Every month here at Gaygamer.net, I'll be introducing you to one of the more interesting gamers I've encountered in my travels, usually from our forums. For those of you who don't know, Gaygamer.net has an active and wide-ranging forum with, as we get in to below, all sorts of topics to discuss.
The purpose of Interview With A Gamer is to get a glimpse in to the human side of video games, and in to the fascinating lives and opinions of gamers around the world. The topics are as wide-ranging and interesting as the interviewees themselves.
For the inaugural interview, I couldn't help but choose one of the most thoughtful and erudite members of the forums. His name is Carlos (pictured above), and he hails from the busy city of San José, the capital of Costa Rica. By a twist of (very welcome) luck, I was visiting Costa Rica with my husband, and Carlos was gracious enough to take some time out to speak to Gaygamer.net.
As I mentioned, Carlos is insightful and very well-spoken, so I found it very difficult to edit this interview for length. Instead, it will be appearing in two parts, the first today and the second tomorrow.
In this installment we talk about the site, the forums, and motion control, as well as gaming life in Costa Rica, Spanish in video games, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, and how gay people love Chun-Li.
Read it after the jump.
C: There was a link from the article to a thread on the site about the hottest video game characters, and from there I found my way to the Social Chat and got hooked.
GG: There is a lot more to the [forums], and I know that some people complain that a lot of the threads aren't about gaming.
C: Exactly, and if you go to the gaming part, the amount of threads is really small in comparison to the social threads, the dating threads...[smiling] and the flame wars.
GG: [laughing] So, why do you think that is? That on a forum about gaming it's more about...community?
C: Well, I guess it has to do with the fact that not only are we gamers, we are also gay. Because gay people are a minority we like to kind of huddle together, to find a common place. So we first start with gaming and then, "Okay, now, I wonder if I can meet a hot gamer here?" So people start talking about other things.
GG: So not only are you gay and you have that in common, but you actually have something else in common as well.
C: Exaclty, they start with one thing and then they see if they can meet other gay gamers here and see what other interests they have.
GG: So there's the movie part, and the music part, and the "which system do you use?"
C: Yes, and there's this thing that a lot of gamers are basically...geeks. So that involves a lot of movies, TV shows, technology, etc., as people move off from gaming and start talking about something else.
GG: And there are a lot of posters from the UK, and all around the Mediterannean, and I find it really interesting to hear what they have an international perspective on gaming, and on being queer and gaming. And on that note, I'm wondering what gaming life is like in Costa Rica?
C: Actually I would say gaming here is pretty wide-spread, but it's a little bit...immature. There's not that many people who take gaming seriously. For example, I love Silent Hill, so when I was with Silent Hill games, or Final Fantasy I would get completely absorbed by it, but most people here see it as kind of a casual thing because there's still that notion that gaming is just something for kids. We still haven't gotten the US/Canada/UK idea that it's okay to be over 30 and like video games. So people in time start moving out of [gaming], and people who stay only stay for sports or racing because they feel that's a very mature thing.
But when it comes to the games that people start with, like platformers, RPGs, survival horror, people don't really take those so seriously. But there are people who take gaming very, very seriously. For example, where I work it is very free how you express your individuality, and you will see tons and tons of cubicles filled with video game stuff, like Super Mario Bros., Metroid, or anything video game related. That's where you realize there are a lot of people who take it seriously, they're just not as visible yet.
GG: And, do you do a lot of on-line gaming?
C: I just started doing it because I just got my PS3 last year. So at first I was just playing all the games I hadn't played before, and just now I'm getting to it - mostly with fighting games, like Street Fighter.
GG: And what did you have before your PS3?
C: I had a PS2, and right now I'm looking to buy a Wii.
GG: Oh yeah? Well that brings me to another question: I know that brand loyalty is a big thing in a lot of countries. I mean, Xbox doesn't sell well in Japan, meanwhile it's one of the biggest platforms in North America. And, I understand there's a lot of Sony brand loyalty in Australia... Is that a phenomenon in Costa Rica?
C: Yes, here we have more of a Sony loyalty, although the Wii has been very, very well embraced. It's basically the same phenomenon that has happened in the rest of the world: People who have never played video games are getting Wiis. So I would say first we have Sony, then we have Nintendo, and then we have Microsoft here, when it comes to video games.
GG: And in Canada there's a stereotype in the queer community that gay people love Nintendo.
GG: I'm not sure where it comes from, but it seems to be true. Just about every queer gamer I know in Canada has a Wii, or has access to a Wii - no pun intended - so is that a phenomenon here? And is there a queer gaming culture?
C: Not really, as far as I know. There's a lot of gay people who like gaming, but there's not so much as a "culture", so we haven't developed a stereotype when it comes to that. ...Except the one that happens in the rest of the world, which is that every gay person likes to play as Chun-Li in Street Fighter. That holds up here.
GG: [laughs] Do you play Chun-Li?
C: Yes, I do.
GG: I've never played Chun Li, but I've played Dhalsim, and E. Honda. I love E. Honda.
C: I usually like the characters who people never play with; so as opposed to the United States, people here in Costa Rica rarely ever play with Zangief or Dhalsim. They always go for Ryu, Ken, Chun Li. I always play with Chun Li, yes, I admit it, but I was more a Dhalsim guy.
GG: [laughs] There's nothing wrong with Chun Li. She's fast.
GG: Dhalsim I like because of his reach. I mean...I'm kind of cheap.
GG: Like, whenever I play Smash Bros. I play with Samus because you can shoot people. You don't need to be anywhere near someone with Dhalsim: You can punch people from right across the stage.
C: Exactly, but the problem with that is that whenever you try to punch someone and you miss, you're in for trouble.
GG: That's true.
C: Because they have every opening to kick your ass.
I mean, I was never a fighting game expert. I was good, but not incredibly good. My one advantage was that no matter what character I took, my timing was perfect. So, for example, in Mortal Kombat, with Sub Zero I don't think I ever missed a single ice ball.
GG: Okay, so...what would be the favourite games here? I know you mentioned sports games being considered more mature...
C: Here a lot of people like to play racing games, so Gran Turismo, Need For Speed.
GG: I think Need For Speed is huge everywhere.
C: In Costa Rica, most gamers like mostly sports and racing games, and there's a very straight culture where there's an idea of straight guys being obsessed with cars, so they don't necessarily get the games for the competition itself, but because of how cool the cars they can get are.
GG: So it gives them something to identify with?
C: Yes. Exactly.
GG: Like Chun Li.
C: Like Chun Li. [laughs] And the biggest gaming fans here mostly go for RPGs or online shooters. Gears of War was huge here, even though it was for Xbox, and Xbox doesn't really have much of a following here. But that game in particular was huge. And for some reason Resident Evil 5 was a huge hit, even though in the rest of the world there was this opinion that "It's good, but it's not that amazing."
GG: I think it felt a lot like Resident Evil 4.5 to a lot of people.
GG: Did you play Resident Evil 4?
C: I played Resident Evil 4, yes. I loved it because I thought it was necessary to move the series somewhere, but they basically forgot about the horror part of it. But it was really good.
GG: I hear that Resident Evil: Revelations for the 3DS is going back to the horror roots. So it looks like Resident Evil 5, scarily similar considering it's on a little wee handheld, but in a lot of the footage of it there's a lot of stalking down hallways, there's not a lot of zombies, there's not a lot of ammo.
C: The thing I felt with Resident Evil, especially Resident Evil 5, is that they just went crazy with the whole siege idea. That you suddenly got surrounded by hundreds of zombies. It was cool in Resident Evil 4, but I think it was over-done in Resident Evil 5.
GG: Okay, now this is a little bit off-topic, but I've always been curious: I'm not a native Spanish speaker. How was the Spanish in Resident Evil 4?
C: It was actually really good.
GG: [laughs] Really?
C: [laughs] And it's good that you brought that up, because we get this thing that whenever we watch movies in which there are Hispanic or Spanish speaking characters, they're all Mexican or Puerto Rican. So for somebody who's from Costa Rica or any other [Spanish-speaking] country, the accent is very different. And sometimes they have people from Spain in those movies or games, and they sound Mexican, which is ridiculous.
One of the things that I liked about Resident Evil 4 is that they got the accent perfectly. I think they actually got some native Spanish speakers to do it, because it is a Spanish accent. That was a little detail that I really loved.
GG: So, we were talking about Resident Evil 4 and 5 moving the game forward...where would you like to see video games going in the near future?
C: Well, I think everyone likes the idea that now we're slowly moving away from the physical copies of the games. You can get the games downloaded, and now there's the idea of adding patches to the games, or additional content. That's a tendency that I really like, because it was really boring whenever you got a game, and you finished it and you realized "Okay, I have no reason to play this game again." Now they've come up with downloadable content they have expansions to the game, and I really like that games can end up becoming like an evolving series. I would like that, like you have TV series, or movies expanding.
I like the fact that, like with Kinect or Move, or initially with the Wii, that it's becoming something more interactive. What I don't like is the tendency of it being like "Yeah! We're playing ping pong!" or "I'm petting an animal!" I think it's really good technology not being used right.
GG: So what would you say are good examples of motion control?
C: Anything that makes you feel like you're connecting, like you're part of the action, that's good. But I think the example of just petting animals...no matter what you do, you're not petting an animal. But, for example, say you're playing as a guy with a sword, the more integrated your moves are with the controller, the more you are in the action. Anything that brings you closer to the action in the game is a good example.
Make sure to check in for the next instalment tomorrow, when we get deeper in to DLC, queer-positive games, homophobia in gaming, and how game developers can be more inclusive for LGBT gamers. We also touch on Silent Hill, Final Fantasy, and Metal Gear Solid.
Thoughts or comments? Discuss below, or head on over to the forums.