Another year is in the books and 2013 will be looked back on as one of the most memorable years in the history of video games, as we saw the release of two new console platforms with the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox One. Beyond that, there were tons of new games introduced, new IPs, and events to enjoy. As a yearly tradition, the writers of Gaming Illustrated were encouraged to write in and ask the Executive Editor of the site anything at all. Here is the Q&A…
Q. If you could become any videogame character in a game released this past year, who in what game would it be? (Miranda Visser)
A. I would become Jim Raynor from StarCraft II, who was in Heart of the Swarm, released in March 2013. He’s an intergalatic badass who leads the humans to freedom over the imperialistic rule over Arcturus Mengsk, while helping his girlfriend become the most powerful being in the universe. Seems like a good deal to me!
Of all of the conventions/shows/conferences you’ve attended related to videogames, which was your favorite and why? (Miranda Visser)
A. Well, before answering I want to go through the criteria I thought of when trying to evaluate all the events I go to. First is the attendance, and not just numbers but who attends – a good crowd is key. Second would be cool factor, meaning new games are unveiled and there is access to industry notables for interviews. Third would be the overall organization of the event, as some are very well run and timed, while others are just a giant mess. Finally, I’ll admit to the event’s relevance to my personal tastes as some events are tailored towards games or platforms I don’t play. Out of all the events that occurred in 2012 and 2013, I’d have to say I enjoyed BlizzCon 2013 the most. It was incredibly well run and the thing that put it over the rest was the fact that the fans were so damn passionate about the subject matter. People were loudly cheering announcements, fans were rooting on their favorite pros at the World Championships, and all the dev teams were on hand to give out goodies and autographs to attendees. It felt much less like a convention and more like a family reunion. In an incredibly cut-throat and cynical industry, it came as a breath of fresh air.
What would you say is the most common mistake made amongst new writers to the site? (Greg Johnson)
A. They give up far too quickly. Writing for a gaming site sounds amazing and the perks are great, but more often than not as soon as a writer gets a taste of what it is really like to review a game, they quit. It’s a real shame since it is incredibly rewarding, but ultimately, can be a bit of a grind. All writers take on assignments they aren’t necessarily passionate about and have to find motivation within themselves to bring out their best.
With keywords, what would you say are some helpful tips for putting them into an article, without making them sound forced? (Greg Johnson)
A. Right – never just shove them in there. Keywords do not need to be repeated a bunch now, Google knows what the article is about and assuming most of the main stuff is in there – a good title, a good description, H1 tags, etc – then the rest is really up to external links coming into the site. SHOCK – I just blew Google’s big secret. 90% of how they rank sites is based on the number of incoming links and the authority a site already owns. Old spammy links will get your site blacklisted, so you have to get good quality links from sites that have link value. By reading this you now know more than 75% of SEOs out there.
What announcement this year surprised you the most? (Kalvin Martinez)
A. I am still blown away by the announcement by Microsoft to price the Xbox One a hundred dollars higher than the PS4. The $499 price point sounded high (albeit, before the PS4 price point was announced) and it still sounds high post-launch. If Microsoft wants to offer what appears to be an inferior product (face it, Xbox One’s hardware is less than the PS4’s hardware) they should make up that gap with price. Instead, Microsoft is somehow trying to justify charging a premium for this fact and force-feeding Kinect to gamers. It’s a terrible decision and most of the decisions made by the Xbox team over the last two years have been mind-numblingly bad. If they absolutely had to put Xbox One at $499, I would think a make-good of “Halo 4 Xbox One Edition” for free should have been in order. I imagine ten years from now, many business school students will be writing about how Microsoft fumbled away the launch of the Xbox One.
Now that the next-generation is the current-generation, what do you hope to happen in the first year of these new consoles? (Kalvin Martinez)
A. I hope that a slew of new IP is announced. I’m not expecting to see a lot of new IP in Year 1, but I would love for some to be announced. When better to take a risk with new stories and heroes? Of course, I’m hoping that established games like Infamous and Halo and other titles come out strong too. But really, aren’t we all dying for a new behemoth franchise? I think that very reason is why the hype is so big behind Destiny from Bungie.
Out if Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, who do YOU think will have the best year IP wise?” …and yep, we’re talking system exclusives from 3rd parties, not just home brand efforts! (Olly Jones)
A. I think the easy answer here is Sony, because of the stipulation you allowed for third party exclusive titles. Sony has done wonders for itself by aligning with indie studios and that will pay off huge dividends moving into the future. Any good new IP will probably come from small studios from now on, eventually being absorbed into some bigger studio. I do not see the same innovation or source of new ideas at Microsoft or Nintendo.
What was your top Gaming Illustrated moment of 2013? (Ryan Bloom)
A. This might be the most difficult question to answer because 2013 was the single best year I’ve ever had with the site. There was just so much to enjoy and frankly, the staff stepped up so big they were the ones that made it so amazing. When I think back to this past year I remember these very distinct memories:
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm release party and interviewing Samwise Didier. Meeting Sam was a huge thrill as I’ve been a huge fan of his for a very long time, but had never met the guy. He’s as engaging and nice in person as he is on camera and in interviews. I was thrilled that we hit it off and I got such a good interview with him. The release party with the GI team was awesome as well, especially since the team got a pic with Sam.
- GTA V Release Pizza Party. I hosted a pizza party for the Associate Editors of the site at my place and we took 15-minute turns with GTA V. I remember my face hurting afterwards since I was smiling and laughing so much. We really bonded that night and it was so much fun to hang out and experience a brand new mega-franchise title together.
- E3 2013 – with the entire team. That was one crazy E3 and it felt like we were being dragged around all three days but that’s a really good problem to have at the show. We got a lot of love with vendors on hand and being able to give a lot of the staff their first E3 experience was very satisfying for me.
- BlizzCon! I had never been and I am once again reminded why Blizzard Entertainment is considered the best in the business. It’s because their fans are second-to-none and it’s not even close. The event was first class the whole way and running into Conan O’Brien in the men’s room was also epic. The event was amazing and I had a blast both days. I can honestly say I wish all conventions could be as well run as this one is, so kudos goes out to the Blizzard PR and events staff.
- PS4 Launch / Live Streaming Weekend. This one was the brainchild of Chance Asue who really impressed the hell out of me and the rest of the staff. He was able to organize an amazing fundraiser for a children’s charity and have a seriously kickass launch party weekend at his place. I had a blast and my only regret is that we can’t do it again anytime soon!
What’s your new year’s resolution? (Ryan Bloom)
A. I have a few, actually. The first are around my health and my consumption of energy drinks – I’m giving them up! Many of you know that I love some Red Bull and Monster. Well, not any more. I’m giving them up completely and also trying to totally eliminate soda consumption. I have a soda perhaps once or twice a week so that is not too big a deal, but I used to have an energy drink once a day. I am also going to try to run a couple of miles in the morning five days a week. I also have some professional goals I am going to hit, but I don’t really consider those to be resolutions. In terms of gaming, my only thing is that I promised myself to finish some games before starting up any new ones!
How badly did I beat you at NBA 2K14? (Ryan Bloom)
A. I formally protest any and all happenings regarding your NBA 2K14 victory. The half-court shot and miraculous shooting you experienced was clearly the fault of an unpatched edition of the game. While you might have technically defeated me once, might I remind you good sir, that this is the one and only time you have ever beat me in a game. Except for that B.S. game of FIFA lol!
If you could bring one TV show back from the dead what would it be? (Ben Sheene)
A. Would it be lame to say Firefly? I finally caught this one on Netflix and it’s a damn shame it did not get its full run. There were a lot of good ideas here to make this a great 5-6 season show.
What game have you never beaten that you want to take a shot at again and conquer it? (Ben Sheene)
A. This one is embarrassing. I never finished Red Dead Redemption! It’s on my list of games I have to finish before starting a new one. Other games on that list include Max Payne 3 and Uncharted 2.
If you could have a cook out with famous figures from all across history, who would be at the top of your RSVP list? (Ben Sheene)
A. I am going to leave religious figures off of this list. That said, folks at the top of my list would include Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Napoleon. That’d be a good group to have multiple lively conversations about science, history, politics, and food.
What’s your biggest gripe you have when editing? (Ben Sheene)
A. Images! Very few of our writers know how to properly resize an image and insert it into a story. It isn’t that hard and with free image editors available, like Pixlr, it’s very easy.
What do you hope happens in gaming next year? (Ben Sheene)
A. It’d be nice to see some great new games come out and have an E3 focused on actual new titles coming out rather than the promise of what new consoles might bring. I hope that the free-to-play model continues to do well and doesn’t just mean “crappy game you need to pay in order to win” like some games out there. I hope e-Sports continues to grow and that someone out there listens to the fact that cable television is NOT the way to go for this budding industry. I firmly believe that gamers will want to watch matches on their computers, tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles. I think Twitch.tv can really lead the way here and they need to find some innovative advertising partners to take it to the next level. It’s starting to happen, which is encouraging.
If you could take one video game series and give it to a different developer or publisher, which series would you pick and who would you give it to? (Ethan Smith)
A. I’d like to see Dead Space given to Rockstar Games. I think the lore within the universe of that franchise was very strong, but lacked a crazy edge. I’d also love to see Rockstar do something in the world of science fiction, which they haven’t done yet. Win win? Maybe lose lose lol.
What is the possibility of dedicated e-Sports section? (Shun Fukuda)
A. I actually had a long conversation with Danny Berkman (a contributor at Gaming Illustrated) about this subject and he was very passionate about having an e-Sports section. The problem is content – who would create it? How could we get daily content? Could we align and work with existing e-Sports leagues? I do have some experience working with MLG about 5+ years ago and it was nothing short of a headache. To become the “ESPN of e-Sports” it would really take a huge investment (both financially and man-hours) to create a new section and get writers who would be passionate to write about the subject on a daily basis and attend events to write recaps. Will it happen in 2014? No, unfortunately not.
What is Gaming Illustrated’s biggest struggle for next year and how will it overcome it? (Chance Asue)
A. The biggest struggle for the site will be keeping the core team intact during 2014. The Associate Editors and Content Gurus are amazing, and I figure it is only a matter of time before they get picked off to contribute elsewhere. It’s business, and I am totally fine with that and there will be no hard feelings at all – at the end of the day I think there’s a strong sense of camaraderie between all of us. The good news is that I do have a plan to secure the future of GI with the core team moving forward. External factors will dictate when that plan takes effect. Sorry to be cryptic, but some things need to shake out before I can get into further details. But to answer the question – the biggest struggle will be to keep the team together and to grow it to bring on more strong contributors.
If you were a gaming console what would you be and why? (Mark Gonzales)
A. I would be a PlayStation 4. Dynamic, powerful, has plenty of potential, and the name brand has been around for a while and stands for something good.
What would you like visitors of GI to experience on the website that differentiates it from other gaming sites? (Alejandro Grover)
A. Ideally, GI is a site where you can get your fix of gaming news and reviews in one spot. One thing that does differentiate us is our robust selection of industry interviews. I do not think even the biggest gaming themed sites boast even half of the interviews we do, so for those fans that really want an insider’s look at the industry, we’re the site to visit.
What is your most anticipated game of 2014? And what do you find most appealing about that game? (Chad Whitney)
A. I answered this question in our 2014 Most Anticipated Games preview article, with my answers (I picked two!) being The Witcher 3 and Heroes of the Storm.
What is your earliest memory of playing video games in an Amusement Arcade? (Mark Adams)
A. What a great question. I remember being a little child (maybe 5 years old) and having my grandfather take me to “The Fun Machine” in Orlando, Florida. Being that small, the place seemed larger than life itself! They had every amazing video game, as well as games of skill (like skeeball!) that yielded tickets that allowed you to buy prizes. My favorite games back then were Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, Dragon’s Lair, and Joust. I still very fondly remember those times going to the arcade with my grandfather, he was the best and I miss him very much.
If you were a character on Regular Show, who would you be? (Mark Adams)
A. Little do you know but I think I was a character on Regular Show during my college years. Seriously… it’s like the guy knew me and all my best friends in fraternity and turned us into animals. There’s little doubt about it, and even my sister can back me up, I’m Mordecai. I have to say that Regular Show is one of my favorite television programs on right now. My wife simply rolls her eyes, does a forehead slap, and leaves the room when I have it on. Pure awesomeness.
Where do babies come from? (Alexandra Mangen)
A. Babies start as a sperm and an egg. Sperm goes into egg. Give it 9ish months. Mommy’s belly grows. Baby gets bored, decides to come out, and is gently pushed through the vagina.