Community Focus - Jaywalking Games
Don’t mind me just getting back in the saddle of Community Focuses after a wild few weeks leading up to the Destiny 2 Showcase last month. And what a stellar person to kick things right back off with! Our latest Community Focus is all about a Guardian who has learned how to take everything life has thrown at him and turn it into a way to help those around him while also learning how to navigate a world with a kind heart and a compassionate mind. Meet Jaywalking Games, an advocate for accessibility, a champion for those like him who are neurodivergent, and he’s just an overall great dude (despite being a Hunter main).
Ready to learn more about our latest Community Focus? Let’s get into it!
How ya doing today, Jay? Thanks for chatting with us! Before we dive right in, go ahead and tell folks a little bit about you and how the heck you got your start in the Destiny community.
Jay: Hi, Liana, Master of the Dad Joke! I'm Jason, but everybody just calls me Jay! In body, I'm achy and tired, but my heart is full of gratitude to be chatting with you and the Destiny community at large! I'm also grateful because I just ran King's Fall for the first time since the first Destiny, thanks to the kindness of my friends, so feeling really good this Friday!
I've been playing Destiny since the first game’s beta years ago. I remember when I first received a set of download codes from my employer way back when I worked for GameStop in ... 2013? I got my start in the wider community in 2019 making YouTube videos about how to solo the Hollowed Lair Nightfall (Now we can craft Mindbender's Ambition, what!?), and from there, I just experimented with the type of content I wanted to make. It’s been a fun journey!
There’s one other small thing that I’m lowkey very proud of: I, uh, also made a goofy meme involving Mountaintop and Adored that got featured in Forbes 😬 Way to leave a mark, right?
Forbes, huh? Sounds like a Tassi Grassi original. You love to see it! You said you started with the beta. What about Destiny drew you in so much (and so immediately)?
For me, it was definitely the gameplay and the friendships I made while playing. I’ve been a gamer since the Atari days, and that shared interest has led me to some amazing people, including my brother-from-another-mother, Icepick Gaming. I’ve known this guy for over 32 years, and we’ve been gaming together since we were little kids. We both downloaded the Destiny 1 beta together. It’s actually kind of funny, because we were kind of hoping that we wouldn’t like Destiny because of the dreaded backlog of never-played video games, but... joke was on us. We loved the activities, we loved the story, the endgame content, the Seasonal events. We loved all of it.
Through Looking For Group (LFG) we met other friends when teaming up for things like Nightfalls, and the rest, as they say, is history! Myself, Icepick, and another friend we met through the game, Fantassi, immediately became the best of friends and even started up a little group called Sweeper Stimulant, because Sweeper Bot is clearly the best bot.
From the moment I heard, “...Guardian? Guardian!? Eyes up, Guardian,” I was hooked! Storytelling is about establishing a feeling early on, and Destiny knocked that out of the park before I ever got inside the Cosmodrome walls and picked up my first weapon.
As an artist and musician, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the things that make up the world of Destiny that have moved me on such a deep level so many times, in so many moments: the visuals and the music. I don't know of any game in the literal history of ever that has moved me with its beauty more than Destiny.
Definitely can empathize with that. A solid soundtrack can transform any day and bring you right back to a beloved experience. Make or break, a game’s sound!
So, my fellow accessibility advocate-in-arms, tell us a little bit about your story and how that has impacted your content creation journey.
I remember learning American Sign Language (ASL) in first grade so that I could perform in a choir for deaf children, I loved that moment so much, and it really inspired me to do more. I knew I wanted to do something that would let me engage that creative performer inside me while also serving the marginalized of society, so that’s exactly what I did.
As I grew up, I uncovered aspects of myself that pushed me onto this path even more. From numerous surgeries due to a variety of physical medical conditions, to dealing with neurological trials like major depressive disorder, anxiety, PTSD following an abusive marriage, and even a failed suicide attempt. That all shaped who I am today and how I learned to evolve. It wasn’t always easy, and lord knows I’ve made mistakes that I wish I could take back, but I’m learning, and that’s all we can do. Try to be better versions of ourselves.
My story, which is too much to cover here, touches on a lot of threads related to accessibility. I feel like I'm in a unique position, too, because my disabilities occurred slowly over many years until they began to worsen dramatically in 2007 when I was 23. It was an uphill battle getting to the bottom of the changes I was going through and receiving the medical support I needed. There were a few years that got incredibly dark for me and impacted my mental health drastically. But I had good people around me, ones that were there when I needed them the most, and because of them, I am still here fighting the good fight. That eventually led to my role in the Destiny community—fighting the fight for those that don’t know how yet, providing support, resources, and friendship. Making the world a little brighter, and in turn, being inspired and learning from the community.
My start in content creation wasn’t the smoothest. I was dealing with a lot mentally, and I regret the first impression I’ve given so many in my life, but that’s what pushed me to continue and work on myself. Be the person I want to be, not the one my mental illness told me I was. I know this is oversharing, but I believe it’s important.
Looking back on your journey and where you want to go, do you feel like there are any misconceptions about accessibility in games?
This is a tough one, which I think speaks to the problem. The very fabric of gaming and society itself is not accessibility friendly, and I didn't even realize that until I became disabled. Even then, I still have so much to learn! I recently made the acquaintance of Haben Girma on Twitter. She is known as the deafblind woman who conquered Harvard Law. She is also a disability rights advocate and lawyer, as well as incredibly kind, friendly, and generous with her time. When I told her what I do, and talked about Destiny, she admitted that she can't experience video games because of the nature of her disabilities, yet she still appreciates and enjoys the joy it brings her friends. I realized what an ableist idea I had been harboring, even though I've been disabled now for seven years.
Seeing her journey has inspired me to constantly educate myself on issues outside of myself, while also learning more about my own mind and body. It also gave me the confidence to push back against all of the “just don’t play games then,” “play something else,” and “stop faking” commentary that always seems to hover around any type of accessibility talk.
For the industry side of things: hire us! In reality, disabled people—aside from being human beings with as much skill, drive, intelligence, and talent as anybody else—are often the kind of people you want to hire. We're often creative and adaptable, persistent, and determined. We've had to be. We fight battles every second of every day that nobody else sees, and that makes us mighty. That makes us resilient and that makes us brave.
Well said! Education is so important, and this is not one of those topics you want to have from non-educated sources. Thanks for bringing that up!
OK, so, let’s nerd out for a second. We just shared our Showcase showing off what’s next and the new subclass with Strand. We gotta ask, what was your favorite part of what was shown off? Anything that has you the most jazzed?
Hmm, well, I wouldn’t say shocked, but maybe I could say... jolted. Eh? Eh? Anyway, to answer the actual question, I was expecting some visceral horror fest with how The Witch Queen and Season of the Haunted were, but I was not expecting Thor: Ragnarök meets Spider-Man 2099. Like what!?! The entire aesthetic appeals to me. I am a child of the 80s, after all. It just looks fun! With all the Subclass 3.0 changes and Strand on the way, it kind of feels like magic, and that has me looking forward to reset days way more. I just want to go in and explore everything!
And Strand!? How? Who came up with that? That completely took me by surprise! When I saw the green color, I immediately thought, “Ah, they’re doing corruption, OK, let's go!” That quickly changed as the trailer continued. Well done, Bungie, well done. I thought I knew what was coming, but I had no idea, and that makes me so amped up for the future of movement in Destiny.
Oh, you all have no idea. It’s going to be a wild few years, that’s for sure! The next one’s a two-parter, you ready? What’s your go-to main class to play on (come on, Titans!) and what is your dream pitch for Destiny as a game?
No pressure! OK, well, to start, and I think you’ll like the ending of this story despite it starting with a non-Titan. My dive into Destiny started with an Awoken Hunter. She was my original character with yellow eyes, dark blue side-swiped hair, and her blade dancing heart. She was a total badass. The problem was, I think I was always a Titan at heart because I did moves I should not have done, and that broke a lot of the connection I had to her as my Guardian. When I finally tried out Titan, my fists-first-questions-later combat approach made a lot more sense, so then I created my first Exo do-gooder as a Defender, and I’ve never looked back.
I did have a brief stint in the first Destiny where I was doing a lot in raids as a Warlock with Fireborn. She was Human and pretty cool. I usually juggle between one to two classes now, depending on time. I guess you could say I have the finesse of a Hunter, the heart of a Titan, and the mind of a Warlock. Or just Guardian goes brrt with fists a lot. Whichever.
Really appreciate you coming out and talking to us, Jay, it’s been a treat! Before we let you go, any last words? Anybody you’d like to shout out?
You're absolutely welcome and thank you for this fantastic opportunity. I've done a lot of hard work behind the scenes for the Focus part, but I couldn't have done it without everybody who has supported me along the way and our community. Y'all are the real MVPs. As for shoutouts...
There are a few. Bear with me:Sweeper Simulant - Best fireteam international (sorry, Aztecross):
Icepick Gaming: The dude who has been like a brother to me since I was 7 years old, Mr. Icepick Gaming. I wouldn't be talking with any of you today if it wasn't for him. He's stuck with me through thick and thin, and when I was at the bottom and couldn't see my own worth, he encouraged me toward content creation, and to lean into my core personality and who I am.
Fantassi: My other brother from another mother. A man I look up to (not just because he's taller than me, which is rare) but because it's been such an honor, and a joy, to watch him become a husband and father. He's great at both, and he's given me some really good advice over the years, as well as a generous measure of grace.
Sarah, a.k.a. TheVertigoVixen and her merry band of V4V Guardians: They helped me overcome anxiety and PTSD flashbacks so I could learn to enjoy raiding again. Fantastic in-game guides, and even more fantastic people. They're leading the way for accessibility, but for them, it's just a Thursday night.
JaumPM: In the two years since I wandered into Jaum's Trials stream, he has become a trusted friend, a phenomenal teacher, always patient, always kind, even when he's exhausted and salty. Last year when I had COVID, he was in my DMs checking on me. Last week, he and his crew took me through King's Fall for the first time since the original Destiny. It was a moving experience because my conditions are so much worse now, yet Jaum seemed to intuitively understand that, and adjusted his guiding style accordingly.
DirtyHotte: When I discovered Hotte's stream a couple years ago, we hit it off after I noticed we played in a similar style. I kept going back every week to his streams to check out how else our experiences intersected. We became fast friends, collaborating on content, and eventually, he asked me to mod for his Twitch channel! I've watched him grow professionally and personally, but mostly, I appreciate his friendship, camaraderie, and all the laughs.
Professor Quin: For your kindness, encouragement, and daily meditation posts. You reached out to me when I commented about having a bad day on GuardiansMH, and I can say my life has been impacted in a net positive way as a result. Thanks, Prof.
There are so many more. I just want to say thank you so much to everyone who has made my life better, even in the smallest of ways. You know who you are, and I hope you know that your impact is immense, and you’ve enriched my life in ways I will never be able to fully express. Thank you. Truly.
But one last thing before I go, I dedicate this opportunity to my girls, always and forever. 💙
As to where people can find me, you can find me at JaywalkingGames on Twitter, Twitch, Instagram, and TikTok!
And that’s a wrap on our latest Community Focus featuring the wonderfully open Jaywalking Games. If you’re interested in even more accessibility discussion, feel free to mosey on over to other incredible content creators that are blasting open the doors of accessibility like Grant Stoner, MitchySlaps, and Steve Saylor. If you’d like to simply check out our most recent Community Focus, feel free to learn more about OLDQ, an amazing artist and visionary bringing a unique twist to the Destiny fandom.
As we head into the weekend once more, we just want to say that seeing all of your excitement about the future of Destiny following our Showcase has filled our hearts with so much joy. Thank you for putting you in the Destiny universe. Your unique Light shines brighter than you will ever know. In the meantime, you bright shiny Guardians you, make sure you’re drinking your water, doing a little self-care action, and always putting your kindest foot forward. We’ll see you next time.
<3 “I should go,”