Game legends, developers, and reporters: What do they play for fun?
People create the games you play. They wake up, get dressed, and go to work to make your favorite games. In most cases there are long hours involved with this job, and it can be hard to keep track of the fact that most people play games for fun. You know, when they're not working. I asked a number of people from the industry, those who make or write about games, what they play for amusement. If they were gifted with a few hours of free, uninterrupted gaming time, what would they play, and why? The answers were often surprising.
Ken Levine, creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games (Bioshock Infinite)
I do play. No matter how busy I am, I find time. I’m playing the Shogun Total War standalone expansion. I play a ton of that. I play a lot of iPhone and iPad games because I come home and I’m about to pass out, I get home at 10 or 11 p.m. and I have dinner, work out, and then go into bed and sit there with an iPad, I game every day, and I’m playing Fairway Solitaire, that’s a lot of fun, and I’m playing Ascension. Quick little things, I just got Hero Academy, and I want to try that out. A combination of deep strategy games and quick things.
Chris Grant, Editor-in-Chief of Polygon.com
I don't often find the time to play a game early and often enough to have a review ready when the embargo lifts; as a result, most of my gaming time is “personal.” But it's important for me to be fluent in the medium I cover, and so I try to play as much as I can. But even then, I have blind spots. There are genres I don't enjoy, there are games I spend more time with than necessary, and there are games I return to again and again. The iPhone slash iPad ecosystem is perhaps the biggest “offender” here – iOS titles fill the cracks in the never-ending Sidewalk of Busyness. A quick game of Words With Friends or another level in Angry Birds Space or one more match of Super Stickman Golf. Then there's the classic games. While I don't have the time, appetite, or money to play every new AAA release, I still feel a shudder of guilt whenever I download a classic – whether it's being re-released on iOS or Steam or GoG – just to relive an experience I've already had. The relative preponderance of digital storefronts selling classic games is such a treat, I find myself purchasing games I already own just to support the model.
Derek Smart, president and lead developer of 3000AD, Inc. (Line of Defense)
Well, since I work in games, even if I’m playing a game, that means work. So on my day off I probably won’t be playing games as that won’t be a day off for me. So, when I do get around to playing games, I tend to have long sessions with flight simulators. I am currently into the DCS (KA-50, A-10C) and Flaming Cliffs series. Yeah, hardcore mind-numbing stuff. At other times when I’m doing “research,” you’ll find me being schooled most likely by a bunch of potty mouthed teens on a Battlefield or Call Of Duty server. Despite the fact that I have a very extensive (over 6000 titles and climbing – this is just one small room in a multi-storage picture) gaming library, I don’t play PC or console games as often as I used to. Shamefully, I find that I play more games on my iPhone and iPad than I do on any other platform. I am currently enjoying Draw Something, Angry Birds Space, Collision Effect and Dungeon Dwellers.
David Jaffe (Twisted Metal, God of War)
I actually did take a day off just to play games this last weekend, and while my 'to play' pile is inches away from being as tall as my 8 year daughter, the game I grabbed was an easy choice: Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for the Wii. One of the things I love about games is their ability to transport us to other worlds; to send us on impossible adventures all from the safety and comfort of our couches. The Zelda games do this for me better than any other series, and that is why I chose it as my 'day off' game. I know so much of what goes on behind the scenes in game making that it takes a special game to make me forget all of those things and allows me to lose myself in the virtual world. Skyward Sword does that for me. As with all Zelda titles, I know my exploring will be rewarded, that my 'hey, I wonder what happens if I try this' curiosity will result in at least a red rupee and at most a 'never saw that coming' payoff that makes me feel like a little kid again. Skyward Sword plays on the classic Zelda formula but it also introduces a lot of cool, fun, and clever Wimote only mechanics. And to top it off, this is a game that my kids like to sit and play with me. And I gotta say, introducing your children to the wonders of one of the best video game series ever created is a damn fine way to spend your day off.
Rami Ismail, Co-Founder, Vlambeer (Serious Sam Random Encounter, Super Crate Box)
I'd play this game called 'a day off' and probably not touch games with a ten foot pole - the only game for which I've made an exception lately is Mass Effect 3. Since I've finished that, the only games I play are when I've got friends over or when I'm on my way to the Vlambeer office. With my friends, I've been playing lots of Wrecked: Revenge Revisited on my Xbox - on my way to work I'm still struggling with trying to beat the later levels in Circadia on my iPad.
Ludwig Kietzmann, Editor-in-Chief of Joystiq.com
Aside from the grueling necessity of having to complete a large game in a short amount of time, there isn't much that signals the difference between a game I play for work and one I play for fun. I think I tend to categorize games more often between ones I play when I want to lean forward, and those that come out when I want to lean back. The latter group tends to imply anything that doesn't have long-term mental overhead—progression systems I need to keep track of, intricate combos, sprawling stories and side quests. Those are all a form of in-game stress, in a way, so my fun games tend to things you can dive in without context. That means puzzles games like Lumines, platformers like Rayman Origins and Halo Reach, which I still consider the most elegant and enjoyable multiplayer game in my collection. You don't want to know how many hours I've put into it. Neither do I.
Mike Legg, president, founder, Petroglyph (End of Nations)
I'd go with Skyrim on the PC. On the Xbox 360 version, my rogue-style character is level 40, and I'm 130 hours in - and the end still seems to be nowhere in sight. When the Steam holiday sale hit, I also purchased Skyrim for the PC. A couple of weekends ago, I downloaded the enhanced high-res textures and a bunch of other highly recommended mods from Skyrim Nexus and the Steam Workshop. After firing up the game, I was completely blown away by how incredible it looked (compared to the 360 version), and by how much the mods enhance the game that I'm already addicted to. So, If I had an entire day to play something, I'd start an all-new magic-based character on the PC version of Skyrim!
Nathan Fouts, President, Mommy's Best Games, Inc .(Serious Sam Double D, Shoot 1UP)
I would split my day in half. While I'm wide awake, I'd play some shooters like Sine Mora or Raiden Fighter Aces. Later in the evening I'd head into something rough around the edges but original like Alpha Protocol or Deadly Premonition.
Tarrnie Williams, president, Roadhouse Interactive (Family Guy Online, MechWarrior Tactics)
I’m playing Hero Academy and Coco Loco on iOS, World of Tanks and My Brute on my laptop, Skyrim and NHL12 on console. The game I want to play, and have 2 copies, but haven’t been able to crack yet is the Old Republic.
Jordan Mechner (Prince of Persia, The Last Express)
I would play Journey again. I played it the first time in absolute ignorance of what it was, I didn’t realize it was a multiplayer game until it was over. Then I went online and read about it and I realized certain things about the gameplay I didn’t realize the first time. So I’m curious to go through it again and see how similar or different the experience is. I started out thinking it was a single player game, so I thought it was cool, it was beautiful, and I was in this empty desert, and then when I saw another character I gasped. “Cool, there’s an NPC!” Then I played it and thought the AI was so good. First I thought I was following her, and then she was following me, and I thought this was much more sophisticated than Ico or anything I’ve ever seen. Then the other character disappeared, and I was sad because I lost her, and she came back, but acted different… it was only at the end when I realized I had been connected to the PSN. That touched me on a whole other level. Playing it again and understanding what’s happening, I’m curious. I’d need about two hours to do it, that’s a game, like The Last Express, where you want enough time to immerse yourself.