Adam Ruzzo, aka Bridger
Adam Ruzzo is 28 years old, married, and has a normal job, but unlike other married people who have normal jobs, Ruzzo spends a large portion of his free time working as an internet broadcaster on various projects involving popular video games. On the web, he is known as Bridger, the host of Tales of Tyria and Tales of Heroes.
His story begun in 2002 when he switched from a 56k dial-up internet connection to his first cable, and wondered about all the new dimensions and realities that opened to him. Suddenly, he could stream audio. With his interest being video games, he found an internet shout cast radio called Team Sportscast Network: “’We Call the Shots.’”
At that time, TSN was doing audio-only internet streams of game matches. Their focus was Tribes and Return to Castle Wolfenstein and “they were like your local radio’s basketball guy doing the radio rundown, ‘oh man! Looks like we’ve got the red team coming in to grab the flag but oh no! There is the blues team, he can’t get it, he is too late! SHUT DOWN!’” Ruzzo remembers. “I decided I could do that.”
Ruzzo applied to join TSN and got picked to cast Return to Castle Wolfenstein, and later Day of Defeat. By his own admittance, Ruzzo was terrible in the beginning. He was nothing like the Bridger you can listen to nowadays.
The group of game enthusiasts, Team Sportscast Network, was going through a transition around the year 2004. They started out as enthusiasts who converted into a company that wanted to do live broadcasts from gaming tournaments. In 2004, the big tournament was the CPL (CyberAthlete Professional League). TSN got paid by Nvidia to cover the Painkiller World Tour, and Ruzzo got to go all around the world to broadcast the matches with gear paid for by Nvidia. “It was grainy, crappy video at the time, but it was better than nothing.” He travelled to Britain, Spain, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Dallas. “I almost had a chance to go to Turkey, but someone else from the group was going because I had class,” he says. In 2005, TSN was covering the World Series of Video Games, and Ruzzo traveled to New York, Toronto, and again to Dallas.
In 2006, a next-gen RTS came out, called Company of Heroes, and being in beta tests of the game, Ruzzo immediately loved the game and decided to cast is for TSN. Before starting Tales of Heroes, the Company of Heroes podcast, he ran a few episodes of Tales of Legends, a Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends podcast, where he met his later infamous co-host Witensby. At the birth of Tales of Heroes, Witensby was featured as one of the players in the game of the show, and it was later that he joined Bridger in hosting it. “He was right there, and it had worked out so I had him come out on the show and then history just sort of happened,” Ruzzo says.
“It was grainy, crappy video at the time, but it was better than nothing.”
After the show was moved to Gamefire, a new network founded by several of the TSN members, Tales of Heroes slowly stopped, as Ruzzo lost interest in the game, and “the show was an outpouring of [his] heart and passion for the game.” But in 2011, the show had its second debut, this time, on Youtube as a separate entity with a new co-host, Rogers, as Witensby had been employed by Vivendi to be a balance tester for their new RTSs, World in Conflict, and Empire Earth 3 they had coming out at the time. Witensby’s extensive knowledge of the Meta-game had been critical for success of the show. “Witensby was always the guy who I would learn from while we were casting it,” Ruzzo says. “I would be the play by play guy, ‘oh man! There’s a Sherman coming in and he doesn’t see the PAK and OH MY GOD!’ and then Witensby would go, ‘Actually he’s got a buff on that PAK, so the PAK should be better against the Sherman. And he’s got it in the right spot for this particular map, you can make sure it’s hidden there’ so I would learn so much during the actual show.” Witensby’s place was taken by Rogers, who wasn’t as good as Witensby but did the best he could, and put effort into learning the Meta-game.
In March 2011, Tales of Heroes started a new program called Training Tuesdays where Bridger and Rogers explained some basic concepts of the game for new players who appeared after the game went on sale on Steam, and after Company of Heroes: Online was shut down. At first, it was a way for Bridger to “get away with putting something out every week, but didn’t take as long as putting out an entire show.” In the end, Training Tuesdays took longer or just as long to make because they were heavily edited.
In January 2012, Tales of Heroes ended for the second time, possibly never to be restarted again. There is a slim chance if Company of Heroes 2 were made that Ruzzo would go back to casting it. However, at the moment all his efforts are focused on Tales of Tyria which is a completely different concept from Tales of Heroes. Tales of Tyria is a panel talk show about Guild Wars 2, a game that has yet to be released, and therefore there are no replays to cast. Each week, Ruzzo gathers topics and brainstorms ideas for the upcoming show from all over the internet. Then on Sunday, or sometimes Monday nights at 8pm Eastern Time, the show is available for Live streaming on Twitch.tv, accessible through the Tales of Tyria website.