Interview with a smooshed baby
Hi folks, Chris Moyse here. Hope your 2017 is revving up nicely. I have another Community Interview for you good people. The original draft was the longest yet! So, I took the interviewee’s advice (he suggested editing with an axe when he volunteered) and went all Patrick Bateman on the cut. What’s left is a yarn about video games, freelance writing and roleplaying whilst hammered. Enjoy and, as always, thanks for all your ongoing support.
Without further adieu, the man of the hour: It’s thinker and drinker: Riobux!
OL: Duran Duran taught me that Rio dances on the sand, but one thing they didn’t specifically teach me: Who the fuck *is* Rio?
Rio: Hahaha, man. People do take stabs at where the username came from, the “Rio” part is from Duran Duran. Anywhoo, who the fuck am I? I’m not sure. I believe in sociology they theorize each individual is an actor with many roles, so I’m a recapper, games journalist, English-oddity, carer, and son/friend/sibling/etc. Besides that, uh… Got any advice for what you hope for from this question?
OL: Some of my questions are deliberately vague, it can reveal a lot about a person in the way they choose to interpret it. Scott Pilgrim’s creator, Brian Lee O’Malley once said that he pictured Scott as “Living in a movie in which he is the star” Does that tie-in with your theory about the individual?
Rio: I suppose. I mean, every individual is a protagonist in their own film. With various scenes, arcs, ups and downs, we have a tale that speaks of the world around us and within us. After all, each person is uniquely born at a particular moment in time, to particular circumstances and raised in particular ways. While some stories are similar, I don’t think they’re ever the same. I think where I differ from O’Malley (and Scott Pilgrim is a lovely series) is everyone is also a player in everyone else’s story. We’re partners, friends, and enemies. We’re even creators who, through the chaos of the butterfly effect, affect others lives.
Man, two questions in and I’m already getting really fucking pretentious. I’m sorry, haha.
OL: Meh, I love this stuff, don’t worry about it. So what genre is the movie of your life?
Rio: Maybe something like Garden State? The type of film where people roll their eyes at how absolutely smug it is? Or akin to Sightseers, an absurdist comedy produced by Edgar Wright. Even as absurdist, and dark, as Chris Morris’ Jam. I think the audience would be a better judge than I.
OL: We can throw that one out to the readers, then. Though I’m pretty sure their answer to everything is ‘Porn.’
Let’s dive straight into Vidyagamez. How long have you been playing, Rio? How did you get started?
Rio: Oh, bloody hell. When I was… five? I’m not good with ages. I wish I could remember what it was called, but it was a home computer with this creepy circus game. My dad bought it for my older brother to learn with. I think it was a year or two later that my dad bought a Mega Drive, which was when I started to get into games. Loved the hell out of Sonic, Golden Axe, Rambo 3, Streets of Rage, and RoboCop vs Terminator. A few years later, when I was about seven, I got a PlayStation and I really began to play games a ton.
Similar story as most: You play games because you don’t have friends, and you stick with it. I think it especially helped me as I was dreadful with other people, I have a developmental problem. So games were a good tool to just have something to do and to stave off loneliness. It’s odd how later on gaming ended up being a common ground to communicate with others, haha. I think that was a common childhood? I’m assuming yours was similar?
OL: I was gaming very young and I had a few friends who also liked games. But later on, early teens, gaming was definitely a social replacement. Hmm… Does that feed into further loneliness? That’s another topic.
One thing I know for sure is I wanna know what that creepy circus game was. Was it Fiendish Freddy’s Big Top O’ Fun?
Rio: Hang on, I’ll dig it up… Oh my god, I think it might be.
OL: NAILED IT.
Rio: The graphics look a bit better than I recall it being, but that creepy goddamn music. Made it feel like a horror film.
OL: Do you have a favorite game or series? Or maybe a game from the past that you have to replay every now and then?
Rio: Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. I mean, I used to play games just for the mechanics and to have fun. All my life was like that. Like I’d play through Resident Evil 2 and wouldn’t even think how ridiculous the writing was because it was fun.
In 2013, I was so burnt out with video games. So I bought a 3DS on a February morning after a lecture, along with LoZ: Ocarina of Time and Pokémon White. I wanted something new. Both bored me to tears, but I also picked up ZE:VLR on the online store. I got the game thinking “well, I like dark-themed things and people say this is dark.” Bad logic, but I was desperate for something new.
At first, it was interesting but I wasn’t entirely sold. The writing seemed nice, but a bit… safe. I accidentally stumbled on the Clover End first. As soon as I saw Phi out of it, I thought “Wait, are they?.. No, they don’t have the fucking guts.” Then I went into the Infirmary and saw they did, indeed, have the guts. I was fucking hooked from there.
I also dig the hell out of Silent Hill 1 & 2, Rune: Viking Warlord and Resident Evil 2. I occasionally replay SH1 and Resi 2 on my Vita for a thrill, but I don’t tend to replay games. Just play, love, and live on with fond memories.
OL: You recently completed a written Let’s Play of Borderlands 2. It was pretty extensive and thorough work, consisting of multiple parts. Do you have another planned for the future?
Rio: So, funny thing about that… I’m just finishing a second series: ‘Venture into Destiny’, which is something of a ‘sequel’ to ‘Venture into the Borderlands’. I’m currently writing Part 13, the final part, so it’s very much near the end. I’m not really let down about that, ‘Venture into…‘ always starts out fun, but tends to wear by the latter parts. I do still really enjoy analyzing games in such depth though because you can usually start picking up on strange oddities that would be considered too mild to dwell on. For instance, I think Destiny‘s approach to racing, specifically how their “boost-gate” system works, is fantastic, it helps allow those who are lagging behind to make a comeback.
OL: That sounds pretty interesting, and a lot of work. Tackling a ‘Let’s Play’ from a writing standpoint is a mammoth task, but you obviously get a kick out of the adventure, so good luck with this and other future series. You work consistently hard at being a video game journalist. What do you think you strengths and weaknesses are as a writer?
Rio: You know how most media creators tend to hate their own work. Yeaah. It always strikes me as liquid garbage, vomiting like a firehose from the anus. However, I think the main thing I have going is my personal feel to it. When I read amateur reviewers, the number one problem I find is they analyze, but forget to put themselves into the review. Whilst I have a tendency to slide dryness, strange metaphors, and dark humor into whatever I write, it breaks the flow nicely.
I also interview people based on things I personally care about, which can lead to asking developers things they may not have thought of. I have an honor system, and I’ll never lie in a professional stance. Weaknesses? Well, same thing in that I have a style that threatens to lop my own head off. My strange behavior can rub people up the wrong way, my dark humor has been cut several times. I once annoyed an interviewee because I was interested in comparing their game to another game (in a few nice little ways, like taking unusual approaches that bigger companies wouldn’t have been able to) which the interviewee took badly.
This rough-around-the-edges approach means I can seem unprofessional. I can be a bit aggressive at times, making the other person hold their end of the deal. If they said they’ll pay a particular amount, by God they will. I guess this is born from how I get very anxious if I don’t feel like I know where I stand. So while it may make me stand out to audiences, and perhaps even developers. I think it makes it a little harder for me to apply for work and stick with websites due to strange behavior and a rigidity to honor.
OL: The explosion of the internet has made it much easier to get your work out there, be you a musician, writer or artist. I believe this has come at quite a cost in many ways though. What do you think the problems are in online journalism?
Rio: I think the main problem is the obvious one you pointed out: Quantity. To say we are in a sea of journalists is to understate it, each one clambering for what little money exists. While everyone loves video games, they seem to love journalists a whole ton less. People also prefer to see the game in action, than to see someone write “THIS GAME IS GOOD, TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!” I think this is leading toward a greater shift in the video format, which makes sense. So now there is a greater demand for niche writers who can not only edit and shoot video, but can also present it. The guy who I did work with at EGX doesn’t like presenting, but he’s a wiz at editing. In contrast, I consider myself okay at presenting but bollocks as editing, especially as I lack the hardware/software necessary.
However, I think there is another important detail: There are more people without formal training in the field. Formal training isn’t a requirement, but it does tend to become relevant the moment you try to get serious. You’re expected to know how to write an informative article with personality. Expected to know ethics that come with journalism, such as consent, evidence-based reporting and not taking bribes. You can self-teach, and you don’t need to be a pro at each, but awareness and competency do tend to become relevant. I got lucky personally. In terms of article writing, I knew how to do essays from my degree. I knew about some of the ethical codes from sociology (as they have their own ethics with regards to research). My interview methodology also came from sociology.
Formal teaching would probably tell you that while it is important to put yourself in the job, there are some things you simply don’t include. You still have to manufacture yourself, in the same way you would if you left the house to go shopping. You include a significant slice of yourself, but you still need to trim the less-pleasing details.
OL: Let’s talk a little about our home away from home, The mighty Destructoid. How long have you been here now?
Rio: Like… 2/3 years? I know I do Game of the Year blogs, but I don’t know if I did one on the first year I joined, or if I left it a year. I’m inclined to say I left it. Then again, I also know that I did it when I left university when I was about 23 or 24 and… Man, I’m just confusing myself at this point.
OL: Three years is a pretty length to remain within a community, what has kept you coming back here?
Man, that’s a horrid question. Not horrid like a growling voice would say “You should not have come back.” Horrid in the sense of I don’t have a pleasant answer. While I do like a lot of people, there are few who do bug me, whose appearance just sours the entire time, but I tolerate because it’d be shitty to kick up a fuss. Destructoid is theirs as much as it is mine. The fact is, despite its faults, I don’t have a better place to go.
Destructoid is honestly the first internet community that has accepted me, ever. Which is depressing considering I’ve been online since I was 10. I may not make people laugh, or be the center of attention, but I think that’s fine because people actually do like me here. They like my awkward, dry nature, they like the strange analysis I do, the things I write. Which means a lot, really. I’m not the most ‘well’ mentally. Hell, I was two hours late for this interview because I spent three hours too anxious to sleep. I spent them scared and angry at anyone I could think of, for the most pedantic of reasons. I’ve tried other places, such as The Escapist, but Destructoid is the only one who accepts my dry analysis and dark crudeness.
OL: I’m glad that you’ve found some form of acceptance here. Who amongst our motley crew would you like to give a shout-out too, anyone who you feel a particular connection with?
Rio: This is one of those odd questions. You either give huge thanks to a few, or little thanks to a lot of people, which is frustrating as a few people manage to make the place feel nice. AngriestCarp for putting up with my bullshit endlessly. Guliel-Jabrien for, while being rough around the edges, putting up with me in Pathfinder. Zer0t0nin, such a nice guy. Occams for normalizing the absurd, allowing me to slink in. Mike Martin for always being true which helped when I needed someone to serve things straight whilst having empathy.
Amna Umen for liking The Mountain Goats, because they are a good band. Dr Scoobie for making EGX that much better with their presence. GlowBear and Reinhold, who outside of Dtoid helped me in really nice, unexpected ways. Morpho, your pornographic mind makes me cherish what you add to Dtoid, even it is a colossal amount of perversion I can’t handle. Oh, and Ray, because you’re so clean-cut and arthouse that you genuinely make me laugh, there’s not nearly enough writers who do that.
OL: What does Rio get up when away from Dtoid and in the reel wurlde? What interests or pastimes do you have?
Rio: I like to read. I’m currently re-reading The First Law trilogy and then Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie. Joe’s Red Country and The Heroes are also really good and set in the same universe, but those four books are all astounding. Just read The First Law trilogy first, as the other three I mention bounce off that as they’re based on the event. Honestly, Best Served Cold is the best revenge story and probably one of my favorite books.
I’m also involved in the pen & paper RPG scene. Right now, I’m mostly DMing for some Dtoiders. Guliel and Lulu are there. Kriptinamos, from the old Dtoid Twitch channel is also in it. I’ve just finished playing Pathfinder after about a year or two now. I’m trying a new system, which will probably end up being either Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu or Deadlands Reloaded. Good times!
I also like to get drunk.
OL: So what’s your tabletop RPG of choice?
Rio: Pathfinder, easy. For a start, it is built upon D&D 3.5, which was my first pen and paper RPG, so it was easier to learn and dig into. Secondly, for a system as prolific as Pathfinder is, it is surprisingly balanced. Thirdly, while it is solid in its rules, it remains understandable and coherent. There is a method to its madness, in contrast to Shadowrun, that just makes me scream whenever I try to unravel it.
OL: Do you ever combine your love of getting drunk with your love of RPGs?
Rio: Maybe once or twice. However, you can usually tell others didn’t NEARLY have as good of a time as you did cackling. Players when drunk are a fucking headache for the same reason. I had to put into place a rule where no one gets drunk. Too many bad sessions, although I’ve been tipsy a good few times, hahaha.
OL: Well, If I’m correct, you’re going out to partake in the witches’ brew this very evening. So let’s head into the Final Five:
What’s the biggest misconception you think others have about you?
Rio: The biggest one I’ve definitely received is a confusion between bluntness and bitterness/dislike. This lead to me accidentally pissing off a co-worker and having to explain that my mental disability leads to my blunt approach to communication.
OL: If you could gain insta-amazing-skill at any sport, which would you choose?
Rio: Man, sportsball. Maybe basketball? I loathe all sports honestly, but Gulien-Jabriel really likes Charles Barkley. I mean it’s probably his spirit animal. So maybe he’d like me more if I could be a white Charles Barkley.
OL: I hear White Men Can’t Jump tho.
Rio: NOT WITH THAT ATTITUDE! C’mon, help me put some suspensions on some Heelys and they’ll bounce like a tricked-out lowrider.
OL: What is *your* spirit animal then?
Rio: Hmm. Every night, when I go to bed, I judge the day based on my actions. Namely, I measure my actions against my idol to see if it would have approved of my day. So that would be my spirit animal: Test Baby.
OL: Test Baby does indeed define you. Defines you and judges us all.
OL: What’s your favorite beverage when you go out a’drinkin’?
Rio: If I’m for a casual drink and don’t mind paying a pretty penny, then I’ll raid their Rekordalig and Kopparberg supply. Otherwise, I’ll just have whatever beer/cider is about as I’m not fussed. It’s usually cheap enough that my sense of taste disappears fast.
OL: If you could do it all again, what decision would you make differently?
Rio: All again? Everything?
OL: Take it however you want mang.
Rio: Like, from the birth of the stars and the expansion of the atoms? Hmm… Given that freedom, I wouldn’t buy Vampire Rain. It is a really, really bad game.
OL: In the many shops I worked for, part-timers always filed that game under ‘R’ for ‘Rain Vampire’ I fucking hate the game just for that.
Rio: Wh-Why would they do that? Man, this game… the only way it could get any worse is if Clive Barker wrote it.
OL: Well, one decision I wouldn’t make differently is the decision to sit down and shoot the shiznit with you, Rio. I think you come across as a passionate and driven person. I hope you hit all your personal goals with your writing career. With the effort and dedication you put into your craft, No-one should bet against it.
Rio: Hahaha! Oh no. Thanks though! Been a hell of a trip with you.
OL: You laugh at me again brother and I’ll tie you to a chair with only a copy of Rain Vampire and a Nightbreed DVD for company.
Rio: Is that film good? Clive Barker can’t write people, but I hear good things about his horror.
OL: It’s been too long. The Commodore 64 game was pretty bad. Barker had his name on bad games way before Jericho.
The final words are yours, so grasp the mic:
Rio: I… don’t know. What if I quoted a famed philosopher? Let’s do that:
“I found two copies of Driveclub in a supermarket bargain bin for 3 Euro a pop. It felt wrong to leave them, so I bought both. Like rescuing a pair of lonely puppies. It’s decent, as far as realistic racers go. Still, why must it download 20 GB of DLC?” – Kerrik52
Ah, words to live by.