Well, I find myself tagged once more – this time by Gary, who runs a blog called Art of Redress. It’s a great blog with a lot of interesting articles about gaming in its formative years. I learned several interesting facts from reading them. Anyway, here are the questions I was made to answer.
Question 1 – What is your earliest gaming memory?
I want to say the earliest gaming memory I have is playing Super Mario Bros. with my family at age three. I was watching my brother play and he kindly gave me a turn.
Question 2 – When did you start blogging and why?
Nearing the end of 2013, I was describing the various games I’d played to a friend. When I was describing my playthrough of The Last of Us, I realized what I was writing was turning out a lot like a review. After getting a few pointers from a web design class, I decided to start Extra Life in May of 2014. I started by posting two reviews I had written: one of The Last of Us and the other of the Japan-exclusive Live A Live. Playing through The Last of Us was what caused me to want to get my opinions out there because one of the first games I’d played that utterly failed to live up to the hype. I had similar opinions on Mother 3 and System Shock 2, but this was one of the first times I felt that way about release that fully injected itself into the mainstream. While proponents celebrated it for being such a major step forward for video game storytelling, I felt it demonstrated the medium’s lack of self-confidence.
Discounting that, I was generally dissatisfied with the way gaming journalists approached their craft. Mainstream outlets tended to lack any serious critical scrutiny in their critiques, and it was easy to make the argument that they were uncomfortably close to the developers themselves. Some have argued they were responsible for certain independent works taking off, but I don’t quite believe that to be the case.
Indeed, I could honestly believe that Undertale, my personal favorite indie game as of this writing, became a hit without their help. I remember looking through Polygon’s articles thinking that if they could give a perfect 10 to Gone Home, they would have given Undertale positive coverage as well. I was then taken aback when I discovered they hadn’t bothered to review it at all (or if they did, I couldn’t find it).
Meanwhile, independent critics didn’t fare any better – preferring to unprofessionally lambast anything that came their way for the sake of comedy. Theirs was an ethos that seemed to promote attitude and ego over actual, meaningful discourse. While it’s possible to use such negativity as a means to an end to get a point across (e.g. Old Man Murray), for a majority of them, it was the end itself. So rather than writing screed after screed denouncing what’s wrong with gaming journalism, I felt it would be more productive to be the change I wanted to see happen.
Though I began exclusively writing either positive reviews of obscure games or middling/negative reviews of well-known ones, I eventually broke the pattern when I realized that because of the level to which gaming critics hype AAA products, it can be difficult to tell what’s is and isn’t worth one’s time. There’s also the propensity they had to insist the works of yesteryear are superior to current efforts when in reality, quite a lot of them haven’t aged well. Therefore, I realized that writing positive reviews of well-received games isn’t a waste of time. I think the major turning point for this occurred in early 2016 when I managed to convince a friend of mine to play Undertale after reviewing it, as he was a bit skeptical of trying it out in the face of its fanbase. Nowadays, I don’ t have a limit on what games I decide to review, for I find all of them interesting to discuss in one way or another – even the boring ones.
Question 3 – What feature do you wish any of your consoles had that they currently don’t?
I honestly can’t really think of one. At times, I wished the PS4 was portable, but being tethered to my television screen isn’t too much of a setback.
Question 4 – Name a movie that you wish had a video game made after it and what developer would you want to make it and why?
As I said in one of my previous posts, I think John Wick would make for an excellent video game adaptation. It practically is a first-person shooter plot fresh out of the box and because John is written the way he is, I can buy him gunning down a lot of people (unlike, say, Nathan Drake), meaning the contradictions between the gameplay and story would be minimal. Such a task should be handed to a competent developer such as Bungie, id, or MachineGames.
Question 5 – Do you have a games room/corner? If so, let us see it and show your favorite thing in there?
I wouldn’t exactly call it a game room. It’s really more of a den. Despite being where I usually play games, it’s not really themed as such; it’s not as though I cover my wall in game posters.
Question 6 – Do you have a child or a pet? Which character do you name it after?
I have two cats, though I didn’t name either of them. I think if I were to name pets or kids, I doubt I would actively name them after a fictional character. If it turned out that way, it would be a coincidence.
Question 7 – What keeps you going when gaming?
The same thing that drives me to see a film through to the end. Now that I’m in the habit of reviewing the games I play, I have an extra motivation for doing that. After all, one of the biggest weaknesses with gaming critics is that they judge games without having finished them. This approach worked in the nineties when games were very much on the gameplay side of the gameplay/story dichotomy. However as storytelling in the medium improved, the approach became untenable. As it stands, parsing games such as Undertale, OneShot, or Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors without completing them would be like if a professional film critic left thirty minutes into their personal screening and wrote a review based off of what they saw. There is no way such an approach would work in other mediums because the critic would almost certainly leave important information out.
That was a fun tag. Thanks again for the nomination, Gary!