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Jeff Green is a busy, busy man.  Or a procrastinating slacker as evidence by the length of time it took to return our annual Q&A.  We don't hold that against Jeff though.  After all, he apologized -- "I'm soooooooooooo sorry." -- and that's twelve O's so he must mean it.

 

As usual Jeff has gone well beyond the call of duty this year.  He's Editor-in-Chief at Computer Gaming World, rides a motorcycle and has a life (presumably), so taking time out to answer our questions about E3, game legends that are better off as a fond memories, anger management in gaming, "industry professionals", the chair he sits in, and so much more is very appreciated.  Thanks once again for your time, Jeff!

 

(And for further entertainment check Parts I, II, III and IV)

 

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Jeff Green (CGW): Part V

Conducted by Omni

 

So, what are the biggest changes for you personally and Computer Gaming World in the last year?

For me personally, the biggest change is finally fulfilling my dream of becoming a woman. Okay, not really. The full “change” hasn’t happened yet. A few more hormone shots and I’m there. (Okay, I just wrote all that so that when my old high school friends Google my name, that’s what they’ll see.) For CGW, well, we have seen a *lot* of turnover on the staff—I am now the only one left from the time I first started. Which probably means it’s time for me to find a new mouthwash.

 

I’ll get the questions about E3 2004 out of the way.  What was the best freebie you got at this year’s show?

Isn’t it great when I wait 4 months to answer your questions? Then, like, everything is totally irrelevant! Yay! Actually, you know, no one really gives away freebies anymore, except for the occasional t-shirt, hat, or backpack. I long for the days of yore, when they used to give each and every one of us a free naked girl.

 

Obviously, someone in your position – someone in the loop in terms of games – wouldn’t be surprised by many games shown at E3, but were there any games that did surprise you?

Well, being in the PC gaming ghetto, I don’t often get to see the console titles ahead of time. One game that I loved there was Jade Empire, but it wasn’t really a surprise since Bioware is making it and I’ve loved every game they’ve ever done. So I guess I didn’t answer your question, did I?  I suck. Okay, here’s a couple I knew about but was surprised by how good they looked: Activision’s new Vampire the Masquerade game and THQ’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

 

According to a press release from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) stated there were 65,000+ “industry professionals” in attendance at E3.  What is the ESA’s definition of an industry professional?  Who is included in this group?

Good lord, you got me. “Industry professionals?”  I didn’t know there were such things in this business. Whoever they are, I don’t want to know them. I want to keep hanging out with the dorito-eating, dope-smoking, lazy-ass slackers that make up the real creative forces of this industry.

 

Although most indicators point to Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 being released this year, what are the chances we’ll see both?

Here’s another advantage of taking 4 months to respond to you! Well, I guess we can fairly safely say that Doom 3 will ship now, huh?  As far as Half-Life 2 goes, the indicators seem to be pointing towards a release this year. I sure hope so. I haven’t always had the greatest luck trying to get information out of Valve, but that doesn’t dim my enthusiasm for this game at all.

 

Did you get a chance to check out the Phantom console in action?  Presuming it ships, will it pose any competition to pure PC gaming?

Bah. First of all, “presuming it ships” is of course the real question here. I’ll believe it when I see it. Second, I just don’t get it. I don’t get why anyone would bother. Which maybe makes me old and stupid, but, hey, we all knew that about me anyway. We all have PCs on our desks now, for all sorts of reasons. They’re not going away for a long time. As long as we can play PC games on them—why add another frickin’ gadget to the house?

 

What was the absolute low light of this year’s show?

The same thing it always is for me: Seeing gigantic lines of the above-mentioned “industry professionals” waiting to get their pictures taken with booth babes. “Hey, look, a really hot girl who hates her job and thinks I smell is standing next to me because she’s getting paid to! Aren’t I cool!?”

 

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I can’t remember where I read it, but somewhere there was speculation that E3 might not exist in a couple of years due to its general irrelevance as being too loud and “showy”.  Will E3 continue in its current form?

Yeah, I’ve been hearing rumors, too. Frankly, E3 is mostly a pain in everyone’s ass—everyone in the biz knows it and says to each other, and has for years. The game companies hate it 

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because they have to gear their whole year, their whole marketing push around the show, even though some of their games or hardware might not nearly be ready for presentation, and the press hates it because it is largely a waste of our time. We’ve seen all these games already, and it’s way too loud and superficial to glean any real information anyway. The only good part, like any convention in any industry, is just being able to get out of town, go to parties, and get drunk. That’s a pretty good part, actually, so I hope they don’t kill it.

 

Because it was E3’s 10th Anniversary a “History of Video Games” was set up in Kentia Hall.  Did you have a chance to check it out?  I actually witnessed one guy hyperventilating (presumably with excitement) standing in front of an old Atari.

He might have been hyperventilating because that’s what us old guys who remember those Ataris do. In fact, that might have been me. Was the guy overweight, sleepless, and kind of stupid looking?  If so, then, yeah, it was me.

 

Okay, now that the E3 questions are out of the way… do you lose any sleep worrying about spelling errors that might have slipped into the latest issue of the magazine?

Sadly, spelling errors are going to slip through every now and then, despite a crack team of editors and a full-time copy desk. What I worry about more is inaccurate information, or missed information. We have a small staff with a lot to do in a little amount of time every month, and once it’s in print, it’s there forever.

 

Mythica.  It truly was a case of really bad timing – your two-page preview included in the April CGW hitting newsstands just as the game was canceled.  Has this had any affect on what previews CGW includes?

Not really, no. That timing did truly suck, indeed. But we are working so far ahead of schedule (for example, we just finished our December issue, here in September) that things like this are simply unavoidable. We have to go on the assumption that the games we are looking at are actually going to be made and not cancelled.

 

Will we ever see those 300+ page CGWs again?

Man, I miss those days. Some of those issues around 1996-1998 were actually over 400 pages. The thing is, it’s all about the ads. The more ads that our salespeople sell, the more edit pages we get to include. The ads pay for the edit. But these days, our primary advertisers, the game companies, are spending less money on advertising in the gaming magazines (which is why they are ALL smaller, not just CGW), and more on TV and “mainstream” magazines, like Entertainment Weekly.

 

If there were one, would you buy a 12” Gordon Freeman action figure?

I’m really just not an action figure kind of guy. And if I was, as much as I love Half-Life, no, I don’t think I’d buy one. However, I would buy a Liv Tyler action figure. Or a Jessica Alba action figure. Or a Lindsay Lohan action figure. Am I making myself clear?

 

Can Half-Life 2 possibly live up to expectations, which seem exceedingly high at this point?

The annoying thing about Valve is that they will probably at least live up to expectations, if not surpass them.  I say annoying because, like Rockstar, they are one of those companies that you’d kind of like to see taken down a couple pegs, just because they come across as so damn arrogant. But then you play their games and understand *why* they are arrogant—because they are great.

 

I play a lot of PC games and I’ve never broken a mouse but I open a PC gaming magazine and find it to be a common occurrence for full-time reviewers.  Are there anger management issues in the gaming magazine business the general public doesn’t know about?

Oh yes.  Yes indeed.  See, if you had to play every crappy game that we have to play, and play them fast, and then write about them, you’d be breaking your mice and keyboards too. The best stories we have here, though, are about our former technical editor, Dave Salvator, they guy in charge of all the hardware, who had such a short fuse in any multiplayer game we played (which always made him the most fun to target) that he routinely broke his controllers.

 

Those with Playstation 2s and PCs can play Final Fantasy XI Online together.  As technology progresses, will this cross-platform compatibility become the norm?

I would think so, yeah, and I hope so. It actually seems pretty inevitable, don’t you think? It’s cool to me how much Xbox Live has caught on. Just a few years ago this seemed like impossibility.  And while I suppose it would behoove me, as the editor of a PC gaming magazine, to just crow about the superiority of the PC, the fact is that as a gamer, the more options we have, the better. Maybe one day the whole console/PC gaming line will be completely irrelevant. Maybe one day we will all hold hands

 

In a way, Leisure Suit Larry is making a return (and it looks like it will actually be released).  Depending on how it sells, could we see new editions of Space Quest, Kings Quest or even Police Quest?  Or are old school PC adventure fans just hoping against hope that any of the “classic” adventure series from Sierra or LucasArts will be resurrected? (Or in the case of LucasArts, actually be released?)

Leisure Suit Larry looks so awful and embarrassing that hopefully it will kill once and for all the notion of reviving these old franchises. Look, I’m the oldest coot in the business, but even I do not want to just keep reliving the past over and over. We should just let these things die, and live on in our memory. At some point, the creative geniuses at LucasArts and Sierra actually created great new titles like Day of the Tentacle and Gabriel Knight and Grim Fandango. So how about if this generation of game developers comes up with its own new classics, rather than living off the glory of other people’s creations?

 

Will there be much of an outcry if there’s never another Tomb Raider game?

I think there will be more of an outcry if there IS another Tomb Raider game. It’s kind of like the Star Wars movies, or ER on television—you just want it to go away at this point and stop embarrassing everyone.

 

Do you think Bioware will be gobbled up by Microsoft to make Xbox-specific role-playing games?

Hasn’t this happened already? Jade Empire was probably my favorite game at E3 this year, an Xbox-specific role playing game from Bioware. But, no, actually I know that they have a PC RPG in the works, and no matter what or where they end up, the bottom line with Bioware is that they are awesome developers and we should just be grateful that they’re making games at all.

 

Does anyone but the most tech-savvy of gamer really give a rat’s ass about pixel shaders?

You got me. I know that I don’t give a rat’s ass about pixel shaders. I couldn’t even really tell you what they are. Do they shade pixels? There’s nothing more boring or irrelevant to me when a developer is demo’ing their game and they start crowing endlessly about all the technical details like that. To me, the more they go on and on about pixel shaders, or whatever, the less they have to say about the actual game part—the part that actually matters to us.

 

I’ve got to know.  Describe the chair you sit in when playing games (at work or home).

What are you expecting here? A hand-crafted diamond-studded luxury armchair with built-in porta-potty? My chair at home is a piece of crap old wooden thing with a broken roller, so it’s always kind of tilting to one side, so I have to hold my foot down so that I don’t tip over and break my neck. My chair here at CGW is one of those standard-issue black office chairs that I have marked as my own with coffee and Dorito stains. Yes, it’s one glamorous life I lead!

 

 

Is it a little weird living in a state where Arnold Schwarznegger is Governor?

How about a LOT weird? I’m not going to get into politics here, but let’s just say that Schwarzenegger did not carry the vote in my beloved town of Berkeley.

 

How’s the motorcycle treating you? (Or vice versa.)

I love the motorcycle. It’s one of the only things that keeps me sane on a daily basis. I actually got in an accident last October---some clown talking on his cell phone hit me on the Bay Bridge—but the net result of that was that I was able to get a bigger and better bike with the insurance money. So here’s a shout-out to that dumbass for hitting me. Thanks, dumbass!

 

What games are on your hard drive?  And are you playing them?

You know what’s still on my hard drive? Baldur’s Gate II. Sometime before I die I must finish that. That’s just about the only old game on there, because my hard drive is a relatively small 30 gig drive, so I have to constantly swap out games. Other games on there right now are the World of WarCraft beta (playing it a lot), the EverQuest 2 beta (playing it but need more RAM), Dawn of War (just started it), Kohan 2 (can’t wait), Grim Fandango (replaying it now because I was dying for a good adventure game), The Sims 2 (addicted to it), Doom 3 (ummm, yeah, we gave this 5 stars…hmmmmm), and Battlefield 1942 (my default online fragfest game….). And just to be heretical, I will also admit to be playing the following games on the consoles: Burnout 3, Pikmin 2, Katamari Damacy, and Sly 2. Katamari is my game of the year so far, on any platform.

 

Editor-in-Chiefs tend to live a nomadic life – kind of like the A-Team (at least that’s the popular perception).  What will you do if you ever step down as the EIC of CGW?

I will roam the Earth, dispensing wisdom and helping those in need wherever I go. Or maybe I’ll just sell double-decaf soy lattes at Starbucks. I think I could really get into that. Like, check this out: “Would you like an extra shot with that? How about a little whipped cream, sir? Something to eat today?” See, I could totally do that job.

 

Is there anything in the last four years that we haven’t asked you?  (And what would the answer be?)

Only one thing comes to mind. The question would be: “If you could be anyone in history, who would you be?” And the answer would be: Cher’s hair stylist.

 

(October 1, 2004)

 

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