Have fun listening to Geoff, Reggie and Harold! But please donate to help us homeless students at charity.gofundme.com/talking-games-…gie-and-harold or nygamecritics.com/reggie. Here, we talk about Geoff beating Reggie at the Wii at E3 and how Reggie fought back to never be beaten again. We talk about the creation of The Game Awards and the loneliness Geoff sometimes feels, and how Geoff gives back at our New York Game Awards – every year. We also give a shout out to Evan Narcisse, a founding member of The Circle. Plus, our Ronald Gordon asks Reggie questions of the week.
Please check out our charity auction. In this eBay Charity Auction to benefit NYVGCC’s mentoring of homeless students, we have a rare Pokemon Snap Photo Album. It’s a Nintendo promotion from 1999 in excellent condition – from Harold’s archives. If this auction reaches $500, Reggie himself will sign it!
Hi there. This is Reggie. We recorded this week’s episode before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests and riots. Harold and I felt compelled to record this introduction and comment on the situation. First, we are appalled by the actions of the officers involved. I have deep positive relationships with members of the law enforcement community. And I know that they too are sickened by the actions of the officer who’s now been charged and the officers who’ve been fired. Second, in these United States, we have a constitutional right to protest. And as a country, we have a rich history of creating positive change through peaceful protests. But Third, the rioting is destroying communities. And this needs to stop.
That’s right, Reggie. These are extremely difficult fraught times in our nation’s history. In addition, people not only have the right to protest, but journalists have the right and responsibility to cover the protests. Reggie and I also strongly condemn the attacks upon members of the press in the field, during the protests. Reporters are simply doing their jobs by describing what is happening on the streets. They must be allowed to continue to do their jobs, without fear for their personal safety. And now, onto this week’s episode.
This week, we welcome our friend Geoff Keighley, who’s going to tell some great stories about E3, the creation of the Game Awards, and Kanye West.
Reggie, you yourself have a superior Kanye West story for donors that really hasn’t been told before. Even Geoff was surprised that you wrote it.
You know, that’s right Harold if you donate to the Critic Circle nonprofit to help underserved students, you’ll get to hear what of my untold stories of Nintendo and E3 with Kanye West in the middle of it all. I don’t want to spoil it but it’s a pretty good story.
Yeah, it’s a fine tale Reggie, I can’t wait for you to share it. It’s, it’s about the collision of games and music, about the hope for creativity as well. But you have to be a donor at NYGameCritics.com/Reggie to get this mini podcast. Also, we have an auction for a rare Nintendo item from back in the day. This Pokemon Snap photo album has glossy photos of Pokemon inside. It’s a super rare promotional item back in 1999 is when I got it. It’s on our eBay charity site and Reggie will sign it if the auction hits $500 so just go to NYGameCritics.com/Reggie and you can read more.
It sounds great and I do look forward to signing it for a lucky donor. You know folks, when COVID-19 began wrecking havoc on the world, Harold and I decided to create a podcast. And yes, we want to entertain you with our stories and our guests. But we also want you to learn about and support the good work the New York Video Game Critics Circle is doing for students in underserved communities.
Reggie, that’s also why we’re happy that Mythical Games has come on board as a sponsoring donor. Mythical understood what we do for the underserved and they wanted to help. John Linden is mythical CEO, and who is John Liden. He’s a nice guy loves baseball, and he worked on both the Call of Duty and Skylanders franchises at Activision. We even talked about trading baseball cards and how that plays into the leisure economy and how fans can make money playing games. We’ll talk more about Mythical Blankos game next week. But now I want to give a shout out to Evan Narcisse. Evan’s an excellent writer who wrote The rise of the Black Panther comic book series for Marvel, which everyone should read. He was the first to listen to be talk about creating a circle for game critics in New York City. And he was there at the first meeting. Until he moved to Austin, he attended the New York Game Awards every year. Last week, Evan broke his hip. It’s a bad break, and he’s recovering from surgery as we record this. So on behalf of all of us at the New York Video Game Critics Circle, get well soon, Evan, if you need anything, just let us know. You’re the best.
You know, Evan has interviewed me just so many times. But my first introduction to him was actually through my wife Stacy. They were both working for Teen People in the mid 2000s. Nintendo was preparing to launch Nintendogs in the US and we were looking to extend our marketing message to teen girls in support of the game. We gave Evan early access and he created some wonderful content about Nintendogs in the magazine. It’s It’s really amazing how connected we all are. So, get well soon Evan and hopefully on a trip by make in the future to Austin. I look forward to seeing you and seeing you get better. But right now let’s shift gears and get into our interview with Geoff Keighley. We’ve both known Geoff for a long time right Harold?
Oh, yes. Geoff’s another special human being one of the hardest. working people in the world of games. A really excellent person. I’ve known Geoff since the 1990s. And because of what we do with the New York Game Awards, Geoff is one of the only people with whom I can talk deeply about the ups and downs of producing a show like that. And I know you’ve gotten to know him quite well too Reggie.
You know, Geoff was one of the first game journalists that I got to know well, and he would interview me at various industry events. We’re now very good friends, and we share a passion for all forms of entertainment, movies, music, and of course video games. So without further ado, here’s our interview with the legendary Geoff Keighley.
Geoff Keighley really is one of the legends of video games. He’s always loved the art form, but he’s an entrepreneur as well. And when he created the Game Awards in 2014, even he wasn’t sure if the show would work. But it did. Last December, it had more than 45 million live streams worldwide. And it’s truly just the beginning.
That’s the truth. Reggie, you know, I helped write the narrative for the introductory video for the very first Game Awards. And it was quite an honor to help Geoff set the tone for an historic stream like that. I’ve known Geoff since the 1990s. And we were both writers for Entertainment Weekly magazine. I mean, folks may not know that Geoff is an excellent writer, in addition to everything else, and he helps the New York Video Game Critics Circle every year with our new york Game Awards by flying in from LA to do our pre show.
So Geoff, welcome to the show. So let’s get started. How have you been holding up in this? This time of COVID?
Reggie, Harold, thanks for having me on. I’m doing okay. You know, I’ve had to adapt, obviously a lot of what I do that is event based but not as big a deal as everything else that’s going on out there in the world right now. And excited to be trying to celebrate games in my own way.
Over the years, you’ve been very adaptable. And I mean, that’s what we do as humans, we adapt, but you’ve been able to do it in a way that’s more and more successful and rewarding as you go forward. So this is just another moment there. But I Geoff, I kind of want you and Reggie to riff for awhile. Can you guys tell me some stories about working together over the years?
Oh, wow. Yeah, Reggie and I have have worked together for many, many years. I think it started back in 2005. I think when Reggie first Join Nintendo I remember actually the first time I met Reggie at Nintendo was a lunch we had at Castle del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica. And Reggie had come down to talk to me about the I think it was the DS at the time, when I remember he had his gray clamshell that he brought with him to the lunch. And this was shortly after I had written a somewhat negative story about Nintendo for a magazine called Business 2.0, kind of talking about where was Nintendo going to go next. And that was I interviewed Mr. Iwata for that. And I think that was before Reggie had come in. And then Reggie joined the company. We met in Santa Monica and start talking about things and then that kind of blossomed into a lovely friendship over the years and then we started doing our E3 interviews every year that people came to, to know and love and yeah, it was it was just a ton of fun, but I think it started with that first meeting, I think about the DS.
You know, I went back through all of my archives and I found the first interview that you did was in 2005 of May. So this would have been after the launch of DS. We were talking about the Wii, but it wasn’t even called the Wii yet. It was still codenamed Revolution. So we had shown the hardware. We are talking about the Virtual Console, and it was a young Reggie and a very young Geoff Keighley.
Yeah, no, we had so much fun working together over the years at E3 and that became something that fans would expect. And we did an interview at E3 in 2006, with the Wii. And we came up with this idea producer the show Jaimee Kosanke, and I came up with this idea of having a battle between Reggie and I on the Wii and Wii Sports Tennis was available at the booth. And we said hey, what if I just challenge Reggie to his own game that would make for some pretty fun TV and this was for my Spike show Game Head. So we proceeded to have a battle with me versus Reggie, very high stakes. And Reggie lost. And this was, you know, not not his finest hour, I smoked him in his own game, which was great TV for me. But Reggie was a little taken aback. And that birthed this rivalry that continued for many many years at Wii. We had a bowl-off where Reggie and I we played bowling in real life and then we played bowling in Wii Sports I can’t remember who won that. But what actually remember the most from that time was the GDC after which I guess would have been 2007 when Reggie put together this event, I think specifically to to beat me at Wii Sports to seek his revenge, is that right Reggie?
You know little little known story. So Geoff is absolutely right. You know we played Wii Sports Tennis At E3 2006 and he beat me and you know afterwards I swore that that would never happen again on any broadcast and in any situation. So the following year, this is GDC 2007, and Nintendo’s hosting a small private event, and we had Wii Sports setup and someone from the media challenged me to play Wii Sports Tennis and we played and I smoked him. And literally every media personality lined up to challenge me to Wii Sports Tennis I beat every single one to this day. Geoff believes I cheated.
I still to this day think somehow Reggie had learned like a a special move or something like that or had to cheat code in the build. I know you claimed you did it but it was amazing. His the topspin that Reggie had in Wii Sports, it wasn’t just me. I mean literally everyone across the industry it was Matt Casamassina from IGN at the time, Dean Takahashi all these other journalists were coming by this event and Reggie continued to literally ace everyone at the event so it was a it was it was quite fun which practice
I haven’t really how much practicing were you doing? How much time did you spend perfecting that spin?
I was so here’s here’s what happened. So I had a Wii set up in my office beginning with prototype equipment before launch all the way through you know the launch. And I had it set up on a TV and whenever I would do phone calls in my office, I would have a headset on and I’d be playing Wii Sports Tennis so literally I’m you know I’m participating in a in a phone call. I’m talking to our retailers. I’m talking to somebody and I’m playing Wii Sports Tennis. I was playing all the time. And it was straight production software Geoff, nothing was juiced. But I just learned the timing, right? To get an ace on every serve. You know, I learned a little Dink shots. It was just a tremendous amount of practice and it became a hallmark when I played against Mr. Miyamoto with Wii Fit. You know, if you remember that moment, we were playing the soccer game The day before in my hotel room for prior that, that E3, I practiced. I practice all night long, which is why I was able to beat him at his own game. It just
But that sort of played into this fun repartee that Reggie and I had over the years with our interviews. And it was always fun. I think gamers looked forward to us getting together with E3 or usually in the fall we’d always do a show. And we had fun things we did like a Mario Kart battle one year at a racetrack in Las Vegas that was really fun. You know, we we also had a really fun year. I think It was with Wii Sports Resort where we battled in the sword fighting. And what I always joke with people about is I’d come to E3. And Nintendo would always say, ‘Hey, we can’t tell you anything about the games are going to announce we’re going to battle Reggie in an unknown game.’ And I always thought that was kind of unfair, because Reggie is probably practicing at the office for weeks and weeks. And then, you know, because of confidentiality, they can’t tell me anything. So I literally show up. I see something at the press conference. I’m like, I guess we’re maybe gonna play that but I know what we’re gonna play. And I literally, you know, they can be the controller’s like, hey, here you go. You’re battling Reggie. And it was it was a little challenging cuz I didn’t even know the controls. And so Reggie started to defeat me quite frequently. And I think he he always had the, the ace up his sleeve that he was going to get to know the games before I did and learn the control schemes on them. But anyway, see, I can’t I don’t know what the score ultimately ended up being but I think it was something like 6-2 in Reggie’s favor. But beyond that, we really had fun and a lot of our interviews over the years and I’ve always said that Reggie is an incredible public speaker. He know is, he’s very honest and authentic, and just fun to talk to. But Nintendo. Look, the the PR folks at Nintendo would always get a little nervous when Reggie and I would get together. You know, some people probably remember our famous interview at E3, it was for the Wii U, when they did their press conference, and he came right over to our stage for spike. And Reggie was sort of trying to defend the Wii U. And remember, there’s this famous exchange around Batman Arkham Asylum for the Wii U and how Nintendo was sort of saying this was a brand new game, and it wasn’t. You’re gonna have to pay $60 again, you were gonna get I think, a couple extra bat suits or something. And so we had a little combat about that one year, I think there was also a year where we we battle a little bit about online functionality for the I guess it would have been for Yeah, for the Wii. Anyways, but there were some amazing things that Reggie said to that I think proved very prescient, you know, I remember one interview in particular Reggie was on my Spike show and we talked about, I think he made a bold claim. He thought the new Mario game, I can’t remember which one, it was was going to outsell Call of Duty at the time at Mark Franklin who want to Reggie’s main PR guys start to get a little sweaty in that interview because Reggie kept going on about how we’re going to take down Call of Duty and said, you know, not a very Nintendo thing to say. But Reggie said it and we aired it and he ended up being right. I can’t remember what it was like versus Black Ops or what the game was. But that year, the Mario game actually outsold Call of Duty. So sometimes Reggie makes these bold proclamations, but they actually end up being true.
I don’t remember which Mario game but you’re absolutely right. You know, and it’s, I think it’s the rapport, the, you know, the friendly, poke back and forth that, you know, brought out the best and Geoff and Geoff brought out the best in me and I did make some bold claims with him and that one absolutely did come true.
I think that’s well, you know, gamers always respected Reggie about speaking the truth and and also, but doing it with a little bit of, you know, flair and flamboyance that was you know, sort of what you come to expect from Reggie with all his, you know, famous remarks over the years. And number one year E3. We were talking about, I think what Sony or Xbox are doing. And he just he looked at me and he said, play the game. And that was what he said for the entire interview, I think saying it’s all about gameplay. It’s all about gameplay. So, yeah, we we had a lot, a lot of fun over the years. I miss those interviews, honestly, I really do miss them. I think the last time we did one on TV was the, for my last episode of my spike show, which was then called GTTV. And I think the probably the fall of 2013. And then it became kind of a yearly thing that Reggie would come to the Game Awards. He’s been to every one since the inaugural one in 2014. And that was a very special year to have the first gameplay of The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild in the show. I also remember there was a fun interview where we we talked about I think it was Twilight Princess and you made kind of this, I think was about to maybe be delayed or people were wondering if it was going to come out on GameCube or if it was going to come out on Revolution., or what was Wii. And I think I remember we had a fun back and forth about that.
Yeah. So this was we were promoting Mario Kart DS. And we had announced Twilight Princess. And you were asking me about the launch, because at that point, it was scheduled to launch that holiday season that would have been holiday 2005. And, you know, you’re asking, you know, is it on track? Is it on track? And I’m sure I said that it was because all indications were at the time that it was but then that game did slip. It slipped into 2006 under the launching on both Wii and on GameCube I think you cause some controversy with that. I think you’re saying maybe I was I was being untruthful or you know maybe I knew but I didn’t say some some sort of nonsense that Geoff Keighley was promoting at the time.
Well, Geoff, I mean, you’re one of the hardest working, if not the hardest working people in media and your work extremely hard at what you do. But the Game Awards success is really at another level. It’s like, much higher in the stratosphere. If you could look back and talk to your younger self, right? What advice would you give that person?
Well, I’ve been really lucky in my life. I mean, I haven’t had another job. I’ve basically just covered video games since I was 13 years old. That’s what I did in my summers between high school and college. All throughout college, I was flying around going to gaming events, and I moved from Toronto down to Los Angeles for college and that was very beneficial and that I could be around a lot of these game industry events a little bit more versus being remote in Toronto. But in terms of it advice I would give my younger self. I think a lot of it is about finding your passion early. And I’m very lucky that I did find my passion. But beyond that, I think the advice I give my younger self is just be patient. I was very fortunate that I was finding success in pockets. When I was younger, I was able to sort of be patient because I didn’t need it to be a full career, I was happy making $150 writing a review of a video game, because that’s kind of all I needed. At that point. I was busy with school. And that allowed me to be very patient and sort of slowly grow my career because I didn’t need it to be more than it was at the time. And I think that’s something I’ve always carried forward in my life is just a sense of patience that I think things will hopefully eventually work out. And I’ve been very fortunate that things have kind of built on themselves. But a lot of people look at the Game Awards and say how are you able to do that? How are you able to get Reggie, Phil Spencer and Shawn Layden on stage. We did that a couple years ago. And a lot of that is also just based on relationships of knowing all these people in the industry for more than two decades. And then in many cases. And working with them. And that’s just, you know, it’s a function of patience and devotion and passion for this industry and what it represents. So the advice I give my younger self, stay patient and, and stay devoted to what you believe in. I mean, I’ve learned a lot of that from my parents that have, you know, they’ve worked in the movie industry for their entire lives and, you know, been very passionate about what they do. My dad’s involved in IMAX, the big screen movie company, and I’ve always just, you know, taking cues from them about sort of staying there devoted to something and see it all the way through. So there have been, you know, peaks and valleys in my career, but it’s always felt like it was building to something bigger. And then Game Awards really is this, this culmination of everything I’ve done for many, many years. I mean, the first awards show I went to was as a young kid, I was 14 years old. When I worked on Cybermania in ’94, which was the first video game award show, a friend of my dad’s produced it in Toronto and I just happened to get brought in to help write the narration for William Shatner, who was reading the descriptions of the nominees. Because back then, you know, you had to explain video games to people I guess. But even you know that that made a huge impression on me as a young kid to be 14 years old, go to Universal Studios Hollywood and see this big video game award show. So I didn’t always have that as my Northstar of what I ultimately wanted to build. But I was very lucky to have that experience at a young age. And it was definitely, you know, transformative to my thinking about what this industry can represent.
You know, it’s interesting, you talk about the passion you’ve had the things that you’ve built. And yet, as Harold said, you come to New York, and you help with the New York Game Awards. Almost every year you spend time with the students that are being mentored. Why do you do that?
Well, I come to New York, first of all support Harold, you’ve been a good friend for many, many years. You know, we’ve we’ve been to many events and things over the years. So I’m there to support you and the the Critics, I mean, the media is a big part of what we do with the Game Awards helps us with the voting and positioning of the show. But beyond that, I come to the Critics because I really do believe in what you’re doing with Dreamyard, and you know, giving back to students and when I was a kid covering video games, it wasn’t necessarily cool thing to do. You know, there weren’t a lot of classes about it, it was kind of honestly on the dark parts of the internet was kind of where you talked about video games, more on the forums on Compuserve. And I’m so inspired to talk to these young kids that you do such a great job mentoring that really believe in video games and love this industry and are excited about it. And I think that’s so inspiring to me, I see a little bit of myself in the students that are part of your program and I just want to inspire them to you know, want to be in this industry. I mean, we need more people in the video game industry. We need to be more inclusive, we need to be more diverse. You know, I get excited when I just did University to Southern California where I went for college, their graduation ceremony for their video game program a couple of weeks ago. And they were telling me Danny Bilson, who runs that, that like 70% of the students are women in that program. And I’m like, that’s incredible to hear, and really gets me excited about the future of this industry. You know, back to your question. I go, because it inspires me. And I think it’s important to give back and I think what you’ve done with those students like I remember a couple years ago at Tribeca Film Festival, you brought a group of them to I think was a God of War Hideo Kojima panel that we did. And it was so awesome to see them in the audience. And whenever we took a photo with them and Mr. Kojima, and like, that’s the kind of stuff that I think is so important, especially in such a virtual industry is finding ways to connect people.
You know, Geoff, sometimes our younger students are actually introduced to you for the first time at the New York Game Awards. And then they go to Google and say, Wow, he’s so famous. That’s amazing. He’s so cool, right? But But fame has its issues and I know personally that even on my small level can be a loneliness to it. That’s kind of part of the territory. How do you deal with that?
Yeah, it’s a perceptive question. My career has not come without sacrifice along the way. But I’ve been so driven with the things that I’ve wanted to do that I’m sort of you know, blinded to some of that because I’m just so excited to be you know, working on on what I’m working on. For sure. It’s you know, it’s it’s it’s lonely on some levels to build a show like the Game Awards on my own independently, you know, as I always say to people, you don’t know you’re doing the right thing unless you hear a lot of people say you’re not in many ways. When I first pitched something like the Game Awards, everyone’s like, well, how’s that gonna work when they’re not on TV even this summer with Summer Game Fest? I was like, I don’t understand how that how that’s gonna work. And to me honestly, when someone says that it’s kind of the first hint that you’re actually doing something different and unique, and you should think even more about it. So I always say to people don’t, you know, when people question you, it’s actually A sign that you’re doing something disruptive that people don’t understand, they understand that initially, probably someone else has already done it, or it’s easy to do. But you know, so you have to have a thick skin when you’re thinking up these ideas and really believe in them. And I’m so lucky to be backed by, you know, incredible friends and associates that, Reggie being one of them, that, you know, allowed me to do something like the Game Awards. So, you know, it’s, I don’t really consider myself famous in any you know, celebrity way. I mean, I whenever I meet gamers or people who know me, they’re always incredibly appreciative. Even like, with Summer Game Fest that we’re doing now, I get so many nice emails from fans around the world who just really they’re like me, they’re gamers who appreciate what this is. And you know, I’ve done games for my whole life. That’s what I’m going to do for the rest of my life is be a part of this industry. And I’m not not looking at anything I’m doing as a, you know, a leap stone to sort of, you know, trying to do something else. I’m not trying to go produce the Grammys or produce the Oscars. Like I’m very happy doing things in video games because I believe this is the most powerful and important entertainment medium in the world. So you know, it’s it’s absolutely been a lot of hard work, but it doesn’t feel like I’ve had to work a day in my life. I mean, I really love what what I get to do. It’s fun. It’s It’s lonely at times. But I think anyone who is artistic or passionate about certain things has those moments where you kind of can feel lonely, but I also kind of stand inside my ideas, if that makes sense. And I get very excited about the things that I’m doing and building. And that’s really what drives me is that motivation that I’m sort of comforted in many ways by some of the the ideas that I come up with.
It’s great. And I also remember you telling me, Geoff about the time you took Kanye on a tour of E3. So I think I think everyone would like to know how that came about and what it was like.
Oh, wow, that’s right. Yeah, I want to say it was a E3 2016, although it could be off by a year or two, but but Kanye had reached out, saying he wanted to have a tour of E3. And it wasn’t that he had a specific meeting he had to go to he wanted me to walk him around the show floor of E3 and just show them the cool stuff. I’m pretty busy at E3, as you know, with a bunch of appointments and events, but I said, Hey, on the last day of E3, I think I can carve out a couple of hours and, you know, we’ll walk around E3, I was never fully confident he was gonna, you know, come to the show, but sure enough, you know, his security team and everyone was was working on it. And then he pulled up in his SUV at the back of the convention center and I met him and we walked around E3 for I want to say like three or four hours. We went to see the Uncharted demo, I think was Uncharted for Naughty Dog had this theater up in the 400 level of E3. And he was a little late. So we had they had to hold this theater for a little while and then he went to go in saw a full like 20-25 minute demo of Uncharted with Neil Druckmann and Evan Wells and Christoph Balestra and the team there at Naughty Dog. And that was like he was really into that and super curious and it was funny at the time, I think Naughty Dog was actually trying to license Stronger for an upcoming trailer that they were doing. So it was just kind of funny to have that exchange happen. And then yeah, we walked him around, he went to the Capcom booth and played some Street Fighter. We went to EA and checked out battlefield. He did a HoloLens demo in the Microsoft booth. Here they had this sort of Halo experience with HoloLens. It was it was amazing, and he was just walking the floor, checking things out and really curious about the gaming space. He told me the story that when he was growing up in Chicago, he actually wanted to be a game designer before he got into music and that was his original aspiration. People may remember he was working on a game at the time inspired by his mother Donda, beautiful game that was more of a kind of a prototype. But he was curious about kind of how to make games, what could he do in the space? And then of course, you know, he wanted to go to the Nintendo booth and check that out. And I’ll always remember this that at the back of the booth, there’s a staircase that leads up to the second floor where all the meeting rooms are. So we took him up the back staircase. And then at the top of the staircase, it just happened that Shigeru Miyamoto was there getting ready to go to lunch. And I’ll always remember this, we were walking up the top stairs. And Kanye looks up and he sees Miyamoto. And he says, ‘wow, I didn’t think you’d be here.’ And it was this amazing moment where they recognized each other and had had an exchange and Kanye showed some footage to Mr. Miyamoto of, you know, the prototype that he was working on.
Yeah, that’s, that’s great. We’re gonna shift gears for a moment, Geoff. So I’m going to be asking you a couple music questions. So first, tell us what are some of your favorite bands who’ve appeared at the Game Awards.
We’ve had some amazing performances at the Game Awards over the years. Some of them honestly my favorite ones are ones tied to Nintendo, Reggie. The first year having Imagine Dragons and Koji Kondo close the show was was spectacular. I mean, that was our first year of the show, was so honored to have Koji Kondo come over from Japan and then to have imagined dragons, you know, one of the biggest bands in the world want to perform with Koji Kondo. That was what was amazing to me. You know, I think our show is at its best when we can bridge the worlds of entertainment and gaming in meaningful ways. We first announced Imagine Dragons for the Game Worlds. We didn’t say Koji Kondo is going to be there. And the forum’s were like why would you book Imagine Dragons, you know, where are they going to perform? And then all that dissipated. The minute people saw Koji Kondo and Imagine Dragons come together. You can still look up the performance on YouTube, but they did this amazing medley of Zelda music that Imagine Dragons Played then Koji Kondo played someone — some of it and then it culminated in them playing one of Imagine Dragons songs, It’s time together. And I gotta say the, the rehearsals for that at a house off site where Imagine Dragons was recording their next album. We’re spine tingling to see Koji Kondo and Imagine Dragons sitting in the room together with so much mutual respect for each other that, you know, that wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about building social viral buzz. It was about an amazing eight minute performance of two true legends from different worlds coming together and collaborating. So that was really special, an amazing moment. I also love the performance we did in tribute to Mr. Iwata. That was Ben Harper performing which was really great. And we had a little bit of Eddie Vetter and Pearl Jam leading into that. So that was, I think, a very meaningful special moment, that you know, I work very closely with Reggie on since he gave the remarks leading into that. And then also, you know, we’ve done some amazing orchestral performances of the Game Awards, you know, not cheap to have a full orchestra, and Hans Zimmer involved. But I look back at some of those amazing music moments again, often we have Nintendo music in there, whether it be Smash Bros. or Zelda or Mario, but I’m really proud that we pay tribute to the orchestral music and games and I think we will always have an orchestra as part of the show.
I really agree. I was fortunate to be backstage with Mr. Kondo is as as he was preparing for that event. I was there with the Imagine Dragons. And both of them were like kids in a candy store. You know, they were so excited. Before the performance they were giddy after the performance. It really was special. You know, Geoff, the work you’ve done with the Game Awards orchestra and the orchestral renditions of game music have been phenomenal. And of course, the the tribute to Mr. Iwata was just so so special. So so touching, I think you You nailed my my top three musical moments at The Game Awards. So let’s shift gears. Let’s talk about the Summer of Games and what you’re doing with that effort. How’s that going?
Summer Game Fest is going well. As I’ve been saying to people, we’re kind of building the plane as we fly it on this one, given the COVID situation globally, I just felt that we needed to do something digital and global for the industry this year, especially with the cancellation of E3. So this is a new concept. It’s, you know, a four month festival celebrating games with a ton of digital events from publishers, but also playable content and other things that we’re just kind of figuring out as we go. Like we did a cool thing with Christopher Nolan for his new film Tenant that I just premiered the trailer for that with its star John David Washington, in the game. So we’re just doing a ton of interesting things around games, but I’m trying to bring the magic of these game events to every person around the world. Game Awards has really been very informative to me about the global aspect of games. When I travel the world and I go to Europe or Asia or even talk to people in India, the Game Awards is something that is global. And a lot of these physical events like E3 have a big global audience, but they still feel so regional in a way and that there’s such a focus on the physical in person, attendees. And I wanted to, especially this year, create an event where everyone around the world could feel a part of it. And that means, you know, free access to all the news and information but also some some playable games that you can download and play at home with demos. So you’ll see a lot of that coming online as well. And I just, I just really wanted to connect the community in some way. It’s an experiment. I don’t know what we’re going to do in 2021. It’s been fun so far, it’s been great learnings. And it’s different, right? I’m usually in a studio with 100 people around me helping build a show and now I’m broadcasting out of a spare room here in Los Angeles and you know, streaming things off my PC and hoping that the internet holds out when you’re revealing the Unreal Engine 5 demo so it’s it’s good Kind of flying without a net, but it’s been a lot of fun.
Geoff, here in New York we’re, we’re still in a state of flux over what to do for our 10th New York Game Awards. And and what will the next Game Awards big? No, at this point? Will it be virtual? Will it have an audience? What do you think?
Unknown Speaker 36:19
It’s a great question. And, you know, I’m pretty resolute that we’re going to do the game awards this year, in December, you know, I saw the news of the Oscars might be postponed. And I they’re in a different situation with movie theaters being closed. I mean, right now, the the gaming industry, as we’ve seen, have, you know, incredible results right now. I mean, April was, I think, up to 75% year over year. So there’s a lot of great games coming out, you know, new consoles coming out later this year with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. So it’s a very exciting year. So we definitely want to have a show. But we also have to be mindful of the situation we’re in and I’ve been saying to people that we are hopeful that we’re going to be able to do our big show. But we’re also realistic that we may have to make alternate plans. So we have a number of scenarios, my producing partner, Kimmy Kim, and I have been working on that for a number of weeks. And we have a version of the show, which is as big or bigger than we’ve ever done before. And we also have other options with, you know, socially distant audience, or no audience or more of a virtual production, all the way down to, you know, something that is very similar to what you see right now with kind of virtual, you know, zoom style meeting productions. So, we’ll look at kind of where we are in the fall and decide which one of those plays we run. I think we’ve all learned this year that nothing can be for certain. So we may think that we’re in a good situation and there could be a second wave of COVID that would affect our plans. So we know it’s going to be different this year. And no matter what I’m sure there will be some developers and guests from around the world that will want to join us virtually, versus being in person. So we’re going to be sensitive to that but I’m very adamant that we will have a celebration for our industry at the end of the year. I think we all want it and you know I’m we’re gonna do it it’s just a question of of what form it takes and right now we can’t really decide because we just don’t have enough information
You know Geoff we could go on for hours. The stories. The topics. So wide ranging I want to thank you so much for talking games with Reggie and Harold love all of this conversation.
Unknown Speaker 38:28
This is great content. I feel like have you thought about gamifying the donations a little bit here maybe if you know you reach a certain level might get some extra bonus content. I mean, this is this is good stuff.
There you go.
We have to gamify. That’s right,
Guys, thank you so much. This has been a ton of fun, huge respect for both of you. I hope we can do this more often. This has been far too short. And I really you know, admire what you’re doing for the Critics Circle and you know, using this as a fundraiser so you always have my support and thank you so much for for inviting me on.
I learned some things during that interview, Reggie. Geoff was very open and his stories are really terrific. It’s not all fun and games and we all have our ups and downs. But I hope Geoff writes a book about his experience someday soon. But wait, there’s more. Right, Reggie?
Yeah, that’s right, Harold. There’s a Kanye West/Nintendo story that involves Geoff. It’s one that not many people in the general public have heard it. It really is something that that was, it was just a private event, something that we kept under wraps. But if you become a donor at NewYorkGameCritics.com/Reggie, you’ll get to hear about this very special story in a mini podcast.
I’ve heard it Reggie. And it’s definitely definitely a terrific video game story. And one of the better ones I’ve heard and I really have heard a lot of them. I’d say that even if we weren’t asking you to donate it and NYGameCritics.com/Reggie. Reggie, our high school and college interns are paid a decent wage by the circle. Upcoming on NYGameCritics.com you’ll soon see reviews of those who remained by Isaiah Soto, and Treachery in Beatdown City by Kimari Rennis. Right now, you can read a review of the wondrous dreamy never saw by Ronald Gordon, one of our New York Video Game Critics Circle senior interns. With Ronald, you never need to worry. He wants to succeed in his writing is great. He’s always on time for a deadline, and he doesn’t need much editing. Plus, he’s a kind and cool person. Here’s Ronald Gordon with a question for Reggie.
Hi, I’m Ronald Gordon. I’m an intern at the New York Videogame Critics Circle. My question for Reggie is, when it came to getting up on stage and announcing things like the Wii or the Switch to America, you ever struggle with your nerves? If so, how did you deal with it?
So, Ronald, thanks so much for that question. And the truth is early in my career, I was not an effective public speaker. I really had to work hard at it. I took many classes focused on public speaking. And with growing confidence, I sought out opportunities to practice public speaking. I would, I would volunteer for opportunities. And I did this because I realized I had to face this fear. I had to take it on and find a way to overcome it. If I wanted to be successful long term in this, this chosen career of marketing and sales. but even with confidence and experience, the truth is that right before I give a big life speech, I still get nervous. But for me, as soon as I step out and see the world, I just, I just go for it and the crowd really excites me and helps me away. So that’s how I do it. I, I practice, like you wouldn’t believe and I get the energy from the crowd.
I always say to our students, just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we don’t have fears. We’re scared as heck sometimes as well.
Yeah, that’s right. I’m a big believer that in order to really progress, just in life, and in being the best human you can be, you have to overcome your fears, and we all have them. And we all have actually many fears, but finding the opportunity to overcome that fear in the end, it just makes us better.
This next question comes from educator Justin Smith in Anchorage, Alaska. As the language arts educator, I think games are as worthy as art and literature. But unlike books in a library, it’s difficult to teach games to high school students without proper consoles and games. Do you think companies would release educational ROMs of their games for schools or would they be protective of their IPs How can we overcome this access barrier?
So Justin, thanks so much for that question. And really there’s two parts to the question. And let me answer the second part first, you know, the part about companies and protecting their IP. And the fact of the matter is, companies will always be protective of their intellectual property they have to be, it’s the intellectual property that creates value. That’s what’s unique and differentiated. And so all content creators are protective of their IP. But the first part of the question deals with educational market and its opportunity. The opportunity for students, for educators, as well as an opportunity for companies themselves and companies that have products that fit in this educational space. do go after the opportunity. For example, in terms of hardware, Apple has invested heavily in the educational market and they’ve done this for decades. Specifically with video games. Xbox has invested in the educational space With Minecraft, and they’ve done very well. Nintendo invested with the switch and with Labo while I was there with the company. And I think you’re going to see more and more companies develop content that fits the educational market and support it. And I also think you’re going to see companies invent new business opportunities using games specifically for educators and for the educational market. And I also think you’re going to see what’s called gamification of the educational market, finding ways to introduce game theory and the fun of games, to have students focus on their learnings and to progress with their studies. So, I do see a lot of opportunity. And I think there’s going to be a lot of progress over the next number of years in the space. That’s game over for this episode, and we hope you enjoyed the show. Next week, we’ll have our special esports episode and our guests will be Jack Etienne The CEO of Cloud9, and I’m really excited about this one, Harold. We’re going to talk about the ups and downs of esports of the last decade and how esports became a worldwide force.
I am thrilled Reggie I met Jack about six years ago when I was writing a lengthy cover story about League of Legends esports for Playboy magazine, and I covered Cloud9, it actually became a short book I wrote called the League of Legends experience. The world of esports has changed so much since then. But there’s still a lot of drama and there’s no one who knows that better than Jack Etienne. Talking games with Reggie and Harold was produced and edited by Annie Pei. The script was written by me. Annie Nguyen is our project manager, John Azzilonna is our designer Whitney Meers and Imad Khan help with social media. Music was written by Emmy and Grammy winner Anton Sanko. Stay safe. Stay well. Play games, Reggie and I will see you next week for more Talking Games with Reggie and Harold
Transcribed by https://otter.ai