The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 11
This is the
second episode of Staff Herding, a fairly new series modeled after Member
Herding where I select a staff member (at least one who agrees to participate
in the feature) and ask them a number of questions before buttoning up the
finished product in a nice tidy little blog. Those members familiar with the
Member Herding series will be familiar with the format used here, but if this
is your first time reading a blog of this kind, it's best summarized as an
interview of sorts with unique questions specifically tailored to the person
being interviewed and often including a few random bonus questions that have
nothing to do with video games.
Before I get
to the interview I would like to extend my personal thanks to Ben Reeves for
agreeing to participate in this project. I had the opportunity to exchange a
few emails with Ben while he was filling in during JeffM's vacation; Ben helped
me out with Blog Herding. He graciously agreed to do this and the rest is
history. So, thank you, Ben...for taking time out of your busy day to answer the
questions with your charismatic and cheery personality. Game Informer has the
most interactive staff I have ever experienced and it's easy to forget just how
busy they are, but with contributions like this, it just reaffirms how
committed they are to the community.
One other item
I would like to note is my interview is more focused on Ben Reeves the Gamer,
not Ben Reeves the Game Informer employee. I'm sure the staff gets inundated
with questions like, "How amazing is it to work at Game Informer?" or "Why did
you give Darksiders II a 9.0 instead of a 9.25?" - I didn't dwell on those types
of questions so if that's what you're expecting, I hope you're not
Member Herding typically features 5 questions + 2 bonus questions, but given
the significance of having this unique opportunity, Staff Herding features 10
questions (some are multipart) + 2 bonus questions. It's much longer than
Member Herding and therefore will be sectioned into two parts.
Game Informer Staff Member: Ben Reeves
GIO Rank: Veteran Member - Level 13
IDK, I'm 32, and I've probably been playing since I was five (maybe before), so
I'll say 27 years.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Currently Playing: Borderlands 2, Assassin's
Creed III, Far Cry 3, Dishonored (maybe if I played them one at a time, I'd
beat them faster)
1. I'm always
pleased when I find a fellow gamer who remembers the Commodore 64. Did you have
the tape drive and 2400-baud modem to go along with it? Did you just use a
joystick from an Atari 2600, or did you have a legit C64 joystick? Some of my
favorite games include Raid On Bungeling Bay, Raid Over Moscow, and Telengard.
Ever play any of those? Do you think you could still type the keyboard commands
to load a game? Is gaming better, worse or about the same now as it was back
then? Of the consoles you've played, which one do you think had the biggest
impact on shaping the video game industry? I presume you plan to purchase the
Wii U and whatever Microsoft and Sony put out, but which are you most excited
for? Do you think the lifespan of consoles is getting longer or shorter?
I don't remember our Commodore that well. One of my parent's friends gave the
system and their collection of games to us one year, but I don't know anything
about the specifics of the system. I don't even know whatever happened to it. I
was obsessed with the thing for a while, but then I noticed that the NES all my
friends were playing seemed so much cooler and our Commodore felt pretty
archaic. I had system envy. Always have :) Anyway, I remember playing this
Pac-Man rip off a lot. We probably had like 15 games, but that was the one I
remember the most. I think we had Raid On Bungeling Bay too, and one of my
neighbor friends was really excited about it. He tried to show it to me, but I
just wasn't interested. I think I was too young.
[Saint: Ah, I
might've been a little overambitious with that question, but I usually get
excited when I find a fellow gamer that remembers the Commodore 64. It was
certainly one of my first systems that helped shape the gamer I am today. Like
you though, once the Nintendo came along, it was pretty much game over for my
PC gaming days until a few years later when I made the leap back into PC gaming
with the Amiga 500 and that whole x86 Intel chip era leading up to the Pentium.
System Envy, eh? I
think that's contagious, but the good news is it's curable.]
experts (mostly) agree there are seven basic emotions: Anger, Contempt, Fear,
Disgust, Happiness, Sadness and Surprise. Name a different game that has made
you feel each of these emotions. Is there one game that made you feel all of
Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Contempt: Manhunt, Fear: Silent Hill 2, Disgust: Dead
Space 2, Happy: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Sad: Shadow of the Colossus,
Surprise: Metal Gear Solid. I don't think there is a game that made me feel all
of them, but Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus probably came close.
[Saint: I have to
admit I'm a bit surprised with a few of your responses like anger and Super
Smash Bros. Brawl. I have to wonder if that's at the game itself or your human
opponents, heh heh. I've definitely had a few of those moments in Soul Calibur,
so I can relate. And I have yet to play Shadow of the Colossus despite hearing
overwhelmingly positive comments about it. If it made you feel this range of
emotion, consider me intrigued. I'll bump it up on my list of games to get.]
3. You seem to
travel a lot and have had the opportunity to visit plenty of cool and
interesting places, like your recent trip to Japan. What's the neatest place
(video game and non-video game related) you have ever been and why? Which
developer or publisher had the coolest office? I had the opportunity to visit
the Smithsonian Art Institute's -The Art of the Game exhibit which you wrote an
article on. How would you characterize the exhibit and did you think it was
missing any particular system or game?
tough to pick the coolest place I've ever been. Japan definitely ranks, but I'd
say I really liked London. I remember sitting in a pub and realizing that that
establishment was older than my country. That was mind-blowing. Game wise:
Valve has some really cool offices and Bungie's old office was really cool too.
liked the Smithsonian Art Institute's exhibit, but it felt like more of a fan
show, because all the games were voted on. They had a great setup, but I would
have liked to see more history about each game. I think they should have
focused a little more on why each game was an important artistic expression. I
think they were trying to be a little too fair: the Sega Saturn got just as
much coverage as the PS2 and SNES; it just seemed a little odd.
[Saint: I have a
brother that lives just outside of London and I can remember visiting him and
thinking the same thing about the age of everything. We toured a castle known
for having the largest wooden gate still in existence - and it was built in the
express the level of jealousy I am feeling when I imagine you visiting Valve's
headquarters, but I guess I can make peace with it knowing my favorite
developer ranks up there as having some of the coolest offices. I'd expect
nothing less from them, heh heh.
You make a great
point about the Smithsonian Art Institute's video game exhibit that I never
really considered. All of the games and their associated systems were pretty
much represented equally when clearly a few of the featured games and systems
had much more impact than others. I can only imagine the level of pain it
would've taken trying to sort them though.]
4. Congratulations! You are a published author who
penned Kill Screen, a suspenseful novel "that explores the concepts of death,
personal forgiveness, and the social issues surrounding our ever-advancing
technological culture." What was that experience like and can we expect more
novels from you? The title is genius. For those that don't know, a Kill Screen
is normally associated with older arcade games and is a point in a video game where
it will always crash or freeze, usually because the developers didn't expect
the player to make it any further or because of hardware limitations (buffer
overflow). What's the story behind the title? Did you collaborate with any of
your coworkers on the story and are any of their personalities represented in
I certainly enjoyed writing the book, and I'd love to write another. I've
jotted down a few ideas, but it might be a while before I have another
completed work. It takes a while when you're only writing on the evening and
weekends. As far as the title goes, its working title was Evi for a long time. It makes sense once you read the book, but I
didn't think it would grab people who didn't know anything about the book, so I
actually changed the name after it was written. I tried about a dozen different
titles including Anatomy of a Machine,
but ultimately I didn't like anything as much as Kill Screen. Looking back, I wish I had worked a better reference
to the title into the book, but it's also kind of a cool title even if you
don't know what it means.
didn't actually tell the rest of the GI staff that I was working on a book
until I was ready to publish. Maybe I should have told them sooner, but I
didn't want anyone asking me about it all the time. I think Tim and Adam might
be the only fellow editors who have actually read my book. Everyone probably
thinks it's as stupid as half the other stuff I write on the site. It's
actually a pretty serious book, which some people don't expect from me.
his book here.)
[Saint: Well, I think the title is brilliant and
was kind of surprised it hadn't already been used yet. Kill Screen is one of
those relic expressions, kind of like the Konami code, that future generations
of gamers will forget if we don't keep it alive. It was cool to see a kill
screen in the post credits of Wreck It Ralph. That had to be a hard secret to
keep (authoring a book) from your co-workers, but it's kind of admirable you
approached it discreetly instead of using your workplace connections to get it
done. I've read some great reviews for your book so I doubt it's stupid.
Besides, you have a huge fan club of followers who love your contributions to
the magazine and website.]
5. In the 1982 film Tron starring Jeff Bridges, the
main character is beamed into a mainframe computer while he searches for the
evidence he needs back in the physical world to prove his boss stole some of
his work. The movie shares an arcade game of the same name. What was your
favorite event from the Tron game - light cycles, tanks, I/O Tower (spiders) or
MCP Cone? If you could be beamed into any video game, what game would it be and
cycles for sure, but my brother and I would toss Frisbees back and forth
pretending they were those crazy discs all the time when we were kids. That
movie was so cool when I was young; it seems kind of ridiculous now, though. If
I could be in a game I'd love to visit Panzer Dragoon, because everything in
the game always looked cool, and it would be sweet to ride on a dragon.
[Saint: That's a great reflection from your
childhood about playing Frisbee with your brother and I appreciate you sharing
it with us. I think most people favored the light cycles and the movie really
was cool, but I refuse to watch it whenever I see it being replayed because I'm
afraid it will tarnish my image of it. I dumped some quarters into Tron at the
local arcade back in the day, that's for sure. It's one of my favorite games
from the past. Panzer Dragoon sounds like an old WWII game, but your mention of
dragons caused me to look it up. Sounds like we could use a remake or a sequel
built on current generation technology.]
sure to check back tomorrow for the rest of the interview and see how Ben
answers the following question:
Do you have a
zombie emergency response plan at work, and if so, what are your immediate
actions? (If not, what do you think you are best suited to do?)
Good interview. You seemed a little excited to be talking to a gamer of a similar generation ;)
Ben is one of my more preferred editors of the site. His editing features are cool, and his contained wacky personality helps me relate to him.
Cool stuff. I always see the crazy side of Ben here on GIO, so it's nice to be able to see his more "normal" side. I will be looking forward to the rest of this tomorrow.
Awesome blog Saint, and thank you to Ben and the rest of the GIO staff for letting you pry and divulge. Helps establish and maintain the sense of connection that any good community needs. Keep up the good work you two.
Great interview Saint. I had forgotten that Ben wrote a book. I will have to check that out soon. I loved his responses for the emotions question. I have to say the game that made me feel all of those was Metal Gear Solid 4. That game pulled on all the heartstrings. I never knew he liked to travel so much! Can't wait to see part two.
Reeves! Its always good to see Ben take a serious side. He has the soul of a poet;)
And you're right about the modern world needing a Dragoon sequel. I'm not sure it'll ever happen though....
For crying out loud, now I need to add another book to my to-read list.
I enjoy Ben's work, so I am looking forward to the second half of this!
Good blog. Plus, it has Sir Overlord Reeves in it.
Valve has the coolest office? Hmm... sounds like a nice place to be, and they make awesome games. That's going on my list of dream jobs.
This was a great read. I'm going to have to check out that book now lol.
Thanks for the interesting look into Ben Reeves, the gamer. Its always interesting to see who will be featured in both the Member Herding & Staff Herding blogs.
Well done sirs.
Ben's book was very good, I'm kind of sad his serious book didn't get read as much by the other editors going by his words. It deserves a read everyone.