Dressed in a Super Mario shirt, Ozz Borges met with mitú over Zoom to discuss his original series, “Gamers,” which he’s currently crowdfunding online. 

The upcoming show splits the difference somewhere between “Pixels” and “Silicon Valley,” following a group of professional gamers led by Travis Marks, also known as the OG, a 40-something burnout who’s forced back into professional gaming as a last-ditch attempt to get his life back on track and retain shared custody of his daughter, Jax.

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OG teams up with a ragtag group of younger gamers to train for a major e-sports event and is immediately reminded of just how out-of-touch he really is with what the gaming world has evolved into since he was a celebrity gamer in the 90s.

The show is loosely based on creator Borges’ real-life experiences as a young gamer growing up in Cuba and the United States, told through the lens of the contemporary gaming world.

“I wanted to tell a story that would connect the old with the new,” he said. “The world that I grew up in Cuba, playing games and learning English, to the world we live in right now, where it’s all about the money and the streaming.”

“Gamers” Creator Ozz Borges (Courtesy of Borges)

After meeting with multiple development executives, Borges realized the only way to tell his story was by doing it himself. “We decided to go indie because many studios wanted to do their own version of it,” he said, “and it was not the right representation for the community. It was going to diminish the value of the characters.” 

Instead of taking one of the deals he was offered, which would require making major changes to the script, Borges decided to go his own way, developing the series in-house with his trusted collaborators. They plan to release it as the first ever series to debut on the blockchain. When it’s produced, “Gamers” will be available for free on the blockchain, taking in revenue based on the number of streams, similarly to how YouTubers make their money.

The idea for “Gamers” initially came from one of Borges’ collaborators, James Evans. “I told him to let me run with it,” Borges explained. “I came up with the characters, the storyline. In two weeks, I had a pilot.” 

After submitting the script to multiple contests, Borges “put it in the hands of one of the executive producers and writers of ‘Silicon Valley’ [named Shawn Boxe]. He loved it, but he was going through stage four cancer and sadly passed away.” Despite that, Borges has pushed forward, continuing to submit the script to contests and generating interest in the concept while developing a plan to crowdfund and get the project produced independently.

“Gamers” Star Clayne Crawford (Courtesy of Borges)

Before transitioning into writing, Borges worked in film finance after a stint as a professional volleyball player. “I was on the junior national team in Cuba,” he told me. “People pay a lot of money for the kids to be coached. But when it comes to professionals, they haven’t been able to crack the code. The pro athletes are still poor. Only the, like, top two teams in the country are good. Everybody else is working eight hours and then going to practice.”

After moving to California to play, Borges was surprised to find himself drawn to the entertainment industry, instead. “I wasn’t looking for it,” he said. “I just moved to California to play volleyball and found that I couldn’t really focus on it because, like many others, you have to get a job. You have to have some source of income in order to play professionally, and it wasn’t sustainable.”

Borges officially quit volleyball at the beginning of the pandemic to focus on writing full-time. Between that and being a father, the writer still has time to game whenever possible. As for what he’s playing, “I will never ever stop playing Zelda,” he admitted. “I actually only own a Switch now. I’m a true Nintendo guy. But I’m actually more into mobile games now. I play PUBG on a daily basis,” adding, “As a true Latino, I still play FIFA.”

To support this project, visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gamerstheshow/gamers-2?ref=user_menu