For those who have been around in the Halo community for quite some time the gamertag JVB brings a wave of nostalgia. JVB is a content creator from NYC who was once a host of Halo’s oldest dedicated podcast, Podtacular. JVB also has a long running podcast called the Post Game Report, and a YouTube channel dedicated towards anything his fancy. His creativity has brought joy to thousands across multiple mediums and it’s our pleasure to have him on the site.
Nick: Well most importantly JVB, I want to say thank you for taking time out your busy schedule to answer my questions. Before we dive into some of your incredible work within Podtacular, the video game community and more, I want to start with a very basic question. What started your passion for gaming? Was it a certain title or was it an experience with someone?
JVB: That one is easy! Asteroids in 1979. I remember being 7 years old, and seeing this weird looking cabinet sitting in the middle of a room that the older people used to play dominoes, and cards. I walked up to it and I saw objects flying around the screen, and heard a really cool tune coming out of it’s speakers. Someone gave me money to put into the cabinet, but since I had no idea what I was doing, the session didn’t last long. After a few months of determination, and the help from some friends, I learned how to properly play Asteroids, and instantly became hooked on Video Games.
N: Why Halo? All of the games to get attached to what made Halo special for you? Was it the incredible world it delivered or was there something else that caught your eye?
J: I was a big FPS fan at the time, and played a lot of Quake, Unreal, and Doom on the PC. When Microsoft announced that they were planning to enter the console market, Halo was the big title that was showcased. The science fiction theme caught my attention, but it wasn’t until I actually played it that I really began to enjoy the lore. Halo 2 really set up my love for the franchise with I Love Bees. At the time, that type of promotion for Video Games was unheard of, and kept me on the edge of my seat with each audio leak.
N: Podtacular was legendary for Halo in the podcast scene. How’d you get started? What was the driving force behind delivering a podcast geared towards Halo fans?
J: The first time I heard of Podtacular was on iTunes. This was during the early days of podcasting, and a few Video Game centric shows were starting to appear. I was listening to another gaming podcast and they interviewed the founder of Podtacular, Foo Mo Jive. After the interview, I logged on to their website, and became a member of the Podtacular community, and an avid listener. I decided to leave a voicemail with a gameplay tip for Halo 2 multiplayer, and it actually made it to an episode. That really excited me, so I began to leave random voice messages for the show, until they invited me to join them for an episode. I became a listener favorite and was giving the co-host duties once Spellcheck left the podcast.
The challenge of being in a podcast centered around one game was never really a challenge because the community provided so much content with Tales From The Fox Hole. They kind of made our jobs easier because they kept us motivated to keep the show going, every week. Also, Bungie and Xbox were really supportive of what we were able to accomplish, and made sure to give us a helping hand whenever we needed it.
N: What was your favorite memory while being a part of Podtacular? There must’ve been such a plethora of moments to choose from. If you could highlight one, what would it be?
J: I agree, there were countless moments I can write down, but the one that takes centerstage was the night Foo Mo Jive and I interviewed Marty O’Donnell at the Halo 3 launch event in Seattle. Xbox sent us to Seattle to preview Halo 3 and attend a launch party. They called it Halo Lockdown, and Foo Mo Jive and I were the only two people there from the same podcast/website that received an invitation.
During the midnight launch event, an employee from the Xbox team asked me what I thought of the evening. I told him that I was having an amazing time, and the only thing that would top it off would be to meet Marty O’Donnell—the man behind the legendary Halo soundtrack. He looks at me and tells me that he can make that happen. He returns a few minutes later with Marty, and his family! Once we were introduced, I asked him if he’d like to record an interview with us, and he happily agreed. I did the introduction, but called myself Foo Mo Jive!!! As you can imagine, we all laughed pretty hard at the one.
N: When you left Podtacular that must’ve been hard walking away from such a passionate community. What was lifelike right after leaving? What was your driving force behind jumping into your next passion?
J: I left Podtacular right after Foo Mo Jive called it quits. I was able to stick around for a little bit, but it wasn’t the same without Mike (Foo Mo). Our chemistry was off the charts and it was really difficult to get that type of vibe with the other host. The decision was made easier once DustStorm was ready to take over the show.
I was recording my own podcast during my final year with Podtacular, so the transition was smooth. I would make some guest appearances on Podtacular once in a while. I believe the launch of The Master Chief Collection was the last time I was on the show.
N: Your YouTube channel covers a variety of topics but has a constant theme of photography. Has photography always been a passion of yours? What drove you to create so many incredible pieces?
J: I was always fascinated with photography as a teen. I remember taking a class in high school that taught us how to create a camera out of cardboard, and develop our own film. That class inspired me to see things in a different perspective and share that perspective through photography.
My friends and I would split the cost of disposable cameras or film, and walk around the Bronx looking for cool places to take photos. I would always be in charge of composing the image, and taking the shot. As I got older, I lost touch with that side of my creativity for a few years. It wasn’t until I got my first iPhone, that I began to take photographs again. I eventually saved up for camera gear after years of people telling me to do so.
N: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration for the path you found yourself on? You’ve developed communities across multiple platforms in multiple genres which is not something everyone can do. What was that spark that was delivered to you that you now deliver to others?
J: I grew up during the 70’s and 80’s. I witness the birth of the Arcades, Hip Hop, Break Dancing, B-Boys, Graffiti, and music videos. I was surrounded by new and creative things that were never done, or seen before and that opened up my eyes to the world of creativity.
I was very fortunate to grow up with friends who had the same interest as I did. Having them around made expressing my creativity a lot easier. That is why when I first heard a podcast on iTunes, I immediately thought of my childhood friends. I saw an opportunity to create an environment very similar to my childhood, and so that concept was used to create communities.
Growing up, I was always the coordinator for events. Whether it was hanging out in front of the building, or planning a football game against another neighborhood, I was always the initiator. That is why building communities was always second nature for me.
I remember when I first began playing games on Xbox Live, I used to tell my coworkers about it and they would say “Aren’t you too old to play Video Games?”. I was in my early 30’s and to them, Video Games were for kids. It was because of that, I began to search for like minded people in my age range who enjoyed playing Video Games online. I found a group of older people during a game of Rainbow Six 3 and we instantly hit it off. We all felt the same way and were ecstatic to find others who loved gaming, but were also of “adult” age. The oldest of the bunch was 50 years old!
We eventually formed a community called Old Soldiers. As expected, I was the unofficial “community guy” that everyone went to when one of the members did something wrong. I was also incharge of creating matches against other clans in one those match-making websites. We lost most of our matches, but the join of losing together was all that mattered to us. The time I spent with Old Soldiers set me up with a lot of experience in community building and management.
N: You’ve done such incredible work for each community you’ve been a part of. Do you ever see yourself coming back to the community of Halo full time? Your own podcast dived into the Xbox Games Showcase recently. Did that ignite a fire?
J: The Halo universe will always hold a special place in my heart, so I will always cover the latest Halo games on release. Heck, my son even grew up with Halo, and loves it as much as I do. We will literally sit down for hours and talk about Halo lore or specific moments throughout the franchise.
I wouldn’t come back to the Halo community, though. The community is in great hands, and the content on YouTube is plenty. There is nothing I can add to the community that isn’t already there.
N: How can people support all the incredible work that you do? Do you have a Patreon? What can individuals do to continue elevating you as an influencer.