be the old drunk, tired of it all, getting drunk alone in his dark office. I wanted to be the sales guy wearing a tiara for some bizarre reason and doing a strange dance to Madonna’s “Like A Prayer” on top of the conference room table.

At office Christmas parties, you were a grown-up—a tax-paying, job-having adult. Yet these parties were rare occasions when you were allowed, even encouraged, to act like a child again. It was OK to let yourself backslide a little at office Christmas parties. It was OK to regress.

(more…)

December 15, 2016 scottcjones 2Comments

Thanks to some timely string-pulling on the part of Dr. Ali, I was moved out of the bustling community cardiac recovery room and relocated to a standard-issue two-person room further down the hall.

Instead of five roommates—the constant chatter, the beeping machines, and the public attempts to defecate into portable space toilets—I would now have just one person to concern myself with.

This person was an older man. His hair was a dull, militaristic grey, shorn close to his pumpkin-shaped skull. He wore heavy eyeglass frames that made him appear curious and frustrated at once. He looked like an unemployed owl.

The unemployed owl would not have been out of place—not at all—in the background of one of my grandmother’s fading Moose Club Polaroids from the 70’s.

When I initially walked into the room I found him sitting in the chair next to his bed, eating his dinner. He was hunched in a primal position over his tray, elbows planted firmly on the portable table. He held his face about six inches above the tray. This strange intimacy with the tray was presumably done to maximize his tray-to-mouth eating speed. The man ate so fast that his plastic fork clacked against the plastic tray like a cuckoo clock: tock, tock, tock.

He introduced himself as Donald. Or Harry. Or Bernard. It was something like that. What his real name was didn’t matter to me.

I would come to know him only as Wombat.

(more…)

December 5, 2016 scottcjones 1Comment

I head to Montreal for the Montreal International Game Summit, a.k.a. MIGS. I stay in a fancy hotel. I speak French poorly. I try to wax poetic about Montreal. (I try to wax poetic at least once or twice a month. Everyone should.) And I talk to the keynote speaker at MIGS, Adam Boyes.

Adam is Canadian. He worked at Sony for the last four years as the VP of Developer and Publisher Relations. Not too shabby for a kid from Canada, eh? When Adam would take the stage at the Sony Press Conference at E3 each year, Canadian gamers’ hearts skipped a beat. (Mine did.)

Adam left Sony, somewhat abruptly, earlier this year. When I heard he was leaving Sony, I thought, Has this guy lost his damn mind? Wake up, Adam! It’s Sony! That’s got to be an amazing place to work! You can probably get whatever flavour of Vitamin Water you want in the office kitchen!

He has an explanation. Because Adam always has an explanation. Enjoy.

 

Play