Those of you familiar with The Joe Rogan Experience—the esteemed podcast hosted by US television star and comedian Joe Rogan—will know Jamie Vernon as the show's sole producer and audio engineer.
Alongside UFC champion Demetrious Johnson, he's competing in Uproar's The Golden Chicken PUBG tournament today. As such, we caught up with Young Jamie to talk PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Twitch streaming, and celebrity guests who're also videogame enthusiasts.
Jamie Vernon, otherwise known as Young Jamie, is a huge PUBG fan. He's also the sole producer and audio engineer of The Joe Rogan Experience—the popular, star-studded podcast hosted by US comedian and TV star Joe Rogan.
PC Gamer: Have you played in many competitive tournaments?
Jamie Vernon: Not recently. You're familiar with Dr DisRespect, right? I was also in the Blockbuster Video Game Championship in the early '90s, and made it pretty far. I'm not gonna claim a victory, but I did pretty well there.
What were your thoughts when you heard UFC champ Demetrious Johnson was involved in The Golden Chicken?
I think it seems like the next progression of things—not that I necessarily saw it for him but it's going to keep happening for other people. Rampage has also been playing it and while he's not involved in this one, I think he'll be involved in tournaments down the line. I know there's a little joke in the PUBG world that it's not esports ready yet but it's still really fun to watch.
Do you think you can beat him?
Sure, why not? I'm probably Mighty Mouse's first loss in, like, eight years. He might've lost some PUBG games, but I'm gonna hand him a tournament loss in front of all his Mighty Crew.
Taking it back a little—what's your relationship with videogames been like over the years?
I've been playing games since I can remember. My first was probably Mario, I had a Nintendo, then a Super Nintendo. I got a Dreamcast the day it came out, still have it. Over the last couple of years I've turned more towards sports games, but I got a PC that can handle these new videogames about a year ago. I was really getting into VR, and the earliest games I started putting out on Twitch are me doing some VR stuff on Arizona Sunshine and Tilt Brush.
At some point I realised that this VR PC could also handle some of these awesome games that are coming out and then PUBG popped up.
What is it about PUBG that you enjoy?
I just got an Apple Watch so I'm going to start tracking my heart rate as I play. It's the excitement that happens when you get down in those final 25-20 or so and you don't know exactly where your enemies are. I'm an audio engineer and the sounds in this game are awesome.
The location is pretty good, it can be hard at times, but going from dead silence to having a shot come at you and you don't know where it is—it's the whole cat and mouse thing that gets the heart rate right up. Sometimes after one round of playing I have to put it down and be like: Okay, I gotta put this down, I can't play anymore. I need to grab a water and take a break - that feeling is awesome.
In terms of raising your heart rate—I can only imagine that will be worse when you go into a competitive game.
Oh yeah,when there's actually something on the line and not just trying to get a win in one round of a game on Wednesday afternoon—this is way different!
I interviewed Terry Crews a while back and he's massive into PUBG at the moment. Do you think you could beat him?
Oh man, I would say always, I love to talk shit when I'm playing videogames. But seriously, it's also surprising when you find out how good certain people are at this stuff. You think that they're only one thing, you have them in a box, and then you find out they excel in many other areas… But, yeah, I would say I could beat him because they don't know how good am I also. I might not be as good as some people that i watch on PUBG on Twitch, but, for sure: I'll take Terry Crews down.
Who's the biggest celebrity you've played against or streamed with—at PUBG or any game?
I've only just been partnered on Twitch so I've only just started streaming on a semi-consistent basis. I haven't really had time to link up with many people but last week I was playing with JennaMarbles. I've also played with Mighty Mouse quite a lot, and I know some of the top FIFA players online. I've played with some of them and got destroyed, I really wouldn't want to do that in public.
Does Joe Rogan play video games?
He was avoiding it, for sure. He was really deep into Quake, he's talked about that on the podcast a few times. In the '90s, when he was on News Radio, he had a T1 line installed in his apartment so that he could be faster and have a better ping than anyone else for the most part. Who knows how much that cost, but it had to have cost a lot of money back then. He was way into it and I think he was friends with Fatal1ty online. He said he challenged him at some point 1v1 and said he got rekt, but he's really good at it.
When Reggie Watts was on the show the other day, I pulled up someone playing Borderlands 2 on Twitch and left it up as Reggie was describing it. Joe was looking at it in a way that seemed like he really wanted to play but knows he shouldn't touch it because it'd make him give up archery. And he really likes archery right now. We'll see what happens when we get this LAN section in our new studio. He might not get too deep but he's probably going to get back into it a little bit.
While it exists less nowadays, there still exists a degree of negativity towards videogames—that it's not a serious hobby, that it's child's play.
I think it's more of a generational thing. Even back before videogames, the generation before was telling our parents not to be staring at the TV all day. We're probably going to be telling our kids not to be staring at their iPads, that's already happening.
Who knows what they're going to be telling their kids not to stare at. It's a continuous cycle and while the finger will always get pointed at something, it's very apparent and obvious that videogames have a place here. There's an economy around them that gets people jobs. People are going to school for it now, it's grown way bigger than ever before and it's going to continue to grow.
Who's the biggest celebrity gamer you've had on the show?
Reggie Watts is a big tech guy. Obviously Mighty Mouse has spoken about games on the show. Kevin Rose was on and we've had Cliffy B on a few times—him and Joe are pretty good friends.
Joe interviewed you on the podcast shortly after you got back from CES in January. Is staying on top of the goings on the games and tech worlds something you try to do?
I try to, yeah. I've been to E3 a few times, CES was a super interesting experience. I didn't realise how big it was before going, it's giant and pretty much takes over the whole of Las Vegas, not just the convention centre. That was crazy, walking around, seeing the new stuff.
Speaking specifically to your own streaming, where do you see yourself taking it into the future—will it remain a hobbyist thing, or would you ever consider doing it on a professional level?
It's hard to say and I think that it's hard to say for a lot of people. For some folk that I know, it's definitely become their profession. But as more and more people want it to become their profession, it's going to be interesting to see who does rise and stay at the top and refrain from burning out.
I know of people who almost feel forced to stream, that they have to do it all the time to keep the momentum going. It's an interesting space in general, which is why I'm sort of just investigating and seeing what's happening. I think this will see me stay in the hobbyist space, and, really, I already have a pretty cool job that I'm not really looking to replace.
And on competitive tournaments—if this one does well do you reckon you might invest more in that spectrum down the line?
Oh for sure! I'm definitely interested. I still see there being more from the VR and AR space in future, and I'm also interested in playing more of a part in that space too. I have dreams of becoming a professional athlete that I'm not letting go of yet.
Alongside UFC champ Demetrious Johnson, Young Jamie is competing in Uproar's The Golden Chicken PUBG tournament today at 2pm PST/10pm BST. If that tickles your fancy, you can check it out over here.