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Gamer Boy, Gamer Girl: Joey Pasco

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Name: Joey Pasco

Screen name: AffinityForIslands everywhere it fits, @AffinityForBlue on Twitter  . . . Oh, and fotolorea for photography-related websites.

Avatar of choice: Usually a photo of me, usually holding a camera, usually black and white

Years gaming: 25+

Favorite male game character of all time: This is tough . . . I'm going to go High Fidelity–style and give you a Top 5 in chronological order: Locke (Final Fantasy III . . . Yeah, yeah, I know it's technically FF6, but when I played it and fell in love with it, it was FF3, okay?); Crono (Chrono Trigger); Urza, Jodah, and Jace (MTG)

Favorite female game character of all time: I can't do a Top 5 males and then not do a Top 5 females: Terra, Celeste (FF3); Garnet (FF9); Jhoira, Kayla bin-Kroog (MTG)

First gaming console you ever owned: Atari 7800

To what game have you been most addicted lately? SolForge

What game have you played for the longest time, and what about it keeps you playing? Magic: The Gathering is the only game that ever really stuck with me. MTG aside, I don't really play many games (it's arguably a stretch to call me a "gamer"). I haven't ever been able to put my finger on what keeps me coming back. I've taken breaks from the game several times, but I think the fond memories of playing with some of my favorite people in the world is what draws me back to the game whenever my interest wanes.

What game did someone convince you to try that you just hated? I was just having this discussion with BHJ (bigheadjoe, my partner on Yo! MTG Taps!) the other day. We were reminiscing about our teenage years and how we'd go to our mutual friend Kenny's aunt's house and play Monopoly. Kenny's aunt had this really nice Monopoly set made out of wood, and I think it was even on some sort of pedestal. We played a bunch in the summer of 1994 and 1995. Those are the only fond memories I have of playing Monopoly. I hate the game, and I have no idea why it's such a classic, but playing with my two best friends made even Monopoly seem like fun—or at least memorable.

What game causes you to rage/tilt the most? I'd have to say MTG at the moment since it's the game I play most often, but I definitely broke a few SNES controllers while playing Street Fighter II Turbo back in 1992.

Do you have any gamer regrets? Maybe it’s a misplay or chance not taken. Do sports count as games? I regret that I never got into sports when I was in school and had the opportunity to play them. I absolutely love the NFL, but I wasn't interested in football until my third year of college—way too late to actually play the game in any sort of organized league. My dad encouraged me to play little league baseball when I was a kid, which I did for a couple of years, but I didn't really like it, and I definitely wasn't any good at it. Now I actually really enjoy going outside and throwing a football around—and coming up with offensive or defensive plays on the fly when we have a handful of people or so.

Trash talk: mandatory or unnecessary? I'm not much of a trash-talker. I generally like to interact in positive ways with my opponents so we both walk away having had a good time, regardless of the outcome. If I'm trash-talking, it's going to be with someone I'm already pretty close with, who will know me well enough to know I'm being playful and not malicious.

Which one do you prefer the most? Video games, TCGs, or board games? Pick one. TCGs. Video games have a special place in my heart due to their role in my youth (in fact, I'd credit Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy 3 as the reasons I ended up getting into MTG), but currently, the only "video games" I play aside from the occasional iPad app are Ascension and SolForge, both of which I'd consider pseudo-TCGs. I just so happen to be able to play them digitally. (Yes, I suppose Ascension is technically a board game.)

If you could go pro in any game what game would it be? MTG or (American) football. Heh. :)

Is the overall design of a game the most important aspect to you as a gamer, or is it the fun factor? I think the mark of a well-designed game is whether it's fun, so they go hand-in-hand. If a game isn't fun, I wouldn't call it well-designed. I think fun is the ultimate goal of any game. Really, you can make just about any task into a game: "Empty the dishwasher before Mad Men comes back on!" or "Find the best prices on groceries with minimal effort!" But no one makes games called "Drive to Work in Bumper-to-Bumper Traffic." Because that's no fun.

Do you listen to video game soundtracks? Why or why not? A few weeks ago on my drive up from Baltimore to StarCityGames Open Philly, I listened to the Chrono Cross soundtrack. I also love the music from the Final Fantasy series. I do listen to game OSTs for nostalgic reasons. Listening to those melodies takes me back to what it felt like to play those games—without the need to actually spend the time to play them.

Tell me about the game you would create if I gave you unlimited resources. I'm no game designer, and I've never even given thought to creating a game. I've occasionally designed MTG cards, but it's been a long while. So, I don't really have a good answer for this one. I suppose if I had unlimited resources, I'd create some sort of large-scale, elaborate, live-action, capture-the-flag sort of game. I always loved playing those types of games when I was a kid, where you could run around, hide from people, and have enough room for strategy beyond finding the best place to hide. I feel that I'm sort of describing Hunger Games or Running Man, but that's the general idea—except for the dying part. So, perhaps I’d make a virtual-reality-style capture-the-flag.

Whom do you consider one of the most sexually attractive characters (male or female) you have ever played? Was this based on pure artistic design of the character or overall character traits? The only character I remember thinking was attractive was Garnet from FF9. Brown hair with brown eyes are my thing. But generally, it isn't something that's occurred to me consciously. I mean, Liliana is obviously intended to be sexually attractive, but it's just way over the top (Liliana of the Veil especially).

If you could be any character from any game, whom would you morph into? Jace! It doesn't get any better than being a blue planeswalker.

Do you see an issue with the portrayal of women in games, and why? I think women are underrepresented in games, in part due to the perception for a long time that women were not the target audience. I think that, over the past few years, it's been made much clearer that women are a large part of the gamer community, and I believe (and hope) that will translate into more female representation in games.

Describe what makes a central character in a story-driven game appealing to you. I prefer characters to whom I can relate for some reason, and I hope they’d have cool abilities as well. So, the typical skinny-Caucasian-male-underdog trope that is so common among so many games makes it easy for me to find a relatable character. Just look at my list of favorite male characters of all time to see examples of this.

Have you ever cosplayed a character or could ever see your future self cosplaying a character? No, but as a kid, I loved Halloween because it was an opportunity to dress up as my favorite characters. My mom likes to talk about how I was always choosing obscure characters that weren't mainstream enough to have premade costumes available, thus sending her on scavenger hunts for odd bits of clothing to put together a costume for me. One year, I went as Splinter (TMNT, but this was before they blew up . . . I'm thinking 1988); another year, I was Deadpool. I don't ever see myself cosplaying, but I'm always on the lookout for good Halloween costumes that aren't too elaborate.

In your opinion, what gaming character was designed with the best overall flare or style? Visually, I've always liked the style of Locke from FF3. It’s nothing too heavy like armor or a shield, but a bunch of little pockets in which to hide things and cool-looking, dark, gray hair.

Have you ever related to any female character you have played? What about any character in general? Not that I can think of, which is a shame. There really need to be more female protagonists in games. I think back to the 80s with Metroid and the reveal that Samus was a female the entire time. I was very young at the time (around seven years old), and I remember being disappointed because I had been picturing a male protagonist. Rather than playing up the fact that Samus was female and having players build a relationship with the character around that experience, it was used as a "gotcha!" moment. While having a female protagonist is laudable, when you think about it, Samus was "male" all the way up until that reveal at the end of the game, so does it really count?

What book or series not already made into a game do you think would just kill it? I've never been a big fan of turning stories into games. It's always felt like a cash-grab to me, and it often resulted in lackluster games (in my experience). It also sort of forces the games into a corner; the plot of the game feels as though it should align with that of the original story. And then if it doesn't, it feels off. Like, “Oh, Harry Potter fell off his broom and died.” No, he didn't! He caught the snitch and won the Quidditch match! Or, if you want to go back thirty years, “E.T. fell into a well, ran out of energy, and died.” Nuh-uh! I saw the friggin' movie! He went home in a giant ship that looked like it would later become Krang's Technodrome! (I mentioned Atari 7800 was my first gaming console, right?)

On the other hand, if you have intellectual property that is as deep as, say, the Marvel and DC Comics universes are, you can create a game that doesn't need to align with any specific storyline and simply needs to stay true to the characters. I think VS System did an excellent job of this, which is why I bring up comics specifically. I don't have a good suggestion; other than VS System, I've never had interest in playing games that were based on the stories I've loved. Maybe I'm just too hung up on games sticking to the original plot!

How have your friends and family supported your gaming or tried to change it? My family, friends, and girlfriend have always been supportive of my love of playing games. My parents used to drive me and my friends to the mall every Sunday for the local Magic tournaments before I had a license, and my girlfriend supports and encourages my spending weekends doing Magic coverage or recording a podcast. The important thing is balance; if I'd been doing poorly in school while spending a lot of time gaming, I don't think my parents would've been down with that. By the same token, if I'm spending all my time gaming and not making it a priority to spend time with the girl I love, I'm sure she's not going to be so keen on the gaming. I'm really fortunate to have never encountered much resistance—if any—when it comes to gaming.

Do look for a love of gaming in the people you date or find it irrelevant? Having been in a relationship with a nongamer for several years, I don't find it to be relevant. As long as you're able to find that balance I mentioned above, being in a relationship with a nongamer is a nonissue.

What kind of impact do you think MMOs are having on society? Would you change anything? MMOs seen to be helping to make gaming more mainstream and acceptable, which I think is fantastic. There are always going to be people who take it too far and never leave their basements, but odds are they'd find some other reason to never leave their basements if MMOs weren't a thing. On the other hand, maybe never leaving the basement is becoming more acceptable . . . 

Do you believe there is a correlation between violence in video games and violence in society? I think that violent people will find excuses to be violent with or without video games.

Can you rank what you would consider the top five games you have ever played?

  1. Magic: The Gathering
  2. Final Fantasy III
  3. Secret of Mana
  4. Chrono Trigger
  5. VS System

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