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October 13, 2021

by Ken Balough

Director of Strategy and Product Development at ProbablyMonsters

How a Monster Elevates Potential Through Giving: Part I

As a HelpDesk Administrator at ProbablyMonsters, Jayson Garner helps people every day. With 15 years of IT experience ranging from system administrator to mobile device support engineer, he can sort out just about any technical problem. And he carries this helpful attitude beyond his everyday role.

The pandemic has not prevented Jayson from volunteering with his fellow Monsters every other month. They recently spent a whole afternoon at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank when a small drop off turned into five pallets of canned goods. His team didn’t miss a beat, successfully breaking them down for distribution.

 

“It was hard work,” he says, “but I was very proud to be a Monster that day.” In keeping with the philosophy of ProbablyMonsters, everyone worked together, regardless of which team they came from – “a truly rare feeling from my other places of work.”

 

 

His commitment to elevating other’s potential goes beyond his ongoing volunteering at the food bank. Jayson is a passionate advocate of Internet as a Utility, a way to provide broadband access to everyone. Read on to learn more about how he learned to puts this into practice in his giving journey!

ProbablyMonsters Blog: Jayson, why is giving important to you?

It’s important to me that in a world that consistently points out the differences between each of us – by class, religion, race, heredity, even job – we try to remember what makes us the same. Life is not so complex that those things should be what keeps someone from putting food in someone else’s mouth, or clothes on their back, or gas in a tank, or getting kids tools for school – the list can go on and on.

ProbablyMonsters Blog: How did your giving journey begin?

I think my journey really began with realizing something I had taken for granted: not every home in the United States has a computer, or even internet access. If we take away even the entertainment or social gains as concerns, this still completely inhibits current education options and can greatly affect employment. As an active advocate of Internet as a Utility, I’ve been a contributor in computer component recycling, working with such organizations like RE·PC, ReWA, and The University of Washington to refresh and distribute computers to get people comfortable in front of a computer, and making sure recipients get the best options they can for low-income internet access.

 

“If we exercise the power to present an opportunity, we’re not only improving the potential of that person, but impacting their family and their community.”

 

ProbablyMonsters Blog: Was there any personal moment that really sparked your interest in giving back to your community?

While still newly employed with ReWA, I was once called down to the computer lab to aid a student who was having trouble with a printer. In my mind I had already come up with a number of possibilities or potential problems that the student had encountered before I had even arrived at the lab. I was not prepared for the actual problem, however. The lab was often used by English as a Second Language (ESL) students, staff on site, or other members of the community. I was greeted to my surprise by a very polite 16-year-old young man. Asking him what the problem was, or if the printer was broken, he responded with the one thing I didn’t expect: “I don’t know how to reach or print the document my teacher sent me, could you please help me?” Stifling my own shock, I assisted the student accurately and professionally, making sure he got copies of all the documents in the school’s internet portal for his class, and made sure it was also a quick opportunity to educate him rather than just do it for him and be on my way. He was satisfied, whereas I was not.

I still carry the weight in my stomach every time I think about him compared to myself at the same age. By 16 I had already made my first (failed) attempt at constructing my own computer, and all my fellow students would have known how to comfortably operate the software in front of them from our basic computer courses at school. This clearly intelligent young gentleman could not. From that point forward I promised myself I would put that knowledge in the hands of others. Technology is such a fundamental part of our lives that not having ready access to it will negatively impact someone heavily, especially in their youth. Anyway, you can see why I started to advocate for Internet as a Utility and getting computers in homes.

 

“When you’re looking to help, notify your colleagues of your interest. Maybe you’re just the spark that was needed to cause a flood of betterment toward your community.”

 

ProbablyMonsters Blog: Can you talk about how our focus at ProbablyMonsters on equity in education and contributing to our community are meaningful to you?

When I think about the possibility that ProbablyMonsters might play a part in a fledgling writer getting their chance to be published, or an artist finding the tools they need for their expression, or a programmer getting the chance to learn the language they need, it fills me with immense optimism and joy for what we as a company could accomplish. An education is the most powerful and important tool you can offer to another person and contributing to that success even in a small part makes all the hard work worthwhile. That there might be a story forgotten or untold that could impact someone else in the world, even in just the scope of a video game, is truly sad. If we exercise the power to present that opportunity, we’re not only improving the potential of that person, but impacting their family, their community, and maybe even one day ourselves unknowingly.

ProbablyMonsters Blog: What would be your recommendation if someone in the gaming industry wants to start a giving program?

Consider reaching out to a local nonprofit in line with your company philosophy or goals that you hope to make an impact on, and ask them, “How can we help?”

Often you may get a more immediate solution such as hands or labor for a particular function, other times you may be able to pursue a more long-term partnership in impacting their advocacy or goals. Consider reaching out to places of higher learning as well, as many colleges and community colleges have programs assisting their students, and they may need guidance on a path in life you yourself have taken on. Remember that your experience, time, and labor also have their own value alongside funding and objects. And don’t keep it a secret internally when you’re looking to do something like this. Notify your colleagues and management team of your interest. Maybe you’re just the spark that was needed to cause a flood of betterment toward your community.

 

 

We’re proud and inspired by the way Jayson puts the spirit of MONSTERS UNITE into action. Because here, it’s not just about making amazing games. Elevating the potential of others matters; that’s what makes amazing people. We’ll be back soon with Part 2, featuring another remarkable Monster. Until then, we wish you generous thoughts toward your own giving journeys!

 

Ken Balough, Director of Strategy and Product Development at ProbablyMonsters, has a proven record of success with AAA entertainment franchises and first party consoles. Previously at Microsoft Xbox, he has also held roles at Wargaming America, PlayStation, and SEGA of America. A critical thinker and creative marketer, he brings deep experience working with product development teams as well as a lifelong passion for gaming to his role managing internal and external relationships for ProbablyMonsters and its family of studios.

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