TA Community Interview - Doctor Spazz

By Jonathan Barnes, 7 years ago
This week’s Community Interview, Doctor Spazz, looks to keep (what I’m calling) “The Streak of Awesome” going while also classing up the joint with some academic credentials in this week’s edition of The Gamish Inquisition.

As an added bonus, since this week kicks of the National Hockey League season (go Blue Jackets!), I felt it only appropriate to interview one of the States’ polite neighbors to the North. So, with that in mind, sit back, relax, grab yourself a plate of Poutine and enjoy!


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obj - There's a story behind every gamertag, what is yours? I’m assuming that, like Denzel Washington's character in the movie Training Day you're surgical with a Spas Shotgun, but have no idea where you could get accreditation for those skills.

DS - Well the “Spazz” component of my gamertag comes from my personality as well as my choice of shotgun, at least when it comes to the Rainbow Six Series. My friends always make sure to point out my outgoing and sarcastic personality and apparently when the one –liners are flowing at the right consistency I have been known to be “Spazzing” out” It’s something they continued all through high-school so it just kind of stuck with me all these years and resurfaced when I was making my gamertag. The “Doctor,” portion comes from my education as I am in the process of finishing up my PhD in aquatic toxicology at McMaster University. I wanted my gamertag to be the perfect mix of business and pleasure so I conjured up “Doctor Spazz.” I liked the way it flowed and after unanimous approval from the peanut gallery Doctor Spazz was born.

obj – I’ve always liked McMaster U., if only because they gave the world the McMuffin.

Let’s imagine for a moment that Microsoft forced you to change your gamertag but made you include something from your favorite movie and your favorite food. What would you change your gamertag to and why?

DS - It’s funny that you asked this because a few months back a good friend of mine had some gamertag issues with Microsoft, although not along the lines of food but definitely with movies. His name is Rob and being a big star wars fan he came up with RobbiWanKenobi. He’s had the tag for years but Microsoft tried to hassle him over the inclusion of “WanK,” in his tag. Clearly, he was not being slanderous or disrespectful but just professing his love for the series. Long story short, he fought the system and now has gamertag immunity.

Getting back on topic though, that’s kind of a tough question because I like to think of myself as a movie buff and as result have seen a lot of great movies over the years. If I was forced to narrow it down to one or two it would have to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy or anything James Bond. Also given my Polish nationality I think I need to take this time and vouch for how perogies are the best dish to come out of Poland. Combing those two I think I would end up with Perogie Lord or Double Oh Rogie.

obj - Where is home for you and, if I were to visit, what would be the most excellent and awesome things to do there?

DS - Home for me is Hamilton, Ontario Canada. It’s a great city, about 45 minutes south of Toronto, with the perfect mix or urban and rural play space. Believe it or not Hamilton is home to something like 57 waterfalls so I would have to take you on a tour of the most scenic ones. In addition to that, we have the highest density of amateur golfers in Canada so as a result we have some gorgeous golf courses. Capping off our day of waterfall site seeing and a round of golf we would have to grab a bite to eat and a brew at a local restaurant called the Bean Bar; some of the best burgers and sweet potato fries known to man.

obj – One request, we’d have to see the waterfalls before the beer because Beer + Running/Falling Water = me getting arrested for public urination.

What pays the bills in the Doc Spazz household and does your job have any sweet perks like “all you can drink” Goat Milk, spray tanning and/or Flip-Flop Fridays?

DS - As a graduate student, I actually get paid to go to school. Although I carry the student title, the university considers the PhD stream as professional program and all students enrolled are paid by the university. It helps too that I am on scholarship so I get a little extra green per month. As for perks, since my research is in the field of toxicology I have legal authorization to order basically any kind of pharmaceutical I want. Also, as an academic I have free reign over my schedule. As long as I don’t have a meeting or experimental obligations I can come in as early or late as I want, which is key for those late night gaming sessions or midnight releases.

obj – That sounds pretty sweet. In my undergrad years, the graduate students always used to say they qualified to get Government Cheese… but that was in the liberal arts field.

Aside from gaming, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

DS - I am a huge soccer fan. I generally play on two consecutive teams throughout the entire year. I enjoy the odd round of golf here and there and I really have a soft spot for getting outdoors and spending a few days out on the cottage or camping. Other than that, I like to work out and keep a pretty healthy lifestyle as well as spend time with my girlfriend, family and friends.

obj – How’s the home life? Is there a special pet, woman, man, vegetable or mineral that you share your abode with and how do they feel about gaming?

DS - Home life is really good. I have an amazing and supportive girlfriend by my side who is always there for me. She is not a big gamer but likes to play the retro and motion titles on the Wii with me. She hasn’t tried the Kinect yet, but I am certain that’s something she will enjoy as well. When it comes to my immediate family, I couldn’t ask for better parents, they did in fact buy my sister and I a SNES. As a family we have spent many hours on Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort and it always cracks me up when I come home and I see my parents playing Wii Sports or my dad playing The New Super Mario Brothers or Donkey Kong Country Returns.

obj – If you were stranded on a deserted island, what five items would you want to have with you? Let’s assume that your basic needs (food, water, shelter) are covered and rescue will be on its way within a year.

DS - A magic genie that way if I ever needed something or someone I didn’t have I could wish for it/them
A dog or cat to keep me company
A soccer ball
A kindle loaded with books & magazines of my favorite genres
A notepad and pen to keep a log of my daily activities

obj – Before we start with The Gamish Inquisition, is there a question you want me to ask that I have not? As always, an answer to any question proffered would be of amazing assistance because my Professor X-like mind-reading powers are limited to dogs.

DS - I am going to turn the tables on you OBJ and actually inquire as to what game you are most looking forward to this Holiday season?

obj – OH SNAP! Put me on the spot.

Most of my “highly-anticipated” games (Mass Effect 3 and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning) got pushed to Q1 2012, and I actually had the thought this week that between http://www.trueachievements.com/Gears-of-War-3-xbox-360.htm, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and (my recent Amazon DotD purchase) Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, I should be good until X-Mas, but I may have to break down and get RAGE or Dark Souls before the new year.

Now that I’ve been grilled, let’s kick off The Gamish Inquisition with a picture of your set up and a quick description of its features.

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DS - Currently I am doing my gaming on a 42” Samsung LED HDTV. I have my Xbox 360 slim hooked up through HDMI and Wii hooked up via component cables (although I doubt it makes much of a difference). The surround sound audio stream is supplied via toslink cable to my Astro A40’s – 2011 edition.

obj – What is your first gaming memory?

DS - I have been a gamer ever since the SNES days. My parents bought my sister and I the SNES for Christmas the year it came out and after unboxing it and my dad hooking it up, we played from 9 pm on Christmas Eve until 430 am Christmas morning. This was a big shock to me, because as a Catholic we missed midnight mass, which is something we would never do. I guess the immersive nature of video games is clearly not bound by any age.

obj – I’m pretty sure Jesus is cool if you miss his birthday every once in a while… but that’s just the heathen in me.

If the first game you ever played had achievements, what would be the toughest achievement to earn?

DS - “Earn 96? in Super Mario World.”

This is earned when you find all the secrets and alternate paths on all the levels in Super Mario World. I did not know this was possible until a friend of mine showed me a screenshot from a Nintendo power magazine proving this was in fact attainable. Back then, my preteen completionist switch got flipped and I replayed the game until that lovely “96?” was beside my save file.

obj - Do you own any other gaming consoles/platforms aside from the 360 and, if so, what is your favorite game on that console?

DS - Growing up I was a huge Nintendo fan boy and as a result I owned, and still own, every console leading up to and including the Wii. Actually, now that I think about, I sold my gamecube once I heard about the backward compatibility with the Wii. Nintendo was a big part of my childhood so I have a lot of great gaming memories from all these systems. If I had to pick one, it has to be my first Zelda experience A Link to the Past on the SNES. Even after identifying A Link to the Past, memories of Donkey Kong Country, Goldeneye, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing etc are all flooding back to me. Although a lot of these franchises have modern day reboots, I really feel it’s hard to duplicate that nostalgic experience you first got as a kid playing all or any one of these great games.

obj – Not unlike the protagonists in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” we’re getting ready to wade into the thick jungle that is the Holiday season of big game releases. I’m going to turn the table back on you to ask what game that you are especially looking forward to and why?

DS - You really are putting me on the spot here. There are so MANY AAA titles coming out this Holiday season I really feel bad for my bank account and making me narrow down to one game is bordering on the verge of torture (hahaha). I know I am neglecting a lot of great games but to be honest, I am super excited about Battlefield 3. I feel the technical changes to DICE’s Frostbite 2 engine are marvelous and the potential it has to create an immersive experience are nearly endless. Coupling that with the fact that they are releasing the game on 2 discs really validates that the single and multiplayer experiences will truly be graphical and audio experiences that will be the benchmark for games to come.

obj – I noticed in your gamer profile that (like virtually everyone else) you are playing Gears of War 3 . What is your favorite part of the game, thusfar?

DS - Without spoiling anything in the main plot, I really enjoy what they have done with the story arch and the feeling of comradery you get throughout the entire campaign. The continuation of 4 player co-op and the changes they made to horde mode and multiplayer are surely going to result this DVD being in my tray for quite a long time.

obj – I couldn’t agree more. The story of the campaign is truly the high-point for the series.

Having earned both Seriously ... in Gears of War and Seriously 2.0 in Gears of War 2 how do you feel about how Epic designed Seriously 3.0 in Gears of War 3 and are you planning on going for it?

DS - As a completionist, I will most definitely be going for Seriously 3.0. My thoughts on how EPIC designed the requirements are a bit too sided. From their perspective I see that they want to keep the game in the player’s hands and prevent the used market getting flooded with Gears 3 disc’s. To support them on this front, they really have done a good job in making sure the game is polished and runs silky smooth from day one and therefore should make fans hold onto the game. I think it’s a little sneaky making such lengthy requirements for an achievement, however I like how they give you the option to earn the onyx medals in private matches which should speed up process.

obj – In your initial message you mentioned how much you love the FIFA series but lamented many of the changes that have occurred in the series in the past few releases. If you were given control over the next game, which features would you change and which ones would you keep?

DS - Don’t get me wrong, FIFA is an amazing franchise and the evolution from the 90’s to now are enormous, but as of late I am starting to doubt EA deserves my money annually for the latest title to hit store shelves. I feel that recently EA is trying to do so much with FIFA that it just seems like a conglomeration of soccer related information. I don’t care to track my favorite clubs real life stats on my game or the virtual evolution of all the players in the Korean league – given that I play in the EPL. If I was that much of a fan, I would know how my team was doing and if lost track of them, I would check on their club website. I feel that FIFA may eventually turn into that circus show that has a harmonica playing, juggling clown, who can balance 3 people on his head, while walking over a tight rope, avoiding sharks all while dancing the Macarena. I think it needs to lose all the extra menus and features and just get back to its roots, a soccer game. The gameplay should be what inspires people to buy the product, not the 30 other features in the game that you will probably never use more than once.

I could go on for pages here, but to summarize it up in a few points;
1) Lose all the extra menus and stats pages
2) Lose the ability to control the goalkeeper
3) Lose the emphasis on Ultimate Team because if I wanted to play fantasy soccer I could do so for free online
4) Keep the gameplay features on par with what they have up to FIFA 10
5) The biggest one – stop closing your online servers nearly 2 years after the release of game EA!

obj – Having completed almost 75 games, which was your favorite to complete and which was your least-favorite?

DS - Favorite – http://www.trueachievements.com/Gears-of-War-xbox-360.htm ; earning that gamerpicture was a happy milestone in my achievement hunting career

Least-favorite – http://www.trueachievements.com/FIFA-08-xbox-360.htm ; some of those regional challenges are just sadistic

obj – There’s a (cut) scene in the movie Pulp Fiction where one of the characters is asked, “Are you a Beatles man or an Elvis man?” It’s perfectly OK to like both, but, when you come right down to it, you love one over the other. So, my question to you is this, “Are you a Halo Man or a Call of Duty Man?”

DS - I would have to say that I am a Call of Duty man more so than a Halo man. Although Halo does have some amazing balanced multiplayer, sometimes you just need some frantic, high voltage action with a side of zombie horde killing. Am I right or am I right?

obj –You have an amazing 96% completion percentage. What is the key to your success in this area?

DS - I think it’s all about buying games that you really are passionate about. There is not a single core game on my gamercard that I regret buying. At that point in time, I really liked a certain feature they included or the world they created and I think that you never lose your passion for something, it just may get lost amongst other things. So don’t be afraid to try and rediscover what made you buy that game in the first place, and never be afraid of a little grinding wink.

obj – I notice a scant, few Kinect games on your gamercard. What are your feelings on Kinect; do you think Microsoft will ever make it appeal to a “hardcore” gamer or is it going to live in the “casual” realm forever?

DS - I was actually a really big Kinect skeptic at first. For the longest time I thought it was a gimmick and just a rip off of the Wii’s movement technology. That all quickly changed once I actually played a Kinect title. After that first Fruit Ninja experience I was hooked. It truly is an amazing piece of technology and it makes for a fun immersive experience. I think that we will see Kinect incorporated into some core titles (ie. Mass Effect 3, Future Solider) but it may be a while before developers are able to create a fully fledged core title that isn’t on rails. Therefore, I think Kinect will always walk that casual fence, exploring what’s going on in the core realm from time to time but always making its way back to what it does best.

obj – Let’s imagine that you’re Commander Shepard and have been tasked with assembling an elite unit of four video game characters to defend humanity from an oncoming threat. Which four characters do you put on your squad and why?

DS - The Cole Train baby, whooooo!!! You always need some comedic relief when you’re getting shot at right?

Ezio Auditore da Firenze because nothing says come get some like a double hidden blade to the jugular.

Alcatraz from http://www.trueachievements.com/Crysis2-xbox-360.htm because if all else fails, a supersoldier should get the job done.

Super Mario. Do I even need to justify that one?

And now, Doc, are you ready for some Lightning Round?

Favorite 360 Game

DS - The Assassin’s Creed series

Least-Favorite 360 Game

DS - http://www.trueachievements.com/Far-Cry-2-xbox-360.htm – Horrible gameplay and the multiplayer is a drag to boot. Still need to hit level 30 on multiplayer so if anyone wants to boost, I’m so down.

Favorite Game Weapon

DS - The Lancer – What’s not to love about a gun with a chainsaw?

Favorite Developer

DS - From the past – RARE, Currently - DICE

Favorite Game Hero

DS - Link from The Legend of Zelda

Favorite Game Villain

DS - Although not the main villain, Andrew Ryan

Favorite Game Ending

DS - The ending after you have saved all the little sisters in BioShock 2 (Xbox 360)

Favorite Game Setting

DS - Hyrule in all its lovely iterations

If you could spend a “night of passion” with one character from the gaming world, who would it be?

DS - I don’t really look at the female characters in my games that way but if I had to pick it would either be Harley Quinn from http://www.trueachievements.com/Batman-Arkham-Asylum-xb....htm or Samantha Byrne from Gears 3, that Aussie accent sure sounds nice smile.

If you could have lunch/a drink with one real person from “the gaming world” who would it be?

DS - Shigeru Miyamoto. I would love to pick his creative mind.

obj - Any final thoughts, shout-outs or soap-box statements?

DS - Thanks to TA for running a fantastic gaming website. A special shout out to all those important in my life and last but not least thanks to all my gaming buddies for the countless hours of laughs and good times.


My thanks go out to the good Doctor for taking time away from his busy schedule to indulge me with my general brand of inane questions, silly asides and striking journalistic integrity.

As always:

If you’d like to be featured in a Community Interview, want to be a solid citizen and nominate someone more awesome than yourself OR want to submit a "Community Asks the Community" question, send a PM to me, osubluejacket . FYI - You’re MUCH more likely to be selected if you’re well-written, interesting, funny and/or can hook me up with good seats to the Blue Jackets’ home opener.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.