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How Gaming Podcast Legend Danny Peña Turned His Life Into A Children’s Book


When Danny Peña was a toddler, he would spend hours enjoying video games at his native New York arcade earlier than he obtained his first console, an Atari 2600, from his grandmother. Peña knew early on that he wished to do one thing within the video games business, however he did not know what. All alongside the way in which, he was informed that video video games will not pay the payments, however he did not let that deter him. Flash ahead a few a long time, and Peña returned to New York to point out his mom a billboard that includes his face in Instances Sq. – a monument to his success within the video games business, however not one which was simple to attain. Now, with a brand new kids’s e book known as Danny Loves Video Video games about his life and profession set to launch this week, I sat down with Peña to talk about his highway up to now.

Whereas the 2021 Instances Sq. billboard served as an necessary milestone for Peña, it is simply one other in an extended checklist of accolades for the lifelong gamer. Peña began Gamertag Radio in 2005, a time when gaming podcasts have been numbered within the tens as an alternative of the tens of hundreds. In 2015, Peña was inducted into the Podcast Corridor of Fame, and in 2020, Gamertag Radio turned the primary gaming podcast to achieve 1,000 episodes. Along with podcasting, Peña additionally heads up video games editorial at G4TV, the revitalized gaming community that options the likes of Assault of the PresentX-Play, and myriad different iconic packages. However earlier than leaving an indelible mark on video games business content material creation, his first games-related enterprise was a small retailer within the Dominican Republic.

The Instances Sq. billboard that includes Danny Peña that ran in September 2021

“Once I was dwelling over there – that is like, I used to be in my teenagers already, early teenagers – I had a number of Tremendous Nintendos and Sega Genesis, and I introduced this as much as my mother and I requested her, ‘Hey, is it okay for us to lease out an workplace house, get a bunch of TVs, I have already got a bunch of consoles… why not cost folks to play my video games? I may cost them each quarter-hour, each half-hour, or an hour, or a few of them I’ll lease them the video games,’ and he or she was like, ‘I like that concept, let’s do it,'” Peña tells me on this week’s episode of the All Issues Nintendo podcast. “No person else was doing it, so at the moment, I had Mortal Kombat II, Road Fighter II, Donkey Kong Nation had simply come out, so folks have been coming to my workplace as a result of they wished to play the brand new Donkey Kong Nation. […] I had a bunch of cool video games that younger adults, children… even older adults would are available in and simply play sports activities video games. That was the primary time that I created a enterprise: throughout the early ’90s.”

Peña’s store was so profitable that he earned sufficient cash to purchase a bike. That early-’90s store within the Dominican Republic could have been his first job involving video video games, however within the late ’90s, Peña obtained the inspiration he wanted that might lead him into his true profession path in the video games business. Dwelling in Miami, Florida, on the time, Peña obtained concerned within the native hip-hop scene. By way of that, he began listening to a present that featured interviews and discussions about music. “I used to be like, ‘I need to have my very own present, however I need to have it on-line,'” he says. “I attempted to do it in 1998, however it was so costly, and I did not have the gear, nothing. So I could not do it.”

Although he could not pull it off then, Peña lastly adopted by way of on that purpose across the Dreamcast launch of Phantasy Star On-line in 2001. Peña put collectively a present known as PSO Radio, which he did for a number of months. A couple of years later, in 2005, he created Gamertag Radio, which continues to be working two episodes per week to at the present time.

With all of the success all through Peña’s profession, his cousin, Mr. Luna, and his cousin’s spouse, Mrs. Ani, contacted him. The couple has been placing out kids’s books for the previous couple of years beneath an organization known as 2 High quality Folks. Mr. Luna informed Peña that he wished to create a kids’s e book primarily based on his life and profession, and Peña was instantly on board. The outcome is Danny Loves Video Video games: Based mostly on the True Story of Danny Peña, a kids’s e book that remembers Peña’s lifelong expertise from his childhood New York arcade all the way in which as much as his continued success in 2022.

“There are a few the explanation why I wished to do it,” Peña says. “One is to teach mother and father that goals do come true. As a substitute of the mother and father shutting down the youngsters each time their little one is like, ‘Oh I need to be this. I need to do this,’ some mother and father may say, ‘Oh no, you are losing your time. That does not pay the payments.’ So discouraging them. I need to educate them and present them like, look, goals do come true. It labored out for me. And the second motive is to assist children and present them that it is doable to attain their goals.”


Past these objectives (and leisure to all who learn it, in fact), Peña has grander ambitions for what Danny Loves Video Video games can accomplish. “I additionally made this in Spanish,” he says. “This has at all times been my purpose for years: I need to get a number of Latinos concerned within the gaming business. It might be as a journalist, or content material creator, or something that has to do with video games. I would like them to get entangled as a result of if you concentrate on it, the share of Latinos and even folks of colour within the business may be very, very small. A few of them do not know what to do, do it, they do not have the sources, and that is been my purpose: to get a number of the folks from Latin America, and even right here within the States, for them to be concerned with the business.”

The e book is colourful, breezy, and inspirational. It serves as an ideal overview of Peña’s story, even referencing a few of his interviews with icons like Keanu Reeves, Danny Trejo, Snoop Dogg, and extra. It portrays Peña’s profession in a digestible and easy-to-understand approach and delivers the necessary message of working onerous and being persistent to attain your goals. 

“I by no means gave up, even throughout probably the most tough instances in my life, which there’s been a pair all through the years that I virtually give up,” Peña says when speaking about what all this success means to him. “However having good folks in my life like Peter Toledo and Parris Lilly, my [Gamertag Radio] co-hosts, and even my household, they’ve at all times been there for me and saying, ‘Do not give up. Maintain going.’ And I believe that is the rationale why I stored going for all these years. And I believed in it. I’ve felt that, since I used to be younger, that one thing massive goes to come back out of this. One thing massive.”

Even with greater than 20 years of content material creation beneath his belt, Peña is feeling as refreshed and completely happy as ever together with his profession. “I nonetheless do not feel drained; I do not really feel drained, I do not really feel burnt out, I really feel like I am having a good time creating content material and releasing content material for my neighborhood,” he says. “I really feel like that is just the start. Nonetheless, even after 20-something years, I nonetheless really feel like there’s far more stuff arising sooner or later.”

Danny Loves Video Video games arrives on September 15. You should purchase the e book at Barnes & Noble or Amazon (English model, Spanish model). He and the e book’s creator, Mr. Luna, are doing a studying and signing on the Kendale Lakes Department Library on Thursday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m (sadly, the occasion is full as of this writing). You may comply with Gamertag Radio in your favourite podcast platform.

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