Destructoid interview: Homies creator David Gonzales


In college, I had a friend who for some inexplicable reason could not leave a supermarket without dumping all his change into vending machines. Gumballs, glittery unicorn stickers, fake jewelry ... he lived for this stuff. Then he popped a quarter into one machine that spat out a tiny figure of a Chicano, and that was it.

He became obsessed, littering his dorm room with these little plastic figurines called Homies. He'd go to the supermarket just to collect more and more. I tried to convince him he was "too old for this s**t," but he wouldn't listen -- there was just something about the diverse line-up of Homies figures that appealed to him. We don't really talk anymore.

It's likely he's somewhere crouched in a gutter, playing Destineer's Homie: Rollerz on the Nintendo DS, the first videogame to feature Homies characters. Recently, I had a chance to catch up with the creator of the Homies, artist David Gonzales, via email. He told to me a bit about the conception of the characters, the new Homie: Rollerz game, and some of the misconceptions people might have about his creations.

DESTRUCTOID: So the "Homies" have gone from vending machines to videogames. Tell me a bit about the genesis of the "Homies" characters and figures.

DAVID GONZALES: Homies got their start as an underground cartoon strip [that] ran in Lowrider Magazine over 20 years ago. After some time out, I launched a t-shirt line with the characters from the strip, and they quickly became a hot item across the country. As the t-shirt demand winded down, I started licensing the art to items such as stickers and figurines for vending. 20 million figurines sold later…here we are about to release set #11 with a total collection of about 250 different Homies having been created over the years.

It must be crazy to see the characters brought to in Homie Rollerz on the Nintendo DS. Was this a concept you had, or were you approached about the idea?

We have been courting videogames companies for years…trying to find the right fit and the company with enough faith in the project to make the idea happen. Destineer was that group. Once we decided we would work together...we came up with the Homie Rollerz for Nintendo DS as a first project and look forward to more.

Have you had a chance to play the game, and how do you think it turned out? Do you think it catches the spirit of the Homies universe and characters?

I have played the games ... as my kids have. They are my immediate focus Group. They liked it and so do I. We found it Fun, adventurous and challenging. I had a lot of hands on during its creation ... so I feel it really captures the flavor of the Homies world.

You're no stranger to controversy -- if I'm not mistaken, you at one point drew some fire from the LAPD, who said that the Homies glorified a violent gang-lifestyle. It's interesting, now that Homie Rollerz has been released; we're actually seeing some of the same criticism from many in the gaming community. In fact, one of our writers at Destructoid mused that they felt the game might be a poor influence on children or send the wrong message. Are these types of critics missing something? Is there a specific message we should be getting here?

This game is entertainment ... not a social statement. There is nowhere near the violence that exists in other games on the market. Many people have their preconceived ideas about the word Homies. I cannot change that. In actuality…we are not even as edgy as South Park, or Family Guy, etc.

Homies is a reference to someone from your hometown or just about anyone you would call a friend. The bios and back stories on the characters can be found on our website at www.homies.tv. I would suggest perhaps a little research is in order…especially for people that may be intending to write on the subject.

First and foremost, you're an artist. So lay it on me ... are videogames art?

Videogames are definitely art in my opinion. My oldest son is graduating this year from The Academy of Art University in San Francisco with a degree in computer animation and is hoping to enter the videogaming world. He is an incredible artist ... so I see the creative and artistic work that goes behind the people creating these games firsthand.

Are you a gamer yourself?

I am not a gamer myself. I like to look over the shoulders of my kids as they play Halo or Warcraft ... just to be amazed at the incredible graphics. I am so glued to my computer drawing Homies and writing that I don’t find the time to take up gaming.

Any other plans to bring the Homies back into the videogame arena in the future?

Yes ... we are definitely hoping to bring more games out. We are strategizing now as to the follow-up game and platform we will begin work on next.

What else have you got going on right now, either in terms of expanding the Homies franchise or setting out on something new?

We are currently launching a comedy tour called "David Gonzales Presents: A Night with The Homies." We also have a deal in place with an animation studio to bring the Homies to animated life. We will begin production on that this year, and hope to get it sold to a network.

Sounds great, David. Thanks for you time.

My pleasure.

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Nick Chester
Nick ChesterFormer Editor-in-Chief (2011)   gamer profile

Editor-in-Chief @ Destructoid.com nick at destructoid.com  more + disclosures



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