If you ever want to make a splash at Gamers With Jobs, you could do worse than being a long-winded smart ass with a philosophical bent. Wordsmythe certainly joined our community with style, quickly making a name for himself by hounding Elysium's every step and pouncing at the first sign of a grammatical error. The fastest way to my heart is abusing Elysium, so it's no surprise that I choose him for our first Employee Profile in quite a long time.
Read on for the interview!
"Who the [fudge] invited E Munnie anyway?" – Gumbie (among others)
1)Who the devil are you?
It's been said that I am the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled. Grandma says I'm a heart-breaker. I'll leave the decision up to you on whether you want to believe the anonymous, missing actor in that passive-voiced first sentence or if you want to believe a little, kind, old lady from a small town in Wisconsin.
My grandma also calls me "Erik" sometimes. My folks chose to spell it "the Swedish way" so that I could have "ethnicity" and "heritage." It also helps me tell from the envelope whether I was getting junk mail or bills.
As for my GWJ and XBLA tags, you can pronounce them however you want (it is the object of the signifier that is important, after all), just as long as we all know you're talking about me. Actually, just talking about me is what's important.
They started as intentional misspellings of "word-smith" and "E Money." These are actual things people have called me, which I find only slightly troubling.
What are you supposed to be doing during the day when you're reading GWJ?
I do insurance work in a cubicle. I realize that it's the sort of job I would claim to have if I was asked by someone in a bar and I wanted to make them lose interest in me. I like it well enough, but I often daydream about being a professor... or Adam Sandler.
How about family? Kids? Pets? Particularly meaningful inanimate objects?
"I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel." I come from a family of five kids, but there's no "Mrs. Wordsmythe" just yet.
I think my Weber grill is pretty sexy, though. I won't make the obvious pun there. I sometimes think about purchasing a dog or a Roomba. Also, I have this thing for E Hunnie.
What was your favorite game over the last year or so? Why?
Does XBLA Joust count? I sure like that one. It's got enhanced graphics (i.e., an non-black background) now! …Have I started every answer with a lame joke so far? Does that count as a game? I'm pretty good at it. I wouldn't call myself a "winner" per se, though.
On the "games as art" side, I really love BioShock and Mass Effect. BioShock did a lot of great things in terms of storytelling and in terms of meta-textual notions of volition and ethics in gaming. Mass Effect doesn't do as much outside the game itself, but it does an awfully good job of allowing for and adapting to various characters you may choose to role-play (and I'm a pretty big fan of RP). The character morality idea that was so lauded in Black & White, KotOR, BioShock, etc. was really intelligently done in ME.
On the "just games" side, I really dig the Rock Band-GH games as well as the Wii games. I don't know that I feel emotionally invested in them, though. I like them more the way I like ice cream.
Which game are you looking forward to most?
There are a lot of great games out now or soon to be released. My gamer cup truly runneth over with casual and lighter games, as well as with deeper games that, as of yet, haven't had all their expectations entirely quashed (e.g., Fable 2 and Too Human), but the top of my excitement is reserved for Fallout 3 and the Napoleonic miniatures rules I've been helping create with some friends and family. Who doesn't love pewter?
What is your fondest gaming memory?
That would probably go back to playing games with my brother as a kid. He's always been more "left brained" (and rather obsessive) and appreciates the challenge of grinding and the puzzle aspect of min/maxing characters. Rather than chart the desert in King's Quest 5 myself, I gave him some graph paper and a can of pop and went to bed. This worked well for RPG leveling, too. We had a really good time with Betrayal at Krondor and Ultima 7. We had a worse time when we got a new computer while playing U7 and had to reinstall it. He pulled out the 3.5 before it was done reading...
Wait, that's probably not a good memory.
Once we were both in high school, I helped found an RPG club so that I could more efficiently dork out those afternoons I wasn't already spending nerding it up with debate team and marching band. This might not surprise people, but I liked giving my fellow players a hard time in game: little moments like when my cleric was asked to heal the character who had neglected his friends in battle in favor of a lust for loot. The cleric laid his hands on the wounded dwarf and… cast inflict serious wounds. "My god is a god of vengeance!" declared the cleric.
Finally, why do you play games at all? Why haven't you outgrown them?
Is not all the world a game, and we merely quarters passing through its seedy, red-lit bowels?
I find it telling that nobody seems to ask this sort of question to an adult who plays sports recreationally into his or her adult years. Certainly sports tend to provide a side-benefit of exercise, but that is seldom the primary reason they're played. They're played for fun and for community.
Once upon a time, it was considered uncouth for a grown man to engage in any but a very select few physical activities. Instead they were expected to do things like read and write poetry for fun – and what kind of a nerd would do that? (Did I mention I love poetry?) Times have changed, but nobody will call you childish for reading Joyce or Milton. I'm not saying that Ken Levine is gaming's Kerouac, but he might at least be a Heinlein.
I also find it important to note that sports, poetry, and video games tend to be associated with drinking for me. Maybe most things do. That's a good thing, right?
Thanks for taking the time to answer our hard hitting questions! Any last words?
You're more than welcome, though you can probably tell that I have a tendency to avoid direct answers. I considered answering each question by drawing in the dirt and then telling a parable, but decided not to. As for last worlds, I was going to go with the "boneitis" quote, but Luna already took it. I'm not going to pout about it (here), though. Thanks for taking an interest, and thanks for providing such a wonderful site for us to fill with over-analysis and navel-gazing. Butt pats all around!