Inside the Game Interviews Geoff Keighley
THE GAME REVIEWS: So can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
GEOFF: My name is Geoff Keighley. I am a video game journalist. I write about games for magazines like Entertainment Weekly, and I also host a television show on Spike TV called Game Trailers TV, which is a weekly video game news magazine show.
THE GAME REVIEWS: So how long have you been gaming, and what did you do before you got to where you are now? How did you get there?
GEOFF: I have been gaming since I was a really young kid. My parents were great about buying computers for me when I was young, so I played you know, Reader Rabbit and Turtle Tracks when I was growing up. I played games all through elementary school. In the 8th grade, I wrote a letter to a company called Sierra Online, as I was a big fan of their adventure games, saying, “I love your games. Is there any way that I could get involved in helping make them?” About a month later, I got a letter back from them saying, “You know thank you for your interest, we actually need beta testers for our games to play early pre-released versions of the games and give our designers feedback.” So they started sending me some of their games such as Leisure Suit Larry, King’s Quest, Gabriel Knight and a lot of their adventure games. I started playing them and I was giving the lead designers feedback and I was also on the internet at the time, so when the games came out there would be hint forums where gamers would go on when they would get stuck in these adventure games, and they would ask, “How do I get past this point or that point?” Since I had already beta tested the game and somewhat helped design it, I already knew how to get through the game, so I would push a lot of hints and tips. And then one day, an editor from a magazine called, Computer Games, Strategy Plus, read a lot of my articles, sent me an e-mail saying, “Hey you know you really seem to know a lot about these games, you are giving a lot of great hints to people. What do you think of maybe writing about games?” And what he did not know at the time was that I was 13 years old. It is like that old New Yorker cartoon. On the internet, no one knows you are a dog. I am on the internet. No one knew I was 13 years old. So I started writing about games all through at 13, and I did that all through high school and college and have been doing it ever since. So when you ask what I did before, I really did not do anything, I went to school and I was a kid.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Got you.
GEOFF: I have sort of done it my whole life. So I started growing up with the gaming industry.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Got you. So you pretty much, you knew people after you sent that first letter.
GEOFF: Exactly, and that is all it took. I mean it just of snow balled out of control from there.
THE GAME REVIEWS: So what would you recommend to people if they are looking to get into the industry? They want to get into media, whether it is in video production, becoming a reporter or just a writer?
GEOFF: Well I think right now there is a huge opportunity you know using the internet with blogs and with commentary online to really you know make yourself known. But I think you also have to come up with initial [idea]. You have to figure out something that is unique about what you want to do. I think posting a blog that is just your reviews of games makes it very difficult to really stand out. Some people can definitely stand out if you are a great writer. But I think it is sort of looking at different ways to look at the industry, it is like what you guys are doing, it is talking. You know, looking at different angles of the industry, interviewing people from different walks of life. I think that is really keen, lots of commentary, insight, you know having a different angle to look at the business is great. And then just you know getting out, meeting people, talking to people. I think there is still a dearth of great game writers, and I think when you know people that are interested in the business that passionate about it there is a lot you can do. I mean the thing for, me has always been my background. Yes I play games, but I am also much more interested in the people behind the games and looking at the personalities and their stories and development stories. And that is really sort of how I carved out my niche was saying, “Hey I love these games, I love playing them, but I want to know more about the making of these games and how they are put together and these personalities.” And I think you know the rivalries between these different consoles are as great as the rivalries between sport’s teams. And I think Peter Moore when he was at Microsoft and Jack Trenton when he was at Sony; these are like coaches of great basketball teams that you want to sort of understand about their philosophy and their strategy. So I always sort of focused on that when I think other people were much more focused on let’s play the game, let’s review it and that is all we do. So I think if you can find a niche, and you can be on the internet and you can get your word out. I think there is lots of opportunities out there.
THE GAME REVIEWS: what is your favorite game all time?
GEOFF: My favorite game of all time, there are a lot and because technology has improved over the years, it is really hard to say. Like you know, I loved Call of Duty 4 last year and Bioshock. They were great. But the ones that I am sort of most nostalgic for are probably some of the early adventure games. I really like the adventure game from Sierra called Gabriel Knight which have you ever heard of that or?
THE GAME REVIEWS: Yes.
GEOFF: Yes it was a great…
THE GAME REVIEWS: I am from back in the Atari 2600 days.
GEOFF: Okay cool yes, so yes I love that game, it was really great story. That was what opened my eyes for the power of storytelling in games despite the primitive graphics and what not. I have sort of a lot of affinity for those early games because I know how hard it was to evoke emotion in the player back then. So those are some of my favorites . I mean there are games that I love every year and there is a lot of great stuff.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Yes, there are definitely a lot of good games out there. Last question that we ask everybody is system; do you have a favorite one?
GEOFF: Of all time or right now?
THE GAME REVIEWS: Right now.
GEOFF: Yes I think you said favorite system. You know, I think right now the best value is probably an Xbox 360, in terms of the games that are out there. In fact, they have achievements and great online, so I think that is the best value. But I would say it is getting a lot closer. I think PlayStation has a lot of great things coming up this year. I do not think there is a bad choice among the three systems. I mean, it is not like one is going to be a Dreamcast or anything like that. I mean, they are both healthy platforms, and I respect all three of them for what they are doing, but I think sort of right now I play my 360 more than I play my PS3 or Wii right now. But I think that could change this year, I think PlayStation 3 is going to come on really strong this year, so that could change, but today if you ask me, you would probably find me holding my 360 controller more often than the other ones.
THE GAME REVIEWS: Thank you. Appreciate it.
GEOFF: Thank you.