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Co-Op Mode: What Makes a Video Game Great? Plus, Why We Don't Like Multiplayer
Episode 4Bonus Episode13th October 2020 • Pixel Therapy Pod • Pixel Therapy Pod
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Welcome to Co-Op Mode, a whole new segment from your Pixel Therapy Pod co-hosts, Spencer (they/them) and Jamie (she/her). In this one-on-one bonus episode, get to know your co-hosts a little better as we dive deep into a specific topic around why we game and how we relate to gaming. This week, we answer two questions: Why do we both tend to avoid multiplayer? And what do we look for in a video game?

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New episodes drop every other Tuesday. Learn more at pixeltherapypod.com or follow us on social media @pixeltherapypod. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate us, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts (or your listening app of choice) & subscribe! Thank you!

Transcripts

Jamie:

So what what do you think then that you look for in video

Jamie:

games?

Spencer:

Yeah. I play video games for the same reason that I

Spencer:

trip on [BLEEP]. [both laugh]

Spencer:

Okay, great intro, I think we're done, I think we can leave it at

Spencer:

that. [music break]

Jamie:

Welcome to Pixel Therapy, the video game podcast where we

Jamie:

look at the games we play through the lens of the player,

Jamie:

where what you play is just as important as how you play it.

Jamie:

And where emotional intelligence is a critical stat. Usually,

Jamie:

we're coming to you every other week, where we bring on a guest

Jamie:

who may or may not consider themselves a gamer to discuss

Jamie:

one of the games that made them and changed them. However, this

Jamie:

is a special b-b-b-bonus episode.

Spencer:

Bonus episode.

Jamie:

Spencer and I are new to the podcasting game and we

Jamie:

wanted to Yeah, no shocker. And we wanted to give everyone a

Jamie:

chance to maybe get to know us a little better. So we're trying

Jamie:

this thing that we are calling

Spencer & Jamie Together:

Co-Op Mode

Jamie:

and there you go. Lots of fun mic sounds for you today.

Jamie:

But yeah, it's just gonna be the two of us having a conversation

Jamie:

around a video game topic and we hope you enjoy it. So without

Jamie:

further ado, I'm going to introduce myself as your co

Jamie:

host, Jamie and my pronouns are she/her?

Spencer:

And I'm your co-host Spencer and my pronouns are

Spencer:

they/them?

Jamie:

And this is Pixel Therapy Co-Op Mode. So pull up an arm

Jamie:

chair, maybe that's not really the vibe that we're setting. I

Jamie:

guess. You know what - get - sit down on the couch. Get your

Jamie:

controller in your hand.

Spencer:

Yeah, settle on your gaming chair. Your chair

Spencer:

specifically for gaming.

Spencer:

Yeah, yeah, the one that is just for gaming and not for just

Spencer:

sitting around. I don't use my gaming chair for

Spencer:

Buckle in.

Jamie:

Yes, strap into your racer chair. And, yeah, we're

Jamie:

gonna we're gonna talk about our feelings about some video game

Jamie:

stuff. But first, Spencer, just you know, how are you? How's it

Jamie:

going? How's life?

Spencer:

I am well, thank you for asking. I enjoyed my first

Spencer:

like nine hour night of sleep in a while which was

Jamie:

Whoa.

Spencer:

I woke up this morning at seven instead of five which

Spencer:

was nice.

Jamie:

Congrats.

Spencer:

And I woke to a notification that the Nintendo

Spencer:

at this special edition Animal Crossing Nintendo Switch that I

Spencer:

had ordered had arrived in the night. And so, I, what I did

Spencer:

this already was I I hooked it up. I marveled at its beauty.

Jamie:

Yeah,

Spencer:

I'm loving this like mint teal color combo very

Spencer:

soothing.

Jamie:

It's a really pretty console, yeah.

Spencer:

I immediately downloaded one, Hades, and two,

Spencer:

Breath of the Wild.

Jamie:

Yes, yes. I'm playing Hades right now. It's so good.

Spencer:

Oh God. I literally just like five minutes before I

Spencer:

was like time to hang out with Jamie. I was, like Hades had

Spencer:

finished downloading so. I started the first like five

Spencer:

minutes, um everyone's super sexy as you would expect from -

Spencer:

what are they called Supergiant? Is that the developer?

Jamie:

Yeah.

Spencer:

Voice acting and music is choice. Yeah, I mean, you're

Spencer:

playing it too. So you know, you already know.

Jamie:

Yeah, I think I want to play more of it. And I want you

Jamie:

to play more of it. And then I think let's let's have a real

Jamie:

conversation about it. But Supergiant's like my favorite

Jamie:

developer of all time

Spencer:

Yeah, they rock

Jamie:

I love them so much. And Hades is just another in a long

Jamie:

line of amazing games from this team.

Spencer:

Yeah, but yeah, the main, main, long story short is

Spencer:

congratulations to me the proud parent of a new Switch. Thank

Spencer:

you. It was a long wait. Um, I just

Jamie:

Yeah, you've been looking for a Switch for a while we

Jamie:

were-

Spencer:

I couldn't get one!

Jamie:

I know they've been hard to come by and honestly I was, I

Jamie:

was getting like the, I get the IGN like daily deals emails, and

Jamie:

they've had the Switch in there and I almost like forwarded to

Jamie:

you just like FYI. And I was like, Spencer just got a PS5

Jamie:

they probably don't want to buy another new console.

Spencer:

It's the podcast! People messaged me and were

Spencer:

like, Listen, are you playing Hades? And I was like, no. And

Spencer:

they're like, um, well, you really, like you don't have a

Spencer:

Switch? Like you do a video game podcast and you don't have a

Spencer:

Switch? and I was like, Okay, I - I'm sorry. And so like three

Spencer:

people sent me links. I, I followed them. I just, it was

Spencer:

out of my hands.

Jamie:

Well, if it's a business expense, you should put it in

Jamie:

our budget.

Spencer:

Yeah. Look, if someone sends me a link, I click it,

Spencer:

what can I say?

Jamie:

That's amazing.

Spencer:

But how are you? How are you?

Jamie:

You know, I'm all right. Uh, yesterday morning, I was

Jamie:

having just, uh, you know, ironically, yesterday was World

Jamie:

Mental Health Day, right?

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

But so like, yeah, just in perfect fashion. I woke up

Jamie:

just being hypercritical of myself for no reason. But then

Jamie:

we recorded a podcast and had some tech issues and for some

Jamie:

reason that shook me out of it. So I've been better since then

Spencer:

You were just celebrating the World Mental

Spencer:

Health Awareness Day. You were super aware of it.

Jamie:

I was super aware of my mental health. No, but I'm good

Jamie:

today and yeah, I've been playing Hades like we said I

Jamie:

played Yeah, I played a lot of that last night. I've also been

Jamie:

playing Telling Lies

Spencer:

Oo what's that?

Jamie:

It's a we actually talked about this with Jamila, a little

Jamie:

bit. They were playing this Jamila Bradley when they were on

Jamie:

the podcast.

Spencer:

Yeah, check out Episode Three,

Jamie:

Check out Episode Three. It's a like a found footage game

Jamie:

where you're scrolling, you're going through found footage. The

Jamie:

name of the developer is not in my brain right now. But they

Jamie:

also made the game Her Story. If folks, are familiar with that

Jamie:

one?

Spencer:

Cool.

Jamie:

I'm liking it. so far. You're basically sitting at a

Jamie:

computer just going through a bunch of footage and it's all a

Jamie:

FMV files. So it's it's real human actors in the footage that

Jamie:

you're watching. And you're going through, you're trying to

Jamie:

- the way you interface with the game is that you put in

Jamie:

keywords, you can search keywords and find videos that

Jamie:

include those keywords

Spencer:

Like in the computer?

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah. So you what you see on the screen is a

Jamie:

computer screen. And you can go into the little search field and

Jamie:

type in a word. For example, the game starts by putting the word

Jamie:

love into the search field, and that populates videos, you're

Jamie:

restricted to only being able to access the first five results of

Jamie:

a word. So if you put in a super popular word, like the, you're

Jamie:

gonna get, it's not gonna be helpful, you're gonna get a ton

Jamie:

of results, and you're like, and be able to watch the first five.

Jamie:

But yeah, so you're you watch those videos, and then you're

Jamie:

trying to piece together the mystery, but the videos are only

Jamie:

recorded on one side of a conversation. So for example, if

Jamie:

two people are having a Skype conversation, you're only seeing

Jamie:

one side of it. So you have to listen to that side and try and

Jamie:

figure out what might be a word that was said in the other side

Jamie:

of the conversation and then try and find that video file.

Spencer:

Woah freaky!

Jamie:

to pair it up. And yeah, and you're trying to like piece

Jamie:

together, what happened to these people.

Spencer:

So that developer, I just looked it up, it's Sam

Spencer:

Barlow and Furious Bee Limited. Also, I just wanted to note that

Spencer:

I was just, I was reading more about this game. And there's two

Spencer:

reviews that are popping up on Google one is five stars, and

Spencer:

one is one star. The five star one says, This game has a

Spencer:

brilliant format. You're watching videos, each of which

Spencer:

is one side of a recorded video, call conversation. Each

Spencer:

conversation is a puzzle piece. And then the one star review

Spencer:

says, This is not really a game at all. It's a concept in

Spencer:

storytelling. You just watch a bunch of boring video clips in

Spencer:

random order. At some point, you have to figure out what the

Spencer:

story is. So it's funny that it's the same review.

Jamie:

Yeah, but one person was like, Oh, the mechanic of this

Jamie:

game is very cool. And the other person was like, This isn't a

Jamie:

game. I get todecide what is and isn't a game.

Spencer:

Yeah. One star,

Jamie:

One star. Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more deeper

Jamie:

thoughts on that later. But that is, those are the two games that

Jamie:

I'm playing right now is Hades and Telling Lies, and I am

Jamie:

enjoying them both for different reasons. Telling Lies is

Jamie:

definitely like more of a chill, end of the night, kind of an

Jamie:

experience and Hades is. I've got to sit forward and get the

Jamie:

sweaty palms. And, and try and fight all of these monsters in

Jamie:

Hades. But, uh, yeah, so we wanted to, like we said, we're

Jamie:

doing these episodes, partially to give folks more of an

Jamie:

opportunity to get to know us and our gaming tastes, and

Jamie:

partially just for funsies, because we like recording

Jamie:

podcasts together. And clearly, we have plenty to say to each

Jamie:

other

Spencer:

And to you.

Jamie:

And to you, our wonderful listeners. Thank you so much. So

Jamie:

our topic for today, we wanted to start by talking a bit about

Jamie:

the kind of video games that Spencer and I do like to play.

Jamie:

And we - what we've realized, in in starting to have more

Jamie:

conversations about this and think more about it is that

Jamie:

Spencer and I both play games in a very solitary way. We play

Jamie:

mostly single player games, and mostly by ourselves. And then

Jamie:

clearly we like to talk about it after but I just think it's

Jamie:

interesting that neither of us really seek out multiplayer

Jamie:

games or like, deep community around the games that we're

Jamie:

playing. And so yeah, I wanted to start with asking you

Jamie:

Spencer, why don't you seek out multiplayer games? Why is gaming

Jamie:

such a solitary activity for you?

Spencer:

Yeah, it's funny that you say that because like, even

Spencer:

when I I would be going over to your house all the time, like in

Spencer:

pre quarantine days, like I often feel like sometimes I

Spencer:

would just rather watch you play a campaign or game that you're

Spencer:

currently playing rather than stop you and be like, let's play

Spencer:

a multiplayer game. And I definitely have, like my own

Spencer:

etiquette around like watching someone play a game. I think if

Spencer:

someone was watching me play a game, it would, it would give me

Spencer:

anxiety if they were, you know, trying to tell me what moves to

Spencer:

make or being like, Oh, you missed that thing or asking me a

Spencer:

ton of questions about like, what's this? And what's that?

Spencer:

And what's this,?Which I've definitely been guilty of doing

Spencer:

to you. Um, but, you know, I think in terms of why I

Spencer:

specifically gravitate towards single player games. I mean,

Spencer:

it's probably a combination of things like a lot of my earliest

Spencer:

memories with gaming were as a young person, like playing games

Spencer:

with my stepfather. And he had a very particular taste in games,

Spencer:

particularly like fighting games like Mortal Kombat. SoulCalibur,

Spencer:

shooters. Oh my god, what's that game? Time Crisis? like old

Spencer:

Dreamcast Sega stuff. But it would be very, like, acutely

Spencer:

stressful game situations, lots of violence. Lots of I get, I

Spencer:

don't know, I, I have PTSD. I have anxiety. And I, you know,

Spencer:

gore is one thing like gory violence can sort of put me in a

Spencer:

place that isn't super fun. I mean, I play The Last of Us

Spencer:

willingly. So like, it's not like it's, it's like if

Jamie:

It's not a hard and fast rule.

Spencer:

Right, exactly. I think it's about the philosophy around

Spencer:

it. I think I find that games that are multiplayer, what

Spencer:

you're trying to do is beat someone, right? Like you're

Spencer:

trying. It's not about you versus the game. It's about

Spencer:

dominating somebody else. And so I think when it's violence just

Spencer:

to own someone, I'm not as into it, but when it's violence as

Spencer:

part of a narrative, and it's violence that is maybe not

Spencer:

justified, but has its place in a character's story or an

Spencer:

understanding some wider truth, I find that I'm much more

Spencer:

receptive to that. But like you said, I mean, it's always been a

Spencer:

solitary hobby. I think to get back to what I was saying

Spencer:

earlier, I think that when I started developing my own tastes

Spencer:

in games and and started learning what it is I liked in

Spencer:

games, I started to realize that I had permission to not just

Spencer:

play these multiplayer games. I didn't have to play the games

Spencer:

that my dad liked. Um, I have great fun memories too of

Spencer:

multiplayer experiences, like with my cousins, but those were

Spencer:

often I guess, I think of multiplayer as a party, a party

Spencer:

activity, like maybe to bond with people or to just hang out

Spencer:

with family or to do something when, like, I'm an introvert. So

Spencer:

it's always great to play a game instead of having this make

Spencer:

small talk. But it's just, I guess, I find more of what I

Spencer:

look for out of games that are single player and, and we'll

Spencer:

get, we'll talk more about that. But I'd love to hear from you.

Spencer:

Like why do you gravitate towards, towards multiplayer

Spencer:

games? I mean, towards non multiplayer games?

Jamie:

Uh, yeah, I think for me, the number one reason that I

Jamie:

don't play a lot of multiplayer games is that I find them

Jamie:

incredibly stressful.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

I have a lot of social anxiety in general. And so when

Jamie:

you take - is that surprising to you to hear? Yeah, I've got a

Jamie:

lot of social anxiety. So when you take this this hobby that I

Jamie:

use for escape that I use to relax and to like, just sink

Jamie:

into myself and be solitary, and then you combine it with Oh, and

Jamie:

here's other people, and your performance might impact them as

Jamie:

well. Like, I just can't get the fuck out of my head about it.

Jamie:

Like I can't get the fuck out of my head about it. Especially if

Jamie:

I'm - you know, most of the - I I've definitely gotten into

Jamie:

multiplayer games from time to time. Apex Legends, I got super

Jamie:

into for a while. I've on and off played Call of Duty games

Jamie:

over the years, mostly with my, my partner and his family and

Jamie:

friends. He plays a ton of multiplayer games. And like

Jamie:

that's really the only way he plays games, we really couldn't

Jamie:

be more different. We're both intense gamers. But he plays

Jamie:

almost exclusively multiplayer, and I play almost exclusively

Jamie:

single player, but I will join him and his friends and family

Jamie:

and play games from time to time. And it's always you know,

Jamie:

it's a good time. It's really you know, they're not, they're

Jamie:

not coming at me like Why aren't you better at the game or

Jamie:

anything? They're all very chill, but I can't get out of my

Jamie:

head about it. If I'm doing poorly, like it just makes me

Jamie:

feel really shitty. And it turns on all of that hypercritical

Jamie:

stuff in my head about myself. And I feel like I'm bringing the

Jamie:

team down I feel I'm dead weight. I'll get really like,

Jamie:

"if there's someone better that you could invite to come play

Jamie:

with you guys, you should do that." Like, I'll like, tell,

Jamie:

I'll like say that to my partner and he'll be like, No, we want

Jamie:

to play with you. And I'll be like, But I suck, like, you

Jamie:

don't want to play with me, I'll just go play by myself with

Jamie:

randos. But then that stresses me out too. So it's a, I don't

Jamie:

know, it's just a dangerous space in my head sometimes when

Jamie:

I'm playing multiplayer games, it turns on, like, just all of

Jamie:

this, like negative stuff about myself that, that I don't really

Jamie:

want to engage with. You know, when when I can get out of that,

Jamie:

and I can get in a good headspace and I can feel good

Jamie:

enough, like I don't have to be the best person on the team. But

Jamie:

when I can feel competent enough that I don't feel like I'm

Jamie:

dragging the team down and can feel like I'm doing okay, it can

Jamie:

be fun, there can be a lot of camaraderie, you know, the

Jamie:

joking around and, and winning together is is always cool. But

Jamie:

there's just so much like 90% of the time, I can't get into it

Jamie:

that way. And instead, I'm getting stuck in my head. And so

Jamie:

it just doesn't make it very enjoyable. It certainly doesn't

Jamie:

make it relaxing.

Spencer:

Yeah, like I feel like I turned to games like you

Spencer:

touched on to get outside of my head a bit. I sink into this

Spencer:

other world, this other experience and I sort of lose

Spencer:

myself a willingly because I'm, I'm engaging with this, this

Spencer:

other place. And I guess when you're playing multiplayer, at

Spencer:

least to me, it sort of takes all of that aspect out of it.

Spencer:

Because I'm suddenly very hyper aware of that I am this person

Spencer:

playing this character, and I need to do a good job because

Spencer:

there are other people depending on me, especially too when

Spencer:

you're talking to people outside of the game, it kind of breaks

Spencer:

that fourth wall of getting immersed and you're you're, it's

Spencer:

a much more tactical conversation. So like even times

Spencer:

that you and I have played, like Overcooked, we love to play

Spencer:

Overcooked because we love stress and anxiety. I guess. I

Spencer:

feel like us playing Overcooked is a testament to our

Spencer:

relationship because I can't play Overcooked with just

Spencer:

anyone. I can't even play Overcooked with my partner

Spencer:

because it's too stressful, but I can play it with you. And I

Spencer:

think that that says something about our friendship, but even

Spencer:

then it's like, as much as we're in the game. We're also talking

Spencer:

to each other like, oh, go over there or I'm gonna do this. I'm

Spencer:

gonna do that. And it's just, I feel like multiplayer. It is

Spencer:

about the game, but it's equally about who you're playing with.

Spencer:

And it's it's not just it's a different it's a much different

Spencer:

relationship that I have with the game when I'm playing

Spencer:

multiplayer than when I'm playing single player.

Jamie:

Hmm, yeah, no 100% I think you know, what you bring

Jamie:

up like, couch Co Op is almost a different thing to me or like

Jamie:

playing a local, playing locally with someone who's sitting right

Jamie:

beside you and playing a game. It is a it's a different

Jamie:

experience, even to playing online multiplayer. And also, I

Jamie:

mean, I think you could make the argument a lot of the games are

Jamie:

different the games that have local multiplayer modes versus

Jamie:

online multiplayer modes, it's kind of a different space. I

Jamie:

still don't seek out like, I guess when I'm with a large

Jamie:

group of people, and we want to play a game. I'm probably gonna

Jamie:

reach for a board game before I'm gonna reach for a video

Jamie:

game. But I don't mind playing video.

Spencer:

Why?

Jamie:

I don't know. There's just a line in my head of like

Jamie:

that video - Like I play video games. Well, I guess we're gonna

Jamie:

transition now into what I look for in a video game, which is

Jamie:

that I'm looking for a narrative experience. And I guess I feel

Jamie:

like I can - when, when I'm with a group of people, and we want

Jamie:

to play a game to connect around, having the tactile board

Jamie:

game and removing the screen from what we're doing makes me

Jamie:

feel more connected to the people I'm playing with. using

Jamie:

video games to connect with a group of people always still

Jamie:

feels a little bit removed to me because everyone's looking at

Jamie:

the screen instead of looking at each other.

Spencer:

Yeah, I feel like the only time that it the dynamic

Spencer:

really works is like a game like Until Dawn, where the purpose of

Spencer:

the game is you are - anyone who hasn't played Until Dawn, it's

Spencer:

like a game starring Rami Malek s where you're a bunch of

Spencer:

friends like going to this house and it's like haunted and you

Spencer:

have to try and survive the night and there's a bunch of

Spencer:

different ways or I don't remember if it's haunted.

Spencer:

There's some kind of scary horror tale

Jamie:

It's yeah, it's it's a it kind of is a collection of

Jamie:

horror movie tropes. It's a bunch of like young people going

Jamie:

to stay in the woods, at this like, in this haunted cabin

Jamie:

area. And yeah, basically any horror movie trope that you

Jamie:

could come up with, they put in this game, and

Spencer:

Yeah, yeah. But I feel like the like the fact that

Spencer:

these are fully flesh characters with their own motivations and

Spencer:

stories and like I think that kind of game translates well to

Spencer:

a group and a screen because you're not really trying to

Spencer:

connect with each other. You're all have a role to play in this

Spencer:

already defined narrative. Where as a game like Overcooked or a

Spencer:

racing game or a fighting game where it's really not about the

Spencer:

narrative. It's just about the action of playing together. I

Spencer:

would I 100% like I'm like, yeah, of course, like, a board

Spencer:

game will get you much more. Well, sorry, I don't want to

Spencer:

diss all multiplayer games, but

Jamie:

No we're just talking about like what we prefer, it's

Jamie:

definitely not meant to be a diss on anyone who who wants

Jamie:

that. But uh, I also think you know, the point that you're

Jamie:

making when, because we we played until dawn together with

Jamie:

a small group of people. And when we were like - that game,

Jamie:

you're making dialog decisions, you're making decisions about am

Jamie:

I going to go into the caves? Or am I going to go into the woods?

Jamie:

like that kind of stuff. You can have a conversation with the

Jamie:

group about that decision and like, connect with each other

Jamie:

and learn things about each other in that process. Versus

Jamie:

it's not that we don't learn anything about each other in

Jamie:

Overcooked, perhaps we learn too much, some might say. But in

Jamie:

Overcooked, everything is like being poured into like, we are -

Jamie:

we all have a controller and we are all very intensely focused

Jamie:

on the action on the screen.

Spencer:

Yeah

Jamie:

And our own performance in that moment, versus the

Jamie:

experience of playing Until Dawn where we're we're all having a

Jamie:

good time. We're laughing we're joking. We're laughing at the

Jamie:

characters on the screen. And then we're making decisions

Jamie:

collectively together. So there's, there's more like,

Jamie:

there's more bonding and learning about each other that

Jamie:

can happen in that versus Overcooked, where really, the

Jamie:

learning that happens is almost at like an instinctual level of

Jamie:

like who's gonna like instinctively like take command?

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And be the boss of the space.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And be the kitchen manager.

Spencer:

Who's the kitchen top?

Jamie:

Yeah. And, and all that stuff just happens so like it's

Jamie:

like on such a, I don't know Overcooked is a really

Jamie:

interesting experiment. If you want to learn like where you fit

Jamie:

in in your like friend group go play Overcooked with them and

Jamie:

you will learn things.

Spencer:

I think that would be a good litmus test for who has

Spencer:

what role in the in the zombie apocalypse because it puts you

Spencer:

under like intense stress and then just sees how you will

Spencer:

react with the others placed in the same situation with you.

Jamie:

Yeah. Yeah. So what what do you think then that you look

Jamie:

for in video games?

Spencer:

Yeah. I play video games for the same reason that I

Spencer:

trip on [BLEEP].

Spencer:

Okay, great intro, I think we're done. I think we can leave it at

Spencer:

that.

Spencer:

And, I mean, I - The reason I say that is because I think I go

Spencer:

to them, because I'm looking for an experience that I will not be

Spencer:

able to create for myself, I guess I'm looking to be pushed,

Spencer:

I'm looking to learn something about myself. And I'm also

Spencer:

looking for a break from like, I guess, I I'm very sporadic, I

Spencer:

feel like, in how I approach games, but there's some years

Spencer:

where I'll only play one or two games a year and other years,

Spencer:

I'll be playing a new game every month. And it all has to do with

Spencer:

like, I I approach each game like a relationship, like I

Spencer:

don't invest unless I feel like there's something that I'm gonna

Spencer:

get out of it or that there's something that - I'm not that

Spencer:

selfish when I approach relationships - but it takes a

Spencer:

lot of energy and passion, and emotion and time when you're

Spencer:

engaging with a video game. And I just, I, I want to get

Spencer:

something out of that. And I think I look like I love to read

Spencer:

I'm a big science fiction, fantasy person. And I just I

Spencer:

it's it's very experiential for me. And I want to connect with a

Spencer:

character I don't want to feel like just like an empty avatar

Spencer:

and that was part of the reason why 2018 God of War kind of

Spencer:

excited me so much. Just because up until that point, I had known

Spencer:

Kratos as being this very like God of War was very like hack n'

Spencer:

slashy. It was very gory. You as this character were just fueled

Spencer:

by this rage, this bottomless rage and yeah, I just had a hard

Spencer:

time like finding much to relate to. And when this story like,

Spencer:

just like Kratos is still a complicated and maybe you might

Spencer:

say a bad person but there's so much more, there's so much

Spencer:

dimension brought to this character the relationship with

Spencer:

Atreus, his son, and And what that allows, you know, the

Spencer:

narrative to do with his character and how it affects his

Spencer:

character and this foil that Atreus plays like, like, yes,

Spencer:

I'm playing it for the amazing fight dynamics and the beautiful

Spencer:

graphics and the beautiful world. But what I stay up at

Spencer:

night, thinking about is that micro interactions between

Spencer:

Atreus and Kratos, I think about Atreus's back turned and you

Spencer:

reaching your arm to touch him and then deciding at the last

Spencer:

second that you can, like, that's the stuff that I'm

Spencer:

thinking about. Long after the game is done, and that's the

Spencer:

feeling that I'm chasing that kind of that soul piercing. That

Spencer:

soul - that life giving, feeling that you get after completing a

Spencer:

book that you couldn't put down. It's like the piece of it that

Spencer:

you carry with you and what that teaches you, like, I think, you

Spencer:

know, if spending 50 to 200 hours with something like I

Spencer:

said, it's just, it's, it's gonna change you and so I want

Spencer:

that change to be something that helps me grow.

Jamie:

Yeah, I think that's super, super valid.

Spencer:

What about you?

Jamie:

Uh, I don't think it's terribly dissimilar. I have such

Jamie:

a wide gamut of games that interest me.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

I think the number one thing that's going to attract me

Jamie:

and keep me in a game is narrative and characters, for

Jamie:

sure. If there's characters that I find interesting character

Jamie:

growth that's happening that is compelling, a narrative that is

Jamie:

intriguing. That's the number one thing that's going to keep

Jamie:

me there it does have to there has to be something enjoyable,

Jamie:

obviously about the mechanics, but the mechanics are usually a

Jamie:

secondary concern for me. You know, we were talking about

Jamie:

Supergiant earlier and really none of their - Supergiant, if

Jamie:

you're not familiar with them, as a developer, they've they

Jamie:

made Bastion, then they made Transistor, then Pyre and now

Jamie:

Hades. Their games are - like I said they're my favorite

Jamie:

developer of all time and I think it's because they do so

Jamie:

much of what I love - like great art.

Spencer:

Yeah

Jamie:

Super interesting characters. Deep world building,

Jamie:

complicated and compelling narratives. Like they do all

Jamie:

that stuff like just chefs kiss. Like everything like and and the

Jamie:

art's a huge draw for me to like they're the art in their games

Spencer:

I've never been sexually attracted to a sword

Spencer:

before.

Jamie:

Yeah, Transistor right? And the voice acting? But the

Jamie:

mechanics like the gameplay of all those games, first of all,

Jamie:

all four of them have pretty dramatically different gameplay.

Jamie:

Bastion's a pretty straightforward action adventure

Jamie:

game. Transistor is like kind of an RTS, realtime strategy, game

Jamie:

mixed with action adventure. Pyre is - Pyre I can't even

Jamie:

begin to describe it's like it's like a basketball mixed with an

Jamie:

RTS. It's like a Yeah, like, and also like that set inside of an

Jamie:

Oregon Trail. Like choose your own adventure. Kind of but like,

Jamie:

if that sounds like an insane combination of elements, it's

Jamie:

because it is and you should play Pyre. It's an incredibly

Jamie:

interesting game. And then Hades is a is a rogue, rogue light,

Jamie:

right? And really like on their surface, none of none of that is

Jamie:

what I would generate towards typically I would say, you know,

Jamie:

in terms of the mechanics that I probably play the most it's

Jamie:

third person. Action Adventure RPG,

Spencer:

I hate first person.

Jamie:

I'm not I'm not big on first person, I have a lot of

Jamie:

trouble connecting with the character.

Spencer:

Yeah

Jamie:

in first person games, there's something about not

Jamie:

being able to see my character that really doesn't. Yeah, just

Jamie:

doesn't intrigue me. I know, the point of that is supposed to be

Jamie:

that like, you become the character or like you are the

Jamie:

character.

Spencer:

The opposite effect happens.

Jamie:

I know. I just I don't want to insert myself into the

Jamie:

story that way.

Spencer:

I don't need to be in their eyeballs to feel that.

Jamie:

Yeah, and there's something that like, yeah, it

Jamie:

actually creates a distanced effect, right?Skyrim is kind of

Jamie:

the one first person game that I can think of that I've gotten

Jamie:

superduper into, but Skyrim also gives you so much to engage with

Jamie:

in the world. Yeah, I'm really interested to see Cyberpunk,

Jamie:

right, Cyberpunk 2077 coming up this year and like there's so

Jamie:

much I want to be excited about with that game but the fact that

Jamie:

it's first person is really like kind of hampering my excitement

Jamie:

for getting into that world.

Spencer:

I mean, Skyrim I loved when I I like that you had the

Spencer:

option to kind of zoom out and zoom back in and like I said, if

Spencer:

you're reading a book or something, it was nice to be

Spencer:

able to zoom into the first person. I'm sorry, that was an

Spencer:

aside. I was gonna say like, Oh, I wonder if Cyberpunk will have

Spencer:

options because that also hurts my heart to hear

Jamie:

Yeah

Spencer:

It's just claustrophobic But anyway, yeah,

Spencer:

go on

Jamie:

Claustrophobic or that, I don't know. And also, a lot of

Jamie:

times when games give you that first person view, they don't

Jamie:

when when your character talks, it's just a disembodied voice,

Jamie:

if they talk at all. A lot of those games will have a silent

Jamie:

protagonist, which I fucking hate. I want to fucking hear

Jamie:

this character, I want to get to know them. I guess I'm not. I'm

Jamie:

definitely going to, I want to play a game so I can pretend to

Jamie:

be somebody else. I guess that's something I'm looking for is

Jamie:

like, yeah, getting out of my own head, putting myself into

Jamie:

someone else's shoes, and then making decisions as them. And

Jamie:

there's something about a first person game that is trying more

Jamie:

to put you as yourself into the narrative and like, strip away

Jamie:

this concept that it's a different character. And I don't

Jamie:

like that I actually struggle to connect with that, because I

Jamie:

want to connect to an entry point character, who's

Jamie:

introducing me to this world.

Spencer:

Hmm. Yeah, yeah, I was just gonna say to like, like,

Spencer:

like I play to be someone else, or to through this persona,

Spencer:

discover another aspect of myself that maybe I wouldn't

Spencer:

normally bring to the surface. Because I'm not like, the

Spencer:

opportunity does not present itself. But in this world where

Spencer:

I can be anything or I'm playing a certain role, like I can

Spencer:

explore these other aspects of my humanity that are typically

Spencer:

not at the forefront.

Jamie:

Mm hmm. So when you're, you've mentioned before, like,

Jamie:

like, when we were playing playing Kentucky Route Zero, you

Jamie:

came across that game because you specifically went and looked

Jamie:

for a list. I know, you've said you spend a lot of time really

Jamie:

looking for the next game you want to play. What is like the

Jamie:

criteria that you're looking for then?

Spencer:

Yeah. Um,

Jamie:

What boxes are you trying to check before you start up a

Jamie:

new game?

Spencer:

Yeah, I think that I typically. I mean, lately with

Spencer:

Kentucky Route Zero, like I've, I've been getting more into this

Spencer:

kind of side scrolling adventure. But I typically am

Spencer:

someone who specifically looks for an adventure game or open

Spencer:

world game just because I like the autonomy. I like to be able

Spencer:

- to be able to choose and jump in and out of a main quest as

Spencer:

well as explore or just like, fuck around or level up, but

Spencer:

what have you I like customizability. I think if I

Spencer:

were to really hone in though, because I play all sorts of

Spencer:

games that don't fall within that, I would say that's, that's

Spencer:

top level what I'm drawn towards, because those types of

Spencer:

games tend to have more of what I really look for, which is what

Spencer:

I look for out of, I would say, the sci fi and fantasy that I

Spencer:

read, which is the world building, like, I want to feel

Spencer:

like this world exists independently of me, and that

Spencer:

I'm a witness on something that is going to give me something in

Spencer:

return. And I guess I look for, I think what I'm looking for, is

Spencer:

that ability to feel immersed, like I don't like when there's

Spencer:

just one track that you're on. And that's where you're going

Spencer:

towards. I like this idea of like games that have mystery.

Spencer:

Games that if you that reward you for going off the beaten

Spencer:

track games that reward you, not just for completing levels, or

Spencer:

beating the boss, but for connecting with other characters

Spencer:

or for doing something just to learn about yourself. Like, an

Spencer:

easy example of that is The Last of Us of course, like and scenes

Spencer:

where there's a special dialogue option that you get with a

Spencer:

character, it's totally optional, whether or not you

Spencer:

choose to engage with it, but if you do, you might just learn

Spencer:

something about that character, or about their relationship with

Spencer:

Ellie or Joel, or Abby. And I, I like that I like feeling I like

Spencer:

knowing that there were people who cared not just about what

Spencer:

these people were doing, but who these people are. And about that

Spencer:

shared appreciation, like they set up this world with all of,

Spencer:

with these easter eggs with with these secrets to reward people

Spencer:

who like them have this same love and appreciation for these

Spencer:

characters in this world. Like, like that kind of depth is what

Spencer:

I look for. And it's it's hard to know from the surface level

Spencer:

before you get into the game what kind of games will have

Spencer:

that? But yeah, I I'm really driven by story, but I like to

Spencer:

be an autonomous active player in that story. So I think that's

Spencer:

why it can take me a while to find games because all kinds of

Spencer:

games can have like, like independent of genre, games can

Spencer:

have that that that magical quality of Of being of trying to

Spencer:

transcend just being a game. It's not just a game. It's it's

Spencer:

a whole world with with people who feel and struggle and die,

Spencer:

some without even having names, like finding artifacts. Like now

Spencer:

that I'm thinking about The Last of Us, but like finding

Spencer:

artifacts in the game, and realizing that there's this

Spencer:

whole, like, this whole story of what happened in Seattle, before

Spencer:

you even got there that you can piece together that isn't even

Spencer:

part of the main campaign like, like, that's the kind of stuff

Spencer:

that makes a game transcend the screen. Like that's, that's the

Spencer:

kind of stuff that I look for. What, what about you?

Jamie:

I mean, that's, that's a great answer. I think. I'm so

Jamie:

rarely someone who I will go scroll the PlayStation Store to

Jamie:

some extent, but I'm more scrolling like my wish list of

Jamie:

already, like pre selected games. I guess what I would -

Jamie:

the number one criteria, I would say or like, the number one way

Jamie:

that I go find games is that I'm just I'm highly susceptible to

Jamie:

what other people have to say about a game.

Jamie:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And and so it really is that I, you know, I consume a lot of

Jamie:

games media and I listen to people have conversations about

Jamie:

games. And when people start talking about a game that they

Jamie:

are passionate about, and they are excited about the characters

Jamie:

in the story. That's what gets me interested in the characters

Jamie:

and story. And then usually I'll go look up that game some more,

Jamie:

I'll watch a little bit of the gameplay and see if it looks

Jamie:

intriguing. Does the artwork look intriguing? And if that all

Jamie:

seems appealing, then that's probably going to get it on my

Jamie:

wish list. Or get it into my cart and be something that I'm

Jamie:

going to play. Yeah, the tougher decision comes then like, you

Jamie:

know, as we've talked about my backlog before, once it's in my

Jamie:

backlog, once it's on the on the PlayStation, then when do I

Jamie:

actually get around to playing it, you know, when I finish a

Jamie:

game, and then I have to go looking for something else, then

Jamie:

it becomes much more of a mood thing. And that's when I am

Jamie:

thinking a little bit more about the mechanics. So it piques my

Jamie:

interest if someone's saying this has really good characters,

Jamie:

this has a really interesting narrative. That's when I'm like,

Jamie:

my antenna are up. I'm gonna look into this game. But then

Jamie:

when it comes time to actually start something to play, it's

Jamie:

more like what are the mechanics that I'm in the mood for? If I'm

Jamie:

sleepy, I can't go play a game that's got a lot of text on the

Jamie:

screen, that's gonna put me right to sleep. I'm not a big

Jamie:

reader, like I'm just a slow reader. And so it's kind of

Jamie:

challenging for me to read a lot of text anyway. So if I'm tired,

Jamie:

like that's not gonna, that's not gonna work out. Or like, you

Jamie:

know, like I was saying with playing Hades, like, I've got to

Jamie:

be very alert and ready to engage and ready to get the

Jamie:

like, sweaty palms because of the combat in that game. So

Jamie:

that's, that's when it becomes more of a mood thing. When I'm

Jamie:

thinking about the mechanics, but what's actually going to

Jamie:

draw me to the game is the characters and the narrative

Jamie:

every time.

Spencer:

Yeah, and yeah, like I definitely relate to, because

Spencer:

it's so hard to tell sometimes from just the cover, like, what

Spencer:

kind of environment or how rich the world of a game is gonna be.

Spencer:

I definitely am someone who, like both doesn't necessarily

Spencer:

want to be - want to know all the details of a story before I

Spencer:

start, the game because I like to be surprised, but also wants

Spencer:

to know, like, how it made people feel what they generally

Spencer:

think about it, like, what they like, how would they rate the

Spencer:

gameplay? How, like, what, how do they review it? Like I, I

Spencer:

definitely am someone who tries to get a piece - as much of that

Spencer:

as I can without spoiling myself, which is a dangerous

Spencer:

game.

Jamie:

And I guess I'm sitting here realizing that like,

Jamie:

because then I was thinking like, what is it that people say

Jamie:

about a game that actually like, like, really interests me, and I

Jamie:

was reminded of the conversation - the early conversations that I

Jamie:

heard around Spiritfarer, and I do have a certain draw towards

Jamie:

games that have like a sadness or boring sadness in some way or

Jamie:

grief or death. I definitely have a bit of a morbid draw. So

Jamie:

I think if people are saying like, this game made me cry, or

Jamie:

this game made me really feel x powerful emotion. I'm less

Jamie:

inclined for someone to be like, this game is just so fun. It's

Jamie:

just so bubbly and enjoyable and I laughed the whole time.

Jamie:

Probably not going to draw me in. If you're like, this game

Jamie:

made me sob for an hour. I'm like, oh, what's the name? I

Jamie:

would love to sob for an hour.

Spencer:

I love pain. I'd love to sob for an hour about

Spencer:

something other than my own baggage.

Jamie:

Right? Like there's something really freeing in like

Jamie:

being really upset about something happening to somebody

Jamie:

else. [music break]

Jamie:

Well, we hope you enjoyed this Co Op Mode episode. Our first

Jamie:

one, let us know what you think. You know, rate it, subscribe,

Jamie:

all that good stuff. Send us nice things in the comments, or

Jamie:

bad things if you didn't like it, I guess you know, you can

Jamie:

say bad things to us too. But we'd much prefer you say nice

Jamie:

things. But the time is up for this Co Op Mode, this session of

Jamie:

Pixel Therapy. And we, you know, we do thank you for tuning in

Jamie:

for listening to us chat today. We really hope you enjoyed it,

Jamie:

we hope you'll subscribe, we hope you'll rate us. If you do

Jamie:

want to reach out to us, maybe you've got a great story about a

Jamie:

game that changed, you a guest recommendation, a question -

Jamie:

really, truly, if you have a question, something to say to

Jamie:

us, please feel free to reach out to us on social media or via

Jamie:

our email address, which is pixeltherapypod@gmail.com. And

Jamie:

if we do get people writing into us, and we think you have

Jamie:

interesting questions or interesting stories to tell, we

Jamie:

will certainly read it on the show sometime. I already

Jamie:

mentioned social media, you can follow us there on Instagram and

Jamie:

other stuff @pixeltherapypod. Or you can always check out our

Jamie:

website at pixeltherapypod.com, which is where you can see the

Jamie:

list of all of our episodes. Spencer?

Spencer:

Finally, since we like to put our money and our energy

Spencer:

where our collective mouth is - Jamie and my shared mouth,

Jamie:

Shared mouth, one mouth

Spencer:

One mouth, two brains, two hearts.

Jamie:

Oh my god. Our new tagline is two brains, one

Jamie:

mouth, two hearts.

Spencer:

Oh god, please help us. So we like to end every episode

Spencer:

with a recommended side quest. Just think of these for ideas

Spencer:

for how you can get involved locally or nationally. Just cool

Spencer:

projects, cool causes that we think more folks should know

Spencer:

about. This week, we're going to touch on something of a close to

Spencer:

home for us. We live in Massachusetts and Massachusetts

Spencer:

is the home of the Transgender Emergency Fund, which can be

Spencer:

found at transgenderemergencyfund.org.

Spencer:

And it provides critical direct assistance to low income and

Spencer:

trans transgender people who are low income and are experiencing

Spencer:

homelessness and living in Massachusetts. It's a community

Spencer:

run community driven resource. It's and it's important that,

Spencer:

you know, trans folks, especially black trans folks are

Spencer:

able to lead for themselves, create resources for themselves.

Spencer:

And for us to support that. Coming up in November on

Spencer:

November 22 is Trans Day of Remembrance. And the

Spencer:

transgender, the Boston transgender and gender

Spencer:

nonconforming community will be coming together to mourn those

Spencer:

have been taken from us due to anti transgender violence. This

Spencer:

tradition actually began in 1998 with the murder of Rita Hester

Spencer:

in Allston, Massachusetts. And now, two decades later, the

Spencer:

Transgender Day of Remembrance is honored worldwide. This is a

Spencer:

day to remember the lives of hundreds of transgender and

Spencer:

gender non conforming people who have been -mwho have had their

Spencer:

lives taken by violence over the past year. You can sign up on

Spencer:

transgenderemergencyfund.org for this virtual event on Sunday,

Spencer:

November 22, 2020. And you can donate and and spread the word.

Spencer:

Let your friends know that this exists. And and yeah, hope you

Spencer:

would consider trans folks in MA when you're considering who you

Spencer:

want to give to. Thanks.

Jamie:

Thank you for that side quest. That is our show today.

Jamie:

So go forth, run a story mission level up some stats. And don't

Jamie:

forget to hug an NPC every now and then we will be back so soon

Jamie:

with some more Pixel -

Spencer:

Therapy. I just wanna say it at the same time as you

Spencer:

[both laugh]

Spencer:

Alright, so one more time. We'll be back soon with some more

Spencer & Jamie Together:

Pixel Therapy [both laugh]