If you have spent more than 20 seconds on the Internet, especially lately, it’s hard to overlook the vile things being posted throughout the gaming community. Between harassment, invasion of privacy, death threats, questionable journalism and any other number of depressing trending topics I witness daily; I wanted think of a way to link press and fans. This is my attempt to help break some of those barriers, and it begins with Patrick Klepek.

The purpose of this interview was to bring people down from what we “normals” perceive as ivory towers. Pull out the professionalism from under their feet and make them one of “us”. Because before that professionalism, before becoming a major player in the industry, and before they became someone we actively paid attention to…they were one of us. They were individuals who participated in this hobby because they loved it. It wasn’t accompanied by industry perks such as review copies, attending conventions or becoming friends with developers; they were simply someone else who grew up loving games the same way anyone else did. This interview served as a way to peel back the layers they have become and find the person we can all relate to and not just the people in similar positions they are now.

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So why Patrick Klepek? Patrick is someone who either is greatly respected or greatly reviled. He actively converses with people through numerous means which is refreshing in an industry where any sort of criticism (even constructive and courteous criticism) results in that person being silenced or ignored. This approach along with his knowledge, way with words and friendly demeanor, has garnered much praise and affection. On the other hand, the people who tend to shun Patrick are the ones who dislike his views or what they deem a strong focus on diversity. With the industry pressing forward on equality, Patrick has become one of the major people advocating for change, which means he receives plenty of the hate that goes along with it.

And since Patrick is remarkably kind enough to field questions from people, I thought he was a perfect choice in being a guinea pig for my interview. Regardless if you know Patrick from his time with G4, the Giant Bombcast, or enjoy his videos such as Spookin with Scoops; hopefully you come out knowing more about Patrick Klepek.

I think everyone has a faint recollection of their earliest gaming memory. For you, what is the first moment you remember video games being in your life?

This one comes up so often, and I wish there was a really brilliant answer. I’m not sure when video games entered my life, though I have faint memories of a machine that only played variations of Pong. The NES and SNES was where everything changed, though. The only video game I ever really played with my father, who passed a few years back, was Tecmo Bowl. If I’m to pin down a single early memory of playing games, that’s probably it. He worked in sales at Riddell, the company whose logo adorns most of the helmets you see in modern NFL games, so it makes sense he’d be willing to play a football game with my brother and I. There’s a good chance he was terrible it, though I can’t really say. For the sake of a better story, let’s say he was the greatest Tecmo Bowl player ever.

I always find it fascinating to hear how video games can bridge the gap between children and parents, and I see that becoming more common now that those children are grown and having kids of their own. Do you recall if your mom and/or dad were supportive of your video game hobby or was it something they would rather have had substituted with a more active interest?

Like any parent, mine were sometimes worried about how I would become a bit single-minded. There was a stretch of years where I didn’t talk much, though it wasn’t for any particularly angsty reason–just a teenage phase. Gaming was, for the most part, a really good way to spend lots of time. When you’re young, you have a hell of a lot of that. There was never any movement to limit my game playing, mostly because I was otherwise a really good student and had a bunch of friends.

Did you find yourself playing lots of co-op/competitive games growing up? If so, was there a game that stood out as a favorite and any specific memories that jump out to you?

We didn’t really get into multiplayer gaming until the Nintendo 64. Countless hours were lost to both Mario Kart 64 and GoldenEye, both as a function of N64 cartridges costing so much and because they were so damn fun. The reason GoldenEye stuck with us for so long were the endless gameplay variations possible. We’d come up with own crazy sets of rules every day, which kept the game fresh, long after we’d seen everything the game had to offer.

Arcades were huge for a while before home consoles really took over. Did you have a specific arcade growing up and how influential were they to you?

Yeah, there were two within a short driving distance, which became go-to locations for our parents to dump us while shopping. The biggest moments at that arcade were the Mortal Kombat location tests, since Midway was based in the area. We’d get access to new versions of Mortal Kombat long before the rest of the world, and it was always a huge deal. There would be a big sign outlining the changes in this version, and the lines were long as hell. Still, a chance to play Mortal Kombat 2 before the rest of the world? I was sure as hell going to wait an hour in line for that.

Did you have a go-to Mortal Kombat character?

Sub-Zero? Mostly because you can be such a dick with him.

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Part of the appeal for arcades, and later couch co-op gaming, was having that face-to-face interaction with your partner. This has (mostly) been replaced with online gaming and local multiplayer seemingly far and few between. Do you miss that more personal experience with friends or do you find online gaming a suitable replacement?

I’m lucky enough to have a chunk of people in my life who still love to play video games with other people, partially a byproduct of what I do for a living. I don’t blame anyone for missing that part of video games, but fortunately, we seem to be moving in a direction of having our cake and eating it, too.

Did you find yourself playing lots of co-op/competitive games growing up? If so, was there a game that stood out as a favorite and any specific memories that jump out to you?

We didn’t really get into multiplayer gaming until the Nintendo 64. Countless hours were lost to both Mario Kart 64 and GoldenEye, both as a function of N64 cartridges costing so much and because they were so damn fun. The reason GoldenEye stuck with us for so long were the endless gameplay variations possible. We’d come up with own crazy sets of rules every day, which kept the game fresh, long after we’d seen everything the game had to offer.

I think every kid had a similar experience of having only one or two games that they owned due to how costly games could be. Was this something you can attest to, and if so, what were those games you had to play on repeat until a new one was purchased?

This changed when I started getting some early paychecks as a games writer when I was 16-year-old or so, but before that happened, we didn’t own that many games. We rented everything. I remember renting Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III over and over again in order to beat them. Once, my mom, for whatever reason, wouldn’t let me re-rent Final Fantasy III. We came back to grab the cartridge a week later, and someone had deleted my save. I’ve still never beaten that game.

Losing those save files from rented games was one of the most heartbreaking experiences as a gamer growing up. Have you ever thought of jumping back into Final Fantasy III, or is it a lost cause at this point?

I barely have enough time to keep up with the lengthy video games coming out today. It’s hard for me to imagine having a moment to play through Final Fantasy III again. Of course, if Square Enix was kind enough to remake the game at some point…

You also mentioned your first paychecks as a writer, and so I feel compelled to ask…what were your first splurges?

Not really much of anything! My parents were smart enough to realize I was making too much money for my age, and stuffed most of it away for college.

I wanted to stay away from your professional life in this interview, but when was the point where you knew for sure this is what you had wanted to do and what was your first step?

I don’t know if there ever was a moment like that. It was always a series of pragmatic decisions. I have to do something with my life. I have to get a college degree. I have to get a job. All of these were the questions foremost in my mind, and writing about games simply became the answer, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity. Of course, I take the job extremely seriously and have grown to love it, but if I’m being honest, it began as a reason to move, well, forward.

 

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I want to thank Patrick Klepek again for taking the time to answer my questions and advise everyone to check out his work. A few places you can find him at:

Tumblr

Bombin the A.M. with Scoops and the Wolf

Interview Dumptruck

Twitch

Giant Bomb Videos

 

If this kind of interview is something you enjoyed, please sound off in the comments, and I’ll see if I can round up anyone else in the industry willing to take a walk down memory lane!

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