In the first instalment of our inaugural Interview With A Gamer, I introduced you to Carlos from San José, an avid gamer and one of the more interesting members of our forums. If you haven't read the first part, I recommend you do - Carlos is an fascinating guy, and I'd hate you to miss out on what he has to say about gaming life in Costa Rica, Resident Evil, motion control, and much more.
For part two of my interview with Carlos, keep reading after the jump.
GG: So we had talked about downloadable content. I hear a lot of people saying that when you buy a game you should have the whole game, and that downloadble content is a way for producers and distributors to squeeze money out of people who have already bought a game, with content that they should already have. What do you think of that argument?
C: It's partially right. The thing that we forget in a lot of "geek" culture is that, ultimately, a TV producer, a movie producer, or a game developer is trying to make money; they're just trying to entertain you while they make money. So they have to find a way to keep what they're doing profitable. So in a way I agree because that gives them the profit to continue making good content, but on the other hand it is a bad thing that sometimes they're purposely taking out content, not including it in the game, to put it in afterwards to get your money. On that point I agree wholeheartedly - that if they're going to add additional content, it shouldn't feel like it's something they took out of the game in order to sell it to you afterwards.
GG: So I guess that goes to what you were saying that downloadable content should not be a way to complete games, but to evolve them in to a longer experience.
C: Exactly. I think the idea of evolving a game is, for example, let's see what happened to this character while this other one was doing something, like an additional scenario, or what happened afterwards. Was there another adventure afterwards that was related to this one? Or, additional quests? As long as the main quest, the main storyline of the game feels complete. For example, there was this character who appeared in the game for two seconds, said two words, and went away and never appeared again...it feels incomplete. That feels kind of...cheap.
GG: Have you played Vice City?
C: Yes, but not the whole game.
GG: Because what you're describing sounds a little bit like what they've done. So The Ballad of Gay Tony is the one that most of the people on our forums are going to know about... It takes a character who's in the game, but not huge, and expands it and gives a fuller story.
C: Of course.
GG: And, yeah, I totally agree with that. It gives you room to tell a story in the same universe, and you're not charging someone for an entirely new game, but you're expanding on the experience they've already bought.
C: One good example that, well, might not be a good example, is that when I played Silent Hill, the very first one, there was this character, Cybil, the cop: She just goes away for half the story, and then comes back near the end. When they released the Silent Hill Play Novel, which was not released in the US, it had some of the things that she did while she was away. So let's say Silent Hill was released now: You get the exact same thing, you play as Harry Mason, you finish the game, and later on they release downloadable content that shows you Cybil's part of the story. That feels like organic content, and I would have killed for something like that. But if they just take out a big chunk of Harry's story and just add it later on, it just feels like they took your money, and in that respect I would agree completely with people who complain about downloadable content.
GG: To switch topics a little bit, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on how homophobic or queer-positive games themselves are right now, and how you'd like to see that move.
C: Actually, I hadn't really thought of homophobic games, or gay-friendly games until I saw the Sims. I found it really funny because this friend of mine had it and made this character that looked like me, and one that looked like my boyfriend at-the-time, and it was really fun watching everything develop. I like that, since these are RPGs and games that allow you to create your character, that they would allow you to have that option, to make your character more like you and not force you to, since you're a male character, to save this princess. Maybe the game switches it so that you have to save a prince?
Even though I haven't encountered homophobia in gaming, probably because I'm not a very avid online gamer - because I've heard on line that they do find a lot of homophobia, mostly in really immature comments - I would really like to see that being introduced more in games, the possibility of relating more to your character when it comes to your own sexuality. Even though your character's sexuality might not be that relevant to the character itself it might be that little detail, even it it's only mentioned once - "Oh my God, my character's gay!"
GG: I'm totally with you on that one; I think in a lot of games you have the option to change your character's hair colour, and the clothes that they wear, and how tall they are - or whether they're a little monkey, or a cat woman, or whatever - and that's to help ease people in, to make an avatar of them, or somebody they'd like to be. But huge character traits like, you know, who you love, are left on the sidelines.
C: Exactly, and here's an idea, since we were talking about downloadable content: A patch that changes your character in to a gay character, and his love in to someone of the same sex.
The thing is, I remember when I was playing Final Fantasy 8, it was my first Final Fantasy, I remember that there was this really unimportant scene in which it went into a bar and there was this girl. You could talk to here and there was this option to select what you were going to say to her. At one point, one of the options was "Are you a woman?" And initially I thought, "You know that's funny, because you could probably say that if she's a really ugly girl and you don't know..." But when you choose that option she turns around like "Oh my God! I think you found out I'm a man!" [laughs] And that was my first experience with Final Fantasy, thinking "Oh my God!" So little details like that make you think your sexuality or your gender identity are included in the game.
GG: So it's a little olive branch to show that...
C: Exactly. Even if it's just like an Easter Egg that makes it feel like "Hey look, guys, we're including you." That feels good.
GG: Yeah. Well, I thought I would ask you a fluff question before we wrap up: Are there any characters you really wish were gay?
C: Solid Snake. I've been in love with Solid Snake since the first one, even though he looked like a really blocky character.
GG: And Zangief I guess?
C: I don't know if you knew, but on Metal Gear Solid 4, there was this really nice angle where he started crawling down and the camera went behind him, and I was like [makes a funny face and laughs].
GG: [Laughs] So Carlos, thank you very much for bearing with me. I look forward to hearing more of what you have to say around the forums. If anyone's interested, you are there, you're very interesting, and you're a very accessible dude.
Author's note: I would also like to thank my long-suffering husband, who videorecorded the entire interview with me and Carlos, and provided me with the screen grabs for this article when it turned out the sound was really low. Hopefully our readership will be able to see his marvellous camera work in action in an upcoming Interview With A Gamer.
Thoughts or comments? Discuss below, or head on over to the forums.