I’m a Director of a small web development company called cuttlefish.com so I work a full time job (well, 10 to 5.30) and basically run my games site (NintendoLife.com) as a hobby using software I develop for cuttlefish.
I’ve always been a gamer and used to run a Gamecube site called Gamecube-UK.com that was pretty popular whilst it was around, sadly lack of free time when I first started working ment I had to close the site. I’ve been working on NintendoLife.com now for almost a year and its coming together pretty nicely, hopefully a big year for the site
:) I’ve got round the free time problem by my co-workers allowing me to run the site whilst im at work – aslong as I get all our client work done aswell!
Question 1: Apart from gaming what else do you do with your time?
Ant: Well I’m a full time web developer, so pretty much all of my time is spent online. When I do finally get some time to myself it’s oftern watching movies, I watch quite alot really and easily rivals my games collection.
I’ve enjoyed alot of asian cinema in recent years, places like Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan have been releasing some great refreshing alternatives to the same-old same-old hollywood movies.
I’ve also been pretty big on music since my early teens, I listen to a vast array of styles ranging all the way across electronic, hip-hop, drum & bass, breakbeat and of course rock.
Recently I’ve been loving pretty much every release on Hospital Records, you should really checkout their podcast if your into dnb.
Andy: Do you have your own place, (I’m imagining home cinema and audio rooms)?
Ant: I’ve always been into the home cinema thing, the first hifi I bought for my room was a Pro-Logic set. Nowadays I’ve got a 42″ Plasma, with a full 6.1 speaker setup. I’ve taken quite alot of pride in building my home cinema over the years, now complete its really added to all the movies, games and tv shows.
Whilst not being a huge TV watcher, I’ve really got into some of the American TV shows of late, shows like 24, Prison Break, Lost and more recently Heroes have all been excellent.
Andy: Are your friends into movies/games as well?
Ant: I actually have more hardcore film friends than I do gaming friends, conversations down the pub oftern revolve around movies rather than games. Although I did once win a bet with a friend that involved Mario Kart on the SNES! The majority of my gaming friends are online
Andy: What’s your games setup like, pure Nintendo?
Ant: I’m not a Nintendo purest, but they’ve been the most consistent for my tastes over the years. I was a huge fan of the PSOne and also the Dreamcast, not forgetting that the Saturn actually had some great titles aswell. I also own a Xbox. I don’t currently own a PS3 or Xbox360, but no doubt will take the plunge when Burnout 5 finally surfaces.
Question2: What are your favourite games sites?
Ant: I don’t actually get alot of time to keep upto date with the gaming news, so I like sites that get straight to the point. In a professional sense I love the EuroGamer .net and GamesIndustry.biz sites.
Non-professional, I love what RawMeatCowboy is doing over at GoNintendo, I dunno how he manages to post so much stuff! MattG at PressTheButtons has a great gaming blog and also the guys over at 4ColorRebellion, great site. Couple of friends have also recently setup the Virtual Console Archive which is becoming more and more useful.
For general gaming news though, I basically just keep my eye on Google News and Digg.
Andy: You mention EuroGamer, are there any other UK focused sites you frequent?
Ant: The guys over at British Gaming Blog are doing nice blog and of course Jorge over at Cubed3.com.
Question 3: Which people have most influenced your games journalism?
Ant: The developers, I think these guys don’t get the credit they deserve, they are the only reason we’re here talking about games right now. I think because I come from a technical background, I understand how much work goes into making the games we see today. Whilst I’ve never programmed games, I used to dabble in mods and level editors (Hacking Doom II levels was great fun!)
With this is mind, it really influences the way I talk about games and how I rate them, because generally you know if something was actually difficult for the developer to build or if they were just lazy.
Does that also affect how you play games?
Ant: Maybe, but not alot.. I’m not the kinda person that gets up tight about glitches and bugs in game. It’s poorly design menus and loading screens that annoy me the most!
Question 4: What are the stand out experiences you have had with video games?
Ant: There have been many “highlights” in the past 17 years of gaming. But generally I’m one of those people that really loves the triple A titles, for example, I’d happily wait 3 years for a new Zelda installment.
It’s not just the games that give me great memories though, its all the little details. I remember taking a day off from school when Banjo-Kazooie first came out, or when F-Zero X arrived all the way from Japan. Feeling my whole body shaking as I finally completed Super Mario Land on the Gameboy. I could probably write an entire article on my favourite experiences in games.
Andy: Tell me more about finishing Super Mario Land, I had a Gameboy in the early 90’s but never finished it!
Ant: Ironically the last level in Mario Land is more like space invaders than anything else, your in the Mario Plane ™ and have to a) shoot the boss, whilst b) dodging his splitting fireballs, I remember it taking quite a few attempts before finally beating it!
Andy: Hey I do remember that now, it’s all coming back. And does that experience stay with you when you have played subsequent Mario games?
Ant: Not really no, for Mario the games are actually quite different for each generation, both in terms of control and activities.
Andy: Although the theme of exploration and the experience of a rich world to run around in seem to perpetuate for me. There’s always one more block to get to.
Question 5: Turning now to talk about your writing, what is your favourite aspect of game blogging?
Ant: You know, I don’t actually have an interest in journalism or writing in general per se, I have horrible handwriting and only managed a C at English GSCE, I think thats why I became a programmer!
What is addictive for me is getting a brand new game and telling people about it, I’m sure if I didn’t have the skills to build my own site I would be writing for another.
I’ve always been the guy to ask about games in my circle of friends even now at work its the same, I’d like to think people believe I have good judgement in games.
Andy: What part of your site do you most like writing for? News, previews, reviews?
Ant: It’s got to be reviews, especially import titles. It’s great to write about games you know the majority of the country hasn’t played it! I also quite like writing original articles and guides.
Andy: It seems like you like being on the cutting edge of the industry and then writing about it to let everyone else in on the secret. Truely the mark of every good journalist.
Ant: I think I actually like helping people, I’ve found alot of the articles I’ve written offer advice and help to those seeking answers on subjects, for example the knowledge I’ve build over the years from the Home Cinema allowed me to write the Wii AV Hardware Guide and the fact that I’ve imported consoles in the past, the Wii Importing Guide. We even had a few phone calls to the office asking advice on step downs and component cables!
Question 6: What is disctictive about your site? Is it these guides and articles?
Ant: I don’t really know whats distinctive about Nintendo Life, we get alot of positive feedback on the visual style, people comment that its refreshing, light and clean layout , instead of the classic dark and compact gaming site.
I think our writing style is a positive aswell, our reviews are very much to the point and they are written by gamers for gamers.
Andy: ‘By gamers for gamers’ that’s something that we at Game People can really identify with. How many gamers do you have writing for you at any one time?
Ant: We only have a small core team, most of which I’ve known since my previous gaming site, Gamecube-UK.com. We’ve had a number of guest reviewers over the last year, this is something we want to increase. We’re in the process of building a pool of like-minded reviewers so we can cover a wider range of titles.
Question 7: How do you think game journalism needs to evolve? And how does your ‘by gamers for gamers’ approach fit into this?
Ant: It’s an interesting one, I can see more and more readership shifting away from the large professional sites and onto the amatuer gaming blogs and independant sites. Personally I find the “professional” reviews on sites like IGN and Gamespot very long winded and often over analyse things that simply aren’t important.
Afterall, reviewing is purely opinion based, a professional review is no more valuable than a 15 year olds gaming blog, I think its about finding a reviewer that suits your tastes in games and writing.
With technology like Wii, its becoming more and more difficult to describe the action to the reader, its almost getting to the point where you write “you have to play to believe”
Andy: I like that. I think reviews have for too long presented themselves as the definitive “answer” to the game. Whereas everybody brings such different game histories with them that their experiences can be wildly different.
Ant: Yeah, I can’t stress that enough to my reviewers, a review is not the exam results of a game, its not if it is good or bad, its all about discovering if that reviewer likes or dislikes the game.
Andy: It’s like the reader-response approach applied to game writing. That alot of the meaning and experience is generated by the reader/player rather than in the game itself.
Ant: Precisely, reviews should be informal, almost as if it were a casual conversation between writer and reader. The film industry could learn alot from this!
Andy: That seems like a good note on which to end! Thanks for your answers, and taking the time out of your day to talk to us.