Ding. You've got Member Herding. Yup, it's back. I know it's been a few weeks or so. Trust me, it hasn't been because there's been a shortage of potential candidates - there are plenty of those around. It's just been a busy couple of weeks. But you're not here to read my drama, you're here to meet and greet the newest member of the herd. For his hard work and commitment to the community and for tackling the difficult chore of making a difference in the user review section of Game Informer, the newest member to the herd is none other than...

GIO Name: Samurai Zero

GIO Rank: Power Member - Level 10

Gaming Experience (Years playing): Going on 20 years. Since I was 3.

Last Game Completed: Dark Souls

Currently Playing: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Origin of GIO Profile Name: It's simple really. I've always been very interested in feudal Japanese history (Sengoku Period, Warring States) which is where Samurai comes in. As far as Zero goes, it's derived from my favorite character from the Mega Man X games. I was in the middle of playing as Zero when I was thinking of a name for my GIO profile. Then this highly uncreative name popped into my head: Samurai Zero.

And now for everybody's favorite element of Member Herding...the questions.

Five Randomly Generated Questions + 4 Bonus questions + 1 Special question

1. Your profile indicates your PSN name is sotcninja and your Xbox Live name is RagingKageKaze - clearly two totally unique and dissimilar names (especially since your GIO name is Samurai Zero). What's the story behind your online names? What's your favorite feature of Xbox Live, PSN? Least favorite feature? How do you decide which system to buy a game for?

My PSN name is pretty uncomplicated. SOTC is an acronym for my favorite game of all time, Shadow of the Colossus. Ninja is...well...I like feudal Japan, remember. Ninjas are cool. Overused? Yes. Cool? Yes, still. My Xbox Live name is a little more...nerdy. Kaze Kage is a title of a powerful ninja in the anime Naruto. It means Wind Shadow. I flipped it to Kage Kaze (Shadow Wind) and slapped Raging in front of it. You take what you can when all the good names are taken. I plan on changing it to sotcninja soon.

My favorite features for the online services are the ability to download great games, both new and old, to my systems. I don't play online very much (can't really afford Xbox Live Gold at the moment), so I can't really comment on the online play features. Since I don't play online much, I don't really have a least favorite feature. I really like both and feel they both accomplish exactly what I need them for.

How do I decide which system to buy a game for? Well, I usually buy them for the PS3 unless they are an Xbox exclusive. They just seem to run better (smoother, faster). I won't pretend to know hardly anything about hardware and specs of systems. I was an English Major in college and I'm a writer, not a tech person.

[SAINT: Hah. I know what you mean about good names being taken. There are a handful of other "saints" or variants of the name out there. In fact, just a day or so ago I was playing Team Fortress 2 and someone asked me, "Is this Saint from GIO?" I was kind of shocked; first time that has happened. I'm a gamer and I don't even get too wrapped up in hardware specs; maybe for PC, but not the consoles. I do think the graphics on PS3 are better than Xbox 360...but hands down I think Xbox Live is better than PSN.]

2. Having posted a number of user reviews at Game Informer, you are easily one of the best. What are your thoughts on reviewing games? Is a user review as beneficial or comparable to an official review? Should each game be evaluated on its own merits or compared to other similarly themed games? Do scores matter or is it just an arbitrary number? Is it possible to think a game is great but not like it? Does reviewing games allow you to enjoy the game more, less or no impact?

Well, thank you for the praise. I feel that the user reviews are almost as important as the official reviews (obviously, the site doesn't "need" the user reviews like they need the staff reviews), because they offer several views on the same game; different perspectives and play styles, along with different methods of writing the review itself. In reading several reviews that show, not only different experiences playing the game, but also different ways of writing, a person can get a better "look" at the game in question.

I believe it is important to compare games to others, such as ones of the same genre or to a predecessor. However, I believe it is more important to judge it on its own merits. Both can be core for a review, but people must also remember that a game, though maybe a sequel or part of a bigger genre, is a singular project in its own right.

As far as scores go, it has always bugged me how much readers focus on the score rather than the review. You see it all the time; people complaining about the score that was given more than the words written (didn't mean to rhyme that). As a writer, I would rather be judged on my writing than my ability to give a numerical evaluation of such a huge project as a video game. I think scores matter, as they are good if someone just wants a quick look at how a game is rated. However, I think the review itself is what people should pay more attention too. More work went into the words, so you'll find more meaning and information in them.

It is certainly possible to see how a game is considered great, but not be fond of it. I definitely see how Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2 are great games, but I don't really enjoy them that much. Same with Halo: Combat Evolved. I never really had a blast playing Halo, but I saw how it revolutionized online play and how it was a great step in first-person shooters. Just because you may not get much enjoyment from a game doesn't mean you can't see it for what it's worth.

Reviewing games causes me to both enjoy a game more, and have less of a great time. Sound weird? Let me explain. When I review a game, I analyze it a lot more than I would if I wasn't reviewing it (although, since I review a lot, I find myself doing this all the time now. Looks like I've been cursed as a reviewer). This allows me to get a lot more from my play through. However, I also see flaws that I might miss if I wasn't putting the game under a microscope. Overall, I like how I view games as a reviewer. I feel like I'm able to have better conversations and debates with my friends when I look at them this way.

[SAINT: Completely agree with your outlook and philosophy on reviews. I love the Game Informer staff as much as the next guy, but honestly, user reviews from established users who have proven their ability of producing exceptional reviews (guys like you)...I put just as much weight in those reviews and sometimes even more. The professional reviewers have deadlines and play so many different games, I often wonder if this impacts the ability to provide an impartial review. As with any industry, it's best to gather your intel from a number of different sources and make an educated assessment based on the totality of what you've read; not just a single source document. There are some great user reviewers like you and Craigaleg...and I put a lot of weight in your reviews. We've got a lot of work to do with the user review section of the site, but we're making progress. I enjoy doing reviews myself, not as much as blogging of course, but I do enjoy my process. I take a lot of notes during the game and then when it's done and over...reflecting on those notes reminds me of the experience.]

3. You do a fair amount of writing external to Game Informer, and according to your profile, you're also an avid fan of comics, anime, manga, film and literature. What's your idea of a dream job? Do you think video game journalism is all it's cracked up to be? What makes the Game Informer community better/worse than other video game communities? If you could change one thing about Game Informer, what would it be?

Due to my love of both video games and writing, my dream job would be a professional video game journalist, specifically, one at Game Informer (I hope they don't see this as me begging for a job...unless it works). I think video game journalism would be not only the most enjoyable career for me, but also the one where I would get to discuss, debate, and just have friendly chats about my favorite form of entertainment. I would get to see the evolution of the industry over the years and not only write about it, but experience it firsthand. Sadly, I think that the job isn't what most people think it's cracked up to be. I believe most think it's just reviewing and playing the latest game, and forget about the hard journalism part that goes into it. However, as stated above, I believe I'd love every second of it.

What I think makes Game Informer's community better than most is the community itself. On most sites, all I see is a bunch of arguing, trolling, fanboy ranting, etc. Game Informer isn't above having its fair share of this in comments and reviews, but more often I see people who are accepting of others' ways of thinking. I see people making friendly jokes and no one taking them the wrong way, readers making positive comments on articles features and others' comments, etc. It just seems that the people in the GI community are more open than on other sites. I honestly couldn't think of anything I would change about Game Informer. They make my experience a pretty good one, and I believe it is like this for many others as well.

[SAINT: Yup! All great points. I would add that the official staff of Game Informer is far more engaged with the community than any other place I've seen. Personally, I don't talk to too many of the staff members on any sort of regular basis, but I follow people on Twitter, and I do follow most of the GI editors on Twitter, so I see a lot of the discussions that occur between the user community and the staff. It's surprising their level of involvement and interest with the community. I won't babble too much, because I already peeked and looked at the question you ask me towards the end...and I don't want to spoil it, but yes...I'd have to agree with you on all counts.]

4. You gave Skyrim a near perfect score in your review of the game. Now that the game has been out a while, more glitches are starting to turn up. Does this hurt the overall image of the game or is it great enough to overcome these minor flaws? What do you like most about the game; the least? Describe your character to us and your first dragon encounter. Is Skyrim the Game of the Year?

I've been spending near all my time delving into Skyrim, so I've seen my fair share of its bugs and glitches. They are abundant, for sure. However, I think it shows what a great game Skyrim is to have all these problems and still be one of the most fun games I have played in years. Yes, they are a problem, but I don't really think they take away from the overall game. They need to be patched, but I can enjoy the game to no end until then. However, I believe that if Bethesda keeps this habit of shipping games with so many bugs, it may hurt their reputations a bit.

My favorite part of the game is the leveling up, the skills and perks. It really feels like you own that character and you've created the one you truly wanted, and it becomes more and more apparent as you level. My least favorite part of Skyrim is fact that I can't block while dual wielding. I have two swords, so I believe that would give me more opportunities to block. It makes it difficult to fight effectively, unless I kill them with sneak attacks or have some tough armor. Hopefully they will fix this in the next one.

I have 3 characters right now: A dual wielding warrior with heavy armor; a paladin like character with heavy armor, a shield, mace, and destruction and healing magic; and an assassin, stealthy and uses a dagger and sword. My first dragon encounter was with my warrior. I first encountered my first random dragon atop a snowy peak. I was on my way to an objective when the creature swooped down and starting raining fire on me. I found a large stone I could duck behind when it landed. I hit it with my bow when I took to the sky and ran around trying to avoid its flames. I used a combo of magic and sword strikes when it was on the ground and, after many near deaths, finally killed him. I loved it.

I do think Skyrim is worthy of Game of the Year. It is one of the most fun games I've played and it really immerses you not only in the story, but into your character as well.

[SAINT: Although I don't play Skyrim, I'm still enamored by it as it reminds me a lot of one of my favorite book series growing up - The Dragonlance Chronicles. I'll never forget the honorable and zealous Sturm Brightblade holding his ground on a battlement and facing a dragon head on. I predicted Skyrim as Game of the Year months ago, long before it was released (not that others didn't or that it wasn't an obvious choice) and I stand behind that - it's not my personal pick, but it is my industry pick.]

5. Most gamers agree that Super Mario RPG is a fantastic game. The main characters from the player perspective are Mario, Mallow, Geno, Bowser, and Princess Toadstool. Rate these characters from favorite to least favorite and give us a brief character profile of each. Some say the Paper Mario and the Mario & Luigi series are "thematic and spiritual sequels" but really there isn't an official sequel to Mario RPG. Do you think there is room for one, and will we ever see it?

#1-Geno: The cool doll from Star Road who's here to put it back together.  #2-Mario: The silent plumber/protagonist who will stop the bad guys and save his friends. #3-Toadstool: The princess of the mushroom kingdom. She can basically keep everyone alive, and if not, she will bring you back to life. A must in any fight. #4-Bowser: The former villain, now reluctant hero. #5-Mallow: The prince from the sky who thinks he's a frog. He really wants to help Mario and his magical abilities come in handy.

As a huge fan, I believe there is definitely room for a true sequel, but I don't see it coming soon. I think it has the potential to be great, especially with all the new things in video games today. Maybe someday we will get it, hopefully.

[SAINT: Hopefully indeed. I'm surprised as popular as the game is/was, it's taken this long and still nothing. None of the follow on Mario games, the Paper Mario's and such, ever really had the same magical appeal that Mario RPG had. A shame really. It was an RPG I actually played and liked. Agree with Geno as number 1. Ah, memories.]

Bonus Question #1: Drym Shyuan asks, "If you were given the resources, people and time to design your own video game convention (like BlizzCon, GamesCon, E3), what would it look like, where it would take place, what could one see/do/hear there and what would it be called?"

Hmmm. I'm probably not the right person to put one of these conventions together. I guess it would be called...PlayCon. I'd hold it in Oklahoma or Kansas. I know that sounds weird, but I would have it there so it would be accessible to most of the country, being within the central U.S. My convention would center completely around playable games. If you don't have some form of playability in what you're showing, then you can't present. The other conventions can do the announcements with no demos or playability. Mine is strictly so the fans can come and experience firsthand. It would have the companies up on stage showcasing there games, like most conventions, but if you have just videos then they have to have mostly game play footage. The whole convention center would be lined with booths for playing the games; right as you walk in, by the bathroom, all along the walls, everywhere. This way, everyone gets to play more. I'm sure I'd make it look like most of the other conventions: pretty lights and colors everywhere. Probably sounds lame and/or childish, but I'd go.

[SAINT: Hah...interesting question by Drym. Um, I'm not sure how appropriate this is (so I probably shouldn't say it but will anyway) but the other night on The Talking Dead (the talk show that specifically talks about The Walking Dead) the host used the term "Nerdgasm" - which you can probably deduce what that means. SO, I'm thinking a convention inspired by that would be cool. I like your idea of locating it in the center of the USA so the East / West coast split the travel difference. It would be a culmination of E3, Comic Con and Star Wars, gotta have Star Wars. No Star Trek though. You would be able to play video games, buy/sell/trade (steal...I'm joking I'm joking, see yesterday's blog) comic books and of course...have light saber duels. Oh yes, COSPLAY would be required too! If Nerdgasm is too inappropriate, then maybe Nerdfest or Nerdstock.]

Bonus Question #2: Drym Shyuan asks, "You are approached by a wish granter, who allows you to wish for anything you might ever want (unrealistic included). The only "but" is that you have to live with an opposite of yourself, like an evil twin, for one year. With mundane means, avoiding your evil twin would prove to be hard and getting rid of him/her impossible. Will you decline the offer or accept it. In any case, explain your choice and if you accept, how are you going to avoid your evil twin?"

I would accept the terms. I would avoid him by simply making sure that my favorite things are always around; anime, comics, books, video games. If he is truly my "opposite," then what I really like should repulse him. Chances are he would never want to be in the same room with me. I'd make sure to always be playing/watching/reading something he would surely hate.

[SAINT: I learned a long time ago in the old pen and paper RPGs, wish granting is a very volatile situation for those brave enough to partake in making wishes. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. I think I would decline the offer. Too many opportunities for something to go wrong and I prefer living life by the seat of the pants.]

Bonus Question #3: Saint asks (courtesy of Big Bang Theory), "If you were a robot and you didn't know, but I knew, would you want me to tell you?" (Explain your answer)

I would definitely want you to tell me. I would hate to find out later on in life that I have been living this lie forever. I would want to know as soon as possible so I could deal with it. The longer I waited to find out, the harder the truth would be.

[SAINT: Samurai Zero...I have...some...news. Please sit down. Take a deep breath. You're really a robot. Hah. Yeah, so this is the classic Blade Runner scenario. I think if I don't know, I'm wondering how this revelation would affect my logic circuits. If you can prove it conclusively, then would I really care? Would I have any feelings or emotions at that point? I'd say go ahead and tell me the truth, and let the pieces fall where they may. If I'm a robot though, I hope I'm like the T-1000 and not a T-800. That's so last year's model.]

Bonus Question #4: Saint asks, "Of the recent comic book inspired movies released in the last ten years, which is your favorite and why?"

I would have to say X-Men: First Class. X-Men aren't even on my top five list of favorite comics (I like them, just not as much as others), but the latest movie was one of the best I have ever seen. Most comic book movies would have me enjoying them, but noticing when they strayed from the story or comic book's canon, and it would bug me a little. I would still enjoy it, but it would urk me just a bit. However, with X-Men: First Class, I didn't even care that they totally jacked up the canon. It was still a great movie. Faithful or not, I enjoyed it more than any other.

[SAINT: NO YOU'RE WRONG! Hah, just kidding. Mine is kind of a tossup between Iron Man and Punisher Warzone. Odd, that I don't like my comic book heroes actually having super hero powers, I more like the comic book heroes that are real people. In the height of my comic book collecting, anything Punisher was my must have series...and the first attempts at a Punisher movie were not all that good, but I did enjoy the Warzone. Iron Man, though...was just an amazingly awesome movie that I've watched several times over now. Something about it I just like.]

Ask Me A Question And I Might Just Answer It

Samurai Zero asks, "What is your favorite part about the Game Informer community? You are, without a doubt, one of the most supporting and active members, so what is it about the community that makes you want to work so hard for it?"

 [SAINT: Great questions. But you only get one, so which one do you want me to answer? Nah, I'm just kidding. I'll answer them both. Question number one is kind of a trick question because my favorite part of me Informer IS the community; but the question is, what is my favorite part about the GI community, to which I'd answer...the camaraderie. Camaraderie is a big buzz word in the military and is defined as, "a spirit of friendly good-fellowship." I think that accurately describes the chemistry we have at Game Informer amongst the majority of the members. Sure, there are exceptions...but for the most part everyone here exhibits camaraderie, which is really uncharacteristic for a community of this size. As far as what makes me want to work hard for the community, I don't know that I work all that hard. I'm my biggest critic and take pride in my work regardless of what I'm working on, so I think it just naturally translates over to the products I deliver at GI. I enjoy what I do and for the most part, it comes natural, so while it does take a certain amount of time and effort, it doesn't feel like a burden. Certainly the feedback and support I receive from the community inspires me to want to continue contributing, but even back when I was the new guy and didn't get any attention I still would like to think I was posting quality material.]

Saint asks, "Hey Samurai Zero, I  have a proposition for you...interested? Send me a message."

A special thanks to Samurai Zero for spending some time with us while divulging a few details about his gaming personality. To read more about Samurai Zero, view his GIO profile here.