Hello, Destructoid! My name’s Zach Bennett and I’m one of Dtoid’s newer additions to the family. I figured a little introduction is in order before some random, unknown face starts popping up around every corner.
This is the face you’re going to have to deal with for awhile:
As of six days ago, I have successfully existed for over 28 years; it’s a long-ass time when you stop to think about it. Who even stops to do that anymore? Kids these days. But this kind of self-reflection really narrows it down to the important bits, and the past two and a half years have contained some of the most monumental events in my lifetime.
Two years ago, I broke my face by tripping on my shoelaces. Two titanium plates and one wired-shut jaw later, I’m good as new! Well, that’s a lie. But it’s an optimistic lie that altered my outlook on life. Plus, now I’m just that much closer to being a cyborg. Bring it, life. Whatchu got?
In retrospect, that’s a dangerous question I probably shouldn’t have mentally shouted to the heavens ad infinitum.
A couple months ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. 2017, for me, has been entirely shrouded by tests, appointments, and varying medications preceding an upcoming surgery at the end of November, but one constant has kept me sane through it all: videogames.
I started writing about videogames for Entertainment Buddha right after E3 2015, three months before that whole facial reconstruction thing. My first article was about The Protomen touring the east coast; needless to say, this was a hobbyist’s venture at the start. But collaborating with such a hardworking group of writers at EB lead me down an unexpected rabbit hole of self-improvement. Because of EB, I went to my first E3 in 2016. I attended a preview event for Halo Wars 2 in New York. And, now, I’m introducing myself as a proud member of the Destructoid fam. In these moments alone, I have learned more about myself than I could have fathomed. “Inspirational” doesn’t quite cut it: I would not be here if it weren’t for EB. Shit, I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I’m not here to talk about me. I’m here to talk about us and the common denominator between: videogames. I’ll do my best to communicate how a game has affected me, and I hope you do the same. However, in the interest of not being identified by life’s dickish tendencies, I put together a list of twenty randomized aspects of myself for whoever wants a glimpse into who I am. It’s kind of like a pre-meditated AMA, but they’re all answers to questions no one but me asked.
This is a lot, so skim through it at your pleasure. At the very least, something in this list is sure to give you something to pick on me about when we meet. I’ll be looking forward to it:
N*Sync's smashing No String Attached album was my first compact disc. Now I listen to Tom Waits. I go through phases -- currently hiphop (I recommend Breadcrumbs by Deca, linked below) -- but I'm perfectly fine and mellow listening to Billie Holliday on any given day. Put a horn section in a song and I will get aroused without hesitation.
My PSN icon is a pinecone. I don’t know why. Well, I didn’t until I googled “history of pinecones” and dove soul-first into an existential rabbit hole. I don’t necessarily “believe” a lot of what I read; I just enjoy unpacking the idea. But I still don’t know why I liked pinecones in the first place, so the matrix is pulling some kind of shit, I guess.
I’m in the top #100 players of Amplitude according to their leaderboards. The original PS2 version came out during the adolescent throws of a lifelong Blink 182 phase in 2003 and seeing “The Rock Show” showcased in rhythm game blew my thirteen-year-old mind. This was around the same time as my DDR days. I wasn’t the best, but I could play through Max 300 on Heavy and get a C. Mom was proud, at least.
And I will imagine fighting anyone who says otherwise.
Comedy Bang Bang’s podcast highlights some of my favorite slices of humor, but I am spellbound by Welcome to Night Vale and associated casts. I enjoy bewilderment in general.
But I disagree with eighty percent of what she suggests. I gravitate more towards the work of Gibran and Kierkegaard, with mix of Native American ideologies thrown in to hold it all together. My PSN is Existential_Ism. Solipsism excites me. Zoroastrianism sounds really good. I dunno, I like to explore.
It portrayed an augmented allegory of “real life” as a child; it seemed so believable at the time. The Sorcerer’s Stone was the first book I ever read for fun. Growing up with the series has permanently intertwined Harry Potter into some of the most memorable moments of my life. I honestly can’t even begin to excavate this obsession right here, but it will surely trickle into my work over time. You have been warned.
Obscenely large, meowing, vocal cats are the best, but I cannot stand the intensity of an energetic dog’s love. Their whole approach is too forward; their barks, too shrill. If it’s a calm, chill dog, I will genuinely enjoy its company. Otherwise, I’m out. Sorry, dog persons. I get the whole unconditional love thing, but I’d rather earn that love, you know? Then again, I grew up with around fifteen feral cats living outside of our house 24/7, so I may or may not have integrated myself into their culture as a child.
And I married two absolutely beautiful friends of mine back in 2015. The groom bought me an expensive bottle of scotch and a year of PlayStation Plus in exchange for my services. It was one of the coolest, most terrifying things I have ever done.
It’s the tastiest path of least resistance for caffeine to do its thing. I got really into loose leaf tea for a few years, though, and amassed a rather robust collection of cast iron tea sets. These days, I’ve recently switched to a coffee-in-the-morning, tea-in-the-evening deal, and it’s been splendid.
Thanks to a brutal emo phase in high school, I decided that I’d never be a “shredding” guitarist and focused more on the singer/songwriter side of things. I played bass in a hardcore band called “SwansReflectingElephants” and went by “Z-Bo” back then. I’ve written a few songs more recently -- some of which are floating around cyberspace, all of which are horrible -- but playing and writing always served more as a form of expressive ventilation than a performative aspiration. Barring a few open mics, at least. It’s been a while.
Especially now as a man who broke his face by tripping on his shoelaces, I have no shame left. I’m omnishame-potent. Or somethi--whatever, if you ask me something about myself, you’ll get an honest answer. I hide nothing of my own.
I first tried League of Legends after a good friend of mine was telling me about playing Twitch, a playable poisonous rat who ambushes his enemies, while we were waiting in a crowd for Bright Eyes to perform. I ended up maining the support role and got way too into competitive League life from the depths of my grandparent’s basement, but I've since dropped off the genre after a solid run with Heroes of the Storm. I’ve been too intimidated to try DOTA 2. I’d love to try it eventually -- I miss my MOBA days with friends -- I just don’t have the heart for the commitment demanded by the genre these days.
I’ve never been an FPS fanatic, but I was immediately grabbed by the weight behind Killzone 2’s animations. It felt like I was moving someone, not a camera angle. We instinctively clicked, and our new relationship was cemented by the break up with my first love of three years. The only time I wasn’t thinking about “us” was when I was in the game. Nothing else existed. Just the match. I ended up getting the game’s platinum trophy, which requires being in the top one percent of players on the leaderboards for the week. It was depressing as shit at the time, but I feel like I can brag about it now.
I used to draw a lot, actually. Combined with my graphic design abilities, this eventually lead me to pursue a job at a publishing company illustrating kids books and designing covers for texts of all kinds. It was more like a creative sweatshop concerned with quantity over quality, but it was a learning experience nonetheless. Kind of like the day a good friend of mine and I inadvertently participated in the white van speaker scam for 12 hours straight, but that's a story for another time.
FFVIII was my first and favorite. I was mesmerized by the full page ads for it flipping through old game mags, and it was the first real RPG I ever played. FFX-2 has the best battle system in the series. And not a day goes by where I don’t think about all the shit in XI I haven’t experienced. No game has made me feel the way that game made me feel.
I’m currently rocking a green/blue/red commander deck (Surrak Dragonclaw), and standard white/red/black Warrior deck. Hearthstone never really grabbed me, but I’ve been getting into Elder Scrolls Legends lately.
I have a 3DS but never play it, which is a shame because Bravely Default was incredible. I may sell it soon. I’m just not the guy on the move who needs the convenience of portability; I’m the guy that plays the Switch docked 95% of the time. I’d rather hunker down inside and really commit to an experience. I’m aware this oversight has lead me to miss out on a lot of incredible videogames, and that makes me sad.
The best I can do is provide a list. There’s just too much these days, good and bad (I enjoy both). Anything from Mad Men to The Mighty Boosh. I like The Good Place, Westworld, Seinfeld, Game of Thrones, Flight of the Conchords, Parks & Rec and The Office, and pretty much anything with Bill Murray -- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou comes to mind. At one point in my life I had almost the entire script of Bio-Dome memorized.
Many Muppets are my favorite, but Pepe the King Prawn is unrivaled. He attempts to open up a strip club in a kids movie! He’s a madman. Clueless Morgan is a close second for me, though his only true performance was in Muppet Treasure Island. Tim Curry really sweetens the pot, too. Labyrinth’s got David Bowie. You just can’t beat the muppet master.