Employee Profile: Switchbreak
When the zombie apocalypse does finally hit, there's no question whose team I'm joining. According to Steam, veteran Goodjer Switchbreak has logged a mind-boggling 79 DAYS of playtime in Left 4 Dead and its sequel. The man has personally slaughtered over half a million infected — 539,828 as of this writing, to be exact. A few thousand more and he'll have killed more undead than there are people in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Talk about Breaking Bad.
Remarkably, though, Switchbreak has remained not only sane, but also busy. A self-described "code monkey by trade," he somehow finds time between working a day job and destroying zombie hordes to create games of his own. One of them, Dude Icarus, was profiled in our Fringe Busters column a few years back. But Switchbreak doesn't just make games — he also has a lot of great insight on how they work. I'm indebted to him for helping me wrap up my blog series on Deadly Premonition with his excellent analysis. Although Switch doesn't see eye-to-eye with me on Deadly Premonition, and despite his stubborn refusal to appreciate The Chronicles of Riddick as the best movie ever made, I'm immensely glad to have made his acquaintance.
1) Who the devil are you?
I am not much of anyone! If you know me on here, you probably play Left 4 Dead or hang out in IRC, where I am often found being loud and boisterous.
2) What are you supposed to be doing when you're reading GWJ?
I am a "programmer/analyst" tapping away in a cubicle! As livings go, it is an okay one.
3) When you're not working or gaming, what do you do with your time?
I make games! Generally small ones, though I dream big. One of them was on this site's front page once, it is my dream to achieve that level of exposure again. The project I'm working on currently is a super exciting one with some other GWJer collaborators. It will be worlds of awesome.
4) When and/or how did you get into gaming?
I feel kind of like I was born with a controller in my hand. Super Mario Bros was the first one that really grabbed me for extended periods of time. I never had a Nintendo at home growing up so I would be a constant burden on friends who were more lucky than me on that front.
5) Why do you play games? Why haven't you outgrown them?
A lot of times I do look at games and think, "I'm too old for this!" But there are games that have left deep impacts on me, and a lot of my fascination with the form is me following a curiosity of how games have the power to leave such lasting images, and which ones are good at it. There is something about looking back on a game you've played that now feels like a place that you've visited, one that has its own whole set of physical properties that after a while feel like a second nature to you. I've always been of the opinion that there is a lot about games that is childish, but if you look and that's all you see, then you haven't looked hard enough.
6) What is your favorite game that you're playing right now? Why?
I still pour a ton of time into Left 4 Dead 2, Counter-Strike and DustForce. There is something about skill gaming that really appeals to me; I love climbing that difficulty curve and trying to keep track of a giant number of things in your head all at once.
7) Which upcoming game are you looking forward to most? Why?
Devil May Cry 5, SimCity 5 and BioShock: Infinite. Devil May Cry is the one I am likely to play the most, and BioShock: Infinite looks to be on a level all its own. SimCity 5 I am kind of tentatively looking forward to — simulation is fascinating to me in games (or hell, in general) but sim games are often hit or miss in terms of having interesting systems. The XCOM strategy game looks fantastic! Tkyl better not let us down on that one.
8) What first brought you to GWJ? What keeps you coming back?
What first brought me here was actually one of the podcast interviews with Ken Levine. It was a fantastic interview, and I wound up sticking around after listening to it. What keeps me here are the fantastic people who are often up to shooting zombies with me.
9) Do you have any notable rivalries and/or friendships with someone on GWJ?
There are so many people I like! Pneuman and katisu are awesome and tell me stories about Australia and their stoned koala bears. Pneuman made awesome music for some of my games, and they sent me a box of Australian foods and candy, so they are basically the best people alive. Ragin_Redneck is really nice, even though he stopped playing Left 4 Dead. Everybody misses him and he should come back and play with us again sometime. Pyroman[FO] is super cool because he wrote a post about a game I made once, so I am a fan of his for life. Q-Stone is a jerk! And he already had a profile, so he can't respond in his shoutouts!
10) Thanks for taking the time to answer our hard-hitting questions! Any last words?
This place is awesome, without it I almost certainly would not have found a circle of personable folks who care about video games to talk extensively to, and I would almost certainly be spending my time doing something more productive but far less fun.