Gaming Illustrated’s Executive Editor Sean Gibson, who also serves as the President and CEO of Gaming Illustrated LLC, sits down for a Q&A for the last published piece of 2012. The questions for this interview were submitted by site staff and contributors were encouraged to ask anything and everything, so long as they only submitted two questions. Below, Gibson discusses the plans for the site in 2013, reflects back on the site’s beginnings and gives some insight into his gaming tastes. Enjoy!
From Jon Anson:
#1: Are there any plans at this time to implement a forum on the site?
Yes, eventually Gaming Illustrated will have a forum. Our former community manager, Sam Reimer, was to spearhead this effort. With his resignation from the site due to personal matters, the entire endeavor lacks a champion. Right now, I’m focused on content, content and more content. There’s also planning and attending CES and then planning for E3 on my plate, plus an entire custom site redesign. All those things take precedence over forums, which are extremely time consuming to setup and maintain plus cost financial resources we barely (if at all) have. A lot of people think forums are easy, but they are about the most time consuming and difficult undertakings you can do online. There’s a ton of moderation that has to go into any forum, making sure you keep the spammers at bay, and also policing folks to make sure the forums stay healthy. It’s genuinely a full-time job that we don’t have the budget for or the personnel right now to handle, which is a shame. I’d love to incorporate that into the site, along with a single sign-on feature. We’ve looked into a few technologies that play nice with WordPress, so some of the homework is done. I’m not going to make this an official 2013 goal, but I’d bet it’ll be on the docket for 2014.
#2: What game are you playing right now?
Thankfully I’m done reviewing video games for the foreseeable future, which usually dictates what I’m playing. I’m playing five games right now – Skyrim, Max Payne 3 and Grand Theft Auto 4 are taking up the most of my time. Why? Well, Skyrim is an amazingly kickass game and I’m trying to get into a place where I can play the DLC Dawnguard and eventually (when it releases) into Dragonborn. Max Payne 3 is our Game of the Year in the Action/Adventure category and also is amazing, plus I’m playing GTA4 because I’m excited for GTA5 and wanted to run through it one more time. There’s also the inevitable sessions with Madden 13 (PS3) and NBA 2K13 (PC) that take up my time. I think I might have gaming ADD
From Travis Shuman:
1) What was the main factor that led you to create GI?
Well, this was back in 2001 so it’s ancient history to some folks. I had been working as an HTML/CSS developer for a company so I knew how hard it was to create a website (not very) but back then there was a mystic veil around the whole thing which represented a barrier for many to start a website. I had simply bought one too many crappy games and there were little (if any) outlets to warn you against buying games that either sucked or didn’t work at all. I still feel upset about FPS Football 98 and paying $50 for a game that *literally* did not work and Sierra Online (RIP) coming out and admitting as much. I wanted to create a video game review site to keep gamers like me informed and GI was literally one of the first, born out of my ability to write and create a webpage while at the same time identifying a huge gap in the gaming world – a place to simply rate video games.
2) Are you looking at any really big changes to GI in 2013?
Yes, at some point in 2013 we will completely redesign the website. The design we have now is really solid, but at the end of the day was purchased as a template. While I’ve done my best to customize the theme to make it as unique as possible, my vision for what GI should be – plus changes in ever-evolving preferences for design from the internet community, will lead us in a new direction in 2013. I already have the artist lined up but the process might take between four and six months, so it might be around E3 when we actually see it in action.
From Associate Editor Ryan Bloom:
1) Mario or Sonic?
Let’s break this down the right way.
Mario or Sonic – Dollars: Mario, hands down. We’re talking about a billion dollar franchise as opposed to a multi-million dollar franchise. Let’s put it this way, if you had to take your family’s life savings and invest it into a new Mario game or a new Sonic game, which one would you invest with? Clearly, Mario.
Mario or Sonic – Wingman: If I had to pick a wingman for a night out in Vegas, I’d definitely go with Sonic. Mario is old-world and has a very insulting ethnically-incorrect stereotypical accent. None of my Italian cousins (in Italy I might add) talk that way. So from that perspective, Mario’s a douche and out. Then considering the fact that Sonic is fast (great for outrunning the cops or upset boyfriends), has cool dreads (in style) and has plenty of coin (he can pay), he wins hands down in this competition.
2) Favorite 90s sitcom?
It all comes down to three shows – Seinfeld, Friends and Frasier. I genuinely enjoy all three shows still (just wish Seinfeld and Friends were on Netflix…) and out of all three I have to say Frasier was the best. It was witty, high-brow humor that brought the laughs on all levels. Sure, there were some rough seasons at the end, but it ended well and overall, for a long period of time, Frasier was easily the best show on television and considered by many to be the best sitcom of all time.
From Associate Editor Kalvin Martinez:
1) What has been the highlight of 2012 for you on GamingIllustrated?
That’s easy – the Mists of Pandaria release night in Irvine, CA. We had most of the GI staff there and I got to take everyone out to dinner and we had a great time at the event. We met some big shots at Blizzard and the fan reception was amazing. I had a great time and it really started the bonds of what is really forming to be an amazing group here at the site.
2) Do you think we’ll ever get a sequel to Shaq Fu?
Nope, we never will, but I am sure we’ll see some similar cinematic abortion. Let’s create the equation to find out what the next “Shaq Fu” will be.
Step 1: Charismatic sports hero nobody actually likes.
Nominees: Dwight Howard, Tom Brady, Tim Tebow, or Brian Wilson.
Step 2: Ridiculous, but kickass profession.
Nominees: Bounty Hunter, Won’t Play By The Rules Cop, Dinosaur Expert, Rookie Firefighter, Spaceship Captain.
Step 3: Regurgitated Plot Done 100 times.
Nominees: Aliens Invade! , Corruption at the Top Taken Down, Innocent Town Needs Help from Badass, Down on his Luck Kid Finds Hope
I think there are dozens of folks in Hollywood working on half a dozen scripts using my movie making formula above already. I think the safe bet here is on Tim Tebow starring in a firefighting movie about a kid that finds hope. I’m sure there’ll be a groan-worthy pun based off his faith too, something like “Saved from Hades’ Flames” (where Hades is the town Tim Tebow happens to work in as a firefighter).
From Associate Editor Ben Sheene:
1) What is your favorite moment in any video game? It doesn’t have to be from your favorite game or anything.
That’s maybe the hardest answer to give! Ack. So many moments from my youth come rushing into my brain. There’s the time Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man had that kid out of wedlock (she wasn’t MRS Pac Man afterall). There’s the time I actually beat Dragon’s Lair at the arcade after spending what had to be the same amount I ended up spending on my college education. How about the intro to Wing Commander II when the Kilrathi stealth ships blew up your home ship. Maybe it was the satisfying ending of Star Control 2. Or maybe it was winning Dungeon Master on the Atari ST while playing with my Dad.
Nope, none of that. I know it now – it was beating Carl Armstrong in Madden 2012 at the end of our Super Bowl party when nothing but a kick return for a touchdown would win me the game… and his squib kick went right to my fastest player, who did about 52 juke moves into the end zone for the win. Epic.
2) What is one breakthrough/achievement/innovation you hope the industry goes through within the next two years?
I really am hoping for some solid new IP in games. We were writing five years ago about the dearth of new properties and that trilogies were everywhere. Now we’re seeing Volume 4 of games with no end in sight. There has to be some decent writing out there to create some new franchises that we can latch onto. I think graphics on next-gen systems better be amazing as well, like high-end PC amazing. I’d also cross my fingers for 4K resolution support from the next Xbox and PlayStation, but that’s very doubtful.
From Romtin Erfani:
Who is your all-time favorite video game character and why?
Bo Jackson from Tecmo Bowl, perhaps? The guy was unstoppable and unquestionably my favorite athlete at the time. Obviously, this is not the answer you were hoping for, so I’ll think of another. Can I pick half a dozen different people from the GTA games? Would John Marston from Red Dead Redemption count? Hmm, another hard one. I’ll go with Thrall from the WarCraft games, specifically WarCraft III and World of WarCraft. I loved his storyline in both games and he continues to bring the goods.
What are some of your other passions besides video games?
Sports and poker. I’m a huge poker guy and used to play semi-professionally I suppose, based off the fact I counted on it for some part time income at one point in my life. I’m decent at the game, certainly no noob and am a huge winner lifetime. I could talk all day about poker, seriously, and with the death of online poker in the USA, a little part of what makes me happy in life died. With sports, I love playing just about anything. I go to the gym and hang with the kids playing full-court basketball but I’m woefully out of shape thanks to a knee injury I sustained last year. A big goal is to get back into great shape in 2013, along with about 100 million other Americans. I have tons of other things I enjoy but I don’t want to open a can of worms haha.
From Mike Zrimsek:
Has your initial goals for the site changed at all since you first started?
Yes, and I wish I could go back 10 years just to slap myself in the head. If I knew then what I know now about web development, SEO and simply the lasting power of being around for 10 years, the site would be right on par with GameSpot, IGN, etc. I genuinely believe that. When I first started, I didn’t have clear goals outside of making a cool site that warns gamers about games that suck or don’t work. Now, I want GI to be a serious hub of information for what gamers are passionate about.
What are your future aspirations for the site and how are you attempting to achieve these?
It’s hard to tell what this baby wooly mammoth is going to grow up to be. Will it be a giant mammoth and make some sound in the industry? Maybe. Will it be a cute little guy that gets some love on occasion? Perhaps. The site’s future is totally up in the air which makes it really exciting to be a part of right now. I really hope the site is able to get a million visitors a month sometime two to three years down the road, which would mean it’s a full grown business with a staff of three to five full time poorly paid employees that love what they do, while I manage the sucker in my spare time while continuing to work my regular job. Maybe I should dream bigger?
From Rahil Bhagat:
1) Is GI going to see itself on Metacritic anytime soon?
Well, we’re technically on there now, but we aren’t being picked up and haven’t been for many years. The good news is that we’re officially underway in the process of getting ourselves back on Metacritic. It’d be a tremendous honor to be back on the site and I hope it works out so we can be. Keep your fingers crossed!
2) Is GI going to try to move into video content development on YouTube and the like?
Yes, we’ve used 2012 as a place to get ourselves in order in terms of video content. Expect a lot more video reviews to complement our written reviews. Our Associate Editors (most of them) all have game capture devices and most of our PC reviewers know how to capture and edit footage. So, there’s that video content coming. We’re also set to have our 2012 GOTY video release very soon, plus a brand new weekly (ideally) show produced by Chance Asue and Kalvin Martinez that will debut in Q1 of 2013.
From Tommy Blashaw:
1.) With all the recent attention sexism in video gaming has garnered this past year, do you agree/disagree/find relevant the issue of women being objectified in the gaming industry today and if so do you think it will have a future effect on the way video games are created and marketed?
I’ve always said as a society, America is much more sexist than it is racist. It’s not just a problem in the gaming community, we just see it in our community as a microcosm of a more widespread societal issue. Are women treated right by men in the gaming world? By and large, I’d have to say no. I was raised with certain values, was taught to be a True Gentleman and simply can’t identify with what some people pass as acceptable behavior. At the same time, male-to-male trash talk sometimes goes way too far as well and some common language is just out of line. What can we do about it? Not much outside of not give that kind of crap attention. As a media outlet, I’d like to see a lot more pressure put on sponsors like Nos Energy Drink to stop sponsoring events where aberrant behavior is tolerated. Am I for trash talking? Totally, I run it better than most! Am I for degrading people based on their gender or race? Never. Because they suck at a game? All day long! I hope that makes sense. Basically, we all (myself included) have some growing up to do and need to put pressure on the right people to improve our industry. Will that spill over into character development and roles within games? Sure, in time, as it should.
2.) When you first created the concept of GI, what was the ultimate goal you were looking to accomplish and how did you want to set it apart from other gaming review sites?
I’ve answered the first part so I’ll answer the latter. I wanted Gaming Illustrated to be a place where a candid review could be published. At the same time, I wanted it to be a site where a fair review was always written. I didn’t want a site to trash a RPG game because it wasn’t a good FPS, that’s just ridiculous and many game publications operate that way. Also, we’ve never taken a dime for a canned review, which is more than I can say for some. There’s also not too many sites that cover both gaming software and gaming hardware and I always thought a good review/news site should cover both since they often go hand in hand.
From Associate Editor Carl Armstrong:
1. Interviews with popular people in gaming community. Thoughts?
Yes. We’re interviewing more and more folks everyday, which is exciting. Perhaps not the huge names in the industry but slowly but surely more relevant/mainstream names are getting to our site. My goal in 2013 is to interview the heads of at least three major studios, starting with Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. Hopefully we can make that happen.
2. Upgrading to high def video reviews? Not a fan of SD.
I think all of our video game review videos are available in high definition, you just need to make that selection when it loads up. Some of the videos are still in SD, which is more about saving bandwidth uploading to YouTube, but we’ll have more and more HD video in 2013.