Playing Pinball @ Free Gold Watch with Tony Urso

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A few months back, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years. I asked him what games he’d been playing recently. He replied, “Well, nothing on consoles. What I’m really into now is pinball.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time, and maybe it was just the power of suggestion, but I began noticing more and more pinball all around me – a few pics on Instagram, a couple of errant tweets, pinball in the background of a sitcom, the suggestion of pinball as deviant behavior in Anatomy of a Murder. A surprising number of pinball references were accumulating in my daily life. How? Why?

Then one day, I was sifting through the Facebooks and noticed a post from a former colleague about Free Gold Watch, a combination print shop and pinball arcade here in San Francisco. Turned out he’d been working there for a while and was part of their pinball league.

I had to know more. Here’s his story…

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Hip Hop Gamer & the Woman Who Introduced Him to Games

Over the last year, we’ve seen a lot of talk (and controversy) around women and video games, as though their presence in the industry or even as consumers is something new and notable. It’s hopefully no surprise that women have been playing – and making – games for about as long as they’ve been commercially available, introducing many of today’s current gamers to what has become their lifelong passion. One such gamer is games journalist Gerard “HipHopGamer” Williams, whose grandmother played a pivotal role in creating the man, the gamer, and the brand that Gerard is today.

HipHopGamer was kind enough to chat with me about his grandmother, her influence, and his advice to anyone interested in finding and pursuing their passions.


I’ve heard you talk about your grandmother a bit before – how passionate she was about games, how influential she was to your own passion for games – could you give a little background on her? What kind of woman was she?

My grandmother was an amazing woman, man. She was very talented. She played the piano. She sang. And, obviously, she played video games. I’m basically a product of that. You know what I’m saying?

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Road Not Taken, Part 2: An Interview with Spry Fox’s Daniel Cook

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Last week, I spoke with Spry Fox CEO David Edery about his twisty, turn-y, 7-year journey to his first job in the games industry. This week, I have the good fortune to chat with David’s colleague and Spry Fox CCO Daniel Cook about his own path into games. I have to say, these guys give fantastic interviews. The advice they give for those hoping to break into the games industry (or take another road less travelled) is pretty terrific. Bonus: behind the cut there is a gif of a goat pooping. – Marie


Howdy, Danc! For those who don’t know you, could you provide a little background?

I’m Daniel Cook. I’m a game designer. I’ve been doing this for 18 or 19 years now. I’ve worked on games like Triple Town and Realm of the Mad God and SteamBirds. I got my start way back in the day on a game called Tyrian with a company called Epic MegaGames (which is no longer mega, apparently). I focus a lot on systems design, efficient design.  I run a website called Lost Garden that has all sorts of game design essays. That’s the basics of who I am.

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Talking to a Cactus (Q&A with Jonatan Söderström)

Experimental game developer, co-creator of Hotline Miami, and all-around really cool guy Jonatan “Cactus” Söderström was kind enough to let me ask him a bunch of questions. Here are his awesome responses.


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Hi, Cactus! Could you say a little bit about yourself for those who don’t know you?

My name is Jonatan Söderström, I’m 28 and have been making games for ten years. At first I focused on short freeware projects, and managed to create around fifty games. Now I’m mostly working on bigger projects together with Dennis Wedin via our “studio” Dennaton.

What’s your earliest memory of video games? 

My earliest memory of games is my dad suggesting that he’d buy us a NES for christmas. I was around four-five I think and I had no idea what a video game was, I thought it was something like a flipper game and found it very uninteresting until I actually got it. At first we only had Super Mario and I really liked it. I started drawing my own games on pieces of paper and cut out characters that could move around on the worlds I had drawn.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had playing a game?

That’s a hard one. I was really absorbed by Half-Life the first time I played it. I remember buying it because it had all these press quotes on the box saying it was a great game, but I wasn’t really very excited about it. I usually played darker (and a lot more mindless) games like Blood 2 and Requiem Avenging Angel. Long story short, I was blown away by the seamless storytelling, the AI and generally the mature handling of it all. So, either that or playing the old Lucas Arts adventure games with my friends and family.

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My New Project: Gamer Stories

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I’m launching a new personal project! It’s a sort of anthology of gamer stories amassed through interviews with gamers inside the industry and out. I’d like to explore how video games and gamer culture have shaped individual lives, for better or worse.

If you’re a gamer and have a story to tell, I would love to interview you!  We can chat via email, IM, Skype or even in person – whatever works for you. Please feel free to get in touch via this handy little contact form:

Follow the progress of this little project here on my blog or on my official Facebook page.

 

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