Gamer – Mark Brown

29 Aug

Due to the resounding success of this project in terms of chatter on Twitter, volumes of emails and the amount of interviews received, I thought I’d throw up an interview today. But also take the time to thank everyone for their kind words on this project. There are more Gamers out there that want their voice to be heard than I thought, and interestingly they want to hear everyone else too. Thankfully they’re all happy to fill in my silly 13 questions and shout their opinions from the rooftop that is the internets.

Todays interviewee is Mr Mark brown, Twitter humour merchant; freelance journo; Gamer; supporter of gaming and all round Mr Nice Guy. Here are his 13 answers.

1. Who the hell are you and what do you do?

Mark Brown – Hey, my name is Mark Brown and I’m a freelance writer for anyone who’ll have me. I started out with games, but now I write about science and technology and culture and I can ride my bike real fast. My major clients are Pocket Gamer, Wired and Eurogamer. I am a boy. I am 21.

2. When did you first get into games? How old were you?

MB – I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t into, surrounded by or enveloped by games. That’s entirely my brothers fault: he was obsessed with them from before I was a zygote, and introduced them to me as soon as humanly possible. But while I stared at spiny blue hedgehogs and leaping plumbers from my crib, it wasn’t until I got my grubby, barely-formed mitts on a Gameboy that I understood the appeal. An entire world to explore right within this off-white rectangle, how incredible.

3. Omit nothing, what is your gaming history? Where did it start and how did it progress?

MB – Throughout my childhood, my main sources of gaming were my Gameboy and the family’s Amiga – a nice, rounded, healthy mix of Nintendo classics and LucasArts point and clicks. I then discovered my brother’s SNES, got my own PC (and a copy of Duke Nukem), and upgraded my portables as my brother subsequently leaped through generations of home consoles. It went like this right up until the last generation: as my brother moved out, so did the Dreamcast and the N64, leading to me buy my own Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube.

4. Why do you actually play games? Is it for fun? Or maybe something else?

MB – To escape into another world, to do incredible stuff deemed impossible in the real world, to feel that sense of satisfaction after beating a particularly tough challenge. Some games, like Mario or Burnout, are all about fun, but others offer different, and totally worthwhile, experiences: exploration, wonder, fear, sadness, speed, mental workouts, joy – no other medium can boast as vast an array of emotions and experiences.

5. If you could choose one game (just one) to give to other gamers, one that epitomises videogames for you, what would it be?

MB – If I wanted to say “These are games, this is what games do, this is how games feel, this is what games look like, this how games make you feel…” The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Personally, it sums up everything I love about them: child like sense of exploration, a challenge, a story, some humour, exquisite design. No one does it quite like Nintendo, nothing is quite as universal as Zelda, and Wind Waker is the best. Apart from the stealth mission near the start, that’s a pain in the ass. Or I’d give them something like DoDonPachi, just to mess with ’em.

6. What was the last game you completed? Did you enjoy it?

MB – Alan Wake perhaps? You know, I was really disappointed by the manuscript concept. In the game, Wake finds pages of a manuscript that foretells future events, but its never used for interesting scenarios: never messes with you, telling you about a secret stash of items and then ambushing you with monsters. This is supposed to be a psychological thriller, but forget about Alan Wake, I want the game to get in MY head, mess with my expectations and make me feel uncomfortable. Anyway, the game had some good combat, but the story was batshit insane. David Bowie over the credits was nice, though. Get it if you see it cheap.

7. Now the tough stuff… Favourite gaming platform ever… and why?

MB – Gameboy Advance… SP. I love portable gaming, and retro games, and this console meshes it all together, letting you play awesome GBA titles and a massive back catalogue of awesome Gameboy games. Or you could just get a GBA emulator on PC, but I assume thats considered cheating the system, right?

8. Favourite game or franchise?

MB – Broken Sword is my go-to favourite game. The characters, the story, the beautiful locations – the way the conspiracy unspools beneath you and the cinematic relationships and comic book villains. I guess it says something about me that my favourite game is barely a game, but its more about the themes and the places than the gameplay. All my favourite titles – Zelda, Uncharted, Tomb Raider – you can effortlessly spot their ties to Broken Sword. Paris in the fall… Man, sends shivers down my spine.

9. How do you feel about online gaming?

MB – Love it. I loved playing Resident Evil 5 with my brother, I love playing Left 4 Dead with my pal across the country, or playing GTA with other writers. It’s brilliant. But nothing beats a single player experience for me: alone, in a dusty old tomb, exploring the ruins. There are some experiences I want to share, others I want to do alone. It probably speaks volumes that I’m currently on Xbox Silver.

10. And motion control?

MB – At the risk of sounding like a fun hating, creativity stifling, innovation punching ponce, I’m sick of flapping my arms about like a nutter. I like to point: that’s all. I want to point at the screen with incredible accuracy. That’s what makes Resi 4 and Overlord and Zelda and House of the Dead work on Wii. As soon as I’m asked to wiggle the wiimote, I’m out. Kinect has no pointing: so it’s got to prove to me that motion control can be fun, accurate and reliable without a direct pointing device. Also, I’ll need a bigger room, apparently.


11. How about 3D gaming?

MB – Balls to it. I’ll wait until I don’t need any glasses, and for my current TV to break.

12. Where do YOU want to see the industry in five years time?

MB – More diverse genres, locations, stories, protagonists, ideas and designs. I want to play a photographer in the middle east, I want to play more games where I don’t shoot a million men, I want to be a fireman. And I want to play a game where I play as a fireman. 90% of console games are creatively bankrupt. Let’s look at Heavy Rain and Brutal Legend and Limbo for inspiration, not Call of Duty and Gears of War. I love Call of Duty and Gears of War, but so does every publisher, apparently.

13. What does gaming mean to you?

MB – Fun. Joy. Adventure. Challenge. Experience. Atmosphere. Escape. It’s my favourite thing to do.

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