-by Dylan DiBona
Welcome everybody to a very special write-up for me. As I said in my hiatus announcement, I really want to interview people as I find it absolutely vital to any form of journalism. With that, I am thrilled to show you my very first interview with a great person named Craig.
Craig was at one point a YouTuber during the peak popularity of game collection videos. Essentially leaving YouTube behind (not officially), he occasionally writes on his website TV AND LUST. His most current work is on his new podcast Ludowave Radio, where he and his two buddies Chris and Seth discuss games, life and joke around. I would dub it almost as a “slice of life” podcast with gaming as a central theme.
I’ve left comments on many of Craig’s videos during the years, but it wasn’t until now that he finally saw me thanking him for changing how I looked at games. I think I stumbled upon his channel while looking for some cool Xbox 360 games to play, but what I found was a new way to look at my hobby, at my passion. Here is a brief interview with one of the people responsible for me making this blog in the first place:
- Over the past few years you’ve been very open about the connection between your mental health and video games. You wrote an emotion-packed trio of articles that mainly focused on the rise and fall of your collection size and happiness. Personally I felt that the trio left on a bittersweet note. I was wondering if you could share maybe one or two of your happiest moments during your collecting peak. Like, did you finally get a game you had wanted forever and it was every bit as amazing as you had hoped?
Oh, there were absolutely times of happiness. Mental illnesses sometimes make them difficult to parse out, like, is this a manic episode or am I actually feeling joy, you know? But, I always enjoyed trying long forgotten hardware like the Fairchild Channel F and then sharing my experiences through YouTube. Those were genuinely good times. Felt like true discovery (even if the thing I’m “discovering” is actually older than I am!)
- As someone who has written articles and recorded videos, which did you find more fulfilling? In this scenario let’s imagine that they would both garner a sizable audience, would that change your answer?
If the audience size is the same, I don’t think it really matters. Videos take a lot more time, so there’s a greater sense of satisfaction in seeing all those pieces come together, but woof, the work schedule can be brutal. Writing comes easier to me though, like I’m executing on an innate skill, and that’s nice. In the end, I just like reaching people, sharing with them something they may not know. It’s great to know you introduced games or consoles or genres to folks.
- One of the major reasons you told your audience you would be leaving YouTube behind is due to a small and shrinking audience. If you could go back to any period of time and make one move or one video that you think could’ve bumped your numbers up plenty, what would it be?
Oh no, I wouldn’t change any video or do anything differently in that regard. I made the videos I wanted to make and talked about the things I found interesting and fun, and if the audience flocked to other, newer things, so be it. I’ve accepted that. Marketing is my day job, so I’m not oblivious to the kinds of things I could have done to get eyes on my videos, but they were usually things that I didn’t want to do.
- You taught me in my early teens that gaming isn’t just silly colorful pixels and pushing buttons, there’s something more that connects with us as people. Did you ever have a single moment where you realized that gaming and collecting wasn’t just a hobby, it was a passion?
No, I don’t think there was a single moment. How I think about games and what value they have in my life has always been an iterative process. Games have always been IMPORTANT to me, but what that importance is, that’s always evolving.
- This will be the last of the “serious” questions; who would Craig be without video games?
Probably still a nerd, just a different kind of nerd.
Okay, I bet that last one was a toughie, let’s have a bit more fun:
- You and I are avid 3DS lovers. You made a Top 10 DS Games video a few years back; do you have a Top 5 or 10 in your head for the 3DS?
Oh no, I am absolutely unprepared to make that list, haha. I think Nintendo has put out some great games on the system. Less experimental than the their games on the DS, maybe, but much more refined. Bravely Default, Monster Hunter Generations, Resident Evil Revelations, and the Guild series are among my favorite third party games.
Kid Icarus Uprising is, at least right now, my favorite game on the 3DS.
- You have a friend over your house and they want to play a game with you, what’s the first game you’d recommend playing together?
Mario Kart. Mario Kart is instantly accessible to just about anyone and it’s a blast to play.
- What is one overly priced retro game you would warn collectors isn’t worth it?
I’m no expert on value or anything, but my knee jerk reaction is Earthbound. It’s just so expensive these days. You could buy a New 2DS XL and download it on the Virtual Console for the cost of the cart alone. And what would be the point in buying the cart alone anyway? Any collector would want the whole box set, and that is outrageously pricy.
Just download the game on your 3DS or Wii U. It’s a great game. Cardboard isn’t that valuable.
- I know you love handhelds, so the Nintendo Switch must be your dream. What games would it take the Switch to have in order to become your all-time favorite system?
Hm, it would need a few technical refinements as of right now. Like, better data management and cloud saves. Things like that. That’s not stuff of the future anymore. It’s normal for devices for like these and Nintendo is behind the pack (as usual).
As for games, that’s hard to say. You can’t always predict what will click with you. Nintendo has and is putting out some terrific stuff, so that’s a plus. And the indie support, so far, has been good in my book. I think I’d like to see an updated Wave Race. I’ve been saying that for a while, and I’m not really sure why! It’s not like the series is my favorite or anything, but I think I’d really like a new one is all. Oh, and an expanded Pilotwings along the lines of Pilotwings Resort on the 3DS. That was a game that could have used just a little more content, but it was a great game to just chill out with. Very relaxing.
Oh, and better parity with Japanese releases. 3DS has been ok in this regard, though sometimes localization has been really slow. But Switch already has a couple of games (Monster Hunter XX and Dragon Quest Warriors I-II come to mind) within its first few months that don’t have North American announcements and that’s frustrating.
- This is the question I was most excited for. For years, you and I shared the opinion that The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is the greatest game made. A little over two months ago you declared Breath of the Wild as the best game you’ve ever played. With all hype and excitement aside, do you stand by that opinion? As a fellow Majora’s Mask lover, I’d love to know how or why you came to that conclusion.
I do stand by that opinion! I think Breath of the Wild hits on all the notes I enjoyed about Majora’s Mask, particularly the sense of melancholy and the freedom to explore and experiment, and utilizes them to a much better degree. And not just that, but it does some absolutely wonderful things all its own. It’s an unforgettable experience.
- I’m sorry for cheating and adding an eleventh question, but this one I’ve been begging to ask you back when you used to vlogs with the Q & A segments at the end. You usually say video games can’t or just haven’t told any good stories. Is there even one game story out there that you feel is “great”? Not just in terms of video game stories, just stories in general.
This is a complicated question. As with any opinion I may have, my views evolve and change over time, and I’m not as ardent about this subject as I once was. But my short answer is no. I don’t think there is any video game story that stands as “great” in its own regard. Taking a video game as a total sum of its parts as a story telling device is almost impossible. Is the story in Uncharted just the cutscenes, or does the game play count as part of the narrative count too? Mowing down hundreds of dudes for a couple dozen hours just because they want the same treasure as you is a really bad story. But if it doesn’t count, why is it even there then?
Storytelling is a dictatorial thing. There is a teller. Video games relinquish too much control to the player for that. Storytelling can also be a collaborative thing too, of course, which is why some of the best “stories” in games are emergent stories we build ourselves, but that has nothing to do with the written narrative and are usually not what we traditionally think of as video game stories.
Complicated subject! I could go on forever!
And with those eleven questions I learned more about one of my favorite online game content creators. Interviewing Craig not only as a content creator but as a fellow lover of games was a remarkable experience, one that gives me inspiration to keep writing. Craig, if you’re reading this, thanks again.
So what do you guys think? Let me know down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.