kaira villanueva

kaira villanueva

So I'm actually in the process of changing my first name. You know me by Fatima, but I'm changing it to Kaira. One reason for that would be the common mispronunciation and one would be me feeling detached to it. There are other reasons too, but I think those minor explanations would suffice. I’m 23.

The best way to describe it is going through an identity crisis. I’m trying to map out where I stand in games and that’s the closest explanation I can give. I'm trying to find meaning behind why I make games or why I should even bother releasing them. I have a hard time going public. And there's this struggle of trying to find a place where I enjoy it, but at the same time, I also feel that I do not enjoy it. I can't seem to put a finger on the cause of why I'm falling off of videogames or why my interest is falling off, and then I'm getting back on the wagon. I think most of the time it can sync with what I'm doing with my life.

In certain instances where I feel really stressed out, that's when I would play games, but it's not necessarily a fluid playthrough of these games. I'll play a certain segment of a game, and I'll stop. And it’s nice to do something cathartic, something that’s in the moment. And that's what I feel like when I play those games. It's this spontaneity of buying a random game on Steam and just playing it, and then stopping. And that's that. And then there are certain games where I buy regardless of how crappy the series has evolved, because I've played them for a very long time. For example, Resident Evil -- you get it. [Laughs.] I’m not going to lie, some of these companies have integrated themselves into my life. And I hate it.I'm aware that I'm attached to certain games because I’ve played them since I was a kid, so it’s a cushion of comfort, but I don’t think it’s healthy to not criticize that part of myself because this is where a lot of gatekeeping starts. Also, I like another reason why I play some games is to try out the funky and cool-looking ones. Experimental games are where it’s at -- it’s refreshing to experience a new game mechanic. So far, those are the reasons why I would usually play a game.

In terms of falling off, I fall off because it's been synced with whatever's happening in my life. Whatever I'm experiencing. Like at this point, I'm busy with school and work and all those other things, and I don't have time to play games. But at the same time, I feel like I've always felt this way, like this is kind of my natural mode. Forcing myself to play a game does not feel normal. I would rather get the urge to play a game than grinding my teeth on a game I don’t want to play.

The irony is you fall off of games, but you don't know -- it's almost like you fall off of games but only to fall back on games, and [Laughs.] I feel that's the trend that's kind of consistent. Once you've fallen off of games, you start thinking about it for a little bit, like, "I'm kind of still attached to this thing."

Insert

Earlier you were saying that you sort of hate game companies, in a way.

Yep, because as a consumer, I am aware of what I am buying and at the same time, I know I should not buy it because I only want to purchase it because I’ve stuck with the series since I was a little tyke. I also want to grow my collection. It’s bad. And it's frustrating, because even though I don't want to finish the series, I'm still partial to finishing it. That's why I don't like game companies. Thankfully I have siblings that have also played the same games as I did, and sometimes I would rather watch them play than play the game myself. For example, Resident Evil 5 is a solid example of this. I have to keep going with Resident Evil games, and I don't know if they're going to make another Resident Evil, to be honest, but hopefully they stop at 6.

Well, they just came out with a remake of the first one.

Yeah, that -- you see, I'm fine with that.

[Laughs.]

I'm fine with remakes and things of that nature. But the only thing -- the thing that ticks me off when they milk the storyline for so long, and it's like, how far can Umbrella go?

It goes all the way to the top.

[Laughs.]

[Laughs.] I don't know. I mean, what story do you think they'll be missing out on if they continue?

I don't know. I was hoping that -- they should just make something really, really funky. Like Umbrella turns out to be some sort of dream and just completely anticlimactic of everything else that's happened in Resident Evil, and it would be that. [Laughs.] It's just Leon's dream, and that was it; that was the whole Resident Evil, and it turns out Leon was still a 16-year-old boy or something of that nature. [Laughs.] That would --

See, but I would play that game, if the game starts that way, and you're like, "Whoa, this is the new Resident Evil? What's going on?" Also, part of it takes place in the 1970's and it's also steampunk, and there's just clowns in suits of armor everywhere?

Yeah, that would, I would definitely --

Too far?

No, no, no! I think you're just scratching the surface.

You're saying these stories don't really change much, and I doubt anyone would really disagree with you. But then you still get fear of missing out?

Yeah, I think that would be it. The fear of missing out. I don’t really care much for missing out on a conversation just because I didn’t play a game, so it’s not the fear of missing out for me in that sense. Regardless, it still sucks if people make it seem as though the game is really that good. [Laughs.]

What's a series you haven't played at all for that reason?

I think for example, Mega Man? That's a series that I would watch people play. I've played a level in it, but I haven't dedicated the time. Because I haven't finished one Mega Man game. But from the concept of it, everything kind of looks the same. But then again, this is my opinion. Of it, there are definitely hardcore Mega Man fans, kids that explicitly detail me all the nuances in each game, and how each one differs, and --

Nah, they're wrong, it's the same game.

[Laughs.]

Insert

I say that as a fan, and I think that's what people expect, is it to remain relatively static.

I have a theory, and I guess this goes back to what I was thinking about Nintendo and why Nintendo is sticking to the same formula over and over, rehashing Mario in a different light, or they're creating Zelda, but the same Zelda over and over. Or like, Pokémon, but in different versions. And it just dawned on me how Nintendo is a common household name -- at least in middle-class America. [Laughs.] Nintendo is an entity. It's basically like Monopoly. There are different versions of Monopoly: Lord of the Rings Monopoly, Star Wars Monopoly, Pokémon Monopoly, and etc. but it's still Monopoly. The same goes for Nintendo, they have different types of Mario but it’s still the same Mario, and I can apply this to other Nintendo games as well. This is Nintendo’s way of branding itself.

So that reminds me of how games, or these games we've known for a while form. People play the same thing over and over to the point where it's passed down from generation to generation, and Nintendo is pretty good at that game. There are also hardcore fans that would just stick to Nintendo and probably have their grave imprinted with a 1UP mushroom, but there are also kids who picks up these Nintendo games and just play them.

You don’t have to be a millennial to play Smash. My little cousin is in seventh grade and he can kick my ass easily with Kirby. Nintendo loves sticking to the same formula and they are only changing bits and pieces because they want to keep their brand consistent. Why would you invest on a new idea that may not work? It's like selling a new version of a math textbook every year. It’s literally the same content, but sure a few problems have been changed. Even though their consoles integrate a new piece of technology in each generation, they stick to that type of innovation because that is what they are known for.

How does that differ from Microsoft or Sony?

Microsoft or Sony -- I think they do try this route sometimes, but it’s hard for Sony and Microsoft because they have to be the conduit for other game companies. You can now create your own Sony or Microsoft developer account, and they are making it easier for indie developers to release their games with them. It's a platform where a lot of different games are published on. And that's the thing that separates them the most. Even though Microsoft and Sony are big game companies, they don’t really have an ubiquitous identity like Nintendo.

Another reason why is because people know Nintendo just for games. Sony and Microsoft also have other things going on for them. My brother, who is a console gamer, he would never have played any of these indie games such as Transistor if it wasn't for the PlayStation 4 platform and how they've made that available online. And same with Xbox. I remember seeing this weird game that's like Slap the Kitty and you're just -- there's a kitty that meows and it's just a flash animation game on Xbox. I was like, "Wow, ok." [Laughs.] And I feel like you won't see that in Nintendo, because they like keeping their stuff clean, and it's a heavily branded company.

Nintendo is?

Yeah, Nintendo.

What do you mean?

I mean, if anything -- they're very strict on what is labeled as Nintendo. So for example, there was this seller, a craft artist where she made some sort of Bulbasaur thing on a 3D printer, and it was really cool, so people started looking to it, like, "Oh, hey, can I buy this? Or are you selling this?" And automatically, Nintendo flagged it because they said it was, "Oh, hey, you're making money off of our product." That made me think about how Nintendo is very concerned about just keeping its name altogether. They want to make sure that what comes out of their company is branded as Nintendo, and it's only that specific seal. You need to have the Nintendo seal for it to be Nintendo.

I mean, it sounds like you've done a lot of thinking about games, and a lot of playing games. What made you lose interest, then? What made you cut back?

There's this contrast, a staggering contradiction that overwhelms me about myself in general. If I start playing games, and I'm into them, and I'm fine, and then I get really, really into it sometimes? To the point where I read about it all the time, and I talk to people about it, and I guess what happens is that when the same monotonous conversation comes out of it over and over --

[Laughs.]

[Laughs.] Yeah! It really dries it out. I feel like it just sucks it out. And I'm like, "Why am I even interested in this?" All the unexpected things are now expected, so the things that were kind of hidden or that were not on the surface are now laid out before you, and you're like, "Oh, great. What am I going to expect now? Where's the magic behind this? I can see the inner workings now." I kind of want to play the game for the sake of just playing it and seeing it unfold before me. What I started doing, too, is when I pick out a game, I only watch a tiny bit of the trailer, and I read some parts of the review, and then I play the game.

Rather than scrolling through the comments section of YouTube where it's like, "Oh, God, this part really sucks." [Laughs.] I used to do that, and I stopped doing that, because I'd rather figure that out for myself and then jump into the conversation.

Why do you think people are so negative about video games?

I don't know. It becomes some sort of attachment to them. I feel like when people become negative about video games, it's almost like -- you know when you have a child and you're just disappointed at your child? [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] Sure. For the sake of conversation, let's say yes.

I guess --

I have a bad kid now, I'm very disappointed in them.

[Laughs.] I feel like it's become some sort of parental attachment that you have the control over the game. Which makes sense, because as the player, you've been given the ability -- or you've been given this power. "You can control me!" or "play this game!" You're given that allowance to maneuver the game, maneuver the character, and take part of the world that you're in and immerse in it, fully, and gain all the points you want, and be your own master, etc., etc., etc. And this privilege that comes with that token of experience, or like, every time you get a trophy or achievement, it kind of blends into your perception of reality of what games is outside of games. So, you associate the things that you play within the game with things that are outside of games that are related to it. So I feel that may be touching on it? Because --

No, that's interesting. I think there's something to that. But I don't imagine you're one of those types of people who would be so quick to be negative about games?

I'm actually not that negative about games. I can play the crappiest ever -- I don't mean "crappy," I mean games that people would -- okay, I guess crappy by my own standards. I can play those games and find things that are very amusing and lovely about them. And even if I play games that I know I should not be playing -- like, for example, if I'm playing CS:GO for a very long time, I'm aware that I am immersing in a world of just headshot, headshot, killing spree, whatever. [Laughs.] And I'm aware of that, but at the same time, I take responsibility for it and say, "Yeah. I'm sort of wasting my time, and I know that I'm wasting my time, but I still find some value in this. But I'm not going to go and defend the fact that this game sucks. Or just defend the value of the videogame for the sake of it being a videogame."

I kind of don't fall on either end. When I judge a game, I judge it by the feeling I contrive while playing the game itself. So the things that I've associated with playing a game, like I said before, it's connected with what I'm experiencing at the moment. The reason why I play Counter-Strike: GO is not to just play Counter-Strike: GO, but to play with one of my best friends. And I feel like I could only have that relationship with her as a friend if I play Counterstrike: GO with her. The same with some of my other friends. Yeah. I feel like games for me is just a tool to experience things. Or a tool to sometimes manage my life a little bit.

Insert

It sounds like you look to play games to sort of supplement or enhance a mood that you have rather than distract yourself from a mood that you have, right?

Yeah. I -- yeah. Completely.

So, because part of this is talking about losing interest in games, and what it would take for games to be worth your time again, I'm curious: What feelings do you feel are there not really games for right now?

Oh, a lot of -- a lot of feelings. [Laughs.]

What comes to mind first?

Like I said before, the games that I would play right now are those relaxing, very quick games. There's just one stage, and you go through the stage in under seven minutes, and you're done. And there's very, very calming music, and that's it. I only play those games because at a certain point in my life right now, I get really stressed out. But then other points in my life where I sometimes would feel a little bit in the melancholy side, I don't think there are games that could --

You don't think there are games that explore sadness?

There are games that explore sadness. But I don't think not in the way that I would want to -- not in the way that I'm searching for.

Which is what?

The perfect way I could describe this is like, you know when you're in a certain mood, and you just know a certain song in your head, it's like, "Oh my God, I have to play this song right now." And you use that song as a channel to express what you're feeling?

Yeah, to scratch an itch, sort of.

Yeah! Exactly. And then you just kind of level out, because that song in itself -- maybe it's in the lyrics, maybe it's in the melody, or the composition of it. But something about it just clicks with you. And you go with it, and it levels you out, and then all of a sudden, things just makes sense. Even though it helped only for that fraction of a second, you keep pushing that button over and over or repeating that song over and over because you know it would keep leveling things out, so it's just -- I guess it becomes this drug, almost. And sometimes when I'm feeling a little bit down, I do that with songs a lot. I have certain songs that I go to, and they're just ones that really hit home. I feel that I haven't found a game where I could go to and do that. And if I find a game that could do that, I don't think I would ever have fallen off with games. Because that would be the day where I could play this game and go with the flow, and I'll be fine.

But remember what you were saying about how playing video games, to use it as escapism -- the thing about me is that when I feel sad, I really milk that sadness. I listen to Damien Rice. I listen to the Nine album. And I wallow in that. And I have to wallow in it, because I feel like if I don't wallow in it, then it's this big repression, this big anchor that just festers inside. And I feel it festering, and I'm aware it's still there. It's not like the next morning that I play some sort of game or if I escape to some game, I would still feel it.

So I don't -- I try not to do that. And I'd like things -- I like confronting things, and I like questioning myself a lot, and I feel like the more I escape from some sort of problem that I'm facing, or some sort of question I keep pondering about, then the more I will get lost. And if I keep pushing that down, I know it will bite me in the ass later on, and I don't want to do that to myself. I'm the type of person where if there's something really bothering me, I would -- and good example, two weeks ago, I had just had it with the day. It was just a bad day. And it wasn't even 4 o’clock yet. It was just like, 2 o’clock and things weren't going the way they were supposed to, whichever way it was supposed to. I guess not in the better or brighter side of things. Or not even the neutral side of things. It was just, everything was kind of going downhill. And I literally -- I stopped myself, I was like, "Why is everything that I'm doing now is leading up to this point or regressing me back and back?"

And I had to pause and I was like, "You know what? I am not going to go to class, I am not going to do anything for the rest of the day, I'm just gonna go home." I literally said that: "I'm just gonna go home, and I'm gonna think about this on the train ride. I'm going to figure it out." And I just sort of, kind of need that pause to figure things out. And I need that music, or I need Damien Rice to tell me, "Okay, just exaggerate this emotion and really feel this emotion, and see where it's coming from." [Laughs.] And I think if I have a game that I could go to for that, then that would be amazing, because it's answering the questions I would want myself to answer. And I know it's kind of -- I don't know if it's some sort of masochist thing to do, but I feel that if I keep pegging on that feeling of that sadness, then I'll somehow figure it out. Because it's just -- I don't know, it's just like full-frontal confrontation of, "Hey, you know, I'm going to deal with you and that's it."

And yeah, in regards to what you were saying before, how there's escapism, or how there's playing games to escape from it, and there's also playing games to kind of parallel what's happening in your life, I feel that as this conversation's going, I'm noticing that I'm the type of person that does that. I play the games that parallel my life. So I can make more sense of what's happening in my life. [Laughs.]

Well, I tell you what, though, I don't think there are videogames that do that. [Laughs.]

That's interesting that you mention that, because videogames are very out of the norm, or they're supposed to be some sort of escapism, or they're supposed to be not within this reality, but I think the important thing to take out of those games when I play those certain games, or the themes that are stuck behind them, and I take those tiny moments and I pull them in and try to make sense of it.

Do you have an example?

Yeah. Just playing Telltale games, The Walking Dead, and the experiences of what Clementine -- like I'll never experience a zombie apocalypse. Not in this life, or maybe, I don't know --

You never know. But I think if we do, we've all been so adequately prepared that I think we'll be okay.

2x4's with nails. Yup. Everyone. [Laughs.]

I mean, I got a press release earlier today about a racing game that added DLC where you can run over zombies.

[Laughs.]

We'll be well-equipped.

So many ways to kill zombies now.

But so what did you take out of Clementine in The Walking Dead? This is the first season, or the second season?

This is the second season. I like Clementine, she was able to stick out as a person, or actually be acknowledged as a person, and we were able to experience her growing pains in a zombie-infested world, or how a kid might grow up in that environment. Because what ended up happening before is, "Oh hey, you're a little girl," and then they realized "Oh my God, you can do all these other things that we didn't know that you could do." So then she becomes a vital character.

And I could kind of see how some parts of that are transitioning or are parallel in my life, how all of a sudden I'm wrought with these responsibilities like Clementine, where before she was just doing something on the sideline, and now she's given more responsibilities because they're taking notice of what she's doing or what she's capable of. And I feel that part is very relevant to what I've been experiencing for a little bit. How I'm now given -- I'm now lavished with more responsibilities, so it's kind of "Okay, I guess you just have to be a badass and just kind of go on with it, all right." [Laughs.]

Just what are the typical male protagonists in videogames to you?

Oh, man. Gosh. I think what comes to mind is this image of some guy with a crewcut or either a very, very well-shaven head --

[Laughs.]

[Laughs.] And they have a gun, or either some sort of weapon or even superpowers. And they're there to do some collateral damage. That's what I see it as. I think we're moving away from the point of, "Oh hey, I'm a good guy" to "Oh hey, I'm a badass and I'm not really a good guy. I'm not really a good guy, but I'm still the protagonist, so you just have to deal with me." That's what I see as the generic protagonist that we have now.

Have you ever felt represented in a character? Or not even a character, but in some sort of feeling that you've received from a videogame, where it's like, "Oh hey, this is what I'm feeling right now. This got it."

I think adventure games come the closest. Because what are the majority of our interactions? What are we doing right now? We're talking. And what do I have the most choice over? I have some questions in front of me. I've only asked three of them so far. I have the most choice of what to say to you, how to listen to you, or what to ask when, or when you let you just talk and find what you're saying.
I've never been in a situation in my life where I've had to decide: "How do I shoot this thing? Where should I run to? How should I run there?" [Laughs.] I've felt represented where -- we talk a lot about choices in games, but they never have learned -- you seldom see your choices mattering or your choices being honored or understood as having great ramifications. You or I, we could make a choice that could change the course of our life and we don't even know it. But in games -- I understand it's complicated -- in games, choice is just like "Well, you could do this or that, and we gotta get you back to what we wanted to do anyway."

Yeah, it's interesting you said that, because even though The Walking Dead seemingly gives you choices, in spite of it all, it all comes down to the same thing. It all boils down to a linear narrative. In spite of the truth, even though you're given, "Oh, 70 percent of people did this, 30 percent of people made this decision," the season still continues as the season. Like, in the first season, the ending of the first season, that main character died. It all still continues, like what you said, you're given this choice: "We're just going to go back -- we're going to make you feel important for a fraction of a second, and then we're just going to go on with what we intended." [Laughs.]

I mean, I think they do a good job with "So-And-So will remember that," because I think I've never felt -- I never get scared by horror movies or feel scared by scary games, but I will feel something in that moment where I made a choice and the game is like "that person's going to remember that." And I'm like, "Is that good? Is that bad?"

[Laughs.]

That's the feeling I don't think a lot of games do, or can elicit.

Yeah. You know, but what irks me, though, is I question will that even matter? Have they added enough AI for that to matter or have they added enough narrative, or another layer of narrative for that consequence or that action to matter? And I've played through The Walking Dead several times in different ways, and even though one character says "I'm going to remember that," I did it over -- I went through the same scenario, but with a different action, and then something else briefly happened. But at the end of the day, it's still the same ending, and I'm like, "Oh, I guess it didn't matter." I guess I shouldn't have done that, because after that, I felt really disappointed. It was a lie. "Aww..." [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] Well, let me ask you this: that sounds like a fairly recent game, that was a couple years ago. When you were at your height of playing the most, what types of games did you play, and what did you enjoy about them?

I think in terms of escapism, and playing games to mirror your present life, there is definitely one instance that sticks out the most. I knew that I was playing that game to forcefully escape something that I wasn't dealing with. And it became a radical experience. So when I played Fallout 3, I did not know where else to go to or how else I should interact, and I think exploring the land of Fallout 3 allowed me to let go. This is what I ended up doing: I ended up playing -- what's that game before Skyrim? I forgot.

Oblivion?

Oblivion, yeah. I was trying to play Oblivion -- I was playing that along with Fallout 3, and I stopped playing Oblivion. I remember picking it up, and I stopped -- it just didn't click with me. And I played Fallout 3 and it was like, "Wow, this is amazing." And I think the fact that it was so -- it was so far-fetched, and very, very dystopian-looking. It pulled me in, the grittiness and the grotesque feel of the game of how things are uncomfortable resembled my mind at that point, and how things just sort of didn't make sense. And being in that environment helped me to discern certain things, and like, "Oh hey, I guess in this world, I can do this, or I can help purify the water, and claim environmental points." [Laughs.] Yeah, and that really helped, and I feel like that's one instance where I used games specifically for escapism, because I honestly did not know where else to turn, but at the same time, I was discovering myself. For example, there are definitely books that I've read where I had to pause for a second and reflect on a certain passage, and Fallout 3 did the same thing without me having to pause, I just played.

Reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was such a roller coaster. And I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't know if I liked it, or I loved it, or I didn't know if I hated it, but there were definitely parts of the novel where it just punched me in the face and I was like, "Wow, okay, I have to pause for a second and think about my life." And maybe it's because I personalize things that I consume, so like I said, the things that I play are deeply connected with my reality . So when I read things, or when I play things, I try to connect these nodes and pieces together what I'm experiencing.

So Fallout 3 was maybe deliberately used as some sort of escapism, but I feel like it's also a tool that I've managed to manipulate so I could discover myself even more, or where I am. It's the aftermath of Fallout 3 rather than experiencing the game in the present that did me in. You know when you were -- going back to our conversation before about comedy and humor, and the comedy comes out -- it's not intended. The purpose is not intended for it to be comedic. Maybe there's a glitch, or maybe then we find that funny. I guess the sense or the feeling comes out when it's not intended.

It's almost like you’re the Miles Davis of videogames, where you play not for the moments they want you to experience, but for what those experiences make you think about after you've had them.

Yeah, completely. Gosh, I wrote this thing -- I just had to get this thought out, and I was like, "Oh my gosh." I was reading some Rousseau, and there's this -- Rousseau talked about how experiences are, and how experiences are determined not by what had happened, or what eventually -- what occurred in that moment, or the memories, or the pictures of it, but rather the feeling that you've gotten from this experience. It's not the fact that, "Oh hey, the mountains are beautiful or the music was nice" but the feeling of how that music came to you, or that awe you felt when you saw those mountains is what makes the experience valuable.

And I feel like that's why memories are timeless in that way, because the feelings that you have are still relevant, so you can still relate to those memories. Not because of those memories themselves, but because of the feelings you've associated with those memories. And I feel like that's what I do with games, and that's why it connects with me. So when I play Dance Dance Revolution, I don't play it for the sake of just -- well, I do play it for that too, because it's fun and stuff, games are fun. [Laughs.] But I think I have this attachment with DDR, because I've felt that excitement of opening the box, and I've always associated it with that little kid in me who held that box of DDR set the whole day. Just the feeling was kind of stuck with me. Yeah. And I think that's what I take out of videogames. It's not, "Oh my God, the graphics are so cool!" It's, "What did it give me? What did I feel during that moment? Or who am I experiencing the game with that I'm playing?" I think those are the most memorable parts of a game, is not necessarily what the game is about, but how I've experienced it, and the feelings that I've gotten from it. So when I've fallen off of videogames, I feel like I fall off because I don't get that from videogames, or I can't find a game that gives me that. So I stop playing them, and I end up playing these tiny parts of games, or tiny sections of games just for the sake of spontaneity.

Insert

When you were actively playing, how many years were you playing?

I guess it was a while. I played for three years straight? I don't know, I feel like I just...

And then you just sort of cut back?

Yeah! I feel like I would play for a while --

How long ago was that? When you decided to cut back, or when you just noticed that you had?

Probably there was this gap, I felt, where I think when I was 19 or 20. That's when I stopped playing a lot of games. Then there was that gap for a while where I would play games, but -- I would read about games a lot and I would not play them, and it was very interesting how I would rather watch people play them than play them myself.

I'm not sure if that also played a part in why I lost interest in it? It was roughly two or three years ago that I lost interest. And then since then, it's always been an in-and-out scenario. Like, I would play them and I would not play them. And I would play a game for a month, or I would dedicate myself to just playing one game and that would be it. And I would listen to people just talking about games, or I would talk about games myself that I hadn't played or only partially played. I feel like that right now is pretty consistent.

You mentioned reading about games -- when you were actively interested in games, how did the games media impact what you were interested in? So, magazines, blogs, podcasts, stuff like that?

When I was actively interested in games, I think I read less. I think I read less, but rather just played the games. The only thing I looked at specifically was the walkthrough and the wikis, and that was it.

For things you were playing, or things you were just curious about?

Oh, things I was playing, because I was just interested in how to get a certain item or how to pass this level. I think that was the most that I've read when I was actively playing games. Or I would watch -- or I would specifically not watch Let's Play, I would just watch walkthroughs of games. And so there's no -- would try to look for videos where there's no one talking over it.

It gets annoying, because sometimes they would talk over the cutscenes, and I'm like, "Oh my God, just let me watch this part of the game, and I want to reference this scene so I can continue with the game that I'm playing." Because when they inject their thoughts, it's almost like, "Oh great, they're playing the game for me that I want to experience. I want to experience it by myself." It's almost like when you're playing a game, you're committed to it. So you have this relationship for that point, and then someone intervenes in that relationship, and they give you your thought of how to deal with your relationship problems, and it's like, "Dude, just let me handle it, OK?" [Laughs.]

So wait, are you saying then that you never really paid attention to magazines and blogs and stuff like that?

I've paid attention to magazines and blogs, but I feel like I've paid attention to them when I'm not actively playing, or when I'm just casually playing. I don't know if that's been synced when I'm falling off with games. I don't know if that's a thing. But I feel like I only actively -- when I'm actively playing a game, I'm just so into it, to the point where it doesn't -- I guess I just have to play it, rather than read about it? I just want to experience the game.

The blogs and stuff that you do pay attention to, what trends do you notice in the things that they tend to cover or not cover?

I feel that there's been this movement recently of games not fitting -- or reviews not having -- even though they still have a number on them, a rating. I feel like that's becoming more and more obsolete, where it doesn't really matter what the rating is, it's rather you're more interested in what the reviewer has to say about it rather than the overall rating. I think that there's some sort of an ebb towards that. There's a flow going towards that direction, which I feel is better than before. You know, you look at -- I remember looking at Game Informer, and all I cared about was the rating on the game when I was flipping through the magazine. "Oh, this got a six and a half, that must have sucked."

But even looking at the ratings, or looking at how the ratings are situated, I feel like people are more concerned about how the game is played, or what the reviewer has to say. That's a trend that I've been noticing. And how there are certain people now who have put a foot down in the games blogs, and how people are only interested in hearing what that faction of people have to say. Different groups of people weave their own community. And the truth is, people filter out what they want to read, so generally they stay where within a circle that accepts their views. Today, there are various grids of game news for people to consume. Or as a consumer, you can purposely find a group of people that revolves around the same thoughts you have. And I feel that's a trend that's been happening.

If I were to compare a review from IGN vs. Kill Screen, I would prefer the Kill Screen review, because like I said, I feel like the author puts -- gives an input of his or her feelings into the article rather than, "Oh hey, the graphics of this game." Or it goes to something mechanical. And I feel like when an author starts to -- I don't know -- you gotta own it. When you're writing something, you gotta show your voice, and I want to hear the author speak, and I think that's the very important part. I don't want to hear the videogame, the videogame can tell me what the videogame is by playing it, I want to hear what you have to say, how you feel about it. I think that's the important part. I want to see how this game is perceived from your end, so I can compare that to what I'm feeling instead of having the videogame regurgitate itself to me and say, "My graphics are this. This is what I do." And I'm like, "Great. That's just a summary of the game, it's not necessarily a review, then."

It's a book report.

Yeah, it's a book report! And I don't like that. [Laughs.]

I think some of these growing pains here is there's always been stigmas around people who play games and games in general. And I think one of the biggest things holding us back is acting like games are products and we are just consumers. We're humans on both sides, and --

Yeah, I totally agree with you how we are just -- I feel like we're all of us -- this is how I feel: Once you own a videogame, you're invisibly branded by this, I forgot what they're called, I guess those cattle-prod thingies that they brand the cows with --

Yeah, the branding iron.

Yeah, the branding iron. That's what I feel like. If you buy a videogame, you're invisibly branded by that. And you have that on your body somewhere, I don't know. [Laughs.] But yeah, that's how I see it as.

Do you feel like that happens with movies or books or other media?

Oh, definitely. There's definitely the media that we have nowadays, especially with Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, the media --

It's part of your identity.

Yep. It becomes a part of your identity.

So what's lacking in videogames? The videogame identity of who we are? What do we never talk about?

I think something that's overlooked are personal experiences with games, rather than an objective analysis. I don't think I hear a lot of people talking about how a brand affects them or what does that brand really mean to them. What happens if you separate yourself from that brand? What becomes of your identity if, per se, that videogame is not a part of it? How much has a game shaped you? Are you this product? I loathe and love game companies because I am attached to certain games, even though they have evolved into something that I don’t enjoy as much anymore. But yeah -- I don't know how much I could credit my identity to games. So sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I just didn't talk about games for a little bit. [Laughs.] I really do! I feel like I talk a lot about it, but what happens if I don't? And that's the thing I want to explore.

Who is it hurting if videogames on the whole are not becoming more creative?

Like I said before, I think this is going back to what I've personally experienced. Not unless there's a game that I could relate to on a personal level, where I could just replace the Damien Rice album with a game then yeah, I feel like the industry would just lose people. [Laughs.] Or just lose people who are trying to make meaning out of it, and then you'd have this cattle. So are they people, then? Yeah, and it makes you question the essence of humanity, or the pieces that make us human, which are our feelings and those tiny nuances that makes us alive? I don't think it’s healthy to mindlessly consume games. Games should properly represent parts of who we are. Imagine suppressing a feeling for six hours straight, or not dealing with that emotion, and just constantly doing that on a daily basis. I think that would cause some sort of psychological damage.

If something is not dealt with over a course of time, and it just accumulates for a very long time, then that would suck. The game may sometimes swallow someone whole and I don’t want that to happen to anyone ever. But sadly it does.

don't die Logo