Jake's Story - Games and Future Careers

Written By: Danny Lebire

Interview By: Lindsey Bacigal

Not so long ago, video games were recognized as the official 10th art as the craft and work behind them garnered greater respect in the mainstream. There remain, however, a number of prejudices about the gaming community, both developers and gamers alike. Our interviewee talks about how his passion for gaming entered his life, influenced his academic path and his career choices, and shaped his views of the world and himself. The discussion opens the door to the many faces of gamers, developers, and players, showcasing the benefits that gaming has had on so many of us.

DO A BARREL ROLL

When would you say that you first start gaming?

INTERVIWEE

The earliest… I’d say was 3.

DABR

So, what was your first game memory?

INT

Sadly enough, I think it was God of War, which you shouldn't play at 3 years old.

DABR

How do you think these first gaming experiences influenced you as a gamer when you started?

INT

Probably just the stories [in those games] and getting to experience new things. God Of War was one the first games I can remember and now I'm really into mythology. Even today, there is still a game I play based on mythology.

DABR

Did you change your way of playing since you started to game?

INT

Considering early on, I was just playing by myself. But now, I play with my friends a lot. I’ll just hop on the Xbox and find someone to play with.

DABR

So now it’s a bit more about belonging. Would you say gaming is more about the community aspect for you now?

INT

Yes definitely, it’s a brotherhood.

DABR

Since you’re about to start at the University of Michigan in the engineering program, I’m wondering if gaming influenced your choice of studies?

INT

I feel it’s probably just because I’ve always been interested in the inner workings of games and the programs that run them. I always like to hear about the Crytek or the physics engines they use in games and just see how those are built up. I always liked the software side of it.

DABR

Have you taught yourself a little bit about that along with gaming?  

INT

I’ve learned a little bit here and there but I wish I got to know more. I just didn’t have the time to grow this knowledge until recently. For example, one of my buddies showed me a website that you can use to learn how to code any SNES game, which I would like to try and do.

DABR

You just talked about coding and playing with other people. How else are you involved in games right now?

INT

I live stream and record videos, but I want get back to speedrunning because I came close to the Urban Champion NES speed run record. I think I’m about 6/10 of a second off.

DABR

Very cool. So, what’s your favorite game, speedrun wise, that you’ve played so far?

INT

Probably Urban Campion honestly. Other than that, I did a small speedrun for a SpongeBob game but with Urban Champion I’m down to milliseconds to try to reach the record. Just the thrill of it, I mean I would spend hours just to get those seconds. It’s that satisfaction of working hard and finally getting what you want. It’s just such a satisfying feeling. I even watched a video about speedrunning the original Mario Bros. game. Some players spent two years in the first Mario Bros. to get rid of tenths of seconds. I have this same passion in Urban Champion. I’ll spend a night and make a couple of hundred runs of that game. I mean it’s only half a minute, but I’ll do tons of runs to get that particular one that I nearly beat my own record. It just feels so good.

DABR

How did you get into speed running?

INT

Well, twice a year, there is the Games Done Quick Convention with speed running events that go on for a full week. There are speedrunners for different games from all around the world. It’s actually a charity marathon. I know their proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders a couple of times. Beyond that, it’s just always been so cool to me to see all these people taking their games to the limit and being able to show all their cool, ridiculous tricks to get faster.

DABR

So from that, you just wanted to start to experience it yourself?

INT

Yes, eventually I would just look for games that have small communities attached and ease my way in. That was the case with Urban Champion, it is also for Spongebob game. I’ve looked into Ratchet and Clank speedrunning but it’s pretty hardcore.

DABR

You also mentioned live streaming. How did you get into live streaming for gaming?

INT

From what I remember, one of the Youtube channel guys I watched left to go pursue live streaming instead. As I started to watch him live, I saw you could get thousands and thousands of viewers. Also, you can actually interact with those people all around the world just through the comments. It's just pretty neat to me. My best live room is probably just 70 people but it was just a really cool experience to have this crowd hanging out and enjoying the game.

DABR

So, I guess what I understand from your answers is that you really enjoy the community side of gaming. With who do you precisely play?   

INT

At the moment, mostly just friends. Back in middle school, I met a guy while playing one of the old Halo games. He and I argued a ton over different things in the game, but eventually we just kept talking and became very good buddies. He introduced me to one of his groups of friends and for a couple of years we would just hang out together on Xbox. Another time, I just met a group of players from Egypt and then the UK. I mean, I just met people and we played games.

DABR

You mentioned speedrunning and live streaming. Is there any other form of gaming you practice like arcades, board games or even cards?

INT

Card games have been a big hit [with me]. There’s been a lot of Euchre in these last couple of weeks of high school. Board games, of course, we play a lot of Settlers of Catan. I’m not a big Risk player myself, but it’s very popular in my group of friends. It’s kind of difficult to play at arcades as much because they’re harder to find.

DABR

In terms of all the different aspects of gaming, did you have any negative experiences from gaming at all?

INT

Absolutely! I mean, when you really get into a game, there's always some people annoyed within the community. Sometimes, you just have a bad day and there can be some players just railing on you. They would send you messages to tell you that you’re bad at the game. I would just think, “I’m sorry. I just played badly today.” But in the end, you just don’t have control over it.

DABR

How do you manage those reactions? How do you overcome the situation?

INT

Most of the time, I’ll just answer either by sarcastic comments to which they never respond… or I just ignore them in the first place. It’s unpleasant but, it’s just a way of teaching you how to deal with people.

DABR

On the flip side of that, what would you say are your positive experiences of gaming?

INT

It still comes back to the big competitions where everyone is trying to work hard to be a team. When people are calling the enemies within the game and making sure we all are ready for something. Those are fun times. Just to see everybody work together and be the best.

DABR

Do you think games can be a way to create communities of people?            

INT

Oh god, yes! Coming back to speedrunning of course, I think the community surrounding Super Mario 64 has 10,000 runners. In addition to that, some of those runners could have around a thousand viewers while streaming. There are just little communities around every game. Like I said, it goes beyond players if you count the people watching. I mean, Ninja streaming Fortnite, has around 150,000 viewers. He just built a community empire on that game.

DABR

Now, do you think games can also be used to promote inclusion or acceptance?

INT

Final Fantasy XV did a lot of that with the idea of brotherhood and staying together with friends. I guess somewhat the more social mobile games nowadays or even Farmville. They kind of try to make you work together and help everyone out.

DABR

Have you seen that shift during your time gaming in terms of design or what it’s designed around?

INT

Nowadays, you just don’t see a ton of single player games. A lot of them are more like “Hey! Go play with your friends!” Especially now with cross platforms. I mean Microsoft and Nintendo just announced they will be doing Minecraft crossplay between the Switch, the Xbox and mobile. Everyone is pushing in that direction. It’s like “You want to play with your friends? We’re gonna make sure you can.”

DABR

What else do you see as the future of gaming?

INT

I’m probably guessing a lot more of VR games. Those are really starting to become a big aspect of what gamers are looking forward to. If the VR headset gets cheaper, I can honestly see more of that, which would allow for way more personalized interactions between people. Also, companies are starting to be held more accountable for what they do. I feel it’s going to be more games made for the players rather than the creative executives.

DABR

Do you have an example of what you mean by that?

INT

Well, in Star Wars Battlefront II, EA decided to make a lot of items behind a paywall. So, if you wanted to evolve in the game quickly, you could basically pay to be made a better player. Of course, the gaming community hated it! There was just no reason why the people with the most money should be the best at the game. So, there was a backlash by gamers against EA and EA finally fixed [it]. There are no transactions anymore and they focused back on the players’ skills.

DABR

You just illustrated the activeness of the gaming community, do you think they have a real effective power to change the gaming industry?

INT

Honestly, I think the players can change the games. For example, the newest Battlefield game. Previous editions of the game claimed to be historically accurate. That being said, games to follow were omitting the presence of some female characters or specific cultural groups. As accurate as it was, tons of players within the community didn’t like this and actually preferred fun characters over history. For the latest game, the creatives stated that these players’ preferences are duly noted.        

DABR

Earlier, you said you were soon leaving for an engineering summer program. Do you think gaming can help to develop someone’s passion or define a career path?

INT

There’s so many different games to play and so many respective communities. You can really find something for pretty much everyone. I’ve played a lot of Guitar Hero and I really enjoyed it even though I’m not good at music. But you know, it can give you a little idea of the real thing. I mean, you can find any game for any career path.

DABR

On a personal level, what are your favorite games?

INT

Probably Final Fantasy X. It’s such a beautiful game to me. It’s enjoyable to watch, enjoyable to play. There is just so much friendship and camaraderie in it that it gets you very attached to the characters. It makes you want to see a happy ending. I feel it’s a sign of a good game.

DABR

I suppose we have now covered your history with gaming and your future toward it. Is there anything you would like to add on that?

INT

There’s just one thing. I really don't like when some people claim that games are always bad. The smartest people I know play tons of games. I feel gaming is one of the reasons I’ve done so well in school became games can teach you problem solving skills and to be dedicated in whatever you do.

DABR

So, there's definitely a positive side of gaming?  

INT

Yes, for sure. I’m terrible at history and geography. However, some games I’ve played taught me more about some subjects than what I learned in school. I wouldn’t know much about the French Revolution if I hadn’t played Assassin's Creed Unity. I still remember to this day some parts of that historical period because of that game. I’ve also learned about different and new cultures through gaming.

DABR

Opposite of that, how do you feel about the new classification of gaming addiction?

INT

I think it’s now 20 hours a week that they use to classify a gaming addiction. I genuinely don’t feel like that would work. I watch some streamers that are playing about seven hours a day. They are not addicted to games, it’s just their job. If someone plays football 20 hours a week, nobody says it’s an addiction. If it’s not affecting the person’s life negatively, I don’t see what’s wrong. I don’t think you can classify an addiction solely on the usage of time.

DABR

I can definitely see your point. Is there anything else you would like to say?

INT

I think I got my main point across now. Games aren’t bad! That’s my synopsis.

 

Jake found his career path through his love for gaming. His story encourages us all to think about how the pass-times and hobbies we enjoy could become our careers. If you have a story to share for our Narrative Project, please contact us using the Contact page at http://www.doabarrelroll.ca.