Welcome to the thirteenth entry in the revived Community Interviews series! You'll notice a slight tinge of formulaic formatting throughout these interviews as you read through them, and that is that there are repeated questions that every person must answer. The reason for this is simple: those questions are what form the foundation of the interview. Once those questions have been answered, other questions are asked that are tailored to respond to the answers given. What you will be reading is the end result, conversationally compiled. You'll also notice that there are some new questions in the mix, and completely new to the interview process as compared to the previous entries. I am starting to throw a few new things into the recipe, please let me know if these are welcome additions. Honest feedback is very welcome. Without further ado, let's get started. I sent him a questionnaire, he said some stuff, I said some stuff, you know how a conversation works. Tonight, we're sucking down juice boxes with pk fire!
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How old are you?
23! I actually just had a birthday on October 28th.
What do you do for a living?
Right now, I'm going to graduate school for a master's in molecular biology. You know, Resident Evil
type shit. Seriously though, I study MRSA and also help teach at a local middle school science as part of my graduate school package. Dey pay me.
How long have you been around at Dtoid?
Ummm... I've been around since the summer of 2010, but only recently this year got active in the forums. That place is my home away from home. I was always a FP guy, and even poked my head into Outer Heaven was it was around (R.I.P.). Probably around 2011 is when I started looking at the C-blogs and the rest is history.
In your opinion, what is the coolest thing about yourself?
Oh man, well I guess I would say that I can officially say that I'm a scientist. I infect cells and animals, manipulate DNA and other cell constitutes, frequently freezer-burn my hand by touching things at -80C, and other junk. I actually wrote a C-blog a few years ago about how Resident Evil inspired me to pursue this career path.
Long story short, I haven't been able to replicate the T-virus yet.
What do you think of Huge? Is it possible for Destructoid to become a fully self-sustaining thing? What do you hope to see come from it?
I think Huge is a neat idea, but most of the people I've spoken to feel kind of burned during the initial running of this strategy. Three bucks a month isn't much at all, and I almost feel guilty for not taking part yet, but the way I see it is: why would I throw money at something hoping it'll work, rather than sit back to see what unfolds before I dive in? To me, it's kind of like pre-ordering a game that has built up a lot of hype, but doesn't ever show anyone actually playing the game in real life. For a while it seemed as though Dtoid was going towards all video content all of the time, and quite frankly, I just don't give a shit about that stuff.
Totally stealing from Lipton here: What's your favorite word? Your least favorite word? Why?
Favorite: I'm not really sure. Quack, I guess. I like ducks.
Least: Cucumber. I don't like cucumbers.
What drew you to videogames as a hobby, and more importantly, what has kept you there?
The earliest memory I have of videogames would probably be when I was at my grandmother's house when I was 3-4, and her boyfriend at the time was playing Punch-Out
on the NES. I fell in love with the game, the sounds, the art, the mechanics, and the media as a whole. From that point on, I've probably owned most game systems, and even had a virtual boy when they were popular. What a piece of shit that was. Anyway, I think that videogames simply outclass any other kind of media that we have today because to make a great game, you really need to include so many other things that movies and books don't need think about. I have very high admiration for anyone that could combine these things to make a great experience, and even more so for anyone who's made a great game by themselves.
Also, videogames are just you know, fucking fun to play.
In film, you can render a scene in CG or frame it with actual camera work and props, but in games, you have to not only craft the world, but cause it to have life - whether by action of the developers or the action of the player, everything must be scripted at some level to maintain that illusion of reality. Do you think that it takes more work to bring that world to life in this way?
Most definitely. Since there is a user input element, that means that there is a whole other beast to wrangle when trying to create an illusion of reality. Take Skyrim
: It has some of the most impression world visual to date (at least on PC), but the immersion instantly falls apart for weird reasons. One being that you can basically jump up any mountain in the game, if you try hard enough. Movie makers might have to worry about actors staying in character, but game develops have to worry about technical glitches on top of character immersion.
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of a videogame?
It's hard to pinpoint one aspect, but if I had to, I would want say straight up mechanics would be the most important part. Even if you have a solid idea, it means jack shit if you can't express it in a way that's enjoyable for others. For instance, take MegaMan 2
. It's probably one of the most polished pieces of work to this day in every way possible. Take away the gameplay and mechanics though, and you just have a game where the sound is cool and the art is cool. It would literally dismantle the entire piece.
You're speaking my language - that's the game that defined my personal creed, but this interview ain't about me. What constitutes good mechanics to you? Bad mechanics? I know it's easy to say "well, if shit doesn't work," but I am looking for precisely what you think makes a good-playing game and what makes its polar opposite.
Obviously the mechanics have to work first and foremost, but I think something that is greater overlooked is that the mechanics have to fit the environment. For instance, jumping heights / animations have always been a weird thing for me. If a character can jump three times his height while you're trying to sell me on a realistic setting, it just doesn't make sense. Also, Zelda II
comes to mind as the stabbing animation / hitbox works fine, but a lot of the enemies come at you at weird angles and a lot of the game is just knowing when to take hits. I've beaten that game and I can safely say there are instances when you just need to rush through segments praying that you'll have enough health left over to fight the boss. Weird inconsistencies don't make games fun.
Do you think that controversy (sexism, violence, etc.) helps or hurts the medium?
To be honest, I'm just flat out sick of it. It might have helped some at the beginning before it became a click-bait fest, but honestly, if someone doesn't have the brain capacity to already understand whether it's right or wrong to discriminate another gender/race, then chances are they aren't going to read your article on how Super Mario Sunshine
might reinforce racist cultural stereotypes or be sexist against women. It's up to our community as a whole to chew out assholes, and I've said we do a pretty good job of it. I mean, we have assholes here definitely, but not in a way that makes them any more assholish to a certain race or gender. A lot of us will actually speak out against that stuff.
So, do you think that everyone needs to shut the fuck up about it, or are there actual conversations that need to be had, only without the hubris and blindfolded whiteknighting? Or is it something more?
I think small conversions among friends and acquaintances are fine, but good luck trying to have an all-out discussion on the front page of a gaming website. Personally, I think that a lot of writers and designers tend to stick with what they know about certain archetypes and races / sexes, and it's probably more a familiarity thing than an active repression of a certain group of sex. I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm just saying that I don't feel a lot of developers step up to the plate when they have a chance. Also, I was sure to check my privilege before saying all of that, so it's okay.
Let's go outside of videogames for a moment - what's the most important thing in the world to you as a person?
It might sound weird, but it would probably be the ability for us to critically think. I don't mean it in a problem-solving way exclusively as a species, but rather our (humans) ability to think about everything in life. You can think about how you love your family in a variety of ways, and you can think about how the Developer of Cave Story
made the entire game from scratch by himself. We can feel and think about things that no other species can (That we know of), and it's something that is so innate in all of us that we take for granted. I try not to.
That's not an answer I've had thus far. That's refreshing to hear. Do think that there are ways in which this ability is abused? Or is it incapable of being abused if it's being used correctly?
I think it's abused in the sense that we use our creativity to hurt each other. What other species spends even half of the energy we do into creating things to destroy and kills others? It's a catch-22, but that's the price we pay for intellectual superiority. We create great things for both good and evil purposes.
I find that music is a fairly accurate barometer of an individual's personality. What music makes your day?
Anything from chiptunes to hardcore. If it's complicated, I'll probably like it. If it's simple but unique, I'll probably like it. I've been playing drums since I was 12, and guitar since I was 18, and I feel it's shaped how I look at music immensely. One reason I feel in love with videogames is because of the music. Some of the stuff people composed on the NES hardware is some of the most complicated and intricate shit I've ever heard in my life, and I love all of it. The MegaMan 2
soundtrack is probably my favorite of all time, and I really admire those composers who had to work with such a limited system. It's truly mind blowing.
My favorites are from Mega Man 5, actually. I think it's a testament to their craft to be able to come up with such iconic tunes with such a limited bank of available technology, but this feeds into a theory I have about true artistry in general: if an artist wants to truly succeed, they have to be given limitations to overcome, or else their talent - no matter how massive - is aimless, and the final product will invariably show that aimlessness. Do you think that this is true? If so / not, why?
Oh fuck, five is soooooo good too. I gotta remember to put that on my iTunes. Anyway, in some cases, yes. I do believe that limitations give birth to innovation. On the other hand, we have more people than ever participating in the arts because they are so widespread and available. I had a cracker version of FL Studio 7
when I was in high school, and spent a lot of time making shitty tunes. The problem is though, I could manipulate the sounds in so many ways that I felt overwhelmed and only stuck with what I knew. I've been trying to break out of that shell over the last few years, but it's a slow process.
Do you feel that the videogame medium is evolving, and if so, is it going in a positive direction?
I think so. With the rise of the indie community in the last five years or so, we're seeing a much bigger range of games that are almost all easily accessible to anyone who wishes to try them out. I can't say much has changed for the console side of things besides recent improvements in Sony's systems, but the PC has been my new place of gaming. All in all, games are still fun so I would say that things are going okay.
What do you consider successes in the industry today? If things are going okay, what is it that the industry is doing right, and what could they be doing better with? Is there anything that the industry as a whole is flat-out doing wrong?
I consider Steam / PC gaming the biggest success for the industry at this point, but maybe that's the only part I've really been connected to these last four years. In college, all I had to game on was my laptop. It was pretty good when I got it, and could play games like Borderlands
and such at lower settings. The thing about PC gaming is though, is that it's cheap as hell. I honestly can't remember the last time I bought a game brand new besides Animal Crossing
last summer. Hell, I swear that I haven't paid more than $40 for a game in the last five years. Valve and others have really stepped up to bring quality games at ridiculously low prices, and still walk away with a pretty penny.
As for the bad, I would say that DRM / subscription fees / DLC / Seasons passes are straight up stupid. There's no incentive for the publisher to give you "dat quality" of an awesome game if they already have your money. Sure, they'll churn out content that's fun enough, but it really limits creativity, in my opinion. DLC is no longer an afterthought, but in on the initial plans.
If you said that someone just had to play a particular game before they died, what game would that be?
I would probably suggest that they play VVVVV
, as it is a great representation of what videogames are all about. Even if it doesn't have a strong story, it nails the necessary fundamentals in that its atmosphere and gameplay are solid. It has an appropriate level of challenge in that it'll make you want to throw your controller once in a while, but the feeling of getting past a part you were stuck on is pure ecstasy, and you want to share that joy with others. It's all about havin' fun.
Interesting choice...why? Please, elaborate. What about it earns it such high personal marks?
Fuck! I changed my mind. Play Cave Story
. The dude worked on and off for ten years doing everything HIMSELF. The graphics are cute and memorable, the music is catchy as hell, and the gameplay is solid. It's one of those games I play every year and fall in love with all over again. There are tons of secrets to keep your interest level high even through many playthroughs, and the difficulty is enough to punish you more than a few times. All in all, I think it's the most brilliant thing one guy could ever do. With so many sites in existence, and the internet having no shortage of places to hang one's virtual hat, why Destructoid?
Destructoid has always been a place where I could hang out, throw a few comments around, and have a few people comment back. It's always been a small enough place where a lot of us recognize each other, even if we hadn't had direct contact. It was a place that never took itself too seriously, and always seemed like a place to have fun. That being said, the community was the biggest draw.
And how is the community? If you were to take a look at the state of the community in its current state, what would be your diagnosis?
I would say on the rise, but slowly. I mean, everyone's always been more or less content I would think, despite the recent blow-ups. Otherwise, why would we all be here? More blogs are getting promoted, NARP sessions are in the works, and more community based things are sprouting. It's weird, though…it's all being put on by the members and community members, rather than the salary guys. Maybe they're too busy, but if they want to seriously gain the "community" identity Dtoid had a few years ago, they need to step up their game as well.
Is there anything you would change about Destructoid? Anything you'd preserve at all costs?
The Front Page has gotten a bit boring. I wish they had more personal stories like Chad's stuff way back when. They were always fun and positive reads. I think most people are sick of that click-bait shit that seemed to be up every day a few months ago. I would also preserve the forums, because it's really cool down there. More people should stick around too even if they feel like they don't fit in right away, it just takes time to get to know you, that's all. We do a pretty good job of including and welcoming newcomers, but they need to be willing to put themselves out a bit.
In a sexual way, of course.
If you could fix or strengthen one part of the Destructoid ecosystem, what would it be?
I guess I would just ask more people to participate. You usually see the same people post every week for FNF, and I know that there are more members out there playing similar games. Don't be afraid to start up a small group for a niche game you think no one else has interest in. Take a chance on something new with others. I hosted a musicians wanted thing, and only Alpha and I made stuff. It's not a big deal, I'll try again. You know? Maybe some members are afraid to reach out to others, but it's not a big deal. It's actually pretty fun.
One last question: Who do you think you are?
I'm still trying to figure that out. I know I love videogames, my family, and my friends, and you know what? I'm fine with that for now. Thanks for the interview.
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