1. What’s your favorite kind of video game to play with your family?
World of Warcraft is fun.
2. What’s your favorite quality in a male game character? Female game character?
Well, with a female character it helps if they aren’t too reflective of how the video game industry seems to generally view women. That said, I really enjoyed Bayonetta so maybe it doesn’t matter all that much to me. Of course in that case it helped that the gameplay was pretty great, and the story was more about giving Bayonetta the opportunity to do her whole “I never said you could touch” schtick. In either case I seem to be most interested by characters that are clever. I get really sick of getting thrown in jail or whatever because it’s written into the story that my character is kind of gullible/not very smart. It’s also just kind of irritating to play a whole game as someone like Kratos, who’s basically just a big dumb brute with very little depth. I guess that’s part of the reason that I never liked God of War very much.
3. What’s your favorite quality in your gaming buddies (kids or not)?
Well, again cleverness would probably be a factor. The nice thing about that is that you can not take the game very seriously but still do pretty well at it because you don’t really have to work that hard to succeed. This is especially true in MMOs, but even when playing a FPS it isn’t as fun if everyone else is constantly dying and not really helping you get through the levels. For example in a game like Halo, Legendary difficulty isn’t really all that difficult if you have 2 or 3 competent friends to play with. It just changes the whole dynamic of the game when everyone is on the same level and you can actually work together to get things done. By that same token I probably wouldn’t be into playing a game with people that were way better at it than me. The whole point of playing with other people is so that you can employ teamwork.
I guess it says something about my style of play that I immediately think of working together, instead of saying what kind of people I like to play against. When it comes to PvP though, I guess what I’m most interested in is still an even match. It’s no fun obliterating people that just aren’t any good, and it isn’t any fun being obliterated either. I’m ashamed to say it, but that’s when I tend to ragequit. Once I was playing Halo: Reach, and this dude ran up to me, jumped, jetpack boosted just enough, landed directly behind me facing my back, and assassinated me. We were already losing pretty badly, and I figured that it could only go downhill from that little gem.
4. What’s your main fault as a gamer?
Probably that ragequitting thing. If I can’t get through something, I tend to just get frustrated and blame it on poor game design even when that isn’t really the case. In a case as clearcut as the jetpack assassin mentioned above of course I can accept that they’re just better than me, but there were a lot of times when I would miss head shots with a BR or whatever and die, then immediately go “I would swear that my reticule was right on his visor. WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” There’s a reason I tend to leave my mic on mute.
There are also a lot of times in single-player games where I won’t be able to get through a puzzle or whatever, and I’ll look it up assuming that it’s something really well hidden that I could have no way of really figuring it out. Probably 75% of the time it’s just something really simple that I overlooked, like at this one part really early in Dishonored I thought that some pipes were just for decoration and you’re actually supposed to climb them.
5. How has gaming shaped your identity?
Well, I grew up with videogames so it’s probably impossible for me to really answer that question. In lots of ways. It’s certainly improved my spatial awareness. I’m often amazed at how much better my sense of direction is than people who don’t play video games. They’re also just a huge part of my life. When most people would be watching reality TV, I’m playing Skyrim. I imagine it’s affected the way that I think in general. Problem-solving skills, reading skills, organizational skills.
6. What’s your idea of a miserable gaming experience?
Something that has just enough charm to pull me into the game, but is clunky. Bad controls, not great quest design/scripting, enemies that are frustrating to fight or just not well designed. A great example of this is Ninja Gaiden 3. I love Ninja Gaiden, and the third one had just enough of the good parts of the series to keep me going but not enough to actually be good. My biggest problem with that game was the way that all of the enemies just spammed grabs on higher difficulties. I think they made it that way because that was the only way they could make it difficult. I should probably stop there because I could write a lot about where they went wrong in Ninja Gaiden 3.
7. In which virtual world would you choose to vacation?
This is a complicated question. Probably none of them, because video games worlds usually have to be dangerous to be exciting. The whole point is that you can be a pirate or a warrior or a ninja or a test subject in a post apocalyptic research facility and then you can go make yourself a hot cocoa or whatever. It probably wouldn’t be too great to actually experience this stuff firsthand. If I could have superpowers too it might be ok. I’d vacation in Azeroth if I could shoot fire out of my hands.
8. Which game did you find most visually appealing?
Tough one. I’m not usually one to be wowed by visuals. I enjoy realistic graphics, but beyond that I don’t really care what style. I’ve been playing Skyrim on ultra settings with a bunch of graphics mods since I got my new computer, that’s been pretty cool.
9. Which game soundtrack would you listen to on repeat?
Hmm, probably any Final Fantasy game or all of them. I really like the FF8 soundtrack. Zelda games are usually pretty good too. Oh! Jet Grind Radio and Jet Set Radio Future. I still get “Humming the Baseline” stuck in my head. A while back a writer on Kotaku wrote that they thought the lyrics sounded like “For the troubled tooth! For the troubled tooth! Hey!” I hear “Buddha triple two! Buddha triple two! Hey! Mm Mm, Mm, Mm, Mm, Mm.” Interestingly no American-made games come to mind for this one.
10. Which game has your favorite story?
Very tough one. Well probably 50% of the reason I even like Final Fantasy games would be for the story, and out of them all I like Final Fantasy VII the most story-wise. It’s just so quirky while maintaining a good narrative. The Metal Gear Solid series is also great storywise, although I think that it went downhill from the beginning of the series. Portal series has amazing character writing, but it’s more their lines are amusing than the overall narrative is great. I’m sure I could think of more.
11. Which videogame character would you choose to be a hero for your kids?
I’m not really big on video game hero worship. I like Ezio’s origin story, but he’s probably not a great role model for kids what with all the assassinating he does. I was actually talking about this with one of my WoW friends yesterday. Unfortunately, video games are usually more boring when you try to play as a “good guy” who tries to avoid killing people that you don’t actually have to kill or whatever. The best you can really hope for is an “ends justify the means” type character who murders people who probably deserve it for the greater good. I was playing Skyrim the other day and there’s a quest that asks you to kill this horrible woman that runs an orphanage. She treats the children terribly and tells them that they’re never going to be adopted, that sort of thing. So I killed her, and one of the kids at the orphanage comes up to me and says “Wow, you can solve so many problems just by killing one person. It really makes you think…” I still think that it’s not that difficult to separate reality from what happens in videogames, and that it’s no more difficult than separating video games from movies, television, or books and that we shouldn’t be treating videogames any differently so if you’re ok with your child watching action movies you should probably be ok with them playing Skyrim and all that. That was a bit of a run-on because I was trying to get all of the arguments about why video games don’t make people violent into one sentence, but the point is that while playing video games is fine, wanting to be just like Ezio when you grow up probably isn’t. Maybe Link, but he’s so two dimensional that I wouldn’t pick him myself.
12. What are your favorite gaming snacks?
None, really. I’m not too big on getting Cheetos dust on my keyboard and Mountain Dew on my monitor from when I do spit takes because someone just jet-pack assassinated me.
13. What’s your favorite videogame villian?
Wow, another really tough one. Probably GLaDOS? You know, come to think of it I guess that video game villains don’t usually have motivations that are all that complex or interesting. Probably because it makes it easier to crush their dreams that way. I like Sephiroth just because he’s completely unhinged, he’s probably the undisputed strongest warrior in the world of FF7, and he has a giant sword with which he massacres villages. Pretty scary guy overall. I know I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while.
14. Which videogame ability/item/superpower would you most like to be gifted with?
Well, telekinesis is probably the most versatile superpower that there is, but I don’t think that there’s really been a good telekinesis game. Someone should make that. Any kind of magic would be great, a la shooting fire out of my hands like I mentioned before. Probably that particular magic wouldn’t be useful for much in my daily life besides bringing water to boil, but it would be really cool anyway. Actually, I’d probably pick teleportation like in Dishonored or WoW. It would come in really handy for pretty much anything you could think of. You could get anywhere really fast, which would make it easy to escape from pretty much anything as well as make it so that I’d never have to use a car to get anywhere again. It would also be useful in a fight if I wanted to use my powers for good and fight crime or something. Good luck hitting me with a punch when I can move out of the way at the speed of thought.
15. What videogame character would you pick to cosplay if you had unlimited time and resources?
Hm, well most of the video game characters that I find the coolest are the ones that aren’t too flashy. Like Ryuu from Ninja Gaiden. It would be cool to cosplay Link with a functional Hylian Shield and Master Sword. I’m not really that into cosplay I guess.
16. What’s the most interesting way you’ve ever died in a videogame?
Probably the jetpack assassination. I’ve died so many times in video games that I don’t even remember when something cool happens with it, I’m just too focused on trying it again. I know there have been some other good ones in Halo PvP. I think I’ve gotten splattered by a banshee at least once. A lot of times in Ninja Gaiden there will be a death that isn’t spectacular, but it’s just kind of close in a really cool way. Like I’m fighting a giant pack of Black Spider ninjas and they’re whittling my health down with incendiary shuriken, and I perform a series of blocks and counters only for the very last ninja to get me from behind while I’m finishing his buddy or something.