Gamer – Chris Schilling

2 Sep

Today’s Gamer is Chris Schilling, as Chris will tell you he is a freelance videogame journalist. What you may also grasp from his responses is that the freelance journalism “game” is a tough one. One often full of hard work and rejections. Chris is a wonderful writer and one that genuinely cares and loves the industry with a passion. It would be a shame for writers such as him to have to step away from something they love so much. Unfortunately in this financial climate more editors are tightening their belts and as we see on a daily basis people are losing their jobs and developers are shutting their doors.

There is little that we, as consumers, can do, other than keep buying the games; reading the magazines and websites; supporting our industry with honest money, opinions and decisions. We’re still an entertainment medium in it’s infancy and it’s only the audience, not the developers nor publishers, that can make it truly great.

I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Chris and his 13 answers.

Q1. Who the hell are you and what do you do?

Chris Schilling – I’m Chris Schilling, and I’m a freelance writer. Over the years I’ve contributed to the likes of Eurogamer, NGamer, The Observer, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Games TM, Official Nintendo Magazine, 360 and a number of other publications and websites that I won’t mention here because that list was already starting to get a bit boring. I’ve also been a consultant for the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition for the past two years. Despite my experience I’m not getting enough work these days, so it’s likely I’ll be moving onto something else soon.

Q2. When did you first get into games? How old were you?

CS – I must have been about five. My parents frowned upon consoles, but computers were fine because they could be used for educational/work purposes. Dad bought us an Oric Atmos, with a few games, of which I remember two: Mr. Wimpy and Zorgon’s Revenge.

Q3. Omit nothing, what is your gaming history? Where did it start and how did it progress?

CS – After the Oric, we moved onto the Spectrum, then the Spectrum +3. Then we upgraded to an Amiga 500, which is when I really fell in love with gaming in a big way. We got an Amiga 1200, and I got my fix of console gaming by playing on my friend’s SNES and MegaDrive. I drifted away from games for a while, missing out almost an entire console generation as I discovered drinking and girls and drinking with girls. It wasn’t until my sister unexpectedly bought me a PSone for my birthday (just after the PS2 had come out) that I got hooked once more. I then bought a Game Boy Advance and a GameCube, and started reading games magazines on a regular basis. A copy of NGC led me to the GamesRadar forums, from where I got the idea to start my own games website: Press Start Online. Hard work and a team of decent writers got us noticed, and one day one of the writers joined GamesTM. A few months later he asked me if I wanted to write a review for them, and the rest – as they say – is history. These days I own just about every major gaming platform on the market, with the exception of iPhone and iPad.

Q4. Why do you actually play games? Is it for fun? Or maybe something else?

CS – I play games for fun and also for work. But I wouldn’t write about games if I didn’t love them. I don’t get to write about the kind of games I really enjoy too often these days, more’s the pity, but I’ll still be incredibly reluctant to stop doing this. I’ll probably keep my hand in by blogging about games when I move on.

Q5. If you could choose one game (just one) to give to other gamers, one that epitomises videogames for you, what would it be?

CS – Super Mario Galaxy 2. It’s hard to pick just one, as games can provide such a wide variety of experiences, but Galaxy 2 is just about everything I look for in a game.

Q6. What was the last game you completed. Did you enjoy it?

CS – The last game I completed was a PSN game that’s coming out soon. I reviewed it for a magazine, so I can’t say what it is. I didn’t enjoy it all that much.

Q7. Now the tough stuff… Favourite gaming platform ever… and why?

CS – The DS. It’s a hugely underrated console, but it’s given me such a wide range of experiences, from the rhythm-action genius of Ouendan to the wonderful Ace Attorney series. The Amiga will always hold a special place in my heart and the GameCube was the console which got me back into gaming in a big way. Objectively, it’d have to be the PS2, but I was late to the party with that one and for all that I loved the games, I was never a fan of the hardware itself. I had a Slim, and it felt flimsy and cheap, and the controller never felt as ergonomic as the Cube’s.

Q8. Favourite game or franchise?

CS – That’s a tough one. I love both Galaxy games, I’m a big fan of the Ace Attorney series (though only loved it when Phoenix Wright was in the lead role), and Ouendan always springs to mind whenever I’m asked this question. Perhaps my most purely enjoyable gaming experience, however, was playing Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door every evening over a couple of weeks with my wife watching. Even though she wasn’t playing, I felt she was enjoying it as much as me, and that was a big deal to me. If I absolutely had to pick just one game, though, I think I’d go with Resident Evil 4. It’s masterfully paced and packed with indelibly brilliant moments. I don’t think any action-adventure has topped it since, and I’d include Uncharted 2 in that.

Q9. How do you feel about online gaming?

CS – I’m not a big online gamer, in truth, as it tends to make me feel even more inadequate than usual. I enjoy the occasional online experience, but I prefer local multiplayer. I have enjoyed LAN gaming at press events, mind, so perhaps I just need that face-to-face contact.  I’m interested in unusual uses of online technology, like in Demon’s Souls and Noby Noby Boy. I’d like to see more games try something different with online than simply trying to bolster single-player campaigns with hastily-constructed deathmatch and capture the flag variants.

Q10. And motion control?

CS – Love it. Of course it’s not always well-implemented, but I think it’s a good thing that it’s helped open games up to a new audience. I’m really impressed with PlayStation Move, as that’s got the precision that Wii (even with MotionPlus) lacks, and we could potentially get some really interesting and unique experiences with that. Kinect is a lot of fun, too, though I imagine quite a few developers will struggle with its limitations. That said, Dance Central is brilliant and I’m really intrigued by Milo and Kate, too.

Q11. How about 3D gaming?

CS – Until I’ve actually spent some serious time with it, I’m a little more cautious about this particular development. 3DS is dazzling at first, but I get the feeling the novelty will wear off quickly. 3D’s a fantastic gimmick as an occasional treat, but I’m not convinced it’s something anyone would really want to see becoming the norm. Look at cinema – you’ve got the likes of Toy Story 3 and Avatar where it’s used comparatively sparingly and effectively, but people are getting fed up with the majority of new releases being presented in 3D.

Q12. Where do YOU want to see the industry in five years time?

CS – I’m a little disappointed that we don’t see the kind of esoteric fare that enlivened the PS2 era these days, though we’re starting to see more original titles appear in the downloadable arena. I do have some concerns about digital distribution in that if retail releases end up invading the download space, those games currently making their name there could be squeezed out. I’d like to see Japan rise again as a genuine force in modern gaming. I’d also like to see some changes in games journalism. I’d like to see an increased focus on quality rather than quantity or speed. You get sites constantly trying to be first rather than best. You get people posting deliberately controversial or contrarian opinions because they know they’ll get a spike in their daily hits. It’s getting harder for good journalists to make a decent living as sites and mags cut costs, and invariably the best writers move on. There are too many people setting up sites simply to get free games; they don’t actually care about the quality they’re providing for their readers.

Q13. What does gaming mean to you?

CS – It’s fabulous escapist entertainment that makes you forget about death for a bit. It’s one of the best time-wasters we have. The odd game transcends the medium and genuinely makes you look at life a little differently, but for the most part it just offers you a world that’s more interesting than your own to spend some time in. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.


2 Responses to “Gamer – Chris Schilling”

  1. Andy Johnson September 2, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Interesting stuff, Chris. I particularly agree with your point about the excess proliferation of poor-quality sites. There’s such a vast number of them now, and whilst they don’t have much impact on their own, collectively they stand to take away a lot of opportunities from better sites and their often harder-working writers.

    “…unless you’re consumed by an emotional frenzy to do this, then get the fuck out now. You’re just eating somebody else’s food. And you’re taking up limited space that’d be better used by somebody more passionately unhinged.”

    Charles Aaron said that, he was talking about the music media but I think it applies to games also.

  2. Lauren September 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm #


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