Note: Anything that may appear as a typo in this post is not. Everything is spelled as it has been officially named.
In 2004, Pure Pwnage began to tell the story of Jeremy, a “pro gamer” living in Toronto, Canada. Told from the perspective of his brother Kyle, a budding filmmaker, the show followed Jeremy’s exploits in the world of video games, as well as the real world. Jeremy is much more successful at one than the other, so hilarity ensues.
Created by Jarett Cale and Geoff Lapaire (who play Jeremy and Kyle respectively), the world of Pure Pwnage has amassed a following that has helped the show evolve from a web series, to a TV show on Showcase, to a feature film.
This post is about life lessons that can be learned from Jeremy and his friends in Pure Pwnage: Teh TV Show.
First, a little context…
Pwnage: A slang term derived from the verb “own”, meaning to appropriate or to conquer. The term implies domination or humiliation of an opponent.
Commitment to One’s Craft
Jeremy is often regarded by his family and strangers as being lazy or lacking in life direction. While most outside observers may agree, this is not how Jeremy regards his lifestyle and life choices. For one, Jeremy sees any non-competition gameplay as “training” and equates his discipline to being like that of a pro athlete. He takes what he does very seriously.
Jeremy also takes a different approach to how he plays certain games. When he and his friends play “Rock Guitar Band Hero”, Jeremy is much more concerned with getting the highest score possible, and keeps his body straight and his mind focused. His friends, more interested in having fun, are swaying or dancing or jumping or using excessive force when playing their instruments or singing. Jeremy attempts to correct their behaviour because scoring high in the game is so important to him.
Jeremy isn’t the only character of the show who takes gaming seriously. In fact, they each have their own areas of expertise. His friend October schedules her work shifts around her in-game World of Warcraft raids with her guild because they rely on her and her abilities. She has her priorities, takes them seriously, and doesn’t let her in-game friends down. In her words…
“Just because something is virtual doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
When Jeremy loses to a n00b and goes through an existential crisis, he runs into Billy Mitchell, a world-famous arcade game player and record holder, who imparts wisdom to Jeremy to get back on the horse and live to win another game. There are several nuggets of wisdom therein, so I’ll just let you watch:
Commitment to Your Beliefs
Anyone familiar with the Pure Pwnage world knows that the characters therein don’t always make the best decisions or have the most accurate version of the world in their minds. However, their commitment to their sometimes childlike world views can be endearing.
Kyle often challenges Jeremy on his life choices and social interactions, but Jeremy sticks to his guns because he’s sure that he knows best. Even when it doesn’t make sense, Jeremy commits because he doesn’t want to be wrong. Just to name a few…
- Living outside in a tent.
- Eating grass for sustenance.
- Spending the last of his money on chocolate milk.
- Throwing bags of excrement at civilians.
- Unabashedly carrying bags of marijuana in public.
From the outside looking in these seem like stupid decisions, but this “go with your gut and stick to it” character trait is something common, and perhaps even essential, in entrepreneurs.
Jeremy also has some interesting theories on life, and sticks to them as well. One day when he hadn’t played games in a while, he was convinced that he was having trouble breathing and dying of boredom
“Jeremy, you can’t die from boredom.”
“Yeah you can, Kyle! Happens like all the time! Happened to Doug’s uncle, when he was like super bored, in the hospital with no TV.”
Maybe someday medical science will vindicate him.
Enjoy the Little Things
Jeremy says that being a pro gamer has a ton of perks. We know that when he wins competitions he wins computers or consoles, but there are a few non-video game things he enjoys as well.
Jeremy doesn’t just enjoy his big tournament wins, he relishes in every single, solitary one. He even often reflects on bouts of gaming from twenty years ago that he enjoyed.
Smoked meat sandwiches are a dietary staple in Jeremy’s life. He also likes to go to the park and/or hang out with his friends when he wants to get away from a screen and “think up strass” (which I infer from context means ‘strategy’).
We all have those little things that we look forward to after a long day of work.
Surround Yourself with People Who Love and Support You
Jeremy is (or rather, was at the time) a 26 year-old man living with his mother, and to our knowledge had never had a job before the second episode of this TV series. Clearly, he’s a burden on his mother. He also gives his brother a really hard time and a lot of crap for being a n00b and not having any fun in his life. Furthermore, he gives October a hard time for playing WoW.
Would Kyle and his mom put up with Jeremy’s shit if they didn’t love him?
When Jeremy gets addicted to WoW, his friends are there to help him. They’re concerned, they offer support, and they bring him to the MMO addiction clinic when his addiction turns from bad to worse. And October does point out the irony of her advising Jeremy against playing too much WoW, but she never gives him a hard time in response to his behaviour.
At one point Doug is legally prohibited from playing video games because they have caused him to disassociate from reality and accidentally mug people. During his sentence his friends agree to also abstain from playing video games in solidarity. Considering how video games are such a big part of their lives, this is a true act of friendship.
Furthermore, Jeremy appears as a witness in court and does a better job defending Doug than his lawyer, likely making the difference between Doug being prohibited from playing video games and his penalty being more serious.
Take Pride in Your Accomplishments
Similar to when I discussed how Jeremy enjoys all the little wins as much as the big ones, he takes pride in them as well. Big or small, Jeremy is proud of what he does, and flaunts it.
His everyday t-shirt actually reads “i pwn n00bs”, a statement to the world of what he’s dedicated his life to. This t-shirt is his uniform, his personal mantra, and you’d better be damn sure that he’s proud of it.
Don’t be Afraid to Try New Things
(you might pwn at those, too)
Jeremy is mostly known for playing RTS (real-time strategy) or FPS (first-person shooter) games, but he’s convinced to join his friends in a “Rock Guitar Band Hero” tournament. As I mentioned previously, Jeremy’s friends don’t take it as seriously as he does, so Jeremy decides to go solo and writes the hardest video game-based song in the world, which he calls GYOORB (Green Yellow Orange Orange Red Blue) and, as Jeremy puts it…
“I pwned music that night, Kyle. That’s what it’s all about, right?”
Jeremy was resistant to joining the band and playing their karaoke-style show at first, but he conceded and set a world record.
Make Time for Play
Accepting the premise that what the guys are doing whenever they’re on a computer is “work”, then any time away from their computers must be play.
Doug takes this time to further express his love for FPS my simulating FPS in real life. And it doesn’t matter whether he’s at the park, at the kids’ play park (using playground equipment to simulate a combat environment), driving a riding mower, or at his friend’s house, he’s pretending to get headshots.
October takes part in live WoW raids, where she and her comrades all play together in the same room. As her boss puts it, “A raid is when people who play the game too much get together to play the game some more.”
At one point when Jeremy and Doug are bored in an office, they pretend to be ninjas and fight with computer peripherals.
During a boring job interview, Jeremy dozes off and starts to daydream that he’s in a game of Counter-Strike. He gets so heavily invested in his daydream that when one of the NPCs (non-playable characters) he’s protecting is killed, Jeremy actually yells in the face of his potential employer.
Jeremy sees his boss at work like a “boss” in a video game. This is likely a coping mechanism as Jeremy transitions into the real world.
“He’s totally like a boss, Kyle. He’s like bigger than everyone else, and like sits in this room that’s like at the end of the level.”
At one point when Doug is accompanying Jeremy to the club, he realizes that his “dancing” is popular with the crowd. He spends several days dancing at the club instead of gaming. We all need a break sometimes, to do another hobby we love.
When Doug is sentenced to not play video games and his friends join him in solidarity, they get bored pretty easily. They soon find some fun things to do by fighting using old sporting equipment they find in their garage, and things escalate to anarchy. The guys start vandalizing everything in sight. At one point, as Jeremy is setting fire to a trail of gasoline in the middle of the street, he says…
“Kinda funny… to be alive for so long, and never really like learned how fun outside could be.”
They then take it even further by recruiting others into his non-gaming game. He essentially turns his neighbourhood into one big RTS (real-time strategy) game by turning those new recruits into various foot soldiers; recon, transports, TP soldiers, spray paint commandos, egg snipers, garbage troopers, etc.
I’m not condoning their extremes, but still, try to have fun outside.
Embrace Your Natural Skill
It’s clear that Jeremy has an affinity for video games. But that skill translates into other areas of life. Jeremy gets a job at a supermarket when he wows the manager with his “uber micro” and exceptional hand-eye coordination at the cash register. Put simply, “uber micro” is really good skills with a keyboard and mouse, which, during gameplay, can mean playing really well or really poorly.
Don’t Get Mad, Get Even
When October is demoted and robbed all in one day, she gets angry and decides to take it out on her former guild leader with a paintball gun. That sounds like good therapy to me.
“Those are real people playing, so when someone turns around and stabs you in the back it really hurts.”
There’s an entire episode of the show where Jeremy loses to a n00b for the first time in his life. It weighs on his mind and affects him for several days, but after a while he decides to face the opponent who beat him and watch the match replay. Long story short, the other player cheated, but Jeremy realized immediately that letting his sense of failure fester inside of him was not the answer.
When Jeremy competes in the annual gaming event Pwnageddon, he makes a rival who ends up sabotaging him before the final round. Instead of being preoccupied with what Rub3n did to him and potentially costing him his reigning champion title, Jeremy doesn’t hold a grudge. He adapts his strategy and gets even.
When Jeremy finds himself homeless and penniless, his friends convince him to go see a career counselor. He doesn’t take it seriously, like most things IRL, but he and Doug leave with a list of job recommendations. Things like taxidermist, plumber, actuary, and funeral director make the list, and the duo are less than impressed. They were hoping to see suggestions like “assassin” or “mercenary”.
Most people know to keep their expectations within the realm of possibility, but kudos to the guys for not putting a limit on their dreams.
Be True to Yourself
Jeremy isn’t willing to change for anybody. He is who he is, and you have to take him or leave him. He says things to strangers that you and I likely never would, because he isn’t willing to cow-tow to societal pressures. When he’s offered a job at a grocery store and is asked to come in at 9am, he LOLs and is prepared to leave without the job. The manager rescinds this offer and offers instead Jeremy work on the night shift, which Jeremy responds with…
“It doesn’t completely lick my balls.”
Jeremy isn’t getting up at 9am for anybody.
Jeremy also chooses to wear the same t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and bandanna every day. It has become a kind of uniform, and is certainly not the kind of clothing options that every other twenty-something in North America chooses to wear. It’s not typical, but that’s Jeremy.
At one point, Jeremy and his brother Kyle make a wager that Jeremy won’t be able to get a girl to have sex with him within one week…
“You really think you’re gonna do it?”
“Kyle, c’mon. Tons of girls want to have sex with me. It’ll take like two seconds to have sex.”
Furthermore, Jeremy derives a little “song” that he sings while he’s walking and working, all about how he’s “gonna have the sexes” with some girls. You really can’t ignore this guy’s confidence.
He follows this up with a visit to the club, where he expects that he’ll be surrounded by a bevy of extremely hot girls, and will need his wingman to take some of the “non-hotter” ones off his hands. This doesn’t happen as expected, and Jeremy reacts by going around and straight asking every girl if they’d like to have sex with him. Again, you can’t shake this guy’s confidence.
Spoiler: It works eventually.
Apart from the episode about girls, Jeremy’s general opinion of himself is that he’s the best and everyone else is a n00b, and he has the leaderboards and high scores to back that up. He either wins because he’s so confident in his abilities, or he really is the best and is just proud of himself. Either way, confidence is key.
After a while of playing online games with a girl he’s never met, Jeremy’s friend Tyrel is convinced to meet the girl IRL. He’s resistant at first, citing that she may not be attractive, but when they do meet and she is attractive, he immediately put on the charm.
“I’m just going to be straight up here, because I see where you want this to go… But, you’re not really my type.”
“[laughs] Not your type? [laughs] But I’m every girl’s type.”
“Which is why you’re not my type.”
Some guys think that they’re God’s gift to women. In most cases it’s not true, but I guarantee that just the confidence that these guys have gets them laid more than you’d expect. I once spoke to an expert on the subject of dating and sex who said that most of the time women say “Yes” just because the guy makes his intentions known. It’s the guys who shy away and don’t act that don’t get the girl.
We shouldn’t take things so seriously:
“I don’t get all these people saying ‘Life’s hard’ or whatever. Life’s easy. … Kyle, you just think life’s hard ’cause you suck so much at stuff. I’m totally pro at life.”
Everything in moderation:
I think it’s the general understanding in society is that a hobby, whatever it is, is fine until it starts to affect other areas of your life. If you start to miss work or social engagements because of something else you’re doing, then you probably don’t have your priorities straight. The girl I mentioned earlier, the one who agreed to have sex with Jeremy, comes over to his house for a booty call. He doesn’t understand this, and just tries to play video games with her. She gets upset and leaves, naturally, but this illustrates for us how Jeremy doesn’t have his priorities in order and that we really should.
It’s no secret that Jeremy plays a lot of video games, but in one episode he gets addicted to World of Warcraft and takes his gaming from “abundant” to “addiction” level. Jeremy has a very high tolerance for long stretches of game playing, but getting addicted to WoW takes it to a new level.
In his effort to be a lone wolf, and because he thinks others will drag him down and ruin him achieving a high score, Jeremy resists playing “Rock Guitar Band Hero” with his friends. He wants to beat them alone, so tries to play all four instruments himself. That doesn’t work very well, so Jeremy concedes and realizes that he needs to be part of a team in order to succeed.
Thanks for sticking with me through this post if you did. This show can be silly sometimes, but I love it, and I love that it’s Canadian. What I love most is that it was made by two guys in Toronto with nothing more than a camera and an internet connection.
I encourage you to take whatever it is that you want to do, and just do it. Find a way. You can learn to code on your phone, you can write a novel with loose leaf and a pen, you can make a movie with a phone and free software. I dare you to make the next web series turned TV show turned feature film!