Welcome to our Creator Spotlight blog series! Nearly every Monday, we’ll present a question-and-answer session that highlights a different creator in the tabletop roleplaying games industry. We plan to focus on recognizing the efforts of Paizo staff members, freelance contractors, podcast players, streamers, YouTubers, licensed partners, and more. Each participant is provided a list of standardized questions from which interviewees can choose. You can request the Creator Spotlight form to be featured here by emailing email@example.com. This week we're shining a spotlight on community creator John Vanegas!
Name: John Vanegas Pronouns: he/him
Role (if not staff): current player, occasional DM
Social Media Handles: @JohnaldV (Twitter/Instagram) and @SciStarMedia (Infinite Adventures Podcast on Twitter/Instagram)
Tell us about yourself. What is your bio? What's your story behind the bio? Why do you do what you do?
I grew up and have lived in the DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) area. I am a second-generation immigrant who has some mixed feelings about his place in the world: but more positive ones than negative. I was raised under the presumption that I was a gifted kid and rode that in stride until I was knocked down a peg when I got to high school. Consequently, I straddle the line between grandiosity and self-forced humility. I love creating art because as cheesy as it is, it’s the easiest and most digestible form of self-expression. If you just say what you feel, people either write you off or call you pretentious. But if you present a fictional fantasy that conveys something important, the message can be taken with a bit of sugar. I think that art is a way of connecting and building bridges between other people. Everyone's a stranger after all. Observing and taking in art is a way to connect with the part of you that exists within other people.
Tell us about a project you are particularly proud of?
Of all the projects I’ve been a part of, I can say with absolute certainty that I am most proud of the Infinite Adventures Podcast! We have published almost 180 episodes, and I can’t be prouder of how far we’ve come. It is single-handedly the largest/longest project I have worked on, and I have enjoyed every minute of it (except when I am required to edit but that’s neither here nor there).
How have you seen immersive fantasy worlds and cooperative strategic play bring people together and create lifelong friendships?
One thing I can say about the TTRPG experience that I absolutely love is that it’s like a masquerade ball. You invite a bunch of your closest friends and hope that they get along with each other. And it becomes an easier experience in my opinion (for more socially anxious, nerdy types) when you allow them to interact with other people through the lens of fantasy characters. Doing so allows them to embrace self-confidence they otherwise might not have. After a while, most gaming sessions transform from focusing on going straight into the action to giving everyone a place to hang out in a safe space.
Please tell us about your pet!
Ok! I don’t live with them anymore—they live with my folks—but I have two adorable dobies and they are just the sweetest noblest boys in the entire world. Tyler is a black dobie with a passive curiosity about everything. He’s always looking around and watching what everyone is doing, and you can just see the spark of an intellectual buried in his canine soul. Austin is a gray dobie. He is incredibly playful, often exhibiting bursts of energy out of the blue. You absolutely do not need a mind reader for him; he telegraphs every minute emotion and feeling he has. If he could speak, this boy’s stream of consciousness could be heard out loud.
What character would you like to play next and why?
I have not played a dromite before and we need to fix that one day. I have always liked insectile species in fiction. I think that they’re not as common because many people feel scared of bugs, but there’s something fascinating about them to me. They’re like living machines, one of the closest things to aliens we have on our planet. We know they have societies and systems as complex as humans and yet they live alongside us doing their own thing. But being able to pretend what it’s like to be a large sapient ant person in a fantasy game sounds like too good an opportunity to pass up.
Creator Spotlight: John Vanegas
Monday, July 18th, 2022