Special Note: A giveaway is included at the end of the interview! Read below to learn more. Please note that these interviews are unofficial, and therefore do not reflect the staff or site in any way. The opinions stated belong only to the interviewee.
Current Interviewee: smrnov
Previous Interview: Reborn Insanity
To Apply for an Interview: See here
Number one in the world for gamerscore on Xbox, and one of the most iconic site users to date: smrnov. Read up on his previous site interview here
. It's also his birthday! So send some happy wishes his way!
First off, thanks a ton for doing this interview! Since introductions are hardly necessary, tell us about your Gamertag! Does it have any meaning to you? What about your Gamerpic?
I think a lot of people already know the story of my Gamertag but I will share it again since it’s somewhat interesting. When Xbox Live first released on the original Xbox console, it was November and my good friend told me that you get a free month each time you create a new Gamertag. The plan was to just keep creating new gamertags and the letters “smr” are my initials and “nov” is just short for November. I quickly realized that I would lose all my saves if I started a new Gamertag, so smrnov stuck around. And it sounds okay too, therefore, I never considered changing it after that first month. As for the Gamerpic, Elder Scrolls Oblivion was the first role-playing game I played on the Xbox 360, and who doesn’t like skeletons?
Oblivion is the best. Skeletons, I disagree with. Have you had or used any other Gamertags in the past? Or only one?
No, just the one.
Describe yourself in just a few words. Who's behind the Gamertag? As one of the most prominent users on-site, how do you think the rest of the community knows you?
I like to think I’m just a regular, down-to-earth guy who loves video games, a lot. I’ve been a member on TrueAchievements for a long time now, and I feel like I’ve talked to the community quite a bit and made some great friends. smrnov, otherwise known as Stephen.
Down-to-earth indeed! How did you come across TA, and how long have you been on-site? What made you decide to join the community?
I joined TA in August of 2008 when a lot of other folks from a website called Console Heroes joined. We were all kind of migrating over at that time. Back then I used to use 360 voice quite a lot too and am happy to see that most of them joined TA as well.
Like many other users, you've seen TA go through plenty of changes. Are there any particular memories that stand out? Do you like the new update, or do you miss the old site?
I enjoy the community events. I will probably always remember winning the first GTASC, even though the format has changed a lot and it is way more competitive now. I also enjoyed doing it with RedmptionDenied
in 2018 even though I probably held him back from winning! Seeing the community pull together instead of always being competitive is great also, such as the 12 Days of Christmas, TA playlists and the old 360 viral months.
I am good with the newly updated site. It probably took a bit to get used to immediately, but I like the dark mode, and everything scales well on different devices. There are still other features I’d like to have, particularly around the game collection, wishlist and lot more series functionality.
Hopefully, we can add some more functionality in the future. So, what started your interest in achievement hunting? Considering that you're ranked first, would you consider yourself to be a hardcore achievement hunter?
I was a hardcore MMO player before Xbox released. I was in a raiding guild in EverQuest, which was time-consuming and I put many hours into that game. I probably played it exclusively for 5 or more years. When my wife and I had my daughter, it became harder to play, because you just can’t pause an online MMO when you’re in the middle of a raid and say “hang on, I need to go help my wife”. Plus, the raids would often go until 2 am, leaving me exhausted for work the next day. Console games are awesome because they pause, for the most part, depending on the game. And no one is expecting you to stay up late, you can do it on your own schedule. I think collecting the best gear or completing over 2000 quests in EverQuest prepared me pretty well for making the move to console gaming. So, I guess the short answer is I’ve been gaming long before Xbox, and probably will until I physically can’t anymore.EverQuest in all its glory.
Glad to hear that you're in it for the long haul. Were you number one on TA from the start? Or did you have to work your way up?
No, definitely not. I’m not sure when I became number one in TA score, I suspect it’s around 3 years ago. For gamerscore, I was second to Stallion83
for probably 10 years, I passed him once for a week in July 2017, and then again in December 2018 where I’ve remained.
Would you say that joining TA has encouraged your hobby? Or has it always been a steady climb?
Absolutely, seeing what others are playing, boost sessions, solutions, and walkthroughs help me on a day to day basis. The climb is much steeper now, but that’s more due to the influx of easy games, but I think I've always been fairly consistent.
You mentioned earlier that you've been a gamer long before Xbox. How long would you say you've been gaming? Have you always used Xbox and PC, or do you game on other consoles as well?
I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember. I've owned probably a dozen consoles (and computers) before Xbox. I had an Intellivision, Atari 2600, Sega Genesis, 32x and CD, Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii, WiiU, Switch, multiple DS’s, Sony Playstation 1 through 4, Vita, original Xbox, and lost count of how many Xbox 360s and Xbox Ones. So, I think that’s a strong yes to other consoles. However, I feel like I’ve been exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem since achievements came out.
Do you remember your first game? Or at least your first Xbox game?
That’s a tough one, the one I recall the most is a baseball game on the Intellivision. The first game I really liked a lot was probably Pitfall on the Atari 2600. I can still hear the sounds effects. The first Xbox game was when I realized I couldn’t make a smrdec Gamertag if I wanted to keep my Project Gotham
Is there a particular place that you like to game? Care to share your set-up?
I primarily game in my home office, where I have an Xbox One X, 3 Xbox 360s (NTSC, NTSC-J, and PAL) hooked up to a 32” 4K Monitor. Also, on my desk is a MacBook I use for work, a Surface Studio and a gaming PC, so 3 screens in total. Otherwise, on evenings and weekends, I game more often in the living room with an X and a 60” 4K TV. I do like to stream in the evening sometimes as well to a Surface Book, that way I can still watch TV with my wife, but get a bit of gaming in, as long as it’s not something that requires much attention.I spy a familiar poster in the back...
That's a damn good set-up. Moving on, do you have hobbies outside of gaming? Anything that you're well known for?
Does going to the movies count as a hobby? My family goes every week or two to see whatever the new release of the week is. It’s fun and gets me out of the house. I like to read as well, usually fiction. A lot of Stephen King, Game of Thrones, The Witcher
, that type of thing. I did recently just finish a non-fiction I really enjoyed and highly recommend to anyone who’s interested in behind the scenes of game development called Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.
After that, I do have a new project that I started working on last year, which is still in an early stage but that I don’t mind sharing. My wife, my daughter and I started working on developing a game. Initially, it was for my daughter’s college applications, but we’ve decided to proceed and release it first on Steam, iOS, and Android. We hope to get a release out this summer, and after all that, we’d like to try to release it to Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch, with some gameplay additions. If anyone is interested, check out http://www.smrstudio.com
. It’s a first try at game development, but we’re hoping that going through the process from start to finish will prepare us for a game we’re all very excited to create.
All great choices in books. But the fact that you're going into development with your family is awesome! I'm sure we'd love to get updates about it later!
Tell us more about your life outside of TA; is there any other interesting news to share?
I work full time from home as a software architect which keeps me busy during the days. I’ve been married almost 24 years now and have a daughter who’s graduating from a specialized art program in high school this year. She just got accepted to a college game design program that she’s starting in September so that’s really cool. In 2013, during one of our trips to PAX Prime, she cosplayed as her favorite Borderlands character and was lucky enough to meet Ashly Burch and be interviewed by Gearbox/2K which was a lot of fun.Tiny Tina, next to the voice of Tiny Tina.
She makes a great Tiny Tina. You should encourage her to cosplay again since Borderlands 3 is out! Anyway, would you say that your home-life impacts how you play games? Do you have a special co-op partner in your life?
I’m lucky that I don’t have a commute and that my family is okay with my gaming habits. We all game together but it’s sometimes difficult to get everyone on a schedule that works. We do love playing some games where we can co-op, like the Left 4 Dead
and Borderlands series
. My wife likes to read walkthroughs and enjoy the story of some games, particularly RPGs or adventure games. Which is why, on weekends, I’m generally playing something slower on the couch, watching cutscenes.
RPGs are always good. But let's move the subject back to gaming. Does being number one in the world come with any benefits? Do you get early access to games, or any recognition from Microsoft?
Maybe surprising, but no. I did get an Xbox One when they came out, but I believe quite a few people got that. When I did the 1 million gamerscore live at Toronto FanExpo, Microsoft Canada did give me a handful of games and swag. But I’ve never had a package mysteriously show up to un-box, and I don’t get any games for free.
What a shame. But at least it makes your progress all the more impressive. With all the games that you've played, do you have a favorite game? A least favorite? Any particular genres?
If I had to pick one game, I would probably say BioShock
. But there are so many good ones out there. Genres are confusing to me on TA so I don’t think I can classify them, but my favourite series are Saints Row Series
, Tomb Raider Series
, Darksiders Series
, Metro Series
, etc. I think those are more story-based games, but they fit into shooter, platformer, action-adventure and RPG. I also like the sim management games quite a bit too.
I don't generally like to criticize much of anything as I don't think it adds value, but one terrible game that comes to mind was Murder Miners
, apologies to the devs on that one.
Interesting choices. Bioshock is especially great. Do you have to pass up on games for the sake of keeping up with achievements? Or do you always play what you want?
This is a tough one. I would have said no in the past, and I generally don’t shy away from playing something I’m not skilled enough to complete, but I would say over the last two years this has changed and I’ve been sucked into quick Xbox indie games. I don’t want to knock indie games, because there are some real gems, but they have gotten me away from playing the games I enjoy like those mentioned in the previous question. I can look over my completions, and on 360 most of them, I can remember. With the influx of quick Xbox One games, I can barely recall what it was the next week.
Are there any games that you think are wildly underrated? If so, why?
I’m not sure it was wildly underrated, but I really loved the first Overlord
game on 360. For me, it had a great combination of adventure, RPG elements, tactical/puzzle as far as controlling your minions, and a humorous story. I know the DLC was disliked because it added a Legendary difficulty that was quite challenging, but for me, it was a pleasure to be able to play through it again. I’d love a remaster. Speaking of remasters, Viva Piñata
, please! Overlord, a game with dark irony and lots of demons.
What do you look for in a game? A good story, fun multiplayer, something else entirely?
It depends on the type of game. If it's a role-playing or adventure game, then story, if it’s a puzzle or racing game, then controls. I do enjoy nice graphics and sound for the immersion aspect, but sound is less important to me due to multitasking during the day. I always have subtitles on. Sound can be awesome in a creepy horror game you’re playing in the dark though.
Do you care for multiplayer or are you a single-player person?
I prefer single-player or co-op. I’m not really interested in just going online to kill others, or more likely get killed in whatever the popular shooter or battle royale game is currently.
At least you're honest. What do you enjoy most about video games as a whole? Are there any new releases that you're excited for?
It’s interactive entertainment for me. I’d probably compare it to getting sucked into a really good book you can’t put down. I would probably say for new releases this year on Xbox, Cyberpunk 2077
, and Watch Dogs: Legion
. For who knows when and what platform, definitely Diablo 4.
Cyberpunk is the way to go! Is there anything that irks you about gaming? Industry, microtransactions, achievements, so on.
Poor controls, if I push the button to jump and it doesn’t jump or rolls into a corner instead, it makes me a bit sad each time. Seriously though, I think people jump on developers and rate their games poorly without knowing the hard work and love that went into that project. I think most game development companies have it hard, so cut them some slack and show them some love.
The thing I probably hate the most is delistings. In a digital age, I’d like the opportunity to buy something before it disappears forever. And delistings, where you can't redownload your purchase, absolutely shouldn't happen.
I especially agree with delistings. But while we're on the topic of games, let's go back to TA. Outside of being number one on the leaderboard, are there any other accomplishments that you'd like to share?
I’d love to know how many series I’ve got completed 100% but unfortunately, I can’t get that information yet. Otherwise the 2500+ completed games is decent.
Do you consider ratio to be important? What about completion percentage?
Yes, I think both of those can be important to the individual who cares about those things. We all play different ways with different goals and there’s no wrong way to enjoy video games. I think my ratio is not bad considering all the easy games I’ve completed. I’ve been slowly working on my completion percentage, still cleaning up old 360 backlog games, my end goal would probably be 90% given there’s some that can’t be finished due to server closures, unobtainables, or my skill level.
Have you ever done something ridiculous just to unlock a single achievement? I'd be surprised if you haven't.
There are probably a few. Crazy ones I can remember are the GRAW leaderboards
which took about 3 months, Rumble Roses XX
which took 800 hours (but a lot of that is turbo controlled), Chromehounds
which was a crazy massive boost with friends that caused an in-game political uproar when our achievement squad stole some top place spots, and the 5000 games played in Quake 4
which I used for my 1000th completion.RRXX, Chromehounds, and Quake 4.
That's quite a lot. While on the topic, do you think developers use achievements to their full potential?
I would say it depends on the game. Some are excellent. Like, I didn't mind the collectibles in BioShock because they added a ton of depth to the story and were very well done. Some games are disappointing in that the achievements are not well thought out, and are just 10 achievements because it's the minimum and doesn't add any value to the game itself.
Are there any particular types of achievements that you hate to hunt for?
I'm not crazy about the full playthrough on hardest difficultly without dying or saving achievements. I also do not like when DLC is added that requires you to replay the entire game. I've already played your game, give me new content or don't bother with DLC. No leaderboard achievements either please.
Are there any limits to what you're willing to do for achievements? Do you have to limit the types of games that you play in order to keep your spot at the top?
In the past no, if you look at all those crazy long completions, most of them are from the 360 platform. That’s not to say I haven’t finished some long games on Xbox One, or sunk a lot of time in them (Neverwinter
and Gems of War
especially). But I have played a lot of quick Xbox One games, way more than in the past. I know I am missing out on some great games like The Witcher 3, Elder Scrolls (Skyrim and ESO), Red Dead Redemption 2 and many more.
Since this is such a special interview, I've asked around the community to see what kind of questions people were interested in hearing about. Quite a lot users have since chimed in with their own questions to the mix. Shout-out to all of you for contributing to the interview! Here are all the questions we've collected. The first few are from Shadow Kisuragi:How competitive are you with the other top gamers on-site? Is there anyone in the top 20 that you consider a rival?
I wouldn’t call anyone a rival. There are some other gamers that I’m envious of for their positions on genre, platform or series leaderboards. You know, like those crazy guys who have amazing Window Phone completions, RPG genres, and full series complete like the Assassins Creed Series
or Resident Evil Series
, etc. I love the new button on the leaderboards to compare to someone for a particular leaderboard. I don’t recall a site news article when this was added so maybe I missed it, however, it’s fantastic.Do you have any advice for those looking to take the lead?
Do what makes you happy, whether it’s completions, ratio or percentage. Pick a genre or platform that you enjoy and your own region to narrow it down and work your way up from there.What are your thoughts on the recent issues with Windows Phone, and the general lack of support for legacy platforms such as Games for Windows LIVE?
I’m disappointed if I missed my chance to finish the Windows Phone games I was working on but I don’t really have anyone to blame except for myself for not getting around to it. There are probably very few people playing Window Phone or GFWL anymore, so I understand why Microsoft wouldn’t want to support it any longer. That being said, if I get an opportunity again to finish some games, I probably should.Any thoughts on the rise of streaming and other social media content? Do you think it's fair for social media stars (for lack of a better term) to gain early access before other gamers?
I personally don’t participate in streaming, either watching or producing content, but I totally understand why developers are doing this. Any way to get your game talked about and shown, this is just a new way of advertising. Do you prefer physical or digital ownership? Has this changed with Game Pass and other subscription services?
I would say digital even though I have a significant amount of physical games. Digital is more convenient for me, but having many games installed does require some disk space. I do have Game Pass Ultimate which I have really enjoyed for the PC games. For the Xbox games, I already owned most of them, but I have played a few that I never bought, which is nice.
Asked by both Shadow and OO111111, do you think gamerscore has lost "value" so to speak? Are you bothered by developers like Ratalaika, or should "easy" gamerscore games be encouraged? Does gamerscore have any real value at all?
I don’t think gamerscore really ever had any value other than a fun way to view your gaming history. I can tell you my life changed by 0% when I went from #2 to #1 in gamerscore and it won’t change again when I lose that designation. Despite that, I think the quick games have inflated gamerscore statistics. I only recently found out that PlayStation sometimes releases the Ratalaika games 5 or 6 times for regional/platform stacks, so I guess it’s not as bad for us on Xbox.
On the topic of ownership, planting42 wants to know if you're a collector. If so, what's the estimated value of your physical and digital items?
I would not call myself a collector, as when I finish physical games I sell or trade them and delete my digital games. I have in the past bought some pretty nice collector’s editions for statues. As for the estimated value, I honestly have no idea, and I don’t think my wife would want to know! Quite the collection for a non-collector.
A question from SniffinRails, do you ever get stressed by achievement hunting? It's surely not an easy task to keep your spot.
Only during competitions, which is why I generally don’t do them anymore. I can get stressed trying to finish various games though. Particularly the ACA games because they are low TA and I don’t seem to have the skill required. I’m also really poor with some platformers or shooters. Really anything that requires younger reflexes. ??
A very popular question from the community (asked by SprinkyDink, Beanpotter, NoobgamerValbo, and Noodles Jr. how do you handle the burnout of achievement hunting? How often do you experience the feeling, and how do you keep yourself from taking a break?
I’d say the only time I feel burn out is when I’m off my regular schedule. So, trying to game nonstop for 4 days during a GTASC week, or some crazy 42-hour boost session over 3 days. I feel like switching it up a lot, which is the reason why I’ve been consistent for so long. I play a lot of longer games I enjoy even if I limit myself to only a couple hours a day. Lately, I play Gems of War, Warframe and Lord of the Rings: ACG every day for about half an hour (or more) before I move on to whatever I’m currently trying to complete short term.
Another question from Beanpotter. There are countless games across platforms, some of which are console exclusive. Do you ever get the chance to experience these games? Do you want to?
I do have both a Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, with a handful of the exclusive games for those platforms. Unfortunately, I don’t ever seem to get around to playing them though. I will blame it on the fact that I just like Xbox better, especially the controller.
MichalKV asked a very important question. How do you balance your personal and family time with gaming? Especially considering your ranking.
My family is tight-knit. I make coffee for my wife and daughter each morning and then we go about our daytime routines. Each night we sit down to dinner together and catch up. We usually go out together Friday nights, and we watch a few TV shows together, nightly with my wife, probably 1-2 times a week with my daughter. It used to be more, but she’s older now and more independent.
And one from Falensarano. Do you enjoy the games that you play, even if you're playing for achievements? Or does the hunt turn gaming into a chore?
As mentioned previously, I really enjoy video games so I would say I enjoy 95% of them. I can usually find something about the game that I like. There are very few games I would say that they are terrible, and I wish I never bothered. I don’t think I could have done this for 15 years and not love it.
BigNev44 wants to know what your proudest achievement is. Not necessarily difficult or impressive, just one that you're content with.
Most of my high TA ratio achievements come from boosting or time served, not a lot of skill. But I would say one achievement that was very difficult for me to achieve was “It's in the Trial” from Dante's Inferno
. I had actually given up hope on this one a few times because some of those trials are incredibly hard. Emerald Axer
helped me with my last co-op trial and I’m forever grateful because it’s a fantastic game and to have it as a completion means a lot to me.
I am also proud of persevering to get the gymkhana events in DiRT 3
done, and the challenges in Batman: Arkham City
. I did the GFWL stacks and still have not gotten around to do the 360 versions (or Batman on Xbox One), which is silly because I probably could have done it easier if I tried back to back.
Earlier, we covered how you got into achievement hunting to begin with. Elliot Pierson wants to know what about achievement hunting is fun for you. What about it kept you interested for so long?
I think the variety keeps me interested. Before achievements, I would never have played so many different types of games. I had zero interest in wrestling games, but having tried a bit of everything now, some are a lot of fun. The story modes in WWE games can be hilariously entertaining. There is so much to choose from these days, it’s hard to not keep going as the backlog continues to grow. I think I’m only coming to terms lately that some of these games I’m just not going to have time for, ever.
The next few are from Itchy Bahook. What's more important to you, getting score, or getting completions?
Completions. I like to complete a game before I consider being done with it, even though there are a few I know I won’t be able to finish. The score has always been a byproduct for me.Do you still set goals for yourself or is it all about keeping up with your rank now?
Goals for myself definitely, I don’t think I’ll keep my top spot much longer. It would be nice to be the first to hit 3 million gamerscore, but I won’t lose any sleep over it if it doesn’t happen. I would much prefer to get through some of my backlog before the games become uncompletable due to discontinued servers or achievements no longer syncing.
Asked by MattiasAnderson, What's the hardest achievement you've ever unlocked? What about the hardest game you've ever completed? Are there any achievements or games you're still trying to complete?
Most of my high TA ratio achievements are not skill-based. Of recent memory, the WWE 2K18 servers were scheduled to go down, and you had to play online against harder AI to complete “Gauntlet Runner”. I am not very good at combo moves and quick reflex reversals, and I had about an hour left in the event before it expired when I managed to squeak by. Wrestling games have always been my kryptonite, and I’ve only managed to complete some by not giving up. I'm not sure I would qualify it as my hardest, but it was hard for me. For the hardest game, probably Zuma or Bejeweled 2 on XBLA, both of those took a lot of practice for me.
There are tons of games that I’m still trying to complete. There are a few achievements that I try every so often to see if I can magically achieve them. The below achievements are a very few of my white whales:Black College Football Experience: Doug Williams Edition
- Marching Band Master!Hexic HD
- Grand Pearl Pooh-BahKinect Joy Ride
- Bonus Bounty and Smash High ScoreMinesweeper Flags
- Gotta Sweep'em AllThrillville: Off the Rails
- Lunar LunaticTitanfall 2
- …Becomes the Master
Reaver Lion wants to know what your favorite game is that exclusive on Xbox.
I’m going to go with two because Alan Wake
technically released later on Steam, so my other choice is Viva Pinata. I think there was a DS (and TV show!) spinoff though.Not the game I was expecting to earn so much praise!
Next is Vitiated1, who wants to know how many Xbox accounts you've had to run at once for a game, as well as how many consoles. He's betting it's a lot.
I’ve done 12 consoles/Gamertags for self-boosting, and last summer did 14 consoles during a 2-person 24 player lobby for Battlefield: Bad Company
(A 0 E Monkey is a gracious booster who is great to talk with during these marathon sessions). For number of Gamertags, I think the most I’ve used is 100 for the dance with 100 unique people in Zumba Fitness
. I did all 100 on the same Free to Play Gold weekend. That was when I found there were limits to how many tags you can actually have on a console.
A controversial topic on TA is account sharing, particularly those that share accounts to climb the leaderboards. Inferno118 wants to know if account sharers bother you, and whether or not you're worried that you will be unfairly passed by others in the future?
This is hard to answer because I know it’s a touchy subject. I can’t see why someone would do this because there is no personal sense of accomplishment if you didn’t earn those achievements. But I guess the same could be said for boosting. I don’t know if account sharing is technically against MS (or TA’s) terms of service. I feel like when I was younger I probably would have been upset, but now that I'm older (and hopefully wiser) I don’t feel it’s worthwhile to waste time getting disappointed over something I have no control of. It is what it is. I’m going to get passed on the leaderboards in the future one way or another. I’m happy with my achievements. What someone else does, it doesn’t affect how I play or what I do. When I get passed, I'll still be collecting achievements. It’s unfortunate though, and I can see people validly being upset, especially in competitions like the GTASC.
From Big Ell, do you still use the smroct account? How much gamerscore does it have now?
See, I knew someone would remember the story of my Gamertag! No smroct account. Sadly, whenever I get stopped at border crossings they assume my smrnov license plate is for vodka.
From vSully, when in the hell are you finally going to play Dark Souls?
I am planning to catch up on a lot of role-playing games on the 360, and that one (and the stacks) are definitely on my list. I hope to get to it this year, but I have 3 Mass Effect games
that are in the queue before that one. I hope you've written some good solutions!
And another very important question from IRISH PATRIOT x. How much coffee do you drink?
I love coffee, most important drink of the day! I have a black americano every morning (sometimes a latte) and sometimes a second coffee in the day. But getting older, I try not to have any after 3 pm. Getting old sucks!
KindBunny957018 asked two very interesting questions. The first: do you have any "guilty pleasure" games? Games that you play just to relax, despite not actively earning any achievements.
I have a love/hate relationship with Gems of War. I love that you can just launch the game and play in short bursts and it’s relaxing, but I hate some of the recent achievements. Phone games are my go-to for non-achievement games, I still play Plants vs Zombies on my iPhone. And for the second question: has your hobby of gaming extended to the young ones in your life? Have you taught them to play any games?
I would say yes. I played a lot of EverQuest when my daughter was born and she actually remembers watching it (and later playing it) and wrote her college application essay on EverQuest. Bizarre fact, Brad McQuaid sadly passed away the day she wrote that essay. She also admires the Keith Parkinson signed art prints in my home office.
Sometimes she’ll just sit down and watch a game because she’s interested. Most recently she watched me play Blair Witch
in its entirety because she was into the story. Her most played game, however, is probably Minecraft
, although she did spend an entire summer playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
, which I still haven’t played! When she has friends over, they often play split-screen co-op Left 4 Dead
and the Crash Bandicoot games.
JENDORF wants to know if you've ever given back to the gaming community, and if so, how?
I try to. I donated $20 xbox cash a month for one year, plus a couple 360 controllers to a King of Completions tournament that was done on TA. Anytime I have extra codes from games I give them away on twitter. Unfortunately, I’m not given anything from Microsoft to distribute, so everything has been out of pocket. I did host a lot of sessions in the old viral months that TA did to give out those achievements, and I’m not the guy who does a boost session just for himself, I like to make sure everyone gets the achievement we’re trying for.
x Mataeus x asked the question: does achievement hunting come with negative connotations in your life? Do you feel like you're giving up your time and other pursuits for this one hobby?
I feel like if I wasn’t spending time or money on gaming, I would be spending it on something else. My retirement savings are healthy, I own my house, and this is what I like to do. Sure, I could certainly afford a nice Tesla if I cut down on my gaming spending, but this is where I get my enjoyment, and I don’t have a commute anyway. I am also very thrifty with my game purchases. I do spend a lot, but I always buy my Xbox cash discounted and wait for game sales most of the time. I do plan on playing less of the quick Xbox One games and spending some time on games I really want to play and work on developing my own games.
And finally, from AaronJamesx38. Will you ever give up on achievement hunting? If so, why?
I don’t think so, but I might change what I’m playing. The last couple years of keeping up with the quick games has gotten a bit tiresome, so I’m enjoying some longer games currently.
Big thanks to everyone who pitched in with questions! Apologies if anything has been left out. On a more serious note, what would you like to see change with gaming? Better ethics, better quality games, so on.
I’d like gaming to have a more positive attitude. It’s still viewed somewhat negatively by the media, but I like to think that playing video games has a lot of benefits too. I also think the industry is a volatile place to work, with studios often closing after releases. I really hate to see comments like “no wonder they closed, their games sucked”, when you’re talking about people’s life, and people who are just like you and me that love video games enough to work in the industry. Seriously, read “Blood, Sweat and Pixels”, fantastic book. I do worry about my daughter working in the industry and hope she can find stable work and that people are kind.Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.
If you did stop achievement hunting, would you ever leave the site? Who do you think would take your place at the top?
I don’t think I would leave the site if I stopped, but I guess I might visit less often. TA is like Facebook to me; I can see what others are doing but things I’m actually interested in, like what video games they are playing, not what selfie they are posting. RedmptionDenied
has a great TA ratio and will likely pass me in TA score in the next 1-2 years. Maybe sooner as I’m slowing down.
If you weren't an achievement hunter, what would you do? How would your gaming habits change?
If it wasn’t achievements or console gaming, I would probably still be gaming. I don’t think it would be World of Warcraft but probably an MMORPG. I would probably spend a bit more time working on developing a game too if I wasn’t wanting to play all the time.
If something did happen (if you decided to quit gaming, or just couldn't continue the hobby for whatever reason), what would happen to your Gamertag? What would you want to happen with it?
Kind of a morbid question that hopefully doesn’t happen for a long time! But I guess I would leave it to my family. I don’t know that they would keep it active or anything though. I guess it does have a ton of content associated with it, so it likely has a large monetary value.
Not meant to be morbid! I'm a nice person, I swear! Moving on! Do you have any future goals for gaming you'd like to share?
I’ve been slowly working on my completion percentage. Eventually, 90% would be nice. I have a lot of series completion goals, Saints Row, Middle Earth, and Dead Rising are all on my shortlist. I would like to get rid of my entire 360 physical collection; I need to determine what I still plan on playing and get rid of whatever I decide to skip on. That’s quite the undertaking as currently I still own 720 disk games, not including boost copies. Then I’d also like to clean up whatever 360 digital I can do and finally move on to the current generation 100%. This is unlikely to happen before the Series X, but I’d like to make a serious dent in it at least. I also would like to increase my position on some completed game genre leaderboards, such as action/adventure, RPG, and I really like sim management type games too, like Zoo Tycoon
Would you say gaming has positively impacted your life?
Absolutely. I have met so many amazing people over my life, all due to gaming. I met my wife over 25 years ago playing a MUD called Shadowdale. She is the reason I moved to Canada. I'm sure a lot of people on TA might not even know what a MUD is, but it was online gaming before graphics and when the internet was young.
I think gaming keeps your mind active, more so than TV or movies. And even physically if you use Kinect, which I have not lately. For me, gaming is great around my family as I’m home instead of out somewhere that other hobbies might take me. We do play co-op a lot, or even discuss games and currently working on the development of a game as a family. We usually have an E3 party every year. My daughter would like if MS would move their conference back to Mondays so she can continue taking the day off school.
I couldn't agree more. And what about TA?
TA is awesome. I’m logged on there pretty much all day, and on multiple browsers/rooms. I don’t have any negatives, but I do have my own personal site wish list!
Once again, thank you for taking the time to do an interview. It's crazy to be able to have a conversation with one of the top gamers in the world. Are there any final shout-outs you'd like to give to the community?
This is tough because I'm sure to not mention someone who deserves it and I have met so many great people on TA. It's amazing how many TA members give their time selflessly to help others, whether through walkthroughs, solutions, boost sessions, community events, giveaways or just friendly conversation. I have friends who pull me through Call of Duty because they know I suck, offers of help in various games, or send me tips in PMs of games to complete; folks who post when something is going to get patched, so jump on the glitch, etc, and people who are just trying to make the gaming community better for all of us. I'd like to thank all of them.
As said above, smrnov is closing his interview with a gift for the community: 6 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on the blog, and your name will be added. The winner will receive a PM with the code on Friday, March 20th. If, for whatever reason, you would like to comment on this blog but not enter the giveaway, just let me know in the comment itself. Big thanks to smrnov, and thanks to all of you readers!