A Gamer’s Story


Taking Taino Culture Into Outerspace through the Imagination of Nico Pengin

Ep. 13

Just like nature, inspiration always finds its way. We might think every story has already been told or written, just as we think there is no way a plant would grow in the middle of a concrete wall, but it happens. Nico Pengin, our guest today, is an excellent example of how amazing stories are still to be told. His imagination takes us to outer space, where an alien city/spaceship rescues humans from their dying planet for their own amusement, to play a game called Batey. 

Nico Pengin is a Speculative Fiction Author, Podcast Host, Geekier Gamer, and Creative Content Creator. He has always been a super active kid, getting into all kinds of trouble because he wouldn't stay still. His life changed when one of his mentors suggested that he use that energy to play video games or create something with it. Nico channeled his intense energy, passion for reading, and wild imagination on a book series he is working on called Batey. 

In this episode, we talk about the origins of Nico's book series, his decision to go through the self-publishing path, his passion for gaming, and the importance of receiving support from our loved ones. Nico shared details of his heritage from the Taínos people, a group of Caribbean natives who played the game which inspired the books. We also discuss the importance of gaming, its benefits and it can help develop abilities that will be extremely useful in the workplace. 

Tune in to Episode 13 of A Gamer's Story and join Nico Pengin and me on this inspiring space trip toward imagination. 

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What type of games do you like to play? (6:34)
  • What drew you to gaming? (12:37)
  • How did you decide on the characters in your comic? (18:15)
  • Do you think that playing video games is helpful in any way or any other aspect of your life? (29:51)

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • What is the Batey comic book series inspired on (2:51)
  • Regardless of your level of expertise or abilities, you can always have fun in gaming (12:53)
  • About the Taínos culture, which inspired Nico's story (25:57)
  • Some of the benefits gaming can offer to someone's life (32:34)


  • Nico Pengin website
  • Argue Bros - The Podcast
  • Book: Nico Pengin - Batey Descending: Chilly's Story - A damaged girl who is used to looking after herself finds life among the stars is anything but romantic
  • Book: Nico Pengin - Batey Ascending
  • Comic Book: Nico Pengin - Batey

Connect with Nico:

Let's Connect!

More Episodes


Concept Artist Christopher Hayes Turns Ideas Into Powerful Characters

Ep. 15
Although every part of a video game is indispensable, from storyline to animation, the looks are the first thing we get access to, even before seeing what the characters can do. That sounds like a lot of pressure for those creating the blueprints of how a game would look, doesn't it? Actually, concept artists, those in charge of designing those blueprints, love their job, and we have the pleasure to talk to one of them in today's episode: Christopher Hayes.Christopher Hayes is a concept artist; from his imagination and how his hands translate his thoughts into drawings is how some of the games we've spent hours playing look like. Currently working as a Senior UI Artist at Blizzard, he also worked at Epic Games as a Senior Artist and spent over 6 years at Blizzard as a 3-D Character Artist and Concept Artist.Christopher created weaponry, armor, and characters of World of Worldcraft, Hearthstone, and Disney Infinity.In this episode, we hear tons of incredible stories from Christopher about the characters he created, how fun it is to work at Blizzard, and his journey to becoming an artist. His father, a musician, and his mother, a painter, certainly encouraged him to work with art, while his grandfather would ask him if Blizzard was a good company to work in. We also talked about the projects he enjoyed the most working in, his and his kids' favorite games, and the things he prefers to design. Christopher also shared his thoughts on the importance of reading and constantly stimulating creativity, the tight connection between concept creation and storytelling, and much more.Tune in to Episode 15 of A Gamer's Story and join us on a journey into the depths of a creative mind.Some Questions I Ask:As a concept artist, how does a typical day at the office looks like? (1:24)Do you take inspiration from a specific artist or from several? (5:24)Hearthstone is a great game. What did you work on in that game? (16:30)What kind of designs are the ones you enjoy doing more? (41:44)In This Episode, You Will Learn:Where does someone like Christopher get inspiration from (7:01)About the hundreds of possibilities to get into the gaming industry besides being a professional player (12:04)Christopher's favorite games to play (21:49)Why storytelling is one of the primary parts of creating the concept of a video game (47:52)Connect with Christopher:LinkedInInstagramEtsyLet's Connect!InstagramTwitterYouTube

Tod Fennell Discusses His Acting Career and Using His Voice in the Video Game Industry

Ep. 14
Ask any gamer and they'll tell you that the voice acting in a video game can make or break the experience. The best voice actors are able to connect with their audience on an emotional level, conveying everything from humor to horror. The challenge of a voice actor is more complex because they have only one resource to portray a character's emotions: their voice.Our guest today is Tod Fennell, a Film & Television Actor, Voice-Over Performer, and Screenwriter who has been using his voice to portray characters for almost three decades. Tod's childhood was linked to the arts; his parents were professional dancers and choreographers and owners of a successful dance school in Montreal. Tod started his professional acting career at age 6 and continues to challenge himself in many different areas of entertainment.As an actor he has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows. Tod also participated as a voice-over artist in several video games, including Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Assassin's Creed 2 and 3, Far Cry New Dawn, and Monster Hunter Stories 2, to name a few.In this episode, Tod takes us on a trip into the world of acting, where we get to see different sides of it; we get to observe the challenges actors go through when getting ready for a role, or the importance of being prepared before the camera or the microphone starts recording. We go through Tod's journey into the acting and voice-over acting world, what he enjoys most, and the most challenging parts of it. We also talk about Tod's favorite games, the projects he enjoyed the most working on, his future plans, and much more.Tune in to Episode 14 of A Gamer's Story and get to know better a profession that plays a central role in video games' creation.Some Questions I Ask:You've done everything from Nickelodeon shows to big prank commercials and voice-over acting? How did you begin acting? (1:36)How are voice-over acting roles different from visual acting? (14:38)Which acting roles have you enjoyed the most? (27:59)Do you play any video games? And if so, which ones? And do you play the games that you've acted in? (36:56)In This Episode, You Will Learn:You don't have to pigeonhole yourself into only one thing. You can learn to do and try on several things within your profession (8:29)The importance of looking at mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow (17:59)The most important part of voice-acting is listening (22:41)The importance of learning to say no to some projects and how not to take criticism personally is essential to grow and get better at what we do (34:19)Resources:Tod Fennell websiteConnect with Tod:LinkedInInstagramFacebookTwitterLet's Connect!InstagramTwitterYouTube

Luke Zelon Brings the Rules of Fairplay to Esports and Gaming

Ep. 12
Unlike traditional sports, where there are systems, adult supervision, structured training, and competition to test participants' skills and growth, gaming and esports are free spaces where new members have to figure out how everything works. A kid that starts playing Fortnite, for instance, must figure out how to play, the best strategies and, after dying a bunch of times, will eventually get better. But as he plays in a space with no restrictions of any kind, he might be exposed to inappropriate language, degrading remarks, or even bullying. These are a few of Luke Zelon's major concerns and some of the many things he's working on changing in the esports and gaming space.Luke Zelon is the Founder of NXT UP Esports, a space where kids can get better at the games they love to play, improve their confidence, social development, and other life skills playing with other kids and campers in a regulated, controlled, and toxicity-free environment. Luke has an extensive background in traditional sports; he worked as Director of Business Development at Catalyst Sports & Media and in Corporate Partnership and Business Development at The Los Angeles Football Club.In this episode, our conversation revolves around the strategies and practices that worked perfectly on traditional sports that can be adapted to gaming and esports. Luke shared details of his past as a casual gamer, his first contact with competitive gaming, and what made him decided to participate and add value to the gaming industry. He also offered the perfect analogy of what represents esports in the gaming industry; we talked about his favorite games, future projects at NXT UP Esports, and more.Tune in to Episode 12 of A Gamer's Story and have a different look at what esports and gaming can offer to the youth.Some Questions I Ask:What made you want to stick around in the gaming community? And what games did you play? (2:28)What's the goal of your business? And what service does it provide? (10:11)What do you think is missing in esports? And where can it grow? (16:15)Where do you think gaming is headed? (23:42)In This Episode, You Will Learn:About Luke's relationship with gaming and how did he get into esports (1:18)How to bring traditional sports practices into gaming while preserving the things that made people love video games (5:19)A brilliant analogy about what is esports in the gaming universe (6:02)How providing certain structure into gaming and esports can turn the online space safer for kids (13:44)Luke shares his view on the future of VR (27:02)Resources:NXT UP Esports websiteNXT UP Esports InstagramNXT UP Esports TwitterNXT UP Esports FacebookLet's Connect!InstagramTwitterYouTube