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Spotlight: What if a brentalfloss interview had lyrics?

Oct 10 // Tony Ponce
When and why did you decide to go bald? Ha! The same day I decided to be 5' 9'' and have a huge wang. One of these things is not like the others. True. But to answer what might have been your question, I started shaving my head in 2005 and haven't stopped since. Just felt it was time? Well, I mean... after a few years of trying to hide my baldness, I was like, "Look, I have a nice-shaped head. I don't look so bad with the buzzed look, and it makes me seem less creepy." I came back from my junior year summer with a tan and a shaved head and suddenly got laid like... what's 50 times more than zero? I might need to grab the calculator for that one! I only ask 'cause I like hearing people's hair stories. I feel a sense of camaraderie with other bald and balding gentlemen. I no longer feel alone. Gotcha. I started losing mine at 15... I found out around 16 (friends of mine knew but didn't tell me). So five years later, I had pretty much accepted it. [embed]236257:45377:0[/embed]The one that started it all! Also check out the extended remix. You've been in the "With Lyrics" sphere for a while. Your first one was "Mega Man 3 With Lyrics," wasn't it? Yes. When did you realize that "With Lyrics" started to take a life of its own and decide to run with it? Umm... I think within 48 hours of releasing "Mega Man 3 With Lyrics." Before I knew it, it was on CollegeHumor, GorillaMask.net, and other websites. I got more views on it in the first 48 hours than all my other videos combined. And so it didn't take long before I put two and two together. And when you told the people you went to college with what you were doing, they said...? Oh man. To this day, they're like, "So I hear you're like... on the Internet or something?" Very few people outside the Internet videogame content culture really understand it. But once I got to the point where I could say I did it full-time and didn't need any other job to pay the rent, I got more confident about it and I stopped caring whether my college friends understood or respected it. It's baby steps. I mean, I'm still trying to explain to my parents what Internet bloggers and journalists do. So I know the feel, bro. It's like my relatives would have a way easier time grasping what I do if I just said, "I'm a drug dealer by day and a gigolo by night!" Your stuff is great, but I've heard you explain before that you still have your sights on bigger things. I don't know about "bigger," but "other," absolutely. Between the ages of 16 and 24, I had a ton of different life plans: teacher, actor, composer, playwright, songwriter, musical theatre writer, etc., etc., etc. I went to New York in 2006 to write musicals, but there came this point where I realized brentalfloss was moving a lot faster than my musical theatre career. And it satisfies a lot of the same desires, like wanting to write lyrics, tell stories, etc. But it's good that you were able to channel your education and passion into a career that you enjoy. Not many people can claim to be doing that. You are involved in teaching, though, right? Don't you run a music workshop for kids? I was a drama teacher at a children's camp in NYC in 2007, and then I added that experience with my master's degree in songwriting to make a curriculum for a summer program that I've done almost every year since 2008. So yes. Although incidentally, the fate of the program is somewhat unclear. Oh no! What's up? Budget cuts, scheduling issues, and a death in the family that actually hired me to do the teaching. Jeeze. But you were able to make something of it, at least. How would you describe the experience? It was awesome. During a time when I was becoming known as a foul-mouthed Internet clown, I was actually honing my skills as a mature, professorial teacher-type. Huge contrast there. It was scary at first, but after a while, you just realize that kids are programmed to be afraid of you if you're a confident adult. My program was opt-in, so there were no kids who got stuck there by their parents. I became more comfortable being a single teacher with a room full of students, and in the end, I think it actually helped me become more comfortable speaking in front of audiences as brentalfloss. What was the age range of these kids? 8-16. In the same room, I mean, as opposed to sequestered groups. So then when you go on stage for a performance, it feels like addressing a classroom. Well, I'll put it this way: My classroom works more like a live improv show than most. So it's kind of chicken vs. egg. [embed]236257:45378:0[/embed]The first installment of Brent's musical instruction series, "Lyrics 101" I bet you and Mega Ran could do a wild lecture / musical set together. Oh, I'd love that. I actually want to get him to guest on my "Lyrics 101" video series, which itself is an outgrowth of my teaching career. It's nice to see what goes into the production of one of your musical numbers. The way certain commenters act, you'd think songs just pop out of thin air. That's the Internet for you. We start life as babies who have no idea how or why we're getting fed, but we get it without having to pay for it, and we don't question it. Some people never get past that age, I guess. Yeah! It takes skill to rhyme "taint"! Ha ha, yeah! Everyone knows you for your Nintendo-themed compositions, but little by little you've been adding some non-Nintendo material to the mix. You've covered Civilization V, Team Fortress 2, Thief, and recently BioShock. What was the impetus to branch out? I was never married to Nintendo's library exclusively. It's just that I started with a Nintendo game, and that's what people liked, so it took me a while to take the risk of leaving the Nintendo library. It wasn't really a calculated move. It's more that, in my opinion, about 80% of the really good videogame tunes in existence originated on Nintendo consoles. "Team Fortress 2" and "BioShock" are a whole different thing, since they're original tunes, But again, I'm not always quick to stray from the main stuff people know me for. If you go straight from toothpaste to orange juice, it doesn't matter if you have great orange juice. [embed]236257:45379:0[/embed]Brent's BioShock-inspired original composition, "The BioShock Song" "The BioShock Song" got a super positive reception. I don't think I've heard one bad thing about it. Yeah, people really seemed to like it. And unlike the occasional fan service video I do, it was 100% for me. There's a lesson in there somewhere. Something something be yourself. Yep. And moreover, the works that you do because you want to have a different quality than things you do because you feel you "should." Where would "Metroid: A Fight for Love" fall? Talk about a wild departure. You don't even sing in that song! It's like if you took the style of "The 2-2 Blues," except made it rock opera. It just happened to require a girl. You've said in the past that there's a music video for that in the works. How far along is it? It's a CGI video, so that's a tricky number to produce. There's a storyboard, and most of the main characters / creatures have been designed. Most of the settings have not, so in the grand scheme, it's maybe... 40% done? [embed]236257:45380:0[/embed]brentalfloss and The Cartridge Family perform "Metroid: A Fight for Love" at Video Games ROCK! 2 You have Amanda Lepre from Descendants of Erdrick singing it. How did that partnership happen, and how did you decide you wanted a backup band? That's actually a misconception. Amanda sings the lives version, but we got a singer with a slightly different style for the video, slightly more of a Disney voice. Her name is Alysha Umphress, and she's been in a few Broadway shows. Amanda's thrilling on stage in person, but when you take the Amanda away, the voice that remains doesn't quite communicate everything my animator and I were hoping for. As for Descendants of Erdrick, they're also your backup band The Cartridge Family. When did that happen? Two members of DOE approached me at MAGFest 9 and asked if I'd be interested in having them as my backup band. I said yes. Pretty simple origin story, really. Dudes just walk up and say, "Be our leader!" And you're all like, "Sure!" Yeah, that's the TV version, sure. From brentalfloss the comic episode 26, "So the Story Goes," art by Andrew Dobson Similar thing happened with brentalfloss the comic too, right? Yep. [Creator and co-writer Dan Roth] approached me and said, "Hey, let's do a brentalfloss comic!" Now, I didn't say yes quite as immediately, but the first step was essentially the same. It's been just over a year since the comic began. How happy are you with it thus far? Considering the fact that I had no expectations going into it, I'm really happy with it! I wish it generated a little bit more revenue (currently, I'm still losing money on a monthly basis to pay the team), but just like with my videos, I know that sometimes you have to build a large library of content before it turns a profit. Who picks the episode titles? Because those are groan-inducing... in an oddly appealing way. 95% of the time, I do. Sometimes I override Dan's title idea with something corny. I can't help myself. Maybe I watched too much Rocky & Bullwinkle as a kid. Then you should have two titles for every episode. Like... "Sink or Swim OR I'm Drowning and I Can't Get Up!" "The Bald Soprano," yes. I just realized I don't like Rocky & Bullwinkle. Ha ha! Was there supposed to be some kind of continuity? I never once saw those shows in any semblance of an order. I think they exist in that cartoon purgatory where characters die and then come back to life, get blown up, and then suddenly have no soot on them after three minutes. Then they make a Dudley Do-Right movie with Brendan Fraser! God, whose idea was that!? Probably the same asshole who thought George of the Jungle and Leave It to Beaver would make great films. From brentalfloss the comic episode 84, "Wii Hate U" I wanted to ask your further opinions of that Wii U event you attended on behalf of ScrewAttack. Taking away a proper journalist's jobs just because you are an oh-so-famous celebrity! Shame on you! Ha ha! I actually couldn't believe how professionally I was treated. The videogame journalism world is one where you can wear ANYTHING, and as long as you have the right admission bracelet, you're in. I was schlubbing around in a T-shirt and jeans, getting to sit 10 feet from Reggie and talk to a corporate PR guy... it was nuts. That said, the PR guy I interviewed seemed like he was refusing to have any fun in the interview or make it any more interesting than bare minimum. I don't know how we convinced these companies that we are so important. Well, at some point, they have to respect our platforms. I have a potential reach of about half a million if I have a juicy news nugget or a juicy, controversial opinion. That gives them pause, and even if certain journalists are more small-time, they still often have a fan base who will side with them. You are still on the fence with the Wii U, though you will definitely be buying it, correct? Oh, I pre-ordered it the day I went to that event. Partially a fanboy thing, partially a business thing. I knew it'd be hard to get one if I didn't hurry up and order. And also, the whole webcomic thing is tricky if it's all retro, because it's impossible to know whether some other webcomic (there are so many) has made the same joke before. So if you're actually on the cutting edge and making a joke about a brand new game, it's less likely that someone will have made that joke. Also, I want to believe that the Nintendo from my childhood still exists somewhere. I sense some doubt. Oh, I have plenty of doubt. I actually turned down an offer for a free Wii U because it would involve me entering a video contest, where I'd have to make a video showing how much fun it was to play and the winner gets to attend Sundance on Nintendo's dime. But I don't bullshit on the big stuff. It's one thing to be nice to a fan even if I'd rather be somewhere else... it's another to shill for a company and compromise my integrity. Good on you for that. I mean, why not launch with a NEW Mario? Like a follow-up to Galaxy? And not the same freaking Mario sidescroller game I've played since 1991! From brentalfloss the comic episode 108, "And Now for Something Completely the Same..." I understand "why." The 2D Mario games easily sell three times as much as the 3D ones, and the 3D ones sell A LOT. Galaxy is around 11 million, I believe. It's a different style of game, so it's not difficult to see why one would be more appealing. That said, I agree that Nintendo isn't trying hard enough. I mean, my [Wa-Peach] strip from today was about this. It's playing safe with the formula. Exactly. Rather than doing something new, they're leaning back on an old formula: "Tack on another Wa-character!" "Make a new kind of fucking Yoshi!" Think about 1985-1990. They were ballsy. I think they had nothing to lose, really. By the same token, though, we can't be nostalgic forever. The "Golden Age" was about 25 years ago, so we have to accept that times have changed. There you are being a grump old fart again! brentalfloss: OYE Tony Ponce: Booyah. brentalfloss: What's shakin? Tony Ponce: Bacon. Tony Ponce: Not really. All the bacon is gone. brentalfloss: Yeah, I don't eat much bacon these days Tony Ponce: I'd put bacon on everything if they'd let me. brentalfloss: I'd put bacon on everything if I didn't have my parents' obese genes trying to turn me into Val Kilmer :) brentalfloss: Anywho, I forget, are we doing text or audio? Tony Ponce: Text. brentalfloss: Swoot brentalfloss: Fire when ready Tony Ponce: I kinda hate working with audio. I sound like a tool. Tony Ponce: Most important question first: Tony Ponce: When and why did you decide to go bald? brentalfloss: Ha brentalfloss: The same day I decided to be 5'9'' and have a huge wang. Tony Ponce: One of these things is not like the others. brentalfloss: True brentalfloss: But to answer what might have been your question, I started shaving my head in 2005 and haven't stopped since Tony Ponce: Just felt it was time? brentalfloss: Well I mean... after a few years of trying to hide my baldness, I was like "Look, I have a nice-shaped head. I don't look so bad with the buzzed look. And it makes me seem less creepy." brentalfloss: I came back from my junior year summer with a tan and a shaved head and suddenly got laid like... what's 50X more than zero? Tony Ponce: I might need to grab the calculator. Tony Ponce: I only ask 'cause I like hearing people's hair stories (That sounds creepy typed out). I feel a sense of camaraderie with other bald and balding gentlemen. Tony Ponce: Doesn't make me feel alone. brentalfloss: Gotcha brentalfloss: I started losing mine at 15... I found out around 16 (friends of mine knew but didn't tell me) brentalfloss: So 5 years later, I had pretty much accepted it Tony Ponce: Seen those commercials for Miracle Hair? Seems like voodoo to me. brentalfloss: Bosley hair restoration still calls me from time to time Tony Ponce: Ha ha ha ha! brentalfloss: And I give them crap for making people feel insecure Tony Ponce: Tell 'em, "Fuck you! Look at all the money I'm saving on shampoo!" brentalfloss: COMMON MISCONCEPTION brentalfloss: Shampoo is still important Tony Ponce: You just don't need a lot. brentalfloss: without it, you just have a greasy fleshball Tony Ponce: Anyway, you distracted me with this talk of hair. What. Tony Ponce: brentalfloss! brentalfloss: ! Tony Ponce: You've obviously been asked this a billion times, but you've been in the "games with lyrics" sphere for a while. It just sort of snowballed. You first one was... "Mega Man 3 with Lyrics," wasn't it? brentalfloss: yes Tony Ponce: When did you realize that "games with lyrics" started to take a life of its own and decided to run with it? brentalfloss: Umm... I think within 48 hours of releasing Mega Man 3 With Lyrics. brentalfloss: Before I knew it, it was on CollegeHumor, GorillaMask.net and other websites brentalfloss: I got more views on it in the first 48 hours than all my other videos combined brentalfloss: And so it didn't take long before I put two and two together Tony Ponce: And when you told the people you went to college with what you were doing, they said...? brentalfloss: Oh man brentalfloss: to this day, they're like "So I hear you're like... on the internet or something?" brentalfloss: Very few people outside the internet video game content culture really understand it brentalfloss: But once I got to the point where I could say I did it full-time and didn't need any other job to pay the rent, I got more confident about it and I stopped caring whether my college friends understood or respected it Tony Ponce: It's baby steps. I mean, I'm still trying to explain to my parents what Internet bloggers and journalists do. So I know the feel, bro. brentalfloss: It's like my relatives would have a way easier time grasping what I do if I just said "I'm a drug dealer by day and a gigolo by night" Tony Ponce: Your stuff is great so far, but I've heard you explain before that you still have your sights on bigger things. brentalfloss: Well, I don't know about "bigger." brentalfloss: But "other," absolutely. brentalfloss: Between the ages of 16 and 24, I had a ton of different life plans brentalfloss: Teacher brentalfloss: Actor brentalfloss: Composer brentalfloss: Playwright brentalfloss: Songwriter brentalfloss: Musical theatre writer brentalfloss: etc etc etc brentalfloss: I went to New York in 2006 to write musicals brentalfloss: but there came this point where I realized brentalfloss was moving a lot faster than my musical theatre career brentalfloss: And it satisfies a lot of the same desires, like wanting to write lyrics, tell stories, etc... Tony Ponce: But it's good that you were able to channel your education and passion into a career that you enjoy. Not many people can claim to be doing that. Tony Ponce: But you are involved in teaching a bit, right? Don't you run a music workshop for kids? brentalfloss: I was a drama teacher at a children's camp in NYC in 2007, and then I added that experience with my master's degree in songwriting to make a curriculum for a summer program that I've done almost every year since 2008 brentalfloss: so yes brentalfloss: although, incidentally, the fate of the program is somewhat unclear Tony Ponce: Oh no. What' up? brentalfloss: Budget cuts brentalfloss: Scheduling issues brentalfloss: And a death in the family that actually hired me to do the teaching Tony Ponce: Jeeze. But you were able to make something of it, at least. How would you describe the experience? brentalfloss: Well brentalfloss: It was awesome brentalfloss: During a time when I was becoming known as a foul-mouthed internet clown, I was actually honing my skills as a mature, professorial teacher-type brentalfloss: Huge contrast there brentalfloss: It was scary at first brentalfloss: But after a while, you just realize that kids are programmed to be afraid of you if you're a confident adult brentalfloss: My program was opt-in, so there were no kids who got stuck there by their parents brentalfloss: I became more comfortable being a single teacher with a room full of students brentalfloss: And in the end, I think it actually helped me become more comfortable speaking in front of audiences as brentalfloss Tony Ponce: What was the age range of these kids? brentalfloss: 8-16 brentalfloss: In the same room, I mean. brentalfloss: As opposed to sequestered groups Tony Ponce: So then when you go on stage for a performance, it feels like addressing a classroom. brentalfloss: Well, I'll put it this way: My classroom works more like a live improv show than most. brentalfloss: So it's kind of chicken vs egg Tony Ponce: I bet you and Mega Ran could do a wild lecture / musical set together. Tony Ponce: Or at least swap classrom tips and tales. brentalfloss: Oh I'd love that brentalfloss: I actually want to get him to guest on my "Lyrics 101" video series brentalfloss: Which itself is an outgrowth of my teaching career Tony Ponce: It's nice to see what goes into the production of one of your musical numbers. The way CERTAIN commenters act, you'd think songs just pop out of thin air. brentalfloss: Well, that's the internet for you brentalfloss: We start life as babies who have no idea how or why we're getting fed, but we get it without having to pay for it, and we don't question it. brentalfloss: Some people never get past that age I guess :) Tony Ponce: Yeah! It takes skill to rhyme "taint"! Tony Ponce: All in good humor, of course. brentalfloss: Haha, yeah Tony Ponce: Everyone knows you for your Nintendo-themed compositions, but little by little you've been adding some non-Nintendo material to the mix. You have Civilization V, Team Fortress 2, Thief, and lately BioShock. What was the impetus to branch out? brentalfloss: I was never married to Nintendo's library exclusively, it's just that I started with a Nintendo game, and that's what people liked, so it took me a while to take the risk of leaving the Nintendo library brentalfloss: it wasn't really a calculated move brentalfloss: It's more that, in my opinion, about 80% of the really good video game tunes in existence originated on Nintendo consoles brentalfloss: Team Fortress 2 and Bioshock are a whole different thing brentalfloss: Since they're original tunes brentalfloss: But again, I'm not always quick to stray from the main stuff people know me for brentalfloss: If you go straight from toothpaste to orange juice, it doesn't matter if you have great orange juice Tony Ponce: Excactly. Tony Ponce: On BioShock, that got a super positive reception. I don't think I've heard one bad thing about it. brentalfloss: Yeah, people really seemed to like it. brentalfloss: And unlike the occasional fanservice video I do, it was 100% for me brentalfloss: There's a lesson in there somewhere Tony Ponce: Something something be yourself. brentalfloss: Yep brentalfloss: And moreover, the works that you do because you want to have a different quality than things you do because you feel you "should" Tony Ponce: Where would "Metroid: A Fight for Love" fall? Tony Ponce: Talk about a wild departure. You don't even sing in that song! brentalfloss: Well brentalfloss: It's like if you took the style of the 2-2 Blues, except made it rock opera brentalfloss: it just happened to require a girl Tony Ponce: You've said in the past that there's a music video for that in the works. How far along is it? brentalfloss: It's a CGI video, so that's a tricky number to produce brentalfloss: There's a storyboard brentalfloss: And most of the main characters/creatures have been designed brentalfloss: Most of the settings have not brentalfloss: so, in the grand scheme, it's maybe... 40% done? Tony Ponce: You have Amanda Lepre from Descendents of Erdrick singing it. How did that partnership happen, and how did you decide you wanted a backup band? brentalfloss: Well, that's actually a misconception brentalfloss: Amanda sings the lives version brentalfloss: But we got a singer with a slightly different style for the video brentalfloss: Slightly more of a Disney voice brentalfloss: Her name is Alysha Umphress, and she's been in a few Broadway shows, etc Tony Ponce: This gal? http://www.alyshaumphress.com/music.html brentalfloss: Yessir Tony Ponce: Boom. Noted! brentalfloss: Amanda's thrilling onstage in person, but when you take the Amanda away, the voice that remains doesn't quite communicate everything my animator and I were hoping for Tony Ponce: As for Descendents of Erdrick, The Cartridge Family, man! When did that start? I could have sworn you or someone else told me before. brentalfloss: Well brentalfloss: Two members of DOE approached me at MAGFest 9 and asked if I'd be interested in having them as my backup and brentalfloss: *band brentalfloss: I said yes brentalfloss: Pretty simple origin story, really :) Tony Ponce: Dude just walk up and say, "Be my leader!" And you're all like, "Sure!" brentalfloss: Yeah, that's the TV version, sure. Tony Ponce: Similar thing happened with the brentalfloss comic too, right? brentalfloss: Yep brentalfloss: Dan approached me and said "Hey, let's do a brentalfloss comic" brentalfloss: Now, I didn't say yes quite as immediately brentalfloss: But the first step was essentially the same Tony Ponce: It's been just over a year since the comic began. How happy are you with it thus far? brentalfloss: Well brentalfloss: Considering the fact that I had no expectations going into it, I'm really happy with it! brentalfloss: I wish it generated a little bit more revenue (currently I'm still losing money on a monthly basis to pay the team), but just like with my videos, I know that sometimes you have to build a large library of content before it turns a profit Tony Ponce: Who picks the episode titles? Because those groan-inducing in an oddly appealing way. Tony Ponce: *those are brentalfloss: 95% of the time I do brentalfloss: Sometimes I override Dan's title idea with something corny brentalfloss: I can't help myself brentalfloss: Maybe I watched too much Rocky & Bullwinkle as a kid Tony Ponce: Then you should have TWO titles for every episode. Tony Ponce: Like... Tony Ponce: Sink or Swim OR I'm drowning and I can't get up! brentalfloss: "The Bald Soprano" brentalfloss: yes Tony Ponce: I just realized I don't really like Rocky & Bullwinkle. brentalfloss: Haha Tony Ponce: Was there supposed to be some kind of continuity? Tony Ponce: I never ONCE saw those shows in any semblance of order. brentalfloss: I think they exist in that cartoon purgatory brentalfloss: where characters die and then come back to life brentalfloss: get blown up, and then suddenly have no soot on them after 3 minutes Tony Ponce: And then Dudley Dooright rides backwards. Tony Ponce: THEN THEY MAKE A MOVIE WITH BRENDAN FRASER! Tony Ponce: God, whose idea was that!? brentalfloss: Probably the same asshole who thought George of the Jungle and Leave it to Beaver would make great films. Tony Ponce: I actually found George of the Jungle to be quite funny. That's... surprising. brentalfloss: I refused to see it Tony Ponce: Probably for the best. Tony Ponce: The moment has passed. You would have had to go for it right when it was still new. brentalfloss: Yeah brentalfloss: And I was 11 Tony Ponce: At that awkward stage where you want to see PG-13 movies because they look so grown-up. brentalfloss: Haha, yeah brentalfloss: Like how Batman Forever seemed SOOOO sophisticated when I was 10 Tony Ponce: HA HA HA HA HA! Tony Ponce: I still own the glass mugs McDonald's was selling. Tony Ponce: I've got the whole set. Bats, Robin, Two-Face, and Riddler. brentalfloss: Oh yeah! brentalfloss: Wow. brentalfloss: I can't tell if they're highly collectible or highly junk. Tony Ponce: They are solid. I mean, it's etched glass, so if you squint, you kind think Batman is still Michael Keaton. Tony Ponce: *kind of think brentalfloss: I need to bug in the next 20-30 min, so let's steer it back if you have any more substantive questions, haha :) Tony Ponce: Sure thing. I've only got one more nugget. Tony Ponce: I wanted to ask your further opinions of that Wii U event you attended through ScrewAttack. brentalfloss: Well Tony Ponce: Taking away journalist's jobs just because you are an oh-so famous celebrity! Shame on you! brentalfloss: Haha brentalfloss: I actually couldn't believe how professionally I was treated brentalfloss: The video game journalism world is one where you can wear ANYTHING and as long as you have the right admission bracelet, you're in brentalfloss: I was schlubbing around in a t-shirt and jeans getting to sit 10 feet from Reggie and talk to a corporate PR guy... it was nuts Tony Ponce: I don't know how we convinced these companies that we are so important. brentalfloss: That said, the PR guy I interviewed seemed like he was refusing to have any fun in the interview or make it any more interesting than bare minimum brentalfloss: Well, at some point, they have to respect our platforms brentalfloss: I have a potential reach of about half a million if I have a juicy news nugget brentalfloss: Or a juicy, controversial opinion brentalfloss: That gives them pause brentalfloss: and even if certain journalists are more smalltime, they still often have a fanbase who will side with them Tony Ponce: It'll always feel foreign to me no matter how many events I attend. Tony Ponce: But anyway, you are still on the fence with the Wii U, though you will definitely be buying it, correct? brentalfloss: Oh, I pre-ordered it the day I went to that event brentalfloss: Partially a fanboy thing, partially a business thing brentalfloss: I knew it'd be hard to get one if I didn't hurry up and order Tony Ponce: I should have done that, probably. brentalfloss: And also, the whole webcomic thing is tricky if it's all retro because it's impossible to know whether some other webcomic has made the same joke before (there are so many) brentalfloss: so if you're actually on the cutting edge and making a joke about a brand new game, it's less likely that someone will have made that joke brentalfloss: also, I want to believe that the Nintendo from my childhood still exists somewhere Tony Ponce: I sense some doubt. brentalfloss: Oh I have plenty of doubt brentalfloss: I actually turned down an offer for a free Wii U because it would involve me entering a video contest brentalfloss: where I'd have to make a video showing how much fun it was to play brentalfloss: and the winner gets to attend Sundance on Nintendo's dime brentalfloss: But I don't bullshit on the big stuff brentalfloss: It's one thing to be nice to a fan even if I'd rather be somewhere else.... it's another to shill for a company and compromise my integrity Tony Ponce: Good on you for that. Tony Ponce: From what I've played, I personally really enjoy it. I'm not necessarily looking for some grand new paradigm. I just want to see some fascinating games. Tony Ponce: Like The Wonderful 101. Was that at the event? brentalfloss: It was mentioned, but not playable Tony Ponce: Damn. I played it at E3. You would have enjoyed it. Command dozens of superheroes to form shapes like swords and guns and take out aliens. Tony Ponce: Like Pikmin crossed with Viewtiful Joe. brentalfloss: Interesting Tony Ponce: It's what sold me on the Wii U, actually. Tony Ponce: I mean, I've seen Mario. Fine. The Nintendo Land games seem like fun in bursts. Okay. brentalfloss: I mean, why not launch with a NEW Mario? brentalfloss: Like a follow-up to Galaxy? Tony Ponce: But seeing something like 101 gives me some hope that "yes, there's gonna be some good shit in the future." brentalfloss: And not the same freaking Mario sidescroller game I've played since 1991 Tony Ponce: I understand WHY. Tony Ponce: The 2D Mario games easily sell three times as much as the 3D ones. Tony Ponce: And the 3D ones sell A LOT. Galaxy 1 is around 11 million, I believe. Tony Ponce: It's a different style of game, and it's not difficult to see why one would be more appealing. Tony Ponce: That said, I agree that Nintendo isn't trying hard enough. brentalfloss: Well I mean brentalfloss: My strip from today was about this Tony Ponce: It's playing safe with the formula. brentalfloss: Exactly Tony Ponce: Wa-Peach. brentalfloss: Rather than doing something new, they're leaning back on an old formula brentalfloss: "Tack on another Wa-character!" brentalfloss: "Make a new kind of fucking Yoshi" Tony Ponce: I actually wrote a whole article about this very topic. I'll email you a link, and if you have time over the next few days, you could give it a read. No biggie if you don't. Tony Ponce: But yeah, I would rather Nintendo embark on some grand new IP with the same passion it used to establish all these other brands. brentalfloss: Think about 1985-1990 brentalfloss: They were ballsy Tony Ponce: I think they had nothing to lose, really. brentalfloss: By the same token though, we can't be nostalgic forever brentalfloss: The "golden age" was about 25 years ago brentalfloss: So we have to accept that times have changed Tony Ponce: There you are being a grump old fart again! Tony Ponce: I'll let you go now. Thanks for doing this! brentalfloss: Hey, no prob man. My pleasure! Tony Ponce: You're gonna be at MAGFest, right? brentalfloss: Yessir brentalfloss: Running around like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, probably Tony Ponce: Ha ha ha! Tony Ponce: I'll see you there! brentalfloss: Sounds good man! brentalfloss: Have a good one! Tony Ponce: I'll also let you know when the post goes up. Tony Ponce: Peace! brentalfloss: Ladle!
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Key change, mofo!
[Every now and then, Dtoid shines its Spotlight on a games-related artist, event, or place we'd like to share with you guys. Basically, we think this is awesome. Do you think it's awesome?] When Brent Black earned ...

Spotlight: StarCraft and K-pop porn with Blood Diamonds

Jul 25 // Allistair Pinsof
That’s totally the sword from the US Final Fantasy II box cover on your latest single, isn’t it? And you have the Sega Genesis logo too, which is awesome! Mike Tucker: Fuck yeah there is! That’s what it’s about! I can’t remember but the wings are from like some official Gundam art. There is so much nerdy shit going on. There is no such thing as too nerdy. We [Tucker and Elite Gymnastics’ Josh Clancy] bounced it back and forth. Every part of it. Sharing elements and all of that. Josh is such a good designer. I wanted it to look like some kind of weird K-pop porno that would come on a Sega Dreamcast. K-pop porno? That doesn’t exist, right? It does exist, actually! Someone sent me a picture and I thought it was Girl Generation. It’s very subtle but their skirts are just a bit higher and sexier and they aren’t Girl Generation. I guess that’s a thing. Girl bands and making pornos and ... anyway ... I wanted it to look like a late ‘90s weird Korean or Japanese sexual thing that would come on a game. There is something weird about the aesthetic of Square [SquareSoft/SquareEnix] art. That format is very non-associative with music, originally. There is an aesthetic that you and Elite Gymnastics share that I can’t quite put my finger on but it seems really inspired by SquareSoft games and anime in the late ‘90s & early ‘00s. There’s this bright optimism to it that kind of disappeared from games ever since. Am I just crazy for making this connection? Yeah, totally. It’s very geeky. But the initial games I was into were Final Fantasy X, Donkey Kong Country, and Rez. [embed]231928:44486:0[/embed] Weird. Those were the exact games that come to my mind when I listen to your music. So, it’s fair to say that games inspire a lot of what you do with Blood Diamonds? Yeah, the initial Blood Diamonds vibe was very tropical. I still have tropical elements and lot of that is from Donkey Kong Country. Not inspired by the soundtrack but just the time that it came out. The vectorized pixel art looked so good at the time and the environment was really rich and the palm trees had detail on them -- reflections or something -- it had highlights and that was something I never got fully from pixel art. I think that was the first game where I felt I was in a place. Most of my music is visually inspired and -- fuck that is such a nice place to be! Those environments, those colors, jumping on alligator people! You’re currently on tour with Skrillex and others on the Full Flex Express tour. I’ve seen a lot of tweets about you guys playing Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft together. Not exactly the way I imagine most artists unwinding between shows. Those were jokes. We would of if we had internet. There was no internet on the train and we were joking about wanting to play. In rural Canada, we couldn’t. I played WoW for like six years. That was a pretty important part of Blood Diamonds. The environments ... I feel like WoW came out when I was a freshman in high school and it felt like their sophomore expansion [The Burning Crusade] was my sophomore year, and it grew up with me. I learned a lot about color, art, and things just because the art is so good. It’s such an immersive environment that you can’t escape. Once I quit and started making music, I had all this energy and time to do things. I feel like playing WoW for 14 hours a day or whatever the fuck catapulted me into this work ethic. I hate when people lie about being deep into that shit. "I’ve never been into videogames, bleeeeghhh!" But once the gloves come off everyone wants to play Counter-Strike. I can see Skrillex being a guy who gets into games. You ever talk to him about your game ideas or games in general? Yeah. He actually told me that he recently got to play Counter-Strike: GO. We had a good chat about that. I was kind of jealous. He’s been there, man. We talked about Donkey Kong Country Returns the month it came out. He’s very knowledgeable as far as games and consoles go. Just like me he doesn’t have much more time to play anymore, unfortunately. I had a Counter-Strike disc image [on tour] but it was corrupt so we couldn’t even play ... even TOKiMONSTA on tour plays. Only person that doesn't play is Diplo. Grimes watches me play StarCraft and she is so convinced that if Katy Perry were an alien, she’d be a Protoss. We’ve had deadly serious conversations about Katy Perry in regards to StarCraft. Have you had time to play any games lately? The only game I’ve made time for is StarCraft II. James in Elite Gymnastics and I, we play pretty regularly when I can. That's how I met James. I was tweeting about a StarCraft map and he tweeted back. "What’s your battle.net?" And 10 minutes later we played StarCraft II for 18 hours and got on Skype and became best of friends. A week later I flew him to Vancouver and had a K-pop party where we broadcasted StarCraft II matches on the walls. All these dudes came to watch StarCraft. It was this fancy nightclub and all these girls were just dancing by themselves. It was awesome! I find it hard to believe you are a game designer. You seem too fashionable. Do you consider yourself a music artist first and foremost? You should see pictures of me from a year ago. I like games. I like music. I like to party. I like people. As long as I am making something every day, whether it's music, art, or snide comments -- ok, not snide comments -- but if you are doing positive things ... I am what I am and I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing. [embed]231928:44487:0[/embed] What’s your history with games?When I was really young, my parents couldn’t afford a Super Nintendo or PlayStation. So, I played at my friends house all the time. A lot of the time I just ended up watching because my friend was kind of a dick. So, I ended up making so much fan art but I didn't know it was fan art at the time because I was seven. I obsessively drew Star Fox and Mega Man. I got better and better and better. That’s why I ended up being so into games and being a game artist. I do some scripting when I need to. I do some bare bones shit but I do art, mainly. Mega Man Legends had the sickest art style for PlayStation! When Pokemon Blue came out, I spent my summer collecting leaves to buy that on a Game Boy Color. I was really psyched. In 2nd grade, my whole life was Pokemon. I was like aggro Pokemon kid: "Don’t fuck with me or I will destroy you!" What made you want to design? I tried music when I was 18 and just failed horribly. I was like, "Fuck. What am I going to do now?" I went to art school for a year and played too much Warcraft. I thought I should make Warcraft. I wanted to work at Blizzard or Valve. I got a student loan for game design. It was the coolest experience. I became friends for life with my whole class and instructors. But through that I made new music as Blood Diamonds and it ended up growing into a thing. I had a release come out during school and every other weekend I’d be flying out to do Blood Diamonds stuff and come back and do game work. By the time I graduated, I had some good job offers. I thought, "Fuck, I’m 21 and I shouldn't wait to sit at some place. I should do music while I still can!" It's becoming more common to find electronic artists with a love for games these days. Even Burial samples gun sounds from Counter-Strike. Do you find this to be true? The most successful people are the nerdiest. It’s really sick setting up these live visuals last night for Skrillex's visuals. He had a giant LED screen with this dude in Counter-Strike barreling through people with a shotgun set to the beat and he cut in Nyan Cat. Shit like that, you know? Especially with electronic producers, it's very internet- and game-centric. [embed]231928:44488:0[/embed] Do you feel you still have interest in making a game? My plan right now is, once my album is done and it does well enough, I want to save up for a big budget and make a game over six months with like four. Some are my friends and some I met professionally. I want to make an indie game that is like a one-hour experience that mimics the hour experience of a record. I’ve heard something about a music-game based game jam in Vancouver where game designers pair up with musicians and make a game in a day. You ever participated? No, but I've been to a 20-hour game jam with my friend. I don’t have the flash drive anymore, but I had this retarded game I made with my Swedish friend where you are just Batman hanging out of a Volkswagen and you had to smash this fucking iguana. He blends into the sidewalk so it made it difficult. We made a stupid theme song. There is no better feeling than making a game with a friend. Games have more breathing room to be collaborative and be a less personal thing because they are mostly about fun. There is a history of musicians turned game designers with people like David Cage and designers that do their own soundtrack. Do you feel focusing on one discipline makes the other stronger, as well? People are like, "How do you do this?" in regards to both. It’s the same shit. It’s just programming and using a huge array of software to make one product. The work ethic and everything is very parallel. You want to meet deadlines, you want to maintain this artistic aesthetic, and you have a clear goal. The work ethic, especially. A lot of that came from playing MMOs. When you are in a hardcore, top-rated server, guild, or whatever, it's hard work. It's like a second job. Are you going to jump back into World of Warcraft when the new expansion comes out? Maaaaaan, I don’t know. I have a beta key and I’ve been trying not to fuck with it. I love Blizzard and everything they’ve done. They’re why I went to game design school. Elite Gymnastics and me always talk about this: We just want to make money off our records, chill, and play StarCraft for the rest of our lives. [Phone Sex can be purchased at the 4AD Store or on iTunes]
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[Every now and then, Dtoid shines its Spotlight on a games-related artist, event, or place we'd like to share with you guys. Basically, we think this is awesome. Do you think it's awesome?] I don’t often discuss music w...

Spotlight: Engorge yourself on Feast of Fiction

Jun 29 // Tony Ponce
[embed]230342:44229:0[/embed] How exactly did you decide to put Feast of Fiction together? Ashley Adams: That's a Jimmy question. He's the brainchild. Jimmy Wong: Mmhmm! I had the idea brewing in my head after my brother and I talked about YouTube shows that needed to exist. A: I'm the innocent bystander. J: Not so innocent! You're the main reason we've made so many delicious cakes and pastries! You have an idea for a cooking show, but you don't know how to cook. Off to a great start! J: Ha ha ha! A: I'm what you consider at the right place at the right time. Get someone who knows. Enter Ashley. J: It might've been a "half-baked" idea. GET IT!? Oh, you. A: Ba dum dum ching! J: Well, I was desperately looking for a co-host, and on a relaxing trip to Disneyland, I perchance [happened] upon Ashley, who told me she really loved making crazy cakes. And in my short list of the first few videos we had to make, "Minecraft Cake" was a definite, huge must-do that I had absolutely no idea how to create. Ashley fit into the equation perfectly. [The dead body cake that Ashley wowed Jimmy with] So you two didn't know each other prior to the Disney meetup? A: Did not know each other, nope. How long ago was that? A: December 2 [of 2011]. J: Whoa! Good memory! I would've guessed like September. I'm bad with time. It was definitely a kick-butt way to meet each other. Disneyland is a magical place, they say. A: LOVED EVERY MOMENT OF IT! And loving every moment of the result of it! Cheesy but TRUF. J: You know me, I love cheese! From [Video Game High School] to Feast of Fiction, I'm all over that cheese. Feast of Fiction caught my attention because of the videogame angle early on. I've seen a few sites here and there that collect videogame-themed recipes, like Gourmet Gaming. Any inspiration drawn from any of those? A: Yeah, we're familiar with that site. J: Ooh, indeed. When I was coming up with a name for the show, "Gourmet Gaming" was one that immediately popped for me since it's such a simple and effective name. Unfortunately, it does limit itself to "gaming" which isn't something we wanted to do. Super duper fact: I originally wanted to call it "The Fiction Kitchen," but the name was taken. The original idea was to be completely game-focused? J: Nah, the original idea was always to hit every fictional property we could. Our first few videos run the gamut of fictional properties -- a book, a videogame, a computer game. It really varies a bunch! Do you find that adapting foodstuffs from a particular medium is easier or more difficult than those from another? Like, are game meals harder to make than movie meals? J: I find it personally the easiest when the full recipe is given to us ("Portal Cake"), 'cuz I'm lazy. But when there is no recipe... J: Then when it's based off of a real food item it's easy! If there is no recipe, it becomes an epic Googling Quest. A: At times we've found a couple of recipes we've liked and combined them / adjusted them to our tastes, trying to make it unique while sticking to the protocol of the image of the feast. J: And sometimes the recipes are absurdly simple, so the challenge isn't in making it but finding a way to make the episode interesting. Like the "Sandvich"! J: The dreaded Sandvich! A: So interesting to me! J: We found out with that recipe that people really hold our show to a higher standard of work sometimes. Ha ha ha! A: The dreaded Sandvich = so many recommendations and so many haters at the same time. J: But then we do a super simple episode like "Onigiri," and the charm of having my crazy awesome parents [on the show] quiets any discord. A: I mean, EVERYONE'S FAVE EPISODE! J: Dude, mine too! I found myself cracking up so many times just editing it! Couldn't stop smiling. That's it. Next episode, make PB&Js and bring your parents along. J: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Tony, that might just work! [embed]230342:44230:0[/embed] Ever heard of the Sinners Sandwich? J: I HAVE, and my friend Brett asks me to make it almost every week. There are so many ways you could approach it. It's very non-specific in the game. With a food item so open-ended, that's when you make multiple variations, like you did with "Butterbeer," right? A: Aww, that was fun! J: Indeed! Sometimes variation is nice, but also requires more time on our behalf to film and make it. So... I'm expecting no less than ten variations of the Sinners Sandwich for the next episode. J: By the way, Ashley, Sinners Sandwich is this random sandwich from this equally crazy and random game called Deadly Premonition, which is a game that came out [in 2010] but feels like a videogame straight out of the '90s. Had huge cult fan appeal. It's turkey, jam, and cereal. A: CEREAL!? What kind of cereal? Any kind. J: Ha ha ha! Unfortunately though with something like that, the number of people that would know what it's from is relatively low, but I guarantee the people that DID know would absolutely freak out. And I mean it, freak the eff out, if we made it. A: P.S. Thanks for the game aside! Speaking of which, Jimmy is the game buff while Ashley is along for the ride? J: Indeed, one of the people who helps out every week -- Matt Arnold -- and I discussed a lot about what kind of host dynamic would be best for the show. I think we played around a little with the Jimmy = game buff and Ashley = cooking buff a little bit, but ultimately, the current host dynamic we have is just Jimmy = total goof / younger brother and Ashley = cooking buff / patient friend. How much have you corrupted her, Jimmy? J: I dunno! How much did I corrupt you, Ashley? A: I mean, I am learning A LOT and really enjoying it! A TON of my friends are gamer nerds, and now I have more to contribute in conversations! It wasn't a thing that interested you much in the past, though? A: I have always PLAYED videogames growing up, ya know... had all the gaming systems throughout the years... I think I just "grew out" of it. And I love this connection back to my childhood that I've reinvented. You just weren't as emotionally invested as the other two guys chatting right now. A: Not in that aspect. But I love books and movies, so that part I can relate to. I have an English degree, so I've always been connected to literature. I assume you alternate between fan requests and stuff you've come up with. J: More recently, we've just been solely doing fan requests since there's so much demand for a certain few items, plus it helps us grow our user base the fastest. Is there a particular game, movie, show, or whatever that either of you are excited to tackle? A: Yes. I really, really, really, really want to revisit my childhood in its entirety and do something from the Oregon Trail. Who isn't interested in dysentery? And I'm pumped to do Alice in Wonderland. Bison meat and LSD. Good combo. J: Oh YES! Alice in Wonderland is something we've talked about from day 1. I want to do something really clever with the "Drink Me" potions. [embed]230342:44231:0[/embed] And you, Jimmy? J: Dude, I really wanna do Blue Milk from Star Wars. Also a feast from the Redwall series. A: Yes, yes, I've heard you talk about those. Blue Milk? What would you add to it? J & A: Blue food coloring! J: It may be super simple, but it's Star Wars. A: No wonder why he wants to do it! It's like the EASIEST recipe! Right. No cooking skills. J: Ha ha ha! How about from a game? J: Hmmmm... there's this Pumpkin Soup that's in The Legend of Zelda that I've always been interested in, most recently made a pretty significant appearance in Skyward Sword. Oh yeah! There was also one in Twilight Princess that had fish in it in addition to pumpkin. A: Yeah! Anything from The Legend of Zelda would be fun again! J: Oh yes! Maybe we'll do a bunch of soups from Zelda -- a lot of games have had brothy potions in 'em. A: We're also talking about a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle feast up and coming soon, which was like me and my brother's fave game to play together. J: I'm gonna dress up as Shredder! A: We HAVE to find a yellow coat if I'm gonna be April O'Neil! How has Feast of Fiction helped your individual careers? J: It's definitely been a ton of fun for me and has opened a lot of doors in terms of people knowing who I am and what my brand is. It's been a ton of learning in terms of building a brand and creating a weekly show based off of a format. Before, I was just doing music on YouTube, and that really did have crazy variations from day to day. A: Oh man, I could go on and on all day on this question! The reader's digest version is this: I moved to LA to pursue my career as a TV personality and took baby steps towards that goal until I met Wimmy Jong. J: Woo! A: Now I still wonder how I'm at the place I'm at and PINCH myself every day when I think of Feast of Fiction. I couldn't be more blessed to get to be myself, having fun with my friend and telling a story.  That's my ultimate goal, to be on camera and tell a story. J: I really like that goal. I feel like that's so true for anyone acting, being a TV personality or a host or anything on screen. It's all about conveying a story. A: I didn't know that my brand was gonna be in the kitchen, but it's evolved into what looks like something I'll be pursuing for a while. J: You've got a great personality for any kind of hosting, Washley Wadams! Oh, get a room. J: Ha ha ha! Tons of comments about that all the time! Ashley, will you be doing How to Bake it in Hollywood in conjunction with FoF? No conflict problems at all? J: As long as you don't get too busy, my deary. A: Absolutely, still doing it until I get kicked off the show, man! J: That'll be a very special episode! A: HA HA HA HA HA! If HTBIIH gets picked up, it'll be very exciting because I will be able to quit one of my service industry jobs! Then I will have way more time to devote to FoF and HTBIIH! J: It sounds like you're blowing a raspberry when you say "HTBIIH." A: HA HA HA HA HA! That shit is way too long to type! And Jimmy, what's your next big project now that VGHS is wrapped up? J & A: Season 2!!!!! SPOILERS! J: It's definitely happening, but I'm not sure if we can divulge when or where yet. Right now, I'm definitely keeping up with FoF and my music channel. [I] have a couple of auditions I'm waiting to hear back from, but otherwise, the only guaranteed acting work I have ahead of me is VGHS Season 2, which I am beyond excited about. By the way, I need to get KitchenAid or Cuisinart to sponsor FoF already. A: Uhhh, yeah, you do! We need to start raking in the big bucks! J: Indeed! Dolla bills, y'all!
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[Every now and then, Dtoid shines its Spotlight on a games-related artist, event, or place we'd like to share with you guys. Basically, we think this is awesome. Do you think it's awesome?] I love food. I love videog...


Spotlight: Drinking and gaming at Emporium Arcade Bar

Jun 24 // Geoff Henao
What was the inspiration?  Doug Marks: In reality, my brother managed a bar in New York. You guys are brothers?  Brothers, business partners, all that stuff. He managed a bar in New York that was very similar to this concept, and there's actually a good number of them that are similar to this around the country, this sort of bar arcade concept. I guess the main inspiration would be that my brother worked in a bar that was very successful, and there was none like this in Chicago. W'’re from Chicago, so he was coming back here, and I joined on board. And then you wanted to start one in Chicago. Yeah, there wasn't one here, and it's a concept that's been proven to work pretty much everywhere it's been. If you look at Yelp reviews of these arcade bars, the main complaint is it's too crowded. So we're like, "That's a good problem!" Arcades were prohibited in Chicago, so until we started this project, they weren't actually... no one could have done this. In the early 90s, a parent group got together because, in the 80s, [arcades were] where kids could go to be unsupervised and ditch school for storefront arcades. And so they became prohibited in the early 90s, unless you're Dave & Buster's where you're part of a planned development or in a strip mall bigger than five acres. We had no idea. That makes more sense. We had to go with our alderman, Alderman Moreno, who's been incredible the whole time for us. We had to actually go to City Hall and get them to alter that part of the code to allow arcades that are part of a special-used permit attached to a PPA (Public Place of Amusement) license in a tavern, is what it eventually was the whole compromise had to go through. A lot of the aldermen remember what it was like in the 80s and were hesitant to open the ordinance up wide again, so that was the compromise, which worked for us, because that's what we were trying to do. We made it very narrow so people can't just open one. So is it still that people just can't open an arcade then? But if it's an arcade bar, it can get done? It'd be difficult, because it'd have to be a tavern with a PPA. You'll have to go through a lot of hoops to get it. It's good for you guys, then! Yeah, it is. We just tried to leave it open, but it does work out really well for us. Is the main focus for you guys the bar aspect or the arcade aspect? Well, the arcade is what makes us unique. That's definitely why people are interested in us. That's definitely what makes us stand out versus every other bar that is there. Our thought, and the way we say it, is even if we didn't have games, we wanted to be a good bar. We wanted to be a place where people were going to come back. The games are fun, the games are great, but people aren't going to go to a bar all the time just to play games. After awhile, that's not going to draw them, which is why we have 24 taps; we're making a huge focus on beer. We're doing almost all craft beer, no cans, no bottles. We're doing a big focus on Midwestern craft beer. We're going to have a lot of whiskey, probably 50 or 60 whiskeys. [We'll have] high-end, sort of decorative, nice, boutique whiskeys that we'll probably have a handful of bottles of on-site. We will be able to tailor to a good whiskey crowd where, if people wanted good whiskey, we're going to have good whiskey. If you want Jim Beam or Jack Daniel's, we'll have that too, but we are going to have a nice selection. From a bar aspect, whiskey and beer is what we want to do well. If you came in on a Thursday night, the beer that's on tap won't be the same as the beer on a Saturday night. If you come in at 8 pm on a Saturday, we might have one IPA, but by the end of the night, it might be a completely different IPA. I guess a short answer to your question is we want it where it could be a standalone bar, even if we didn't have the games. We want it to be a place that we think is really good quality where people can come, have a good time, and play games, but also come back because they like the bar. With the focus on beers and whiskeys, will you guys have videogame-related drinks? We're still playing around with it. You know, it might not be the most creative mixed drinks in the world, but we'll probably put some creative names to them. If we use a cinnamon whiskey for some sort of drink, maybe we'll call it "The Double Dragon." There will be some fun names, that's for sure. We'll have our signature cocktail kind of thing that we'll have fun names that, if you ask what was in them, may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but the names will make you more excited than how other bars call them. One of the things that I'm really curious about is how you guys feel about the history of arcades in the Midwest. You talked a little bit about how it was prohibited for awhile, but even in the 80s with Iowa being a really big deal with the Twin Galaxies... like how this bar would maybe expand on that, in a sense. It's the first one in a long time in this area. Yeah, and even just from being in Chicago is cool, because almost all of these games were made in Chicago, like Bally, Gottlieb, Midway, they were all here. There's actually a funny point in NARC, I think it's the second level of NARC, you're in the California Blue Line stop. In Rampage, it doesn't look anything like it, but all of a sudden, the first level of Rampage is Joliet, IL. I'm not exactly familiar with the Twin Galaxies in Iowa, but there's definitely sort of like... the cool thing about these games is that they're all like 30 years old, so they've all been in different arcades, and they all still have their license stickers on them, and so you see some of our games were in Texas at one point. They all have their own stories to them, which is kind of cool. They were all somehow built in Chicago, one of them made it down to Texas at one point, and now it's somehow completed its life cycle and made its way back here. Even going back, our family, for decades, owned movie theaters and roller rinks and bowling alleys, and so they had a lot of arcades in there. It's a cliche way of saying it's in our blood. Growing up, we did have arcade games in our house, like we had a couple of them. We had a bubble hockey in our house, so we had that stuff. It's been something that our family has done for awhile. Going off of that, is Emporium related to some of these bars your family owns at all, or is it completely its own thing? Our family never owned any arcade bars. But no, this is a very independent business that my brother and I started. Did you guys personally buy these arcades or did you inherit them? No, we bought them all. We bought them all within the last year. Pretty much 80-85% of them came from three places. We really just started off of Craigslist. People list them. You'd be surprised how many arcade games are listed on Craigslist. One of them was a guy who owned five or six arcades, and he closed four of them and was basically looking to retire and get rid of his excess games. So we went in, went around, and looked through his list and were like, "Alright, we'll take these eight." There's also this sort of niche gaming community out there where some of these people are electricians by trade, that's what they do during the day, but their hobby and their secondary source of income is they collect these games, fix them up, and generally the people they mainly sell them to are for basements, for their kids, or for their man cave. And every once in awhile, people like us snatch up seven or eight of their games, but it was really like they listed a few, we call them up and like, "What games do you have?" And they're like, "Just come out, it's too hard to describe. We have some that are being fixed right now, we have others that are on the floor, others that are coming in." And then once we built these relationships, we would give them a list [and say], "These are the 50 games we hope to have in our bar. We don't have room for 50, but if we can get most of those with stars by 15 of them. Certain ones like Super Mario Bros." You guys obviously have a pretty decent selection right now. Do you have games that you want to get in the future that you don't have yet? There are so many games we could have. These people have our list. There's one main guy who, every couple of weeks, would call me and say -- and this is how we got Rampage because he knew we wanted Rampage, we wanted the three-player Rampage, so we were waiting for that -- "Guess what? We got the Rampage." And this was the point where we had 30 games, and we didn't really, until today when we finally put the games in their spots and had the shelves installed and everything, now we realize we have room for two more games that may or may not be taken care of in the next couple of days. We know there are a few out there -- there's a Frogger that we know of that we might snatch up. Frogger's one where we feel we're missing. There's certain ones we wanted to get. Other ones we saw randomly when we bought a bunch of games from one person. We saw Circus Charlie and we're like, "That game's funny and it's got nice colors and it wasn't so expensive." We were like, "Well, we're already buying this many from you, you're delivering them anyways, we'll take that." We probably had a list of 10 or 15 that we had to have, and I think we pretty much got all of those, and all the rest were sort of additions. We try to stay as true as we could to that "golden era"of arcades. The newest game we have is Marvel vs. Capcom, which was [1998], and that's the newest game we have, then it's NBA Jam, then it's Terminator 2, and I don't think we have any other games from the 90s. How did you guys determine what kind of era you guys wanted? You wanted the golden age of gaming. Is that just because that's what you grew up with, and that's what this generation's really interested in? Yeah, that's pretty much what most of these arcade bars do. They get these vintage games because you look at the people who go to bars and are willing to spend money on good beer and good whiskey aren't necessarily 21-year-olds as much as they are 30-year-olds, which 21-year-olds are more than welcome to come and we want them here, but they didn't grow up with arcade games. Like, I'm right on the border of... I had Nintendo more than I had arcade games. Every single person who comes in here, even our inspectors when they came in here, they would just be like, "I remember that game!" When we had one of our hearings at City Hall, at one of the zoning hearings, the first thing the [zoner] said, his first question to us in this whole big City Hall room with all the aldermen and people waiting for their hearing goes, "My first question for you guys is, 'Are you going to have Donkey Kong?'" There is this nostalgic feel that will draw certain people in, but it's also like... in my opinion, once they started moving towards Dance Dance Revolution and stuff, it sort of took a turn that isn't as appealing and is more appealing to younger people than it is to people who want to come to a bar. There was definitely that conscious effort to stay as true to what is known as the "golden era" of videogames as possible. A part of that is the fact that a lot of these arcades have their own tokens, and that was one of the very first things I asked. How hard was it to get your own tokens? There's about two or three companies left that still make tokens, so it wasn't hard. It's actually kind of funny, because when we were buying the games, we would tell these people, "We want the machines to be this size token." They're coming from the minds of the people who have owned arcades. They're like, "That might be a bad idea. Look," he reaches into the machine, "this is like five different arcades' tokens." So we look at him and we go, "I think you're thinking of a different mentality." There aren't many people who are over the age of 21 that have a stockpile of tokens in their house from other arcades they've been to. There are a lot of reasons we did tokens. (A) It's cool. It's a lot cooler to have your own tokens. (B) It makes it easier to also do party packages and stuff. We can say, "We'll give you guys 20 tokens," as opposed to saying, "We'll give you guys five dollars of quarters." It's basically giving them money, which I'm not sure is legal. Then also, they're cheaper than quarters, which is also nice. It's also if somebody walks out at the end of the night with two of our tokens in their pocket, as opposed to quarters, they're going to come back here as opposed to using the quarters for their laundry. It's a very smart business decision. In reality, it also is the same reaction we get from everyone when it's tokens, because we could have done them without our logo on it and just gotten those generic tokens and saved a couple cents per token, and that does add up over the number of tokens we have to have on site, but in reality, when it came down to it, it's a lot cooler and we can go around to businesses or street fairs and have a little thing and give tokens out to people and drive them to us, because we're pretty much the only place anywhere remotely nearby, because there are other arcades -- there's Galloping Ghost in Brookfield where you pay and play whatever you want, and Dave & Buster's has cards. Would you guys be doing a rotation of games? There will probably be some rotating. We have Galaga and Galaxian; we really don't need them both. Galaga is, in my opinion, better than Galaxian, and so that will probably be one of the first ones to leave the floor. There are also a lot of these games that are older than I am, so they're going to break. We have three or four right now that are currently not in service, but we have tech heads coming over to fix them. It won't be quite like the beers where every night where there's going to be a different game, but we're constantly getting emails from people that are like, "Get this game! Get that game!" It's ranging from more obvious ones like Frogger or Joust or something like that to really obscure -- there seems to be this very dedicated, enthusiastic, and small fighting game community out there. Oh yeah, especially in Chicago. They're like, "Get Street Fighter 3 Super Special Fighter Turbo Edition! And yes, I know it costs $15,000, but if you'll get it, I'll be there every day giving all my quarters! We know a lot of places that would put a PlayStation 3 in there and put in a cabinet." We're like, "We get it, but this isn't that place." There are so many games that we don't have that came out in the 80s. We think we've gotten most of the classics. You have to have a Pac-Man, you have to have these Nintendo games, Rampage, things like that. I think the most obvious one, at least from my opinion, that we don't have is Frogger. Because we trickle into the 90s, we get the X-Men four-player and the [Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles four-player that a lot of people request. We actually know of a Turtles in Time that is the second year Ninja Turtles game that we are very much considering to fill one of our two open slots right now. That would actually be a very good decision. I would say Turtles and X-Men are the two that we get the most requested. I don't think we'll ever have three between The Simpsons, X-Men, and Turtles. Having two of the three gives them variety. In reality, in my opinion, besides the characters and the background, they're pretty much the same game. But, you know, it's to keep people happy. It's also something cool where people will get excited when we introduce new games. It will probably be every six months without really setting a time period. You could expect to see one or two new games with a couple off the floor where one will break or one will go down or one will constantly be breaking and fixing. Or we might decide we want more pinball or something. Can you talk about some of your ideas about party packages, or if there are going to be certain packages that you can buy on a night where you can play as much as you want? It'll probably be, in the beginning, a case-by-case basis because we don't have a party space yet. We have the ability to expand next door, actually, and we have lots and lots of ground plans for what it's going to be. One will definitely be some sort of party room because we think this place is ideal for parties, whether it's a bachelor parties or it's a corporate, tech startup company. This place is a lot cooler to have your party at than wherever else you would have it. It's a good place for [as an example] the end of a date, you could come here and have a drink and play games and it's much more low key. But to answer your specific question, we don't have any specific ideas yet about what exactly it'll be, but we have the ability to be like, "Well, if you're going to have 20 people, we can set four of our tables aside, put 'Reserved' on there. That's yours." We can do a wristband deal, anything we can legally do, we can do because I know there are weird happy hour laws in Chicago where you can't have set discounted drinks for certain hours. Pretty much one of the key things we think, and from the number of emails we get from people, is that this is the kind of place that people want to hold their parties. This is the kind of place that people want to come to for their bar crawls and all those things, and they are looking for whatever deals or whatever packages they can get. Over time, we'll probably establish something based on what makes sense, but since right now we're not positive of how much we're going to make every night, it's hard to say. Have you been getting a lot of support from the community? Are people excited about it? From what we've learned and what we know is the city hasn't been more ridiculous for us than they have been for anyone else. It's just that it seems ridiculous when, all of a sudden, you're moving along, then it gets stuck in some department somewhere, and you're just waiting and there's nothing you can do. They have a stack of papers on their desk everyday and they're only going to work at a certain speed and we're not getting priority. You kind of hit a black hole, but like I said, when it comes to the alderman, like I said who's been awesome, and the neighborhood association from the first day my brother ever met with them, they were like, "This is awesome! This is great!" When we go to the zoning committee, we have a letter from the alderman, we have a letter from the Chamber of Commerce, we have a letter from the neighborhood association; everyone's like, "We're on board." If we ever go outside to make a phone call or do whatever and we're standing out front, a few people would come up to us and ask, "When are you opening?!" We have 1200 Facebook friends, and my big surprise is I'm common friends with 30 of them, so I've never sent it out to a single person, saying, "Like this page." It all just happened in the way social media happens, it just spreads out. Yeah, there's a bureaucratic sense, but when it comes to the local, elected officials, if they're on board and they're actually there -- this was a vacant storefront. He wants the vacant storefronts gone. He thinks our concept's good, it's good for the neighborhood. From day one, he was like, "Yeah, tell me what you need and I'll do it." Alderman Moreno has been awesome. Did you specifically target Wicker Park? Yeah, we looked at other places, but this seems to fit the niche pretty well. It borders on that hipster cool. I think if we did the bordering between Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville, it would still kind of work, but this is definitely the right place to do the first one. If we wanted to do anything in the future, the name would be known, and we could do it. This was the place that makes perfect sense. And it's right between two Blue Line [train station] stops too, so that's perfect. I think what sort of works for us is people don't like going to areas that are the "cool" place to go, like Six Corners (Damen, North, and Milwaukee) where it's always crowded. But we're right between North Ave. and Division St., so the foot traffic is enticing, but we're also not in an area where there are eight bars all next to each other. We want more bars and more restaurants here, we do want that. If we had our perfect world, that furniture store [nearby] would not be there. Wicker Park, I think, was the right place to go. Can you talk about leaderboards a little bit and how that may lead towards competitions or anything like that? There will be things along those lines, probably more a chalkboard that will literally be "High Score" and the first time someone sets the high score in Pac-Man, they can tell us, we'll write it up, then the next person can beat it. From what my brother experienced in the bar in Brooklyn he managed, there's a handful of world record holders who take a great point of pride of going around and setting these records at as many places as they can. Eventually, there'll probably be two or three people that hold pretty much every single high score, and they're going to be one hundred times higher than anyone will ever come close to scoring, so I think after awhile, it won't be so competitive and fun where these are the kinds of people playing Galaga that would build up so many free lives that they'd go to the bathroom and come back ten minutes later and their game is still going. It'll pretty much just be a board posted somewhere with all of the high scores, and that moment you get your name up there, you'll probably be really excited, but eventually, someone's going to come in and destroy you and ruin your night the next time you come in here. Can you tell us any of the rejected names for Emporium? I'm trying to think. It was honestly a long time ago. Honestly, I can't even think of them right now. One was like "Drinking Games" and that was sort of cheesy. That was one. We thought, at one point, calling it "Marks' Bar" because that was our last name. One we came really close to was just calling it "Ourcade Bar" spelled O-U-R. There were a lot more creative, better names that I just can't think of anymore. We had a list that has long since been thrown away. Emporium was the original name we played with. We spent a month trying to think of other names, and this was the only name where nobody was like, "This is stupid." And it was the only name that we said enough times and liked it. We realized after awhile that we were never going to have that moment where we're like, "That’s it!"
Spotlight photo

[Every now and then, Dtoid shines its Spotlight on a games-related artist, event, or place we'd like to share with you guys. Basically, we think this is awesome. Do you think it's awesome?] Located in Wicker Park, one ...

Spotlight: Meet The Game Chasers

Jun 17 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]226815:43573:0[/embed] Where to begin? The Game Chasers are 15 episodes deep now. While you can start from the beginning -- and this series starts off very strong -- If I have to pick an episode, the PAX 2011 episode would be my favorite. Jay and Billy are already two outrageous guys, but seeing them interact with fellow YouTube gaming personalities, including Pat the Punk, really sets this one over the edge. Interview Over Skype, I got to sit down with Billy and Jay to talk about their life outside game chasing, how they got started, and why filthy flea markets are a necessary evil in the life of a game chaser. Where are you guys based?Shady Jay: Dallas/Fort Worth area. Billy lives in Fort Worth. I actually live in Arlington.How long have you guys been game chasing?Billy Hudson: Game chasing without the camera: 6 years or 7 seven years. With a camera: It’s actually the year anniversary tomorrow [Editor's Note: This interview was conducted April 18.]Doing anything special?B: Oh yeah, I got a video I’m working on right now. Are you going to buy Jay a ring?B: [laughs] Yeah, I got him a nice full bottle of jackshit!What are your day jobs? Do your co-workers know about the show?J: Yeah, and yes. I do. Not all of them know, just a handful. I work with mainly women so they probably wouldn't care. Jay, do you work at a strip club?J: [laughs] Yeah, I work at Babydolls in Dallas. Ahh, no. I work for a non-profit organization. B: I mainly do freelance stuff. I don't have an actual quote-unquote job. What are these actual jobs you people are talking about? I do whatever brings in money: graphic art, video work, rap videos. J: Prostitution.B: I’ve been doing this for about 12 years now. Been working at TV stations, Spanish television stations, even though I couldn’t speak Spanish.J: Telemundo! I can tell you’ve been doing this for a while because the quality of the videos are so good.B: Yeah, well. It’s one of those things where I know a lot of tricks to make it look high budget when it’s really not.J: Yeah, no doubt about that!B: We don’t do anything fancy. These are just tricks that are sleight-of-hand.J: Our budget is so big we can have a green screen at his apartment and at mine! You ever have times when you find something good but don’t have the cameras rolling?B: It happens more often than we like.J: We went to a state sale last weekend; we had no cameraman, so I just busted out the iPhone and got a couple Odyssey games. B: I went to a flea market about a month ago and found some really sought after games. I got Soul Blazer in the box and Lufia as well. The reason we didn’t have a camera man … wasn’t that the time he went to a museum? The Washington museum?J: Yeah, I think so. B: Some museum in Fort Worth to look at facts about George Washington. Even though we were just in Washington, D.C.! [for Magfest]J: Like Billy said, this is something we’ve been doing together for six or seven years and then a year ago we just decided to record it. We’re always looking for games, whether we are together or apart. Whatever. Does having a camera on you make haggling easier or harder?B: Harder. Well it depends, especially if we go to a flea market where people don’t speak English. When somebody doesn’t speak English, it’s hard to convey what we are doing and why we have a camera in their face. A lot of them don’t want anything to do with us --J: Some call security. [laughs] We think security was called but we burnt out before we knew for sure. Another time security came up to us and were like, “Hey! Stop filming! You’re on private property."B: Hey, if they don’t want free advertising ...What’s the furthest you’ve gone for a game. Whether it be distance, price, or personal humiliation?B: It has to justify the gas, I’ll say that much. If you are spending more on gas then the game is worth, it kind of negates the deal. The furthest I’ve gone is maybe Denton, Texas. It’s not very far at all. I can’t think of any instances where I wanted a game so bad that I’d drive that far to get them.J: I bought a lot off Craigslist. This was years before I started the show. It might have been 60 minutes away. I don’t remember the name of the town.B: When we travel we are doing it for the show. We need content for the show. If it wasn’t for that, we’d probably never have gone. J: The funny thing about that is now that we’ve gone to further places in Texas, I want to go more. We can stay in a four hour radius from here, Houston, Oklahoma city, Austin, and get back home in a day if we wanted to. It wouldn’t be too bad on gas, but we want to go to as many places and as far out as possible.In your recent MAGFest episode, you guys hit a dry spell when you went game chasing outside of Texas. Do you chalk it up to bad luck or is Texas just that much better for game collecting than everywhere else?J: I heard from fans that their area just sucks. I hear the Philly area and San Diego area are good. A lot of people tell us, “I live in this place, that place, and there is nothing here." I just think we are really lucky here in Texas.B: I think that maybe if we went more off the beaten path on our way to MAGFest we may have had better luck, but since we were so close to the highway we weren’t getting the best stuff. You want to go to those small towns 45 minutes away. You need to go outside of civilization to find the good stuff.J: You need to hit those dirty flea markets. The dirtier the better, in my opinion.
Spotlight photo

[Every now and then, Dtoid shines its Spotlight on a games-related artist, event, or place we'd like to share with you guys. Basically, we think this is awesome. Do you think it's awesome?] A long time ago, I turned to ...


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