In this next evolution of “The Video Gamer’s Experience” I turn to you, the gamer, to find out what makes you tick when it comes to this entertainment medium based on interactivity, technological boundaries being obliterated, and emotional moments shared by thousands of people across the globe. Today’s interviewee: Jason “Haskie” Haskin.
What’s the first game you remember playing?
My earliest memories of playing video games go so far back I can hardly remember them unfortunately, but I do remember going to a small diner with my mother and father up the street from where we used to live at the time. Aside from the diner having food that I didn’t care for as an extremely picky child, they did have a Ms. Pacman arcade cabinet just behind the booth that my family liked to sit at. My mom would drag a chair over for me to stand on and give me a stack of quarters to play with until our food arrived. As you can probably imagine, I loved the lights and sounds that game made. I don’t think I cleaned my first Pacman board until years later – tough game to start on hehe.
When did you realize you were a gamer?
When my mom and dad started to notice that I was interested in playing video games as a very young child (just a couple years old at the time), I remember going over to family friends house and buying their used NES system, that day I came home with what must have been no less than twenty Nintendo games and have pretty much been playing games since then. At the time I’m sure I was too young to understand what it meant to be a video gamer, but by the time the Sega Genesis came around I had begun to give entire weekends to games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Toe Jam & Earl, and many others. I’m sure the gamer in me woke up during those years.
Is there one story in your life that was directly impacted by a game?
Yes! Back in 2007 I had begun to get very heavily into PC gaming and I was making decent money at the time at my first job. Since I had yet to really have any real expenses (wasn’t going to college, wasn’t living on my own yet, etc.) I spent a lot of my money impulse buying games on Steam – which was just taking off at the time. I realized that buying games without really looking into them allowed me to play the game unbiased, sometimes leading to some really wonderful discoveries in the gaming industry. One of those gems was a game called Aquaria. I took one look at the images on the Steam store page and hit that buy button without a second thought – just because that’s how I bought games back then. That little purchase put me on what I usually describe as the most inspiring video game journey I have ever been on.
Aquaria was a fairly simple indie Metroidvania style adventure game that took place in a great ocean filled with beautiful music and hand drawn graphics. The game had a minimalistic fighting system but largely focused on narration and exploring that mysterious world. Each area would have its own unique music, look, and feel, and I wouldn’t at all be ashamed to say that I began to develop feelings associated with the different places of that game as I played. Some places close to the surface were sunny and colorful and I genuinely felt full of life there, but then I would go down into the deep where the water would become dark and the angler fish would find me, and I would feel cold and scared.
Long story short, when my playthrough of Aquaria came to its end and I began to watch the credits roll, I began to think about what it would be like to be a game developer. I thought about what it would be like for me to make games that made other people feel the same way I felt while playing Aquaria, and before the credits were done, I had decided that I would pursue a degree in video game design. I started classes just a few months later.
What’s your favorite video game genre?
If you consider indie its own genre (and some people don’t, including but not limited to just about every one of my professors in college), then that is without a doubt what I would choose. You can find some of the most beautiful and inspiring games within that genre of gaming, stuff you just cannot get when playing a game that had two hundred different developer’s hands on it. There is a passion to be found in some of those games, not to mention some of the most original and unorthodox gaming mechanics found in the industry.
What’s your favorite video game franchise?
It’s hard to say if I have a single favorite video game franchise, however if I did ever compile a list of my absolute favorites I could see the Diablo franchise fighting for the top spot. The original Diablo was probably the first PC game I ever played back when I was seven years old (probably too young to be playing that kind of game), and I’ve been playing those games since then. Beyond Diablo, I have a huge soft spot for just about any first party Nintendo franchise, Metroid, Starfox, Zelda, Pikmin, The 3D Mario games, I love all of them. I’m also a massive fan of Sid Meier’s Civilization – I feel like I could continue to learn and improve at that game for the rest of my days and never stop getting better, it’s that deep.
Is there one game you’ve never had the chance to play that you regret not playing?
Honestly? I’m digging really hard here to come up with something but I’m struggling to find anything. If there was ever a game that I was interested in I made absolutely sure that I got my hands on it just in case it turned out to be my new favorite game. If there is anything however, I would say that I am extremely drawn to very very old dungeon crawler games on the PC. I’m talking the games that inspired The Legend of Grimrock, games like the first Might and Magic games, Stonekeep, and Ultima. Games that you need to bring a stack of grid paper to draw a map on just to get out of the dungeon you’re in. For some reason the thought of playing such a raw and original RPG like that really gets me excited, so it would probably be one of those. But I’ve always had a hard time sitting down and playing something like that for some reason, maybe it’s the amount of dedication required to really get into, some day though.
What’s the best video game purchase you made?
Sorry console gamers, but my best video game purchase was the components to build my first ever gaming computer.
What’s the worst video game purchase you made?
Ouch. That would have to be the time I traded in all of my Nintendo 64 stuff to get a Playstation. I wanted one really bad, and I thought games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Vigilantly 8 where unbelievably cool. So I loaded up all of my Nintendo stuff and headed to the used game shop. I was stupid and let the fat guy behind the counter take everything. Ocarina of Time, Starfox 64, Goldeneye, Mario Kart, and a bunch more for a crusty old PS1 with one of those magazine demo discs with the first level of a couple games. Such a bad deal.
What video game character do you most relate to?
When I was younger I wanted to be Fox McCloud the most. Being the head pilot of a team of ace mercenaries hired to fight the baddies that threatened the solar system just sounded like so much fun. I’ve always liked flying in video games, and the Arwing in the Starfox universe was probably my favorite space plane to pilot.
If a game based on you was made what would it be like?
Hmm, I’ve never thought about that. I know it may seem cliché but I really like games where you save the girl. Call me old fashioned but I really wished we didn’t live in a time where chivalry was so dead, and I do believe it is. I can’t think of something that would get me off my butt faster than to help a lady I cared about who was in trouble. So maybe a game based on me would begin with that.
What are you playing now and what are you looking forward to playing in the near future?
At the time of this writing we Diablo 3 players are wrapping up season 9, I’ve completed all of my seasonal objectives and trying my best to stay in the top 500 Barbarians on the leaderboards. As always, it’s been an epic journey and looking forward to what the next season has in store for us. Looking forward I am really excited to see what Nintendo has in store for the new Switch. While I haven’t got one myself, I’ve been watching a good friend play the new Zelda game and it looks quite fun. I heard a rumor that a new Pikmin game is in the works, I could see myself getting really excited for that. Oh and speaking of rumors, someone told me that Retro Studios is working on some secret project. I would buy a Switch in a second if I found out that it was a new Metroid game.
Your desert island games?
Assuming that there is power there on that desert island beach to power my computer, I would have to take Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress with me. I’m pretty those two games alone could keep me happily occupied for a lifetime. Modded Minecraft is unbelievably fun and there is always some new build I’m willing to start up, especially as the mod developers update their projects. And Dwarf Fortress has never failed to amaze me from a development stand point. Its depth is simply awe-inspiring, and watching a fortress of dwarves run around a fully automated fortress never gets old, ever.
How can people keep up with everything you’re doing?
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