Patrick Scott Patterson wants to be the Roger Ebert of video games.
And what John Madden was for television commentary for the NFL; what Vince McMahon has been for sports entertainment and pro wrestling.
“The guy that changes the game and makes people realize it could be bigger than what it is,” Patterson said of the others.
Those aren’t just random pop culture name drops for Patterson. Five years of thought are behind that goal.
“When Roger Ebert first started writing movie reviews, they ranked somewhere below the obituary column. He helped change that with how he did the reviews,” Patterson said. “He made people realize it was more then throw-away entertainment — they sent messages, made people feel things, inspired people.”
To fulfill those goals, Patterson has been on a virtual five-year grind, attending events all over the country, writing columns for his own gaming website and others, appearing on TV news segments to talk about video games, anything and everything he can do to establish himself as what he calls a “video game personality.”
For a long time, Patterson was going to events and paying out of his own pocket.
“It was almost having to go there and plant my flag and wave it around and just sell people on me,” he recalled. “Go there and be bold enough to shake the hand of someone, give them a business card and say, ‘Here I am, here’s who I am and here is why you should care.’ I have been lucky enough people started seeing substance to get me to emcee events — speak on TV news when things happen involving video games.”
Patterson said he fell into an opportunity to work for the G4 cable television network during the Electronic Entertainment Expo back in 2009 when they brought Steve Wiebe on TV as he went for the Donkey Kong world record. The network actually used Patterson’s own arcade machine for that event and he served as a consulting producer. While there, he noted that he — through what was at the time nearly 30 years of video gaming — knew more about the game and the industry as a whole then the collective network did.
“Not to knock them. What I learned with [that] and what I learned when I was a wrestler on how to connect with an audience … all this has a tangible value,” he said. “I decided to be that guy.”
What guy exactly?
Patterson noted that viewers cannot turn on the Tonight Show or the Today show or any other talk-centric shows and see video game material or segment and, when a program guest speaks about games in a disparaging way, there is typically no one to make a counterpoint.
Patterson said he was on a Denton-area TV station recently and had a chance to get the last word in.
“I don’t see why that is not on every news show. Video games are a multibillion dollar industry, but it doesn’t look like that in mainstream pop culture entertainment,” he said. “For me, that is a gap that needs to be closed and I want to be the guy that helps close it.”
Patterson said that 2014 marks his 33rd year playing video games.
“You could easily say it was my first love,” he said. “It was the first thing as a kid I was good at.”
He noted that it helped that he came in at a time when the industry was blowing up with game consoles in most every home and many at businesses, restaurants and supermarkets.
“I loved it. Not just playing it but studying the history and the industry. In the late ’80s, I was hitting thrift stores and libraries to get every book I could to study the history and culture.”
Patterson likened himself to superfans who could recite the history year by year of their favorite sports franchises.
“I am that guy in video games,” he said.
Patterson is not only trying to raise his own profile in the industry but that of others with his participation in video game-related movies including No Princess in the Castle, The NES Club and Pixel Poetry that tackle unique collectors, the role of women in gaming and more.
Rob McCallum, director of the documentary The NES Club, is someone Patterson has worked with recently and McCallum noted Patterson’s skill to straddle the precipices between those entrenched in the industry and those on the outside.
“[He can] communicate between both sides in a very familiar lingo people can [understand],” he said. “Because he can do that, he can bring the sides closer.”
Patterson and McCallum met through the latter’s game-related Kickstarter campaign when Patterson became of backer for the project.
“He saw it was more than just an entertainment headline-grabbing thing. He saw there was a story there. After I did some research on him, I saw that he wanted to collect some real emotion to people with the things that makes them happiest — [that] happens to be video games.”
Patterson spoke at the San Diego Comic Con last year and just recently at this year’s South By Southwest event in Austin.
Genese Davis, an author, columnist and media personality who was with Patterson on a panel at the San Diego Comic Con last year, said upon her first meeting with him, she immediately felt his positivity.
“And we want to surround ourselves with positive people and that’s what he wants to do — back good people with good messages, and he wants to help others and, at the same time, help the gaming industry. That caught my eye right away,” she said.
Patterson is presently sticking to his “no days off” work ethic, gearing up now to take on an increasingly busy summer and fall schedule of events around the country.
“It’s not just a career goal, it’s an honor people are willing to go along with that,” he said. “They say this guy is speaking for all of us.”
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.