It’s our first ever fan spotlight! Every few weeks or so, we’ll feature a Jackbox Games fan that FAN-ed so hard that we consider them family. Meet Ryan “rydash” McGill, longtime mod, playtester, bosom chum, and die-hard Jackbox aficionado.
When did you first hear about and/or play Jackbox Games?
I don’t remember hearing about Jackbox Games (née Jellyvision) so much as I remember them just appearing in my life one day. My brother and I were elementary-school-aged lads, enjoying the luxury of a Home Computer. Just above the sharp metal tower, next to the humming CRT monitor glistening with Windows 95, there I saw it: YOU DON’T KNOW JACK Volume 2. Carefully tucked between copies of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and the Puddle Books’ classic Yolanda Yellsalot, I saw eye to eye with a disembodied corner of a Jack head.
My parents explained this disc contained trivia! But don’t go away just yet, because it was also a game! Kids love games!
Well, my parents quickly realized their mistake once we started playing. A few raunchy questions later, the adults in the room declared us kids could only play when the sound was off; all we’d hear through the speakers was a very faint buzz. Still, two images burned into my brain: a very bald mysterious forehead person, and a tilted purple logo with cursive letters.
YDKJ Vol. 2 sat in a CD-ROM carousel until I rediscovered it a decade later. Only then did I understand why this was kept guarded – and what I was missing out on! Even though I no longer have any CD players (technology, right?), I still keep the disc at my desk at work; it’s a critical part of my origin story, as you’ll hear!
How have Jackbox Games impacted your life?
Like a well-behaved ghost, Jackbox haunted parts of my life without me realizing it. You heard my first YDKJ experience; let’s fast-forward to THE TURN OF THE CENTURY! My AOL browser was pointing to the Pogo.com classic Primetime Pitch, my ill-advised dreams of someday becoming a cartoonist were helped by Disney Magic Artist Studio, and toasters flew across the monitor while I watched the short-lived ABC version of YDKJ hosted by Paul Reubens. Some current Jackboxers helped sculpt all of those experiences in some way!
The ongoing ectoplasm of Jackbox Games also helped me find my career. As my senior year in college was ending, I was thriving on the adrenaline-fueled panic of having no idea what to do after graduation. I remember sitting on my bed and playing the Facebook version of YDKJ, squeezing some last joy out from it just after the announcement that it would be taken down. In that moment, while not realizing that Jackbox Games was a separate business, I thought back to that YDKJ Vol. 2 jewel case and wondered if Jellyvision still existed. Lo and behold, they did! Jellyvision no longer made games, but they still produced interactive conversations and experiences like the ones I’d grown up with.
One surprisingly enjoyable application process and four full years of developing interactive content later, I’m still with Jellyvision! My life would be very different had I not seen their purple speech bubble logo etched into so many YDKJ classic games. Thinking about that too much makes me nauseous, really.
Which is your favorite Jackbox Games title and why?
To keep this interview exciting, I’m not gonna answer YOU DON’T KNOW JACK for every question.
Hold onto your mugs, because my next favorite is Bomb Corp.!
I don’t return to it too often, but I really love the universe that game establishes. It’s full of tension and progression and lovely pixel aesthetics and great chiptunes and oddly well-done characterization and Wednesdays! My recommendation for anyone jumping in is to convince your friends to three-star all the courses. You’ll feel rewarded when you manage to do that! You won’t actually be rewarded, but I think that embodies the truest lesson of any corporation: a job well done is its own reward, especially for the shareholders.
For someone who has never played Jackbox Games before, which game do you recommend starting with and why?
It’s gotta be Quiplash. (Or XL or 2, whichever you have handy.) “Here’s a box, type in words!” are pretty easy instructions to give someone. Then, you get to watch them go from nonsense responses, to creating answers that jive with the prompts, to devolving into absolute filth and/or deadpan honesty that lights up the whole room. It’s like watching an innocent caterpillar morph into the hideous butterfly you always knew they could be.
I’m really glad the rise of the Party Packs created a centralized Jackbox community. The fanart alone is stupendous (check out #JackboxStream on twitter!), and I feel a kinship with the Discord group and the Twitch folks that catch the Party Club livestreams. It’s small enough where you can easily interact with the devs, but large enough for the audience to still sway the outcome of the games. That said, Jackbox folks still tend to win unusually often…