Welcome to the ninth 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 patrolling the beat with Scield!
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How old are you?
I am thirty years old. Might not sound old for some of you guys but after chasing my five, almost six year old around I definitely feel my age or older sometimes.
What do you do for a living?
I am a police officer in a city in South Florida and have been for about 10 1/2 years. My current position is a Sergeant so I oversee a shift of officers and help supervise an area of our city. I've done a lot of things in my time, from a property detective, street level narcotics team, field training and just a regular ol' patrol officer.
I tried the college thing for a while and didn't really care for it so since I've always wanted to be an officer, I gave it a go. I've done a ton of interesting things that, at least for me, are a once in a lifetime opportunity. Last year I was part of the field force team for the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa. We were really expecting to see a lot of action, sort of what St. Paul saw in 2008 but there was a hurricane coming around that same time the kept a lot of the protesters away. We still had a blast but no where near the mayhem that we expected. Then in January I got to travel up to Washington, D.C. with a few people from my department to stand on the presidential route. I don't really care for the man at all, but Obama got out of the car right at our position so that was pretty cool to see him up close since I probably won't ever see a president that close again.
How long have you been around at Dtoid?
I've been at Dtoid since April 2011. I was around before then, just reading articles and listening to Podtoid but I didn't actually join until then. That was mostly due to the other site I was a part of, Gamesradar, closed their forums and a lot of the personalities left for other careers. Dtoid seemed to have a strong community that I wanted to be a part of and hopefully make some friends from, and I have.
In your opinion, what is the coolest thing about yourself?
Hmmmm....kinda hard. Honestly, some of the guys I play games with may already know this, but I do have a slight stutter. I was born with it, no way to stop it, so I've just dealt with it. It was hard growing up with it in school. The anti-bully lobby that is so strong today was no where when I was a kid and to be honest, I'm glad. Its taught me a lot about people and myself and taught me to stand up for myself. I'm not talking about fighting in school but verbally defending myself as a child definitely taught my wit and ways to get talk to people. It's not all that bad but it's made me who I am and has formed my life the way it is.
What drew you to videogames as a hobby, and more importantly, what has kept you there?
I started playing games when I was 4 on an Atari 2600 we had. What drew me to playing it then, I have no idea. I know that I had fun with it and continued playing games after the launch of the NES until now. Over time, different things have kept me playing games. Back when I was a kid most of the games I played weren't really about story, they were games that you just had to retry to beat, like Mega Man 2
. Short games but they take a long time to play due to the difficultly. But as far as games are concerned now, what keeps me playing are two things: the social aspect of them and escapism/story lines. For the social part of it, I don't go to bars and due to my work schedule, barely have time to go out and do anything, so the way I unwind and "hang with the guys" is by playing games. On the flipside of that, I don't have time to play games and parts of games over and over again like I did back in the day. When I play single player games I'm looking for a strong story to drive me through and not a lot of frustration now.
I can totally relate to this, because I find myself in a very similar scenario. Do you feel that your current playstyle seems better suited to finishing strong stories or do you play more short-burst multiplayer as a result?
For the most part I would say short multiplayer experiences. I have a lot of fun playing Battlefield
or whatever other game for a few hours. I find it hard to start a single player game that has an involved story and only be able to play it for 30 minutes to an hour then have to turn it off for whatever reason.The story gets choppy and I forget what happened or it takes me a while to remember the controls. I still do play those games but mainly when I can devote more time to them. A 13 hour game will take me months to get through. A 40 hour game, maybe a year. Depends, really. That's why game length isn't a big deal for me. I can play an 8 hour game and feel like I got my money's worth since it'll take me a while to get through it.
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of a videogame?
Right now, story. Like in the previous question that's what gets me through games now. I don't like to play frustrating parts over and over again (with the exception of Super Meat Boy
), plus I just don't have the patience for it. If I get stuck too long on a part more than likely I'll put the game on a back log and I won't go back to it for a while, if at all. I want a single player game that I can have fun with and enjoy the story of. Assassin's Creed
2/3, the Mass Effect
series, hell, even Halo
, are all great examples of games that all have varying length that I have enjoyed playing for the story and they aren't very frustrating. That's not to say that I haven't been frustrated with them at times, though.
What's the threshold of frustration for you? At what point do you hit the "fuck it" ceiling?
That's a hard one. That's really a case by case thing. If a game is holding my attention and it's frustrating me I'll give it a little more time. Super Meat Boy
is frustrating as hell but I enjoy the challenge and when I do have to start over it doesn't seem like I lost a lot. Whereas if I play a story based game with bad checkpoints and I get stuck on a section that I have to replay over and over, I'll get bored with it and I'll give up and move onto something else.
Do you think that controversy (sexism, violence, etc.) helps or hurts the medium?
Hurts. Frankly, I'm getting really tired of all the complaining of "Why doesn't Game A
have a main character that is gay / black / taller / shorter / female / male..." You get my point. Whenever someone makes a game, they have a vision for a story and a main character. You can't make everyone happy so there's no point in trying. I want game developers to stick to their story and ideas and not shoehorn any social or political statement(s) into their games that don't belong. Like I said, I play games for escapism and politics and a lot of social issues are touchy subjects nowadays, so when I do play a game, I don't want to know the developers opinions on the Bush Presidency or cave to internet pressure to make a character a certain way. The internet and society is too sensitive nowadays if you ask me. Everyone just needs to chill out and let things go their own way.
On a side note, if those topics do fit in a game, I find that it does help a lot. For instance, Bioshock
is a great example how a developer took politics and turned it into a creative narrative without really making a statement.
Social statements seem to be more effective when they're subtle and not thrown on as the top layer of any narrative, at that point it becomes literally wrapped in the thinnest veil of politics rather than built on that foundation. Do you feel that most designers and developers, like Irrational (Bioshock) are aware of this fact? Or is it a chosen few?
I'm sure most of them are. Obviously, I'm speaking from outside of the industry, but I think most developers and writers are aware on how to make effective narratives without making it seem too obvious. The problem may come from the higher ups at the publisher, the PR people or even the consumers. The publishers and the PR people may tell the developer to include a certain topic or character to appeal to a certain demographic or a certain sect of consumers is saying they want to see a certain topic addressed in a game. I'm sure most people can tell when topics are put into games if it comes from the heart or if the writers just decided to stick it there to check off a box.
Let's go outside of videogames for a moment - what's the most important thing in the world to you as a person?
My son and family. Everything I do, I do because I love my family and want my son to succeed. I work my regular 40 hours a week, on top of overtime and extra security duty just so my wife can be a stay at home mom for him. I've seen a lot of kids in my field of work that have parents that both work or parents that just don't care. Those are the kids that have the issues in school and in life and I don't want that for me son. It's also very important for my wife to stay home with him. I guess you could call her an anti-feminist. She thinks when women have children they should be the number one priority in life, not throwing them into a day care and getting back to work and, frankly, I'm glad she has that view too.
I can understand that. Do your wife and son share in any of your hobby-related exploits?
My wife hates pretty much everything I do, for a hobby that is. Hates my movies, comic books, video games and my guns.
Anyway, my son loves a lot of the same stuff I do. He's about to turn 6 so we have fun playing with Transformers, action figures and all the other stuff kids and men-children like. On the topic if videogames, much to the eye rolling if my wife, he loves them. I started him playing Forza 3
when he was 3. He loved getting the cars up to high-speed and ramming them into walls. Of course now we play the Lego
games together and he has his DS that he plays. I still have an original NES that I hook up from time to time to let him play Mario
and Duck Hunt
Continuing the off-videogames vibe, what's your greatest hope for the world?
World peace. Haha, no, no. That'll never happen. And if it does it'll be because we've been taken over by aliens. Like in The Host
. I watched that thinking it was action/sci fi but nooooo, it was a stupid love story and the aliens looked like little white spiders that didn't do anything bad. Don't watch it people.
Anyway, back on topic I would have to say my greatest hope for the world would be just to move forward. People aren't ever going to agree on anything so there's no point in holding hands and singing about peace. Just society moving forward in technology and life. In 100 years I would hope we would be living the life of The Jetsons
...if not sooner.
As a police officer, I'm sure you're well versed in the languages of conflict. What has your experience in protecting and serving the public trust taught you about handing situations arising from conflict, from a domestic dispute to a mouthy speeder, and everything in between?
You know, in the academy they really pressed hard on defensive tactics and made it sound like we were going to be in fights everyday. Maybe in some cities the police are but at least not where I work. Don't get me wrong, I can definitely fight (top in my class at the academy plus cross-trained in Aikido) but I have found that using verbal "Judo," as they call it, works out much better for everyone. During my 10 1/2 years as a cop I've definitely gained a lot of experience to avoid fights, by being able to read people through tones in their voice and body language I have gotten awesome at directing calls to go the way I want them to go. There still are those incidents where you just can't talk to people and the best thing to do is to walk away though.
Plus (here's the lazy part in me), the more force you use the more paperwork you do. For instance, 5 minutes of fun creates about 3 hours of paperwork.
I find that music is a fairly accurate barometer of an individual's personality. What music makes your day?
I love alternative rock. Be it from the 80's (Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode) to the 90's (all the grunge and great 90's music) to now. I have Sirius Radio in my car at work and I play either Lithium or Alt Nation almost constantly. Grouplove is probably one of my favorite bands right now. Something about all their songs I've heard now always brighten my day up. The sad thing is with Lithium I hear songs and remember when they came out and realize that was 20+ years ago. Then I feel old. And realize that that's the oldies station. Fuck, I've turned into my dad. That's why I like you guys. You guys make me feel hip and jiggy with it.
Believe me, I get that feeling a lot these days as well. Since music tends to go in and out of styles in a circular fashion, do you see the grunge era returning in a slightly different way within the next ten years or so?
I hope so. I see these teens, mainly girls, wearing stuff that was popular in the 80s and I just can't believe fashion has made it back around to that. It looks terrible people. As far as music goes I do here a lot of alt rock that has 80s influence in it so I really hope a grunge resurgence is coming soon. I'll finally get a chance to pull out my ripped jeans a la Wayne's World
Do you feel that the videogame medium is evolving, and if so, is it going in a positive direction?
I think it is evolving in a positive direction. From the times I was playing Mario
on the NES to the opera that is Mass Effect
, the developers are getting more talented at making games a true form of entertainment. Will games ever be considered art? I'm sure some day but does it matter? Not to me. At their heart games are still about fun, not making a statement...at least they should anyway. But the people that care about games are the only ones that matter. As long as we think our medium is growing and maturing, then we're okay. There are always going to be the naysayers about game violence or whatever controversy they want to bring up and I think that it's okay to defend our hobby and educate them, but I don't think forcing the people that don't play or understand games is a good idea or even necessary.
If you said that someone just had to play a particular game before they died, what game would that be? Red Dead Redemption
. As a father, the story of John Marston doing the things he did for his family really hit me hard. The last third of the game, or whatever portion, where you're done killing everyone and you're doing just mindless chores around the house and bringing Jack out hunting and teaching him really speaks volumes. Then last last scene just shows John Marson's dedication not only as a father, but as a true man and a hero.
Should there be a sequel starring Jack?
I think there should be a sequel, don't think starring Jack. In the time I played as him in the epilogue I didn't really care for him and it would be hard to top his dad's storyline. Plus his storyline would be revenge, which he already took. If they do make a new sequel maybe new characters and a totally new story would be nice.
With so many sites in existence, and the internet having no shortage of places to hang one's virtual hat, why Destructoid?
I came to Destructoid from GamesRadar. I was on there for several years as BoondockSaint54 and they shut their forums down after some rearranging. So I was left homeless. I had read articles on Destructoid before and really like them so I figured it it would be good home for me since it seemed to have a strong community and I never heard anything bad about the people, like I had IGN, N4G or Kotaku. I made the right choice. Starting out with the Friday Night Fights really got me introduced to some great guys like ChillyBilly (Your new FNF Manager!), Hot Dogs, One Man, Bloodspray, Andy Dixon and so many other. It really has brought back my love of social gaming and I look forward to playing every Friday night when I can, much to the disdain of my wife.
I find it to be a great outlet myself - our fathers used to go bowling, we shoot each other from the comfort of our couches. Is that going to be a sort of hallmark of our generation?
I hope so. Maybe our kids will think its ridiculous when they're playing games like something out of Avatar
. That's fine, as long as they stay off my grass. Damn kids...
Is there anything you would change about Destructoid? Anything you'd preserve at all costs?
The one thing I never really got is how Dtoid seems segmented. People from the forums stay in the forums and people from the CBlogs stay there and then there's the people that stay in the comments for the articles. Whatever works I guess. It just seems weird that there would be three different social areas of one site that aren't brought together. It's not that big deal now since I'm used to it but it still seems odd once you think about it. And of course, I would preserve the community. If somehow Dtoid shut down or was bought I would hope the community would band together to create something new or stick together at that new site to continue what makes it great.
How would you bridge the segmentation? How would you create a stronger common tie between three disparate communities that fly under one unified flag, even if they don't necessarily stand as one unified community?
That's seems like a question that has no perfect answer. If it had one I'm sure they would have already done that. They do what they can, by promoting blogs and forum threads on the front page but its really up to us as a community to socialize. Honestly, I have to real good answer to that question; just a few random ideas that haven't quite reached the surface 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 love Huge. It's a few bucks a month, or $30 a year, and while all the perks may not interest me, there are a few that make it worth while. Plus, it's not really so much what I get, I'm just glad I get to support Dtoid, Niero and all the other staff members. They do a lot for me and the site and it's just nice to help them out.
However, I don't see Huge allowing Dtoid to be self-sustaining. With the little knowledge I have about running a site on the backend, hosting fees, severs and whatnot, to flying staff members to conventions and salaries, I can't see the small amount that Dtoid gets from Huge supporting all that. I think for the cost Huge is a way for the readers to say "Thank You" and not really expect too much else.
Having said that, I don't know the amount of unique hits Dtoid gets per month and I don't know how many people signed up for Huge. If it can self sustain Dtoid, I would love to see it. But then again, if they kept the ads coming with with the money from Huge, they could always grow the site to offer more features, videos, etc and make it really awesome.
Totally stealing from Lipton here: What's your favorite word? Your least favorite word? Why?
Hmmmmm... I've never really thought about my favorite word. I've thought about the words I hate so much I dare not type them here....but I'll type one word that I loathe---PANTS. Just say it. it sounds so stupid. I say it all the time, I'm not about to call my pants knickers. But it's just such a stupid word I want to punch it in it's face.
One last question: Who do you think you are?
Well, who do you think you are to question who I am?!? I know who I am. I'm an original Texan family man that has a dirty secret that my wife is ashamed of: playing videogames. I'm not really sure how to expand on that but that pretty much sums me up in one sentence. Thanks for the opportunity for community interviews and I really hope this pans out so we can get to know our members better!
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