Who watches the Watchmen?
It's a question famously posed by award-winning comic scribe Alan Moore in his seminal 1986 work, the idea itself originating from centuries prior by Latin poet Juvenal. Essentially, it asks, who will guard the guard themselves? Those people we put in charge -- what if they're the ones needing supervision? It's a conundrum seem countless times throughout world history, from brutal dictatorships to the Stanford Prison Experiment. One of the freshest faces on the TA news team, kintaris
, known to his mother as "Sam Quirke" (an obvious alias), is gearing up to take over community interviews to get them back off the ground. Our sibling crew over at TrueTrophies
has been pumping them out regularly, while we've sat on our hands. No more, I say!
But that brings me back to my original point; Who watches the Watchmen?
How can we trust Sam to properly interview our fine, upstanding, law-abiding community if we haven't properly vetted him ourselves first. That's why I've invited him to take part in what he believes is his very own community interview. It's not. It's all a cover story for what this really is, that being a psychoanalytical survey. We'll use his responses to determine if he's fit for the role of interviewer. Without further ado, please join me in this facade and welcome Sam to the "community interview"!Gamertags almost always tell something about their owners. Tell us about yours.
Kintaris is the name of a planet in a novel I wrote when I was fourteen. I have no plans to publish it! I have no idea why I didn't capitalise the tag, but apparently the only way to do so is to switch gamertag to something else and then back to 'Kintaris'. Is that grammar correction worth ten bucks?No, but I'll pay you ten bucks to let me read it.How long have you been gaming?
Twenty-five years, give or take! I'm not sure, but it's possible that I knew how to install a DOS game before I knew how to ride a bike...Do others in your family game, or are you a first-generation gamer?
My Dad played a fair amount of classic 90s point and clicks with us, and then my brother and I gamed together up until the PS3 era. We still play Mario Kart from time to time when I feel my self-esteem can handle a sound thrashing. My wife Amelia and I are Pokémon fans – it's our shared gaming hobby. She's depressingly good at Mario Kart too...My girlfriend still can't topple me in our favorites, though I'm finding it difficult to accept that my little brother has passed me up in Madden.What do your parents/significant other/friends have to say about your gaming?
My core group of friends are either gamers or spouses of gamers, so it's generally well accepted! I think it's become more acceptable as the games themselves have matured and become more complex. My wife is very supportive of my hobby, she's not into Xbox (yet...) but enjoys talking about it. And we bond over Pokémon.Assuming you’re not a professional gamer, what’s your day job?
I help manage a global learning platform for an international bank. It's not where I want to be, but it pays the bills. I've worked in book publishing and would like to get back into editing or proofreading full time. That's why being a Newshound is particularly great for me.Thanks for cleaning up all my middle-of-the-night editorials I do.What's your experience with the news team been like so far? How has it met your expectations? What has differed from those expectations?
It's been great! I've only been here a few months and I've already had chance to cover some big stories and run the Ubisoft E3 live blog. I love to write but I don't get to do it in my day job, so it's something I genuinely look forward to at the end of the day. I wasn't expecting to be able to get involved with our opinion pieces or articles so soon after starting, so it's great that the existing team are trusting us new guys to put our voices out there.What do you hope to bring to the community interviews as the new monthly interviewer?
What I really like about the interviews in the past here and on TrueTrophies is that it's a chance to hear from all sorts of interesting people who perhaps don't normally get a platform to express themselves. I hope to really bring out people's passions and opinions. Gamers aren't as stereotypical as the rest of the media tend to assume, and I think it's important to show that.What other hobbies do you enjoy?
My wife and I have travelled around the world and we keep finding new adventures. Currently we're chasing the Northern Lights across Scandinavia whenever the budget allows! I also read any book I can get my hands on, and I like to write fiction. None of it is online or published... maybe one day.Aww come on, I'm sure that sci-fi you wrote at age 14 really holds up!Since you're a traveler, what's your favorite memory or destination from your travels?
I can't pick between Iceland and the Cook Islands, which seem like total opposites but have a lot of similarities. Both have a surreal quality, being so far removed from the rush of urban life. Both have amazingly friendly people and inclusive cultures. And both places allow you to get out from the streetlights and the noise and sit out under the stars, one of my favourite pastimes.Tell us about your home life – parents, spouse, children, significant other, animal companions?
My wife and I have been married nearly a year and we live together in an apartment. My parents and brother live nearby, and I've now got a significant extended family across the pond in Canada via my mother-in-law. No pets, but we want a cat or a dog one day. Or a pug-sized elephant, if that ever becomes a real thing.Of what real life achievement are you most proud? Would you give us some details?
My wife has a rare heart condition which needed open heart surgery about a year and a half ago. We were living together by then so I was her primary carer during recovery. It was tough, but it really brought us together. It also gave me a huge confidence boost because I'd always been anxious that I wasn't very good at being an adult! I'd like to give us both a co-op achievement for getting through that and coming out the other side stronger than ever.Ugh, another damsel in distress trope? Kidding! As someone who is also madly in love, I totally respect this.What’s your favorite game of all time on any console? What makes it special?
Tough! The Secret of Monkey Island probably clinches it. I just love that game. I can quote most of it! It's a game my friends and family all enjoyed at some point, which makes it particularly special. My friend even managed to sneak the theme tune into his wedding ceremony. GTA: Vice City is a close second.I second Vice City. That game nailed its time and place like few others ever have.Do you remember the first game you played? What’s your fondest memory of it?
The first game I saw (I think) was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Specifically I watched my Dad pick the wrong Grail and saw Indy's face shrivel up into a skeleton. It was horrifying. I loved it. The first game I remember playing myself was probably Mario Is Missing!, which was a really weird Nintendo-licensed PC game where you run around as Luigi recovering Earth's landmarks from Koopa Troopers and answering trivia questions. That was an odd one...If some evil spell allowed you to own only a single game for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?
That is tough. Maybe Civilization IV? I find that game oddly peaceful to play over and over, which would stave off the despair!Peaceful, you say? What part of the world do you live in? If I were to visit, what sights would I have to see?
I live in Bournemouth on the south coast of England. A lot of British wits over the years have made it infamous for being the place old white people go to retire, but it's also got a very good arts university that's churned out people who have gone on to work on loads of major movies like Harry Potter. Nice beach, but busy – take my advice and go a few miles further east! My brother tells me the football team are doing well.Any games you regret putting on your gamertag?
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel UnlimitedTell us about your gamerpic. Why did you choose that one?
, hands down. I'm never completing that, but I was briefly seduced by a free weekend. I like Elder Scrolls
but I'm not into MMORPGs. I thought this would be the one to sway me but I realised I was mistaken within an hour. Unfortunately, that hour included the first achievement...
It's hard, right? I don't think I can ever change my gamerpic.Do you have any particular gaming pet peeves?
It's zombie Saren. I really enjoyed Mass Effect
, and Saren was an interesting character. But I must admit it's a bit rubbish as a tag. I'll probably change it soon! Maybe switch it back to my avatar in its awesome Guybrush Threepwood coat.
Ridiculous grindy online multiplayer achievements, or ones that rely on pure luck. If people have the drive to play thousands of games to get that one utterly circumstantial situation that will earn them an in-game badge (or spend their life savings on micro-transactions), I'm OK with that. Just give them an in-game reward or level system to track it. It's better for them anyway, as it will allow them to track how much better they are than other people through a more detailed system. 100GS isn't representative of the effort they've likely put in anyway. Leave the achievement list for people who want to play the game thoroughly and face considerable challenges, but not to the point of tedium.What upcoming game are you most looking forward to?Speaking of Thimbleweed Park, does your interest with the game come solely from its retro design, or are you a fan of its other media inspirations, like The X-Files and Twin Peaks?
I've watched the X-Files on and off, but I must admit my main draw here is the throw back to those truly bizarre, ridiculous point-and-clicks of the early 90s that so shaped my childhood. I love the surreal humour, the pop culture references, the fourth-wall breaking and the utterly ridiculous item combinations. There have been a few games that have gotten close in recent years, but nothing has been quite like the originals. I think my inner child has been waiting for Thimbleweed Park for 20 years!What game(s) are you currently playing? How are you finding it?
What game are you most proud of completing? Why?
Ugh. Far Cry Primal
. I'm trying to perfect the walkthrough for it, so I've played it through four or five times. It's an utterly average Ubisoft title that really doesn't hold up well even during a second run, let alone a fifth. Looking forward to being done with that. I'm sure people will immediately find a better way as soon as it's published.
Other than that, I'm still playing GTA Online with my real life crew. We spend more time punching each other off the side of yachts than getting achievements. Great fun.
I'm also playing Wordament Snap Attack (Android)
, one of the few Android games with achievements, whenever I'm on a long journey. I've just heard Minecraft: Pocket Edition (Android)
What single Xbox achievement are you most proud of? Why?
Probably The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
. Up until that game, I've never really bothered with hard difficulty modes except in games where it's not really that hard (like Mass Effect 2
with an imported character, for example). I know Witcher 2
is hardly the toughest game in the world, but I'm genuinely quite rubbish at games! It felt good to challenge myself and play smart. I saw so much more of that game's depth than I would have on a casual difficulty.
In a slightly different vein, do you have a favorite achievement? One perhaps that you just really enjoyed attaining.
Well, there's this one from the above, obviously:
I'm also quite proud of:
Although it turned out to be something others had done when I looked online later, I worked out a key exploit all on my own to get it. I'm not normally a fan of using exploits to get achievements, but seeing as I came up with that one myself I still feel like I earned it.
If you found yourself dropped into a video game, which video game character would you most want to have your back?
What I liked about MGS2 and 3 is that the games encouraged you to play stealthily and rewarded you substantially for it, unlike other 'stealth' titles like Assassin's Creed
where it really doesn't matter whether you're seen or not half the time. It was really cool to take a challenge I'd been proud of on the PS2 and actually earn an achievement for it.
Definitely Geralt of Rivia. Having just read the Witcher novels, I'd definitely want him on my side, especially as I'm a natural Dandelion in a fight.In the same scenario, what character/creature would you most/least like to see headed your way?
Least would be Malamar from Pokémon X and Y. No floating psychic squids for me, thanks. My wife will sympathise – in the TV series it tries to psychically enslave the entire world and physically distort the universe to its preferred psychedelic slush habitat, killing everything else. Isn't this a kid's show?!Any characters you would like seen thrown into video game hell?
As for the 'most' – Seeing as this appears to be a Witcher/Pokémon crossover I've dropped into (which would be disturbing but awesome), Geralt and I would probably be most relieved to see Nurse Joy heading our way with her ability to instantly heal the whole party for no cost whatsoever.
I've just imagined what Malamar might be like in a non-cartoon Witcher setting. Nightmare fuel.
Ever had any bad experiences online? How did you handle it?
The majority of NPCs from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
. I have a soft spot for that game but even I'm fed up with the citizens of Cyrodiil. Imagine living in a world where everyone has the same annoying middle class English accent, three stock phrases apiece and a scripted cycle that basically sees them move from one chair to another over the course of twenty-four hours... ugh. Certainly sounds like hell.
Not memorably bad. If I have trouble in an open world multiplayer like GTA Online my friends will make a challenge out of being more irritating to them than they are to us! That's how we handled idiots at school, so we've just perfected the method over the years. If I'm not with friends and some pipsqueak is bugging me, I just switch sessions or play something else for a while. It's not worth getting upset about.Do you prefer single-player or multiplayer?
Single player unless I'm in a party with real-world friends. This is probably why I don't have more bad experiences for the previous question! I'm simply not competitive enough, I don't have the time to sink into levelling up and I need story incentives, or good banter with friends, to keep me going. Being a better level than some other person means nothing to me.Do you have a favorite group of friends you like to play with? If so, how did you meet?
There's four of us in a core group, who have known each other since school and played online together since college. Around that are various friends-of-friends or relatives that jump in.
When we play online we actually all drag our consoles and TVs to one house and pretend it's an old school split screen on a massive scale. We have a few beers and a lot of laughs and play through the night. My achievements obsession is the butt of many jokes. Occasionally I force them to help me get an achievement whether they want to or not...
If you could have a multiplayer session with anyone in the world, whom would you choose? Why?
I follow a lot of the Bioware writers on Twitter and they seem like a really good laugh. I think they'd be a great co-op crew.What other consoles do you own? What are your favorites on those platforms?
I have a Wii U and a DS, as well as a lot of games on Steam and PC. The Wii U is a bit of a disappointment in many ways but Mario Kart is always fun. On the DS it's Pokémon, though I have a soft spot for Professor Layton. On PC it's Civilisation IV, or maybe the golden oldie point-and-clicks like Sam and Max Hit the Road or Grim Fandango.I started Grim Fandango on PS4 recently. What an unexpectedly great comedic voice that game has!Have you ever had a game you really looked forward to that you were disappointed in when it finally arrived? Tell us about it.
Watch_Dogs (Xbox 360)Tell us about your gaming setup.
was a big disappointment. I was hoping it would be the game that reinvigorated my Assassin's Creed
fatigue but if anything it was even more tiresome. Fallout 4
also disappointed me. Not a bad game by any measure and I sank a lot of hours into it, but it definitely fell short of my personal expectations. Neither the story or the environment grabbed my attention, and when key faction decisions came along I wanted to abandon all of them!
Minimalist. My mum will laugh out loud if she's reading this, but I have grown to hate clutter. A lot of my games are digital, and those that aren't are hidden away in a tidy soft-close IKEA cabinet.
I do have this ridiculous gaming chair, a Christmas present from my best friend. I still can't decide whether I like it or not. It's incredibly comfortable, but only when I can get the beans to prop up in the backrest properly... which is almost never. Is there a WikiHow for that?Checking now... Nope. You can make it! Please list your sources.What are some of your favorite works in other mediums, like a favorite book, movie, series, podcast -- what else do you consume?
Tough call! Terry Pratchett's Discworld is my favourite series but I couldn't pick just one book, so I'll have to go with David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas as a standalone. It's cheesy and I've read better books since, but it was the book that really opened my mind back when I was a teenager. I also really enjoy Joe Abercrombie's First Law series. My top movie will always be Back to the Future, hands down. I don't have a lot of time for TV so I stick to easy-going comedies like Parks and Recreation (I am basically Ben Wyatt). I'd love to have time for more podcasts in my life, so I'm going to start with the TA podcasts. From the beginning!How do you use TA? Tracking, walkthroughs, solutions, sessions?
Walkthroughs and solutions brought me here. Much better layout than rival sites in my opinion. I have been on a few sessions and will join more, to get rid of some irritating multiplayer achievements I've skipped over in the past. This is also where I got most of my news before I started writing it myself.How has your gaming changed or evolved since coming to TA?
Hugely, given I haven't been here a year yet! TA walkthroughs got me through games I would have given up on. I care a bit more about stats – not competitively, but as an indicator of how many games I've never given enough attention and effort to. I've got quite the backlog of games that I feel guilty about, so a Bean Dive will give me an incentive to go back to them.What do you like and dislike most about the site?
I love the community. It's a hugely opinionated and vocal one, and that's awesome. Every thread you can see how passionate people are about their hobby. And I love how many community-building features there are on the site, like the sessions, challenges, yearly events. There's nothing I dislike so far!How did you learn about TA? Have you signed up any friends to the website?
Yeah, let's not name names. Instead we'll point fingers! *points finger*Have you made friends here?
I migrated here from a rival after I got fed up of the poor layout and navigation, and fairly rubbish news. I won't name names. I haven't actively signed anyone up but it looks like my good friend and beanbag-purchaserMajor Cry
joined up around the time I became a Newshound, as did fellow GTA crew member TootieA28
. I'm signing people up without even trying!
No Xbox friends yet, but the staff are a great bunch and made me feel welcome immediately. I hope to make a few more Xbox friends once I get into some more sessions.If you could have a game handcrafted just for you, what would your perfect game be?
You've gone and spoiled a future TA Top Five. We'll spin it as "early access".Why do you choose TA over other gaming sites?
Terry Pratchett is my favourite author, so it would probably be a Discworld
open-world game centred on Ankh-Morpork, following the Night's Watch. It would be L.A. Noire
but with wizards, trolls, and witty one-liners. The art style would be like Fable
, and it'd have drop-in co-op so my wife, also a big fan of the series, could play too.
All the reasons I've mentioned – amazing community, great site tools, top-notch solutions and walkthroughs.And how about those stellar managers on the news team, right?!
...Right?Do you have a “claim to fame” in gaming? If so, what is it?
I'm really not good enough to be famous for anything. One day I will be known as the inventor of Witchémon, the best selling videogame crossover of all time.
Lightning RoundFavorite Xbox game?Favorite non-Xbox game?
Monkey Island was ported sooo... Civ IVLeast favorite game?
Sim City (the reboot)Favorite game developer?
Rockstar. No, Bethesda. Bioware!? Damn lightning rounds!Favorite game weapon?
Hidden blade, Assassin's Creed.Most hated game enemy?
Whichever nation decides to suddenly annihilate me with sheer firepower when I'm going for Diplomatic on Civilization.Diplomatic and peaceful? Background check complete.Favorite game character?
Guybrush ThreepwoodFavorite game sidekick?Favorite game ending?Most hated game ending?Favorite game environment?Favorite game music?
And if movies have taught me anything, doing so might just summon a dragon.Most emotional video game moment?Game that shouldn’t have had a sequel?
I'm super nerdy about this, so I'm naming composers – Inon Zur, Jesper Kyd, Jeremy Soule. You can't have a lightning answer! Don't make me say The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
three times in a row, it's boring!
The Curse of Monkey IslandNon-Xbox game you’d love to have achievements in?
and Escape from Monkey Island
never happened. (Major Cry
might try and tell you otherwise, but he is WRONG.)
Sam and Max: Hit the Road. Pokémon would just be too impossible.
End of Lightning RoundIs there anything in particular you want the TA community to know about you?
I really need your help with my online achievements because I suck - look out for me on sessions!We're like awful stat brothers!Is there anything I haven’t asked that you want to talk about?
I'm always a big nerd about games beyond simply playing them, whether that's soundtracks, level design, or the direction of the industry as a whole. You'll likely see a few more editorials and personal blogs from me down the line now that I'm settled! I listen to video game soundtracks a lot, especially to help me write, so please let me know your recommendations.Any shout-outs you want to make before we go?
All of the Newshounds, for being an awesome team to work with and putting up with my questions! This is a huge opportunity for me and I plan to make the most of it. I'd also like to thank Shh I am Batman for being patient with my continually-delayed debut walkthrough. I suppose I should say Hi to Major Cry, who will always be my Arch-nemesis on GTA no matter how many times he apologises for “accidentally” running me over.That concludes this week's grand re-opening of the TA community interviews. I'd like to thank Sam for joining us this weekend.
The TA Community Interview will be posted on the first Sunday of every month. If you have a friend you'd like to nominate to be interviewed, or if you'd like to nominate yourself, please send a PM to kintaris
. You’re more likely to be picked if you’re well-written, interesting, funny and/or in development to create a Witcher/Pokémon crossover.