I’ve always been jealous of people who’ve known what they wanted to do with their lives. Being able to focus your efforts on something meaningful has often felt out of reach for me. Most of the jobs I’ve had throughout my life have been fulfilling in varying amounts, but none have ever truly made me happy.
The one thing that has given my joy is my gaming hobby. I’ve been playing video games in some capacity since the age of 3. Name a console and I’ve played it. Gaming for me isn’t just a hobby. It’s provided comfort, release, and friendships that have lasted for most of my lifetime. The one thing it didn’t do until very recently was give me direction or purpose.
In early 2013 while randomly streaming some gameplay via a website called Twitch, a gentleman named Cicero asked me via chat: "Hey are you looking for any contributors for your gaming website?" I’d been running that site for the past three years with little success in garnering any kind of foothold in the gaming journalism space, and I was about to shut it down. But I told him to contact me so we could chat about it. That discussion blossomed into my new friend Cicero joining my site, TheSpawnPointBlog, and later that month becoming my cohost for our new podcast called Spawn On Me.
What I hadn’t realized then is that this joining of forces would give me what I can definitely say is the most important and fulfilling work I’ve ever known.
Having someone who was just as driven as myself on the team really put our work into focus. It made us accountable to each other, and we brought out the best in each other’s work. Our weekly show at first was just about gaming, but we quickly realized it needed to become more.
The video-game scene on both the journalism and podcasting side was super homogenous. Few shows or articles came from authors or content creators of color. Opinionated discussions were interesting but never really touched real issues that affected the games being made or played. We felt like there was a huge gap we could fill in the space and that we wanted to give a new face to nuanced discussion. We decided to host the first gaming podcast to spotlight people of color in the gaming industry, and, although it was a risk, it has paid off in ways we couldn’t imagine.
In our first year we’ve showcased some of the biggest names in the video-game industry and had our logo placed in one of the most sought-after games on the Xbox One. We’re proud of what we've been able to accomplish in such a short time, but I’m most proud of our episodes where we tackled social issues like Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson or when we spoke up against Gamergate’s sinister movement of misogyny and harassment. Being able to raise money for the family of Eric Garner via our #Spawn4Good social justice platform showed that we could move from intent to action, and that you can be more than just a gaming podcast. Support from across the globe helped us get picked up by the ESN.FM network and has put us in an amazing position for year two.
Those are highlights to an exciting first year, but honestly that isn’t what made this year great for me personally. Being able to know that we are touching lives through our work every week via our conversations is what really matters. Having a 50+ year-old from Germany send us an email detailing how hearing us talk about issues of race has opened his eyes to his own blind spots and hearing from listeners who work in academia say that our show has been used to teach lessons in their classes has blown us both away.
Our podcast Spawn On Me has given me a voice I never knew I had or wanted. Being able to have honest, nuanced discussions with our guests and audience about video games while spotlighting underrepresented people has not only made me a better person but a more empathetic one.
Life has become a lot more interesting now that we have a platform, and it’s a platform that I’m excited and happy to be standing upon.
—Kahlief Adams is founder and editor-in-chief of TheSpawnPointBlog, where he discusses all aspects of gaming and video-game culture. He also cohosts the Spawn On Me podcast, a weekly video gaming podcast for the mature gamer featuring and focusing primarily on people of color within the games industry.