When the world shut down last March, many flocked to their gaming consoles to get much-needed boosts of social interaction, friendship, and competition, and a Tipton Transmission Plant employee was one of them.
P.J. Bolin said the gaming world provided refuge and escape from the difficult world in 2020, and he turns to gaming for both fun and as a way to make a couple of extra bucks. With a podcast and batch of streaming followers, gaming is an integral part of Bolin's life.
“I really think that’s a big part of it is the social stimulation is mandatory. Even the people who are introverted and don’t want to be out in public, they still need some type of social stimulus, or they’re not going to be in a good mental space,” Bolin said. “Luckily, you know, with online communication like Discord, Xbox Live chat, it’s really easy to stay in touch, even if it’s people you don’t know.”
Video games are what Bolin called “the great escape.” As long as there is Wi-Fi, people can log into their game and become someone else.
For Bolin, an avid hobby-gamer since he was 7 years old, his favorite game is a tabletop miniatures game called HeroClix. This is a sort-of superhero chess game that has both DC and Marvel licensing, so gamers can play with any number of their favorite comic heroes.
Before the pandemic, Bolin would travel around the country and beyond to compete in the game. Bolin said there is an online version, but it’s meant to be played in-person.
He’s played in 22 states, but his favorite trip was his first time to Quebec, Canada. The event was the national tournament for HeroClix, the biggest tournament in Canada for the game.
“So we went up there. It was like a three-day event where you had to qualify for the tournament — the bigger part of the event — and then play in two days in that event. It was an interesting experience being up there for all that time and kind of seeing a different culture. I actually ended up winning that tournament. I got to etch my name in the history books for that game as a national champion,” Bolin said.
Out of a couple of hundred people, there was one winner, and that was Bolin. He took home a heap of products and special offers for the game, exclusive figures, and merchandise. Bolin said he ended up selling most of it for a hefty haul but kept a few of his favorites.
Though Bolin agreed everybody would want to play video games for a living, his schedule at Stellantis allows him to get all his gaming in on the weekends while still making good money and benefits at the plant.
But he is technically a professional HeroClix player, he said. Bolin bagged a sponsor with a kilting company called Utilikilts, noting his big, red beard was on-brand with the company, and he wore kilts to enough events to get sponsored.
“I’m a redhead with a big, bushy beard, and I’ve bought their kilts before. So they send me free ones to wear to events, so I wear kilts when I show up to events,” Bolin said. “My Facebook stream name is the Kilted Clixman.”
On top of streaming on social media, Bolin co-hosts a podcast called “Critical Clix,” which can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.
Bolin said the podcast content covers rule changes, when new figures come out, tournaments, and other aspects of the game. Though it’s been a while since he’s been able to attend an in-person tournament, he still looks forward to the weekends when he can hop online and stream HeroClix and other games.
Bolin said he enjoys working at Stellantis as it’s good, consistent work. The pay is good, and the hours are solid and set in stone, which he appreciates considering his commitment to his game time.
“Mainly it’s the consistency — the schedule, the pay — I make good money for what I do. I’ll never complain once about my paycheck,” Bolin said. “The hobby I’m into is fairly expensive, so, you know, if it wasn’t for this job, there’s a very good chance I wouldn’t be involved at all in the types of gaming that I am. So really [Stellantis] has been the godsend in order for me to be able to pursue these hobbies.”