pablo azpurua

pablo azpurua

My name is Pablo Agustin Azpurua. I'm 21 years old and I live in New York City.

As for how I lost interest in games, well, there are a lot of different reasons, but I guess one of the things that I noticed is I've been playing games for a long time and then because of that -- I'm not saying that I've seen everything -- but I feel like there are a lot of games that sort of lay on similar things or sort of have similar mechanics. And really, it almost gets to the point where sometimes I feel like I've seen every variation of it and I know that that is a little arrogant sounding and I'm probably wrong, but what I mean is that it takes a lot for me to be interested in actually playing a game. I can look at a lot of press for a game, I look at videos for games and things like that, but to actually sit down and spend my money and play it are -- hell, even pirate it, which I do, I admit. I'm a saint.

Even if I do that, actually playing it is a different story because a lot of it just feels like a retread. So, that's a big part of it.

The second part of it is my demand for quality is sort of high. It's gotten really high and also my interests have gotten specialized and I've found a little niche of things that I like and a lot of games don't really hit on those ideas. or things inside that niche, and so they're not interesting for me.

So that's really what it is for me.

How do you define "quality" and your niche?

Well, I have a high bar for quality in a lot of things. But, really, I feel like -- it's gonna sound weird, but I feel like things need to be thoughtful. Things need to be thought out and I feel like you can tell when something is very thought out. For example, some of the best RPGs have, you know, answers for everything. You try to be clever, you go around what you think -- the developer puts up a puzzle or some type of thing right in front of you and you try to be clever, but the developer already thought that and they allow you to do whatever you want to do.

In terms of everything else, it's really -- when everything is unified in tone, aesthetics, audio and visual-wise, like, everything needs to fit together and have a point. Like, a lot of people talk about immersion, but not really immersion in the sense of just building an atmosphere but rather immersion in terms of it never breaks tone, or, if it does, it does so in a very subtle way. Like, I can be a little serious, I guess. But that can also apply to satire as well. If a game is trying to be humorous, it just has to try to be like that all the time. Not necessarily all the time. I'll redact that. But it should try to make those moments as thoughtful as possible and then also, when you shift away from that have a reason for it. Put value on it in a way that it's hard for people to cheapen or tear apart what you're trying to do.

An example would be, in my opinion at least, romances in Mass Effect. Romances in Mass Effect, in my opinion, are really not done well. They're just a series of decisions and then you get a cutscene and then you move along a story. You know, I guess to some people it can feel like there's development there. Like there's something. But I don't feel like it's enough. I feel like it's too transparent with its process.

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How often do you feel like games criticism or things you see in games media you mentioned before reflects this sort of standard of thoughtfulness?

I think it depends on what sites you look at. Like, if you look at a very RPG-centric site or particular reviewer reviewing an RPG then you’ll hear a lot about how it’s great the developers thought of everything and how much work was put into the dialogue and stuff like that. But for everything else, I see a big, like big big, sliding scale in terms of that. I haven’t looked at mainstream reviews in a long time so maybe the quality has increased even though I really wouldn’t think it has.

But it’s like -- you see a review and they break it down into sections where they talk about the graphics, then the gameplay, then the music, then the multiplayer, and then they give their final thoughts and a nice little score at the end quantifying how epic or not the game was. And that kind of stuff is fine, at least for a lot of people.

But the thing about videogames is that it’s a medium that encompasses other mediums. Wagner has this thing about a total piece of art and I think -- I mean Wagner would probably be very unhappy that I’m talking about videogames with this -- but that’s what a lot of videogames seem to look like, right? You have the visual part of everything, then there’s music, and story and all that stuff in between.

So I think reviewers need to start looking at things like that. It’s a really sort of big picture thing that I don’t see many people doing. In some sort of ideal fantasy game -- not fantasy like in a fantasy setting but you know, a perfect world -- you would have a game in which every element of the whole thing contributes to what it’s trying to do. Although with like FPS and stuff you have that sort of mentality of having the point be to be awesome, shifting the idea of the point of the game to being say, I dunno, feeling like an injured cowboy who is still cool but still limited by what he does or something random like that then you would still want to make the game feel good and feel awesome but also have an opportunity to inject that into every aspect of the game.

Videogames, make me feel like a cowboy who is sad about not being able to hold his gun straight sometimes and just not in a cutscene or anything like that. Make me really feel it.

You had said in your email that the lack of emotion expressed in videogames has been on your mind for a long time. Tell me a little bit about when you started to notice that and what sort of emotions you feel you never see reflected in videogames?

I'd say I started to notice that really when, I guess, games became -- I played so many of them or whatever, that it felt very stale to me. Like, you can only look at so many Michael Bay-esque Call of Duty explosions and after a while that just felt very bland to me or maybe it kind of induced a response of, "Wow, this is really, really excessive." But other than that it didn't really do anything for me.

All of the sort of heroism -- just after a while it's very samey. And I guess in terms of -- I'd say that that happens with a lot of genres of games where they have one emotion they want you to feel. For example, in FPSes it's, "You want to feel like a hero. You want to feel like a badass." In RPGs, a lot of times, people want to have the world revolve around them.

They want you to be the hero. A lot of games are sort of obsessed with heroism, but in a very literal sense, as in "save the world and kill the bad guy." As a side note, I mean, heroism exists in many other ways.

What seems to be the way that videogames define heroism?

Doing something badass.

[Laughs.] I don't disagree, but do you have any examples?

Shooting a big gun in someone's face.

That's a hero?

Sort of. But it's also sort of -- it follows the traditional model. Like, you know, where it's like, okay, you get defeated a couple of times in key moments in the story and then you rise above that challenge or you get a new ability and then you're able to face down the bad guy and it all comes to an end with this big climactic battle. Sometimes it happens in specific cutscenes.

[Laughs.]

And then you win and the credits roll and then maybe you have a little epilogue or something like that and then you're done. So, obviously, I know why that's done. 'Cause that's what works. That's what gets people excited. It makes for a good narrative for a lot of people.

But as I said, I've played too many games and seen the same thing so many times that I don't feel like I'm actually going through any actual emotion. I'm just going through the motions. It's more like I'm playing the same thing with a different skin on it.

Yeah.

It's some sort of alternate reality thing going on.

How would you define hero, like, outside of videogames? When you hear that word, not necessarily what do you see, but what comes to mind?

Well, I'm reading a book on it. It's Ernest Becker's Denial of Death, and it talks about heroes and hero systems and how heroism is a way for people to feel. I haven't read too much of it, so, if someone says that I'm wrong, that's fine. But, it basically says that heroism is birthed from the want to transcend. To transcend death. We all deal with that inevitability and we all at sort of a subconscious level have this feeling that we need to do something that lasts. And so I think, really, that's how I feel heroism is. It's not necessarily a good or bad thing or whether you're a guy with a big sword or whatever. But also, like, the small victories for leaving a legacy -- those or having a big family could be somebody's idea of heroism. It's really, really broad, but at the same time, my view of it is changing in the sense that heroism's not always the best thing in the world.

I know that I used to have this idea of a noble life, and I still think that, but I don't use the word "noble" anymore and use "hero," say "hero," less of the time.

How do you feel about the claim that videogames don’t have any sort of emotional weight to them. Or at least, they don’t cover that wide a range of emotions?

They're not emotionless. I feel like -- I'm just putting my point here, is that they're not emotionless, they just have a limited kind of emotion that they have right now. And that's partially because of the medium and how we make things work.

I think it has more to do with the people making it than the medium.

No, no. I think it's both.

Yeah.

It's the people, and then it's the fact that sort of making scenarios to elicit a response within a genre of game can be easy or can be hard. In RPGs, you get a lot of good stuff. You get some good story, you get some good choices. In an FPS it's a little bit harder because you sort of just want to shoot people in the face.

[Laughs.] That's an emotion.

It is. And that's fair. But rather, what I feel like is that rather the depth of that emotion. I guess, for me, there's been a lot of really dark periods in my life in terms of how I felt and how I thought about myself in the world and things like that. You know, I would want to see somebody make a game from those places. For example, there was a Kickstarter project, Neverending Nightmares.

Yeah.

Like, I really like what that guy was doing, even if the game itself had some things in it that didn't interest me all that much. I felt like it was very good and it was very truthful and very pure to the experiences that he felt. And he didn't make it about himself. He translated that into a game. And I think that's the sort of thing that I would like to see more of, if I had to say: I've been to the point where I feel very frustrated and very angry where I feel just an unbelievable amount of rage.

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And most people would say, "Okay, go play an FPS. Go shoot some people." But at the same time, when you do that, there's no real -- I feel like there's no real feedback into it. It's rather the game produces the frustration or you can get frustration out of it. But it doesn't sort of internalize that feeling and sort of induce it through its mechanics on purpose and in a way that will function like it does. Like, in contrast, I feel like even though it's not the most intelligent story ever told, I feel like the God of War series, I think that they did anger pretty well.

In terms of -- it's very unified in trying to show off how pissed off Kratos is. And it's sort of funny because in the first game it's like, he's an angry guy but he's going through some tough stuff.

[Laughs.]

It makes sense that he's mad.

And then, just, things kinda get worse. And then a lot of people criticized the game for kinda falling apart in terms of characterization in II and III, but I think that that was perfectly natural. It's like, by II, he's not a person who thinks. He's just mad as hell 'cause everything went wrong and now he's just like, "Well, now I'm gonna destroy everything because nothing went right." And I think that through its simplicity and the way that it's presented in terms of the gameplay as of how brutal it is and the size of it and everything really feels, like, forward-moving and things like that -- I feel like you get a sense of that. And I was actually kind of disappointed in how III ended up being because it sort of broke that tone. It tried to bring in some redemption or whatever: "Oh yeah, there's something else going on and Kratos is actually trying to help out in some way." Like, this whole Pandora thing? It didn't fit, in my opinion.

We talked before about narrowness, but why do you think we're not seeing exploration of more emotions or experiences in games?

One is because I feel like games don't necessarily want to be alienating in the sense that people want their games to be played.

Yeah.

And if you stray too much in a certain direction, you know, you end up alienating a possible player base and you make less money. I'm not saying that's the be-all, end-all goal. But that can be part of it. Right? For bigger productions or very large ones.

Then there's also the fact that large games, AAA games are for the most part made by committee in my opinion. I think that's pretty true, in the sense that publishers are trying to maximize their profit and they want to do that however they can. So they cast the net really wide.

The last thing is I think that sometimes -- I feel like not the right people are making games. Like, I think that you have people who make games and like games who make games. I feel like that can be a little narrow. I'd like to see -- and I think it's happening more, but I'd like to see a very good artist try to make a game that actually has gameplay to it. As in, it is functioning and it not only sends a message but it also conveys that message through well-defined mechanics and things like that. Or people who are well-read. I'd like to see them make a story but not have it be vetted by a publisher or an editor or something like that.

But, in bigger productions, I feel like that's probably not going to happen. So, really, it's to the indie side to try to get that and I feel like, at least at the beginning, indies are sort of limited in what they do. Like, I feel like it's getting better in the sense that there are more independent developers who are willing to have these very ambitious projects. Ones where you would say, "Oh, wow. Fifty people should be doing that." But they just do it anyway because technology is that powerful. So, that's really where I think it's gonna come from. It's just slow. And then again, the content might not be for me. Or it might not be for somebody else. For those people, they just gotta keep waiting or make their own.

You said that games have allowed you to make friends and improve as a person but they've also caused you great frustration and sadness by proxy. I don't know how personal you want to get, but can you elaborate on that a little bit?

All right. I guess we'll have to see how comfortable I am. I'll try to say as much as possible, but who knows.

Sure. Well, just stick to what you're comfortable with and don't think I'm trying to make you uncomfortable.

Oh no, I don't think that. It's just because -- I can be open, but sometimes I regret it, I guess.

Yeah.

For me -- I have social anxiety. I'm not just saying that as sort of an excuse. I've gone to doctors and done clinical tests. They've said that, "Yeah, that's probably what you got.” So, it happens.

What does that actually mean?

That's just my way of -- I don't know. It's really just a personal feeling of a stigma, I guess. There's a stigma around social anxiety and depression. There's a -- I'm not saying that things shouldn't be taken seriously, but at the same time, there is a big difference between the clinical definition and what some people perceive it.

The way that it's used.

Yeah. And so, videogames, the way that they help me is that the first group of friends that I really, really felt comfortable around was I joined a clan when I was about 11. That was, like, 10 years ago. And I was basically the youngest one but people said that I was more mature for my age or whatever. Who knows if that was true or not.

So I was with a lot of people who were older than me and at first I felt very distant and all that. But they kept on enjoying my presence, or I learned that they did, and I played games with them. I joined the clan for Counter-Strike: Source and made a couple of really good friends. Sadly, I don't really talk to them anymore. But that was really the first group of people that I felt really welcomed by. Even though I was just some high-pitched voiced bratty and annoying little kid, they accepted it. They also thought that I kind of fit, even though it was kind of weird. So, I really appreciated that. I really appreciated that they took the time to get to know me instead of dismissing me as a little kid and that's easier with the Internet. That's easier with games. You can really show more of your mental age on the Internet, if you choose to.

Yeah.

You can also choose to be a complete idiot for fun.

[Laughs.]

So, that's fine, too.

Yes.

So, that's where it really began. And the saddest part is sort of tied into that in the sense that, you know, after a while life took over and I was going through a bad patch of depression and school wasn’t working out. So I kind of isolated myself and stopped playing with those guys. And I ended up -- you know, we just stopped talking. I think that that's really sad because when you make friends in school, for example, it's hard not to talk to them because you're in the same place everyday. Or, when you make friends at work, for example, you see them a lot. So, naturally you're going to hang out, or at least spend time with each other. On the Internet, there's more of a responsibility on both sides to actually try to do that. Because it's a distance thing and I guess, in reality, a lot of people are detached from a large part of your life.

At least at the beginning, if you want it to. And you have to keep it up. And games are sort of the thing that can bind people together. But at the same time, what happens when you guys stop liking that game or you can't find another one and you realize you never really had too much in common? It's easy to fade away on the internet. It's much harder to do that in real life because people tend to notice that.

And they tend to notice that and they come up to you or they try to get you back.

But on the Internet, you can just disappear without a trace. Never log back into anything else, make up a new name, etc., etc. It's very easy.

So, I think that -- but going back to the positives, a lot of the best friends that I have and the people that I like the most are people who I've met on the Internet, and I consider them real friends. I don't have that sort of disconnect.

Tell me a little bit more about why you felt it was easier to be who you were online or in games. Or maybe that wasn't the case, but I only ask that because you mentioned social anxiety -- though, of course, I don't want to be making any assumptions. Is that what you were saying, though, that it was easier to be you in a game than out in the outside world?

Yeah. I think so. Because, with me -- when I was young, I was a weird kid. I guess I kind of still am.

[Laughs.] Weird's not necessarily a bad thing.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, but at the time it was not very much accepted. Like, I had a pretty bad stutter and I was pretty hairy kid who later grew up to be a pretty hairy guy. But there were things -- and also I got into videogames very early. And that was actually pretty weird because I was playing them in my school and no one else really was and at the time they really hooked onto my imagination. And so I felt like it was just tough to get along. I was picked on a lot and things like that. Regularly. That sort of thing.

Yeah.

And so finding friends on the internet and especially with certain copies in certain games, you meet people who are a little like you depending on how niche the game is.

Everyone needs friends to talk about their interests with.

Yeah. And then there was also just the fact that I always kind of got along with people who were older than me. I'm not bragging about that but it just seemed to be something that happened.

Yeah.

So, for me, just being able to just play and not have that sort of -- first, it was, like, removed from my current situation. Second, it was with a common interest and I could sort of talk about what I wanted to talk about and express what I wanted to express more freely.

You mentioned depression and anxiety and I think social anxiety as well. I think you said earlier in this conversation you had seen doctors for it. I don't know if it ever came up in conversation, but did doctors ever say anything about your playing videogames?

Surprisingly, no. Not that I can recall.

Yeah.

Because I pretty clearly demonstrated that things came from other than that, like being depressed or being anxious. I used to have some anger problems as well. Like "anger problem" is a big, big thing. It's like, "Oh yeah, people who play games are really angry." That's what some people say. But I was always pretty clear about the fact that it was never the games, it was sort of like the games let me de-stress and was allowing me to sort of deal with things in a way that was helping me out. And also, my parents -- hats off to them -- they never thought that playing games was a bad thing and they saw that it had a helpful effect on me, so they would back me up with that as well.

So, doctors never really had that idea with me, mainly because I was very clear about why I felt the way I felt and also I would tell a lot of things to my parents and so they would be able to sometimes -- and they have a good eye, so they also understood that it wasn't games. That it was something else.

There has been a lot of anger about and around videogames, especially a spike of it since last year. There's a lot of anger and there's a lot of entitlement that goes beyond just having a product that works. Where do you think that comes from?
I'm not calling you entitled but I know on email we talked about some of the anger you've experienced on the periphery of and overlapping with games. Are there parts of you that you recognize in the way you see other people acting or any observations you've had about that? About how maybe people aren't being self-aware about themselves about X, Y, or Z?

I think that a lot of people are angry about what they perceive as the state of videogames because they don't sort of take a broader view of things. Like, I'm not advocating being angry and sending death threats. I don't agree with that. But I think that wanting things to be different and having emotion in that, I think that can be a good thing. As we've said about games, like, games don't have enough emotion in themselves. And then with people who like games, it's they have a lot of emotions but I don't think it's directed in the correct way or it's not directed in the right places because a lot of it is -- at least the way I see it -- just a product of business. Right? All these things, all the bad policies or whatever that people talk about that they don't like and that I don't like, like certain companies' DLC policies or whatever? I don't like that stuff either. But the way that I handle it is I don't buy the product and I tell other people that. Maybe my friend's like, "Yeah, man, it's not really worth it 'cause of this and this." And then, you know, I try to be constructive about it. But then, it just seems like a lot of people get very pent up and they explode and they go on rants or they send something bad on Twitter or whatever. And then it blows up because of that.

Why do you think there's so much anger, though?

Because -- I think there are two parts of it. One is that I think there are some people that I think get latched onto other people's anger and they latch onto people who are angry -- a crowd mentality. That happens. But then there are people who are sort of angry or rather unhappy about it because I think there is some fair things to be angry or upset about in the games industry. And so I think that sometimes it's hard to see the distinction and sometimes it's easy for people to just take a broad view and say, "Yeah, these people are just being babies." But I think that some of the people complain about are fair things to be unhappy about.

Yeah.

And people need to just learn -- I guess developers and people in general and journalists or other commenters on whatever and people who comment on things I think need learn to separate those two.

You are a little bit younger than me, so your memory picks up later than -- whatever, you know what I mean. Do you remember that always being a part of videogames? Just, not necessarily intrinsic but it always seemed to be part of the culture around videogames?

[Pause.] I know that it in a way it was always there, but I didn't really pay too much attention to it. For awhile -- because I think in the old, and when I say old, I mean days of magazines and stuff like that. You know, when there were fewer outlets of gaming information, like, it was easier to or it was natural to sort of be corralled into a place where you are only interested in the games. What's coming out and stuff like that. and get excited about that and it's gonna be cool. Like, you know, having a subscription to Game Informer or something like that and really, sure, you might read some reviews and some -- a guy might call a game bad or whatever, but for the most part it was reviews, previews, and they had the featured story, but maybe they would have a couple of letters from people saying some stuff and maybe there would be some anger there. But it was never -- or I think that when the internet sort of blew up more than it blew up the first time and then all the press moved onto the internet as a main source and it was so easy to get information and also different opinions about games that I think that's when I started to take notice about it because there were just so many different places and people's opinions and things like that.

I think it ended up having an impact. Because I think when things were a little more segmented then it was easier just to, you know -- it felt like more, I guess, everyone was more isolated in a sense to the rest of the gaming world. You only had a couple of windows in. I think that that maybe hid it, for me. At the same time, I know about the stigma but I don't necessarily -- for a while, I didn't necessarily think it was true. And I guess now it's a little bit more true than I'd like it to be.

Which stigma?

The stigma of gamers being -- or people who like games being angry.

Are you paying attention to games blogs and magazines and podcasts? What does it feel like they're always covering or never covering?

I mean, I don't really get news from big sites because they just don't cover -- now they do a better job of covering smaller projects or indie projects but I just mainly read Rock, Paper, Shotgun, PC Gamer, PCGamesN, and I guess a couple of other places. So I more get the aggregate and more specialized news than any sort of popular news media, and I keep up with it a lot because I'm always on the hunt for something that's interesting and interests me but there just aren't too many things like that.

What do you think is keeping games so narrow?

That's a tough one. I think it's just people, really. I think it all just comes down to people.

[Laughs.] Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It can be both.

This is true.

In the sense that -- let's say that you don't really like some company's business practices. DLC or whatever.

Sure.

So, I guess you could say that one of the problems with that is, you know, there are a lot of people who do buy it and they might have a genuine interest, that's fine, but if you don't like the DLC policy then obviously you're not going to -- there's not much you can do about it. And so, I'm trying to make it neutral, but I guess it doesn't really matter too much what I think. I'm just giving an example.

I think it matters what you think. You don't have to be neutral.

I mean, I'm not a fan of games with very large amounts of DLC. Like, one of the grievous offenders is Payday 2. I wanted to like that game and if you didn't know, they come out with a new DLC like every two weeks or something like that. I don't know if it's still things that you have to pay for but a lot of things were paid for and there was very little content but for some reason they kept on coming out so people must have been buying it or they have an injection of capital of some sort and it kept on getting heavier and heavier and I was like, "Okay, that's cool. I'm just not gonna play anymore because I'm not interested and I don't want to spend anymore money on things that I don't really particularly care about."

So, in that sense, it's like, I'm not necessarily angry at the people who do so, it's just the fact that there is an audience for it. So it's sort of like I'm aware of the sense that what I want is not necessarily going to happen.

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What more would you like to see out of games?

I mean, the big part of it is emotion and I think -- but speaking more on the business side of games becoming less like a stream of revenue and more just a product or a regular product that you put out and you support. Yeah, sure, having extra content and having lots of people to pay for it is fine and dandy but I think maybe there should be a minimum to content per price ratio. One that makes a little more sense, at least, to me.

Typically what people say -- and I'm sure you've seen this online -- is you vote with your wallet. Like, a lot of people sort of feel that the only way you can be heard is whether you buy something or you don't. But if you don't buy something, there will be somebody else who will. And it's not exactly like -- Call of Duty always gets picked on and I'm tired of that. Name for me another really big title that people tend to not pick on. Not Assassin's Creed, but another one.

As I said, Payday 2.

[Laughs.] Okay.

Okay, I'll just give you an example: I'll go to the Steam store right now and I'm going to search. [Pause.] So, okay, Payday 2 is currently $20. Which is not that bad. I paid $60 for it.

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So, what, that's, like, two or three years old, that game?

I think so.

Yeah.

You can get the game of the year edition, which is $50 and comes with 23 extra items of DLC. However, there are 35 available for the game and I believe the newest one is the yakuza character pack. That is $5. Luckily -- oh! Here it is: "add all DLC to cart." It's $106. And that's just the DLC. Plus the game would be only 20, but only a moron would do that. So, you would get $50 and then you would pay off the rest and I'm not gonna do that now.

But basically, as it was coming out -- for example, I paid full price for it and then there were some problems with it that the developers were a little slow to address and that was frustrating in and of itself, but then, all of a sudden they bring out these heists, which are these missions in these games, and these weapon packs that honestly they sounded very interesting -- but that you had to purchase. And that's fine if the game itself wasn't kind of content-hungry to begin with. It didn't really have all that much in the beginning and then, you know, it sort of comes out and you expect a lot more or you expect at least a little bit more bang for your buck. All of a sudden, the things that you wanted to see start coming out but then you have to pay for it. They sort of circumvent that by saying only the host -- because it's a peer-to-peer thing -- needs to have the DLC mission. That doesn't really help if you're playing with random people.

And also, it's that the gear that comes out is legitimately cool.

That's the thing, though: Where is the outlet in a dynamic where you vote with your dollars for you to protest or be heard? It seems like the options are to get really angry or to yell or to make threats or to act entitled. But I never hear of people going to the Brooklyn Bridge and throwing hundreds of copies of Payday 2 into the East River. [Laughs.]
If you really would like to see this stuff change, what is your course to change to be a revolutionary? Because for most people it seems to move on. And there's a revolving door where younger people come in and in time get frustrated with the same thing.

I'm gonna be a little bit pessimistic here and just say that some things you can't change.

Yeah.

So, the way that I came to terms with that was there's just things that I know will keep happening and then I just put out of my mind and I try to find developers that don't do that sort of thing and I try to support them. And at least in my case, you know, "be the change you want to see in the world," so it's like, the more people that see that and that are not happy with it, and then in my opinion the best thing to do is to try to make something that is just as good and prove to people that you don't need those business practices or whatever it is that you're set up with to make it good.

DLC gets talked about a lot and I know you said you were going to get a little pessimistic when we talked. I'll encourage you here to get a lot pessimistic: What are the things you've given up on ever changing around videogames? You just sort of accept these things you don't care for as realities.

[Pause.] You know, there's just a lot of things that I'm not gonna be interested in. There's gonna be a lot of things that are gonna be played for two weeks by a large majority of people and then are gonna die out and have a small community if it's lucky.

That happens a lot on PC, especially. On consoles it's a bit harder, but on PC it happens a lot. There's what I call a "game of the week" syndrome where a new multiplayer game comes out and it's like, "Oh yeah, everybody, let's go check it out." And then you play it for two weeks and then another one comes out and everyone's like, "Hey guys, let's try this one out." And everyone just forgets about it.

[Laughs.] I'm laughing because a friend of mine last week used the phrase "game of the day." So you are at least seven times as optimistic as he is.

I guess.

[Laughs.]

I sort of use "game of the week" because that's what I've seen. It's a week, maybe two, maybe a month if you're lucky. So I definitely -- it's not that I don't agree with that guy, but that's just what I've seen. So, there's that.

I guess, like, maybe the fact that certain developers are not gonna handle things in a way that a lot of people feel is gonna make sense. And that, of course, is subjective.

Yeah. How do you mean?

I just mean, like, there's just maybe a handful of -- or I always expect that if I really like a game there might be a chance that a developer will implement something that not a lot of people like or maybe it's not handled well or it's not developed properly, etc., etc. And it's not gonna be fixed in any way that a certain amount of people -- maybe myself, maybe not -- will like. So, I just sort of accept that and when I see that happening I stay along for the ride and I see how it goes and then if it ends up not really being fixed in a way that I feel would have been -- if it's not fixed, or the fix is sort of, "Eh," in my mind then I'm just like, okay, I'll keep my hopes up and after a few strikes more than three usually because I'm pretty forgiving I just say, "Okay. That's that. It was pretty fun but I'll just move on.”

So you pretty much think the industry won't change?

I think that as a whole -- I mean, I guess I'm gonna say the distinction of when I say "the industry" I think of mainly AAA titles and --

That's typically the way I mean it.

-- but, for example, there are a lot of what I consider AA or A studios that are making games that are really great and that seem to be enjoying a lot at the same time. There are some studios that come out with things and they totally fuck it up. So, I think that at least in those spheres I have more hope. In AAA development, I just feel like it's sort of gotten big enough to be self-sustaining for the most part in terms of the things that I'm not really a fan of.

Yeah.

In the sense that there will always be an audience for what they want. So, I mean, there's a reason why there's a Call of Duty game every two years. And it's not necessarily because everyone is a moron or there's no creativity in the industry. It's just that people buy it. It's not really that complicated.

Yeah.

Or, you know, there'll be a rebirth of a franchise and why does that happen? It's because it's a safe bet. Sort of a safer bet than trying to come up with a new IP and things like that. So, in terms of the industry, I think if there is change it's gonna be slow because there's an audience for it. I can't really be mad at that.

Yeah.

I'm disappointed, I guess, is the word that I'd use. And sometimes I might get mad about it, but it's not really something that I feel like is too concerning to me.

You said that before you die you want to contribute something to the gaming landscape. Can you tell me a little bit about how despite your feeling resigned to certain things and conflicted about others that you still want to be a part of it and contribute something to it?

Because despite all of my pessimism, I do really like games. I do think -- I think that they're very unique in terms of the fact that you can live out experiences that you have only imagined or played through experiences that you could have never imagined. I feel like they have the possibility to make you feel certain emotions through your own doing rather than it being forced upon you because I think that that's the glory of interactivity. And, you know, just in general, I don't think that there's a medium or anything that is dead or won't have some sort of development in it. You just have to look for it in the right places. If you look hard enough, you'll find something that you like. And if you don't see enough of what you like, then you go out and create what you like.

And that's the same in music and that's the same in visual arts, movies.

Business.

Business. Etc., etc.

Everything.

Yeah. So I think that games fall under the same thing.

What do you think videogames have accomplished?

[Pause.] Nothin', cause they're shit.

[Laughs.]

No.

Some people might say that to me here.

Maybe. But I don't think so.

[Laughs.] Yeah.

I think that in general -- well, first, there's the obvious, which is sort of like the technological feats that they've shown. Games can be extremely graphically impressive and can have better-looking effects and things like than movies or whatever. I'm not really if I explained that right.

But then there's also the other thing that it's a very unique way of transmitting a story and there are stories or games that have done that wonderfully, like, circling back to RPGs, I think. Planescape: Torment, its story is so large and wide and has so many choices for you to make that actually have a sort of impact on the game. There's a lot of emotions and questions that it tries to -- well, there's a lot of emotions that it expresses and there are a lot of questions that it asks that are philosophical in a way. Some people will say "not really," but that's the way that I feel about it.

Insert

And so I think that -- and then there's the obvious point that there are things that are entertaining. They bring people together and they provide an outlet to learn a skill, even if it's just for that game. People have derived pleasure from being competitive at them. They will derive pleasure from breaking the game and modding it. There's just so many things that games have done that I think people never would have imagined.

And I think that that's really it. It accomplished just being more than a toy or a well-designed toy and it's now something that you can do so many different things with it. It's sort of hard for me really pinpoint it and try to say what I'm trying to say or try to get at.

I guess what I'm saying is that you can look at the history of videogames and what they've accomplished is obvious.

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