When I was young, my grandmother would pick my sister and I up from school and take us to the McDonald’s down the street and buy us ice cream. She would eat her cone slowly into a curl and describe the shape as the hair of “Johnny Neutron”.

She clearly meant Jimmy Neutron, but that’s beside the point.

One day, on the drive home from McDonald’s a conversation emerged on what my sister and I wanted to do when we grew up. I’m pretty sure my answer was Astronaut or Sportscaster, but at the time, my answer wasn’t what mattered in that conversation. What stuck with me is something my grandmother said about making a living.

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She told us “Find something you love to do and find a way to get paid to do it…”

It didn’t seem revolutionary at the time, but that advice has been instrumental for where life has led me.

Fast forward to junior year of High School. Thanksgiving dinner somehow devolved into a career choice discussion. My sister had uttered something about Nursing or being a doctor, something my family was very excited to hear. When I said “games journalist” I didn’t exactly expect to be bombarded with sour reactions, but I probably should’ve been prepared for it.

For context, this was the same year I had asked for a 3DS instead of an iphone, a decision my aunt said a six-year old would make. This was the same year my dad threatened to destroy my PS3 on multiple occasions. This was the same year that the grandmother that said to find something I loved and find a way to get paid for it, seemed to make an exception and say that I couldn’t find a job “playing games”.

And I couldn’t really blame them, they weren’t in tune with the success of the gaming industry and all I had done to that point was talk.

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Things changed, as I soon used money from bonds I had received during my first communion ceremony to buy a microphone and game capture card, and I soon got to work writing and creating some of the lowest quality reviews and videos surrounding gaming I had ever seen.

But it was a start.

3 semesters into college, my parents were threatening to bring me back home. I wasn’t “involved” enough in anything besides playing games and recording my muffled thoughts on Call of Duty and Season Passes in my dorm room. I loved the University of North Florida and wanted to avoid living at home again, so I inquired about a volunteer position at Spinnaker Television. That practically forced volunteer opportunity changed my life.

For four months I volunteered on a daily news show, one that ended up being cancelled as we realized students weren’t willing to wake up at 9 a.m. to hear about parking decal thefts.

The TV station soon shifted to an entertainment format and my friend John McCrone and I saw an opportunity to make a show involving us doing the thing I happened to love most; talking about video games.

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We were shot down not one time, not twice, but three times before our station manager gave us a permission to shoot a 10 minute pilot show. Our pilot episode ended up being an awkward 19 minute gaming news rundown, but our station manager offer critiques before leaving for the summer. The station needed a show to produce and thus Birds of Play! Was born.

I returned to college after a summer working two s**t jobs and made my first appearance on the show. After sharing the video on Facebook earlier in the week, my parents described an interesting phenomena during our weekly call. They said that my grandparents and Aunt had seen the show and, in layman’s terms, finally began to understand what I meant all those years ago when I said I wanted to be a “games journalist”.

Whatever “games journalist” means now, all I know is I just want to keep doing what I do now; making a Gaming and Tech talk show each week with some of the hardest working and most passionate people I know. Episode 50 of Birds of Play! will release a day after I turn 21, and as much as I’d like to pop a bottle of champagne to legality, I’d rather drink to 50 episodes of a show that has brought me more joy than almost anything else I’ve ever been involved in.

So here’s a gigantic thank you to a few incredible people:

Brandon Diaz for his editing skills throughout the show’s lifetime.

Diane Colley for approving such a stupid show idea.

John C. Tyler McCrone for his help in getting me involved at Spinnaker Television and starting a show where we regularly debate with each other about Telltale Games.

Every volunteer crew member and co-host we’ve had over the course of the past 1.5 years of the show’s existence.

Our viewers who support us every week and even those who instantly downvote our videos or hope that we all horribly die in a fire with our families because we criticized Nintendo.

And, more seriously, to some of my family with which I secretly held a grudge against for years. It was misguided, but that grudge eventually drove me to prove you wrong in the best possible way. 

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So here’s to the next 50 episodes of Birds of Play! and whatever show, podcast or YouTube series I find myself talking about video games next because, barring any crazy circumstances, I’ll graduate before we hit 100 episodes. Whoops.

All previous and future Birds of Play! can be found at Youtube.com/spinnakertelevision