Roughly eight years ago, Shawn and I interviewed one another for what could best be described as no reason at all. The result can still be found here and here, and the people described within the text of those interviews basically don't exist any longer. So, we decided to revisit the experience of actually talking to one another.
In the intervening years since, I've basically played World of WarCraft and alienated the entire JRPG community. To be honest, both of those things feel like accomplishments to me, but as it turns out Shawn has done even more. Sort of. Let's find out ...
ELYSIUM: So, Cerits, eight years ago you and I took some time out of our busy days to interview one another for one of the first Employee Profiles. At the time, I suspect the reason we did this was so that I could slack off on having to actually write something of substance, and my how that has totally not changed in nearly a decade since. What has changed, however, is basically everything else.
For example, when we last conducted this, you weren’t married, you worked from home, you were excited to someday play World of WarCraft, and I’m pretty sure you were still in junior high school at the time. One of those things may not be true. Probably the part about being excited to play WoW.
So fast forward to 2012: How has the Certis of today evolved?
SHAWN: For one thing, he doesn’t like being called “Certis” anymore. It’s hard to detach yourself from an online name you choose 13 years ago because it wasn’t likely to be taken by someone in Everquest, so I’ve grudgingly kept it active, but I bristle at being called by that name. Especially in person. I threatened Cory Banks once. It wasn’t pretty.
Beyond my burgeoning bloodlust, things have definitely changed. I’m vice president of a commercial security company. I’ve gone from looking forward to WoW to actively despising the Diku model of game design. I’ve married the smartest, funniest, sexiest woman on the planet and now we have TWO cats. I also own a house and I paid off my car.
ELYSIUM: Bah, I threaten Cory Banks if he forgets to put enough lime in the Corona I have him pour into my mouth while I play Rock Band. You and I are of different minds on the online persona front: I still embrace “Elysium” as sort of an alter-ego. It’s interesting, because I think the “Certis” identify had its own flavor too. Is it that it was just a name you weren’t ever attached to, or is it that who you are now doesn’t fit that name?
CERTIS: I think I’ve become more comfortable with my “real life” blending into my online life. My staff all know I do a podcast and run a website. If you search my full name on Google it’s pretty much all laid out there. Certis was useful to keep a sort of separation between my hobby stuff and my work, but as you get older, you learn that if you want to be happy you have to integrate and embrace all aspects of yourself. Be a complete person. So “Certis” has become unnecessary in a lot of ways.
ELYSIUM: You know, it’s not just how you (or I for that matter) have changed. The site is also in a really different place than it was eight years ago. What’s the thing you’re most proud of since 2004, and is there anything you kind of miss from the old days?
SHAWN: I’m most proud of all the ways the community has made the site their own. It’s not about me pushing things so much anymore. International Goodjer Day, various slap & tickles, marriages, game nights, MMO guilds and all kinds of thing happen without me having to lift a finger or drum up support. We have people like Erik “wordsmythe” Hanson running the front page editorial and making it sing. The fact that GWJ is a place that thrives and grows in its own organic, perfect way is about the greatest thing I could have hoped for.
What do I miss from the old days? Having more free time to pour into the site. We’re looking at updating to the latest version of Drupal thanks to Jeff Beeman and our community development squad, but everything takes longer as we get older and more busy.
ELYSIUM : I remember the days where, on any given weekday, you and I would strike up a mid-day conversation because we were both working at home. Now getting a chance to talk more than once a week is cause for celebration. What I’m saying is why don’t you love me anymore?
CERTIS: … Says the man who hasn’t reinstalled his IM client since his last format. I’ve long since given up in the war between me and your needy children. Once we hit retirement age, we can go back to talking before 9PM. Maybe.
ELYSIUM: But, I’m getting off track. 2004 was the year games like Doom 3, Rise of Nations: Thrones and Patriots, Tribes: Vengeance, EverQuest 2 and Half Life 2 were released. What are the best games you’ve played since, and how have your tastes changed?
CERTIS: I’ve grown to appreciate difficult, emergent experiences. Games like Demon’s Souls and The Witcher demand a certain kind of patience and willingness to wade through ignorance to come to a kind of understanding and appreciation of what you’re doing. I think they’re a much closer approximation to the struggle of our day-to-day lives, learning and pushing through things. Over the years games have tried to shortcut us through the toughest parts and teach us every step before we knew we had to learn it. It’s a tough balance to strike, because no one likes feeling stupid or befuddled, but so long as I think it’s my fault I died or missed something, we’re all good.
People who go out of their way to play bland, hold-your-hand-every-step-of-the-way, paint-by-number MMO games are the lowest form of human.
ELYSIUM: A point you never fail to make with me. We lesser human forms have our dignity, you know. If I could, right now I would press the number 1 and the number 3, assuming it’s not on cooldown, to auto-attack you.
So, what are you hoping we are talking about in 8 more years? Do you think there are big changes on the way, whether for gaming or for you?
CERTIS: In eight years I’ll be 39 years old and you’ll be stumbling your way toward 50. How’s that taste? Good?
The key to happiness is surrounding yourself with people older than you. It’s like a fountain of youth! I’m hoping that once you get your hearing aid re-tuned, we’ll be talking about the amazing advances in artificial intelligence and emergent games that rival the scripted AAA titles we enjoy today. Personally, I have a double-secret aim to be semi-retired by the time I roll into my forties. It’s more of an intention than a goal, really, but I think it’s important to have something in the background guiding all the little decisions we make each day.
ELYSIUM: I, for one, plan to be talking about how great being a millionaire is in eight years. Here’s a preview: it’s going to be pretty damned awesome.
Any final thoughts to send out to GWJers, words of wisdom for the coming years?
CERTIS: Like anything else in life, Gamers With Jobs has always been a place where what you seek, you shall find. The more you’re willing to shed a bit of your online persona in favor of being a more genuine, complete person, the more you’re going to get out of it. I really appreciate having all of these amazing people here who support each other and don’t expect anything in return. I hope we can maintain that giving spirit when we sell out to IGN.
ELYSIUM: Listen, just for the record you may have been right, by the way. Entergament might have been a kickass name for the site.
See you in about a decade.