“I’d walk into work and see people coming down with boxes in their hands…”

magazines

Question: What’s it like working in the games industry?

The editorial side is brutal, just because of how unpredictable it can be. I witnessed too many layoffs at Ziff-Davis to ever sleep well again. I’d walk into work and see people coming down with boxes in their hands and be like “what closed now?” That’s disheartening. And then there’s the whole thing about writing about other people’s creative efforts. The game industry opened a lot of doors for me, but it’s such a machine at this point I couldn’t do it any longer if I wanted to. 

Making games is equally stressful, but more creatively satisfying. One of these days I’d just like to make my own games with a small team, that really only need to be successful enough to keep making games for a living. It’s impossible to know how successful your game will turn out, but not having to answer to anyone besides the taxman is a pretty liberating thing.


JamesAbout James Mielke

My mother calls me ‘James’ and my dad calls me ‘Jim.’ Everyone else seems to call me ‘Mielke’ which sounds like ‘Milky.’ I produce video games, and before I got into the business of making games, I wrote about other people’s games while enjoying a 10 year run at Ziff-Davis Media, running EGM and 1UP.com by the time I was done. 

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“It was a huge moment for me…”

kfuQuestion: What’s one of your earliest memories of video games?

The first really memorable moment with a video game was the day I bought Kung Fu. I remember my parents let me stay up a little late to play the game and I was on my last life before I had to go to bed. Somehow, I managed to go from the first level to the final boss all in one life. It was a huge moment for me where I felt this major sense of accomplishment. My parents even made a point of congratulating me, but I’m sure they were more excited that everyone was finally going to bed.

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It’s-a-Me!

mario

The other franchises let you experience the adrenaline and horror of war, or deep fantasy worlds, or pro sports. A Mario game lets you pretend to be a middle-aged chubster hopping onto a turtle shell.

― Jeff Ryan, Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

 

Super Mario by Juyan16

“The worst thing a kid can say…”

darksouls

The worst thing a kid can say about homework is that it is too hard. The worst thing a kid can say about a game is it’s too easy. 

Henry Jenkins

 

Image: Dark Souls II via Think Entertainment.

“…if you’re playing in good company…”

...image courtesy of Amanda Siska...

Games give you a chance to excel, and if you’re playing in good company you don’t even mind if you lose because you had the enjoyment of the company during the course of the game.

Gary Gygax

 

Image courtesy of Amanda Siska.

“I could never get past the first goomba…”

firstgoomba

Before I really got hooked, I must have played around with some of the early off-brand consoles at friends’ houses. I know because I remember flashes of light and sound and fun. Maybe some space monsters. However, the first clear memory I have of video games is playing a cocktail table version of Super Mario Bros at a hamburger joint in a college town near my family’s farm in upstate New York.

We were pretty poor, so we didn’t get to go to the burger joint very often. Sometimes in the summer, though, my mom would take us on the way home from the beach. On those days, I’d rush through my food as quickly as I could and plop myself down at the game table. I could never get past the first goomba, but I played over and over again just the same. I was 8, and I was hooked.  

Well, a handful of trips after I discovered the game, my mother must have figured out how many quarters were disappearing down that black hole. She finally came to investigate. One look at that goomba killing Mario, and she forbade me from ever again “wasting my savings on this stupid trash.” In addition to being frugal, my mother also prided herself on sheltering her children from what she considered mindless entertainment, especially anything violent. Just to give you an idea: on our three-channel television, we were only allowed to watch PBS— and only for an hour a day.

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“Video games are going to completely take over storytelling in our society.”

last-of-usI think video games are going to completely take over storytelling in our society. Video games are not a fad. They are absolutely a narrative form and a medium that is already evolving and recognized as a narrative form…

– Guillermo del Toro

Image from The Last of Us.

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