DC grad transforms passion for video games into TV show

Digital Circus host, Tyler Hodgkinson, near Oshawa's Rogers TV station waiting area. Photo credit: Dennis Price

Durham College (DC) graduate Tyler Hodgkinson loves video games so much he created a TV show about them.

It’s called Digital Circus and it’s produced by Rogers TV Durham in Oshawa.

Digital Circus animated intro featured in every episode.
Digital Circus animated intro featured in every episode. Photo credit: Courtesy of Tyler Hodgkinson

“I would describe Digital Circus as a mixed-bag of content centred around the video game industry,” says Hodgkinson, 26, the show’s host and a 2017 grad of DC’s journalism program. “The goal is that every episode has a different format, so you will never see the same type of show twice.”

Digital Circus pulls back the curtain to educate viewers on the stories happening in the video game industry. It has been on air since October, 2017.

Hodgkinson has always been a fan of video games, but has other interests.

Before enrolling at DC, he toured as the bass player for his band, The Joint, which has not officially broken up but stopped performing in 2016.

“I mean I can’t say I didn’t learn anything, I learned a million things. I learned that… waking up in Vancouver, then playing in Ashland, Oregon and falling asleep in California is difficult,” says Hodgkinson.

Before heading out on tour, Hodgkinson knew he wanted to pre-occupy his time while on the road by writing. He decided to start writing music and concert reviews for the site, Popshifter.

He also wanted to write about video games, so he applied to multiple game websites. He got a job writing for GameFocus, based out of Quebec. That’s where he started learning, but he realized something.

“I knew I didn’t have the fundamentals to be a good storyteller or be a good news writer,” says Hodgkinson. “That’s kind of when I decided ‘you know what, it’s time to go to school’.”

He took advice from his video game media idol, Victor Lucas of Electric Playground to pursue journalism and applied to Durham in 2015.

Digital Circus host and creator, Tyler Hodgkinson
Digital Circus host and creator, Tyler Hodgkinson. Photo credit: Dennis Price

Hodgkinson had the idea of Digital Circus for a long time, but DC’s visual radio station, Riot Radio was where it was initially birthed. Hodgkinson hosted the show alongside his fellow journalism students.

“We would go on and talk about the news of the week,” says Hodgkinson. “Then we would have a central topic and have a guest come on.”

After hosting Digital Circus on Riot Radio, Hodgkinson started volunteering at the Rogers TV station in Oshawa. Over time, an opportunity presented itself. Rogers TV technical producer, Aaron Miller, 32, asked if he would be interested in producing a show.

“Anyone can pitch a show at Rogers TV and I thought he would be a very good host for a video game show,” says Miller. “He put in all the work.”

The planning of the show is a collaboration between the pair. After a brainstorming session, Hodgkinson writes the scripts, figures out the segments, what guests to bring on and what current event or topic to cover, such as ethics in video game coverage.

The tone of another episode could be more casual – like one episode which focused on video game character, Sonic the Hedgehog.

One of those guests includes Toronto game journalist, Steve Vegvari.

“I heard about it from a friend of mine, he was invited to be a guest on the show,” says, Vegvari, 29. “Afterward he came on the podcast I’m a part of called the Canadian Geekcast, and he did a guest spot there around the summer of 2018. I got to hear more about what the show was.”

Toronto game journalist, Steve Vegvari.
Toronto game journalist, Steve Vegvari. Photo credit: Courtesy of Steve Vegvari

In early June, Hodgkinson invited Vegvari on Digital Circus for an episode on the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). It featured Vegvari’s predictions about what announcements games companies would make throughout the week of E3.

Both Hodgkinson and Miller would like to expand Digital Circus as a more prominent brand with the ideas they have now.

“I really haven’t pinpointed exactly what Digital Circus is in the future,” says Hodgkinson.