A Destructoid exclusive!! Jobs in gaming - everybody wants one, and today we have the opportunity to sit down and talk with a star who has appeared in more games than Lara Croft, Mario and Sonic combined! Yes, today we chat with Chester the Skeleton who has appeared in such games as Battletoads, Baldur's Gate, Wolfenstein, Golden Axe, Oblivion, Dragon Quest, Castlevania, Everquest, Diablo, the Final Fantasy series, the Tomb Raider series and many, many more. He'll give us his insight into his career as an extra in video games.
So Chester, may I call you Chester? How did you get your start in video games?
Well, it was the 80's and like most young skeletons I wanted to be a movie star, but totally by chance I answered a casting call and found myself in a game called "Beyond Zork" and while they didn't have graphics back then, they used me in a text scene where the gamer had to fight a skeleton. I've never looked back and I moved on to find myself very steady work as an "extra" in a ton of games. We skeletons were around from the very beginning of video games!
So Chester, what are your aspirations in this industry?
For the longest time I wanted to be a star. You know, being the main bad guy like Skeletor was in the 1983 Intellivision classic "Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man". Better yet, I at one time aspired to be like Sir Daniel Fortesque who was actually the star of MediEvil, but then I saw what happened to him. He was so good looking and became so big that he got typecast as "Sir Dan" and couldn't get work after that game. He started drinking and well... it's just sad. Nowadays I'm pretty happy with being a nameless extra - the work is steady.
So you've worked with lots of big stars in the business... give us some dirt! Who did you hate working with?
That would definitely be Lara Croft of the Tomb Raider series. She was a real snotty bitch and never mingled with the extras. She also used guns... those stupid dual wield pistols or worst yet, the shotgun. Man, I hated getting shot with that thing. I mean everybody knows that you're not supposed to use guns or swords against skeletons, you're supposed to use a blunt weapon! That's so we don't end up with nicks or holes in our bones. We gotta keep working right?
Developers? Who are some of your favorites?
Well, I'm an avid gamer but usually avoid RPG's for the obvious reason that I don't want to spend time playing games that I'm in... so I usually play platformers or first person shooter games. I absolutely love Insomniac because one Halloween I loaded up Resistance: Fall of Man and found they had changed all the human characters in online play into skeletons! It was a wonderful surprise. Naughty Dog also did this with Uncharted 2's online play, and I have to say it was awesome to play as myself in a shooter game for a change. It's really fun what some developers can do with the technology in games nowadays.
So what types of roles do skeleton extras generally get in the biz?
Well I'm usually one of those necromancer summoned skeletons, arising in a mass from the ground to attack the gamer with a sword and shield. Sometimes I'm a cave, dungeon or temple skeleton.... just hiding around the corner until you walk past a certain point which is my cue to rush in and attack. I've been a flaming skeleton and an exploding skeleton, but I'm getting a little old for those roles, they're hard on the bones. Recently I've been getting work as an Archer skeleton, and it doesn't seem to matter that my aim is pretty bad.
The Dead Rising incident... refresh us with that story?
Oh yeah... Dead Rising. We were in the process of unionizing the skeletons and I guess the devs didn't like the idea of having to treat us with respect, give us decent pay, and some of the little things we were asking for... like you know, actually gathering up all our bones after a gig so we could go home mostly in one piece. Dead Rising was originally going to star a massive cast of skeletons, but instead the entire gig went to Zombies because those brainless zombies weren't unionized. This pretty much ended our push for a union. Politics is a bitch and now I haven't got a retirement plan.
Are you working in anything at the moment?
Well I just finished wrapping up Two Worlds 2 and I'm currently doing some early scenes for Dragon Age 2. I hear that there might be an upcoming Elder Scrolls role and I'm really wanting that gig... those games are awesome because I often get to appear in multiple scenes so the money is good!
Any advice for aspiring skeletons?
Yeah, get a shtick. Me, I'm that guy that gets stuck in the scenery. You know, when gamers have to clear out an area of enemies... well I'm that skeleton that is stuck in a rock making it difficult for the gamer to continue on to the next level. Sometimes they even have to restart the level if I get myself stuck really good. It's kind of made me a bit famous. My friend Barry, he's got a great head. He's had gigs where he just leaves his head somewhere and can go relax backstage. He's probably most famous for Halo, but also gets a lot of other work where he just leaves his head lying in the sand or somewhere... you know, as a foretelling of a dangerous section up ahead ("ahead", get it?).
So there you have it! Are you undead? Are you a skeleton? Consider a career in video games. It's one of the oldest roles in gaming and offers stability with a stellar history and tons of upcoming roles. Skeletons can get steady work as extras but can also rise to become mini-bosses, boss characters, and even the star of a game. Next time you switch out your sword for a blunt hammer and start bashing skeletons, remember that one of those nameless enemies could be Chester or one of his friends.
I'd like to thank Chester for taking the time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me for my first ever interview. I've been trying to contact Melanie the Zombie for my next interview, but she's apparently busy doing the talk show circuit after the release of Dead Rising, the Zombie mode in Call of Duty, and the currently popular Zombie trend in games, TV and movies. A few of the pacman ghosts have been in contact with me trying to get an interview because they're worried about the loss of ghost popularity, but I think that the next interview might be with Mike, who often plays "the nameless AI guy" from so many shooter games. He's actually got an incredible sense of humour and it turns out that his bad aim is often on purpose... and he wanders off in the wrong direction so he can make a quick call to his wife!
Thanks for reading! Elsa out. (and yes, I was very bored this weekend!)