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Ghost of Tsushima's Norio and Other Unsung Heroes with Earl T. Kim
Episode 520th October 2020 • Pixel Therapy Pod • Pixel Therapy Pod
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Norio is best boy in Ghost of Tsushima, and we refuse to hear otherwise. Just like Norio, actor, director, fight choreographer, and dreamer Earl T. Kim is an absolute cinnamon roll, and we are overjoyed to have him on the podcast! We chat about queer fat Asian representation, the NUANCE in Jin Sakai's and Norio's relationship, and the parallels Earl found to Norio's story in his own life, from his real-life friendship with Jin's motion capture/voiceover actor Daisuke Tsuji, to his own painful lessons in letting go. Then, we go IN on the lasting impact of Final Fantasy Tactics, which literally makes Earl cry just talking about it.

Also, your co-hosts checked out Ghost of Tsushima: Legends and New Game+, which is kind of ironic since we just spent an episode talking about how we never play multiplayer... let's just say Sucker Punch certainly changed that!

Find Earl on Twitter @earlofsammich and check out Earl and Daisuke's new Twitch channel, DandE Saga!

About Pixel Therapy

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

Earl:

I think that there's always this idea of unsung

Earl:

heroes, that it's a very sort of human understanding of like, Oh

Earl:

yeah, there are people that don't get talked about and there

Earl:

are people who do the deeds, and then get forgotten. And I think

Earl:

that there's something really beautiful and romantic and, and,

Earl:

and sort of sad and tragic about that. But we are always

Earl:

attracted to it. At least I'm always attracted to it. [music

Earl:

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. Every other

Jamie:

week, we bring on a guest who may or may not consider

Jamie:

themselves to be a gamer to discuss one of the games that

Jamie:

made them and changed them and all the feelings they have about

Jamie:

our favorite pastime. I'm your co host, Jamie, my pronouns are

Jamie:

she/her

Spencer:

and I'm your co host, Spencer pronouns, they/them.

Jamie:

And this is Pixel Therapy. So pull up that arm

Jamie:

chair, feel free to lie down on the couch, we are going to talk

Jamie:

about our feelings. Spencer, what are you playing?

Spencer:

Thanks for asking, Jamie. Um, okay, so I'm very

Spencer:

excited as are a bunch of other people. Because Ghost of

Spencer:

Tsushima just had an awesome update. There's a New Game Plus,

Spencer:

there's Legends, which is where you get to play with your

Spencer:

friends. There's a whole Co Op mode. There's like survival

Spencer:

mode. It's like a whole thing. And even though I'm I am

Spencer:

definitely like a PlayStation Sony luddite, and I don't have

Spencer:

any, I don't even have a headset. Jamie and I did a

Spencer:

little, did a little Co Op Legends mode last night. A

Spencer:

little assassin squad. I'm like, literally, like I was cracking

Spencer:

up when I was in the tutorial, and you were patiently waiting

Spencer:

for me to get through the tutorial and I was like, Oh my

Spencer:

god, I'm gonna be an assassin. What did you pick? And you're

Spencer:

like, "Um assassin." And I was "Ahhhh!" Well, it's fine. We

Spencer:

were both these really cute, like, kitsune, like Yusuke,

Spencer:

demon Yusuke vibes. But yeah, like so basically. Jamie, you

Spencer:

and I played co-op mode for a couple hours. It's actually the

Spencer:

first time that you and I have just played a game together but

Spencer:

like in different places. And it was a true, like online

Spencer:

multiplayer experience so.

Jamie:

Yeah, we're real gamers now.

Spencer:

Yeah, we're real like, thank you.

Jamie:

I also feel like we're total liars. Because literally a

Jamie:

week ago, we were like, "Eh, we don't really play online

Jamie:

multiplayer games."

Spencer:

And it was just because I had never, I guess played one.

Spencer:

And now I'm like, take me back.

Jamie:

Oh, my gosh, we're gonna have to delete last week's

Jamie:

episode from the feed. Hypocrites!

Spencer:

I know, listen to me, I just Sucker Punch changed my

Spencer:

life with that. Like, I don't I think too. I was excited for it

Spencer:

because I had already played the main story and fallen in love

Spencer:

with it and fallen love with the world of Tsushima. And with

Spencer:

like, I was very comfortable with the equipment and fighting

Spencer:

style and weapons. And so I think a lot of the stress of

Spencer:

being dropped into this, like a multiplayer online world is

Spencer:

like, Oh, shit, okay, where are my weapons? Where am I? Who am

Spencer:

I? Who are my teammates? Even like, who's on my team and who's

Spencer:

on the other team? Like it's very much you're just dropped

Spencer:

into this chaos. And so I think it was a little bit different.

Spencer:

Because I I feel like I was a little - a lot more well

Spencer:

equipped to like what I was going to expect and then like,

Spencer:

um, yeah, I just, it was just very exciting to have this world

Spencer:

that I was already used to just expanded. Um, it was really

Spencer:

cool.

Jamie:

That's a really good point, actually, I feel like

Jamie:

that's, that's a such a huge part of the stress with

Jamie:

multiplayer games, right? is just getting decent at it. But

Jamie:

having to do that in a space where other people are

Jamie:

evaluating you. And when you're playing the single player game,

Jamie:

you get to learn the mechanics and get competent at the game in

Jamie:

a space that's just yours. And if you fail, you're the only one

Jamie:

who's there to witness it. You're the only one who's

Jamie:

impacted. So yeah, that's actually a really interesting

Jamie:

perspective that I hadn't really considered that Yeah, because we

Jamie:

got to play Ghost of Tsushima first as a single player game

Jamie:

and get good at the mechanics in that space coming into the

Jamie:

multiplayer space is actually inherently less stressful

Jamie:

because we already understand the mechanics. And let me tell

Jamie:

the story chapters specifically. There's three

Jamie:

different versions of multiplayer that are coming with

Jamie:

this update. And actually, I think the third version isn't

Jamie:

quite ready yet. But the versions are, there's two

Jamie:

player, co-op story missions that you can do, which is what

Jamie:

Spencer and I played. There's a four player Co-Op survival mode,

Jamie:

where it's four players facing off against hordes of enemies

Jamie:

waves of enemies.

Spencer:

Which is coming.

Jamie:

No, that one's already here.

Spencer:

Oh, it is? Okay.

Jamie:

Yeah, the survival mode's here. What's coming is the raid.

Spencer:

Oh, the raid, right.

Jamie:

Yeah. So and I don't know if that's going to be four

Jamie:

people again. Or if it's more than that.

Spencer:

I think it's four people, up to four.

Jamie:

Okay. And that's basically, if you're not

Jamie:

familiar with multiplayer lingo, raids are usually just really

Jamie:

complex, long, sort of missions. Usually lots of enemies, very

Jamie:

challenging. The group has to really work together and hone

Jamie:

their skills together to be able to beat them. So those aren't

Jamie:

quite here yet, but they're coming.

Spencer:

Yeah but we were in story mode. And just when I was

Spencer:

saying bronze earlier, like essentially, like the one thing

Spencer:

that I think might be frustrating for players who have

Spencer:

already been in Ghost of Tsushima is just like, it does

Spencer:

kind of force you to go through a bit of a tutorial where you

Spencer:

learn all the moves of the different classes. There's

Spencer:

Samurai Hunter, Assassin, and Ronin and the Ronin's more of a

Spencer:

healer, kind of magic, mage type, if you will, um, but

Jamie:

You can call a spirit, wolf. Or spirit dog.

Spencer:

A spirit dog, and you can pet it. But what was I

Spencer:

saying?

Jamie:

Sorry.

Spencer:

Oh, just the fact that like, in the story mode, you

Spencer:

have to play through the easy mode to then unlock the medium

Spencer:

mode and then unlock the hard mode. So Jamie and I, two of,

Spencer:

you know, Kage's perfect killing machines, found ourselves just

Spencer:

sort of like slaying zombie Mongols. That's the other thing

Spencer:

is, maybe cuz it's October. But very spooky,

Jamie:

Yeah. The whole game or the multiplayer stuff is all set

Jamie:

in - I think it's supposed to be like a spirit world. I gotta be

Jamie:

honest, I was having trouble kind of following what they were

Jamie:

doing narratively, which is just a thing that I think happens

Jamie:

with multiplayer games in general. I'm way more focused on

Jamie:

interacting with Spencer, than I am on what's happening in the

Jamie:

story. So the story is just kind of like set dressing. But the

Jamie:

world was like, kind of gross and weird. There are like hearts

Jamie:

floating in the sky. Like oozing blood.

Spencer:

Giant human hearts.

Jamie:

Yeah. But they're like beating and pulsing at the same

Jamie:

time. Like what the fuck is going on?

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

Yeah, it was not the beautiful world that Ghost of

Jamie:

Tsushima has in the main game. So that was a little - It was a

Jamie:

cool aesthetic. Like, they definitely put effort into it. I

Jamie:

don't want to downplay it. I'm sure there was a lot of work

Jamie:

involved. But I love the beautiful open world of Ghost of

Jamie:

Tsushima. And that was not what we got to experience in the

Jamie:

multiplayer.

Spencer:

Yeah, like the way that I was sort of interpreting the

Spencer:

narrative I feel like was that, like, I guess what I gathered is

Spencer:

Jin is not the only ghost, right? Like he is one person

Spencer:

whose name has been lost to history, but who has become this

Spencer:

mythic presence because of the outsized impact he made on the

Spencer:

world around him and the legendary fighting style that he

Spencer:

perfected. And so it's like, everyone in this multiplayer

Spencer:

mode is a ghost. And so to me, I think I was - because they are

Spencer:

lost the time and, and live in stories. And in these legends,

Spencer:

it's almost like we're being placed into like, the world of

Spencer:

imagination, or the place between reality and the spirit

Spencer:

world where the ghosts live in the kind of human consciousness.

Spencer:

As you can see, I love Ghost of Tsushima, and I'm like just

Spencer:

spinning up my own mythology, but I was very like, it did - I

Spencer:

kept being like, "We're in Mementos!" Because it kind of

Spencer:

reminded me of Persona 5 in that we were in, like Tsushima. But

Spencer:

everything had this sort of red pallor, and there was the hearts

Spencer:

in the sky. And the Mongols themselves were kind of like

Spencer:

these almost Wraith-like zombies. And everything was just

Spencer:

a little bit off. And the fighters themselves had like -

Spencer:

our assassins had these very demonic masks. And it's cool to

Spencer:

see a lot of the features in terms of customization. There's

Spencer:

a bunch of cool masks and outfits and weapons you can

Spencer:

unlock. But yeah, I think in general, like, I like the way

Spencer:

the game ends with Jin in his home and sort of roaming the

Spencer:

island collecting the rest of the Mongols. Like I kind of was

Spencer:

hoping for a bit more of that open world, homesteading feel.

Spencer:

Like I have my own secret wish for, like the ability to make

Spencer:

improvements to the house or just kind of continuously live

Spencer:

off the land. And I guess I could still hope for more

Spencer:

content, but it was a little bit more restricted in terms of what

Spencer:

we could do then then perhaps I was expecting.

Jamie:

Yeah, I mean, I think it's it's really focused on the

Jamie:

combat.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

Which is, I think, what a lot of multiplayer games focus

Jamie:

on to be honest, and the combat in Ghost of Tsushima is a lot of

Jamie:

fun. I don't see myself revisiting it on my own, like,

Jamie:

partying up with random people. Like I would love to play it

Jamie:

again with you. But it's not something I'm like feeling

Jamie:

compelled to go back to in any real way. And I think that just

Jamie:

speaks to kind of like, the way I feel about multiplayer in

Jamie:

general. And yeah, there's, there's a ton of cool items that

Jamie:

you can unlock. I love all of the new masks and gear that

Jamie:

they've added. They're all really cool looking. I'd love to

Jamie:

have all of those, but I don't - I'm not so drawn into playing it

Jamie:

more than that. I'm going to go do that just to unlock that

Jamie:

stuff, so.

Spencer:

Yeah, I was just laughing cuz I - it reminded me

Spencer:

when you said masks, I have to tell you what happened to me

Spencer:

because, so when we were playing, I was like, "Oh, I

Spencer:

miss, I miss Tsushima. I miss the game." So this morning, I

Spencer:

woke up and I was like, "Oh, I forgot. I'll check out New Game

Spencer:

Plus." Cuz now there's this whole - So one thing I have to

Spencer:

say right off the bat is New Game Plus now includes custom

Spencer:

armor loadouts. Like I think the most frustrating thing to me

Spencer:

about Ghost was just you have your armor, but then you also

Spencer:

have the ability to equip these different charms into different

Spencer:

slots to power up different areas. And so if you are

Spencer:

switching between, like stealth armor and melee armor,

Spencer:

conceivably you might want to switch out some of your like

Spencer:

melee defense and like just, you know, switch up the the build of

Spencer:

the armor.

Spencer:

Well and the game, the game of Ghost of Tsushima incentivizes

Spencer:

you with those different builds to not just pick one build and

Spencer:

only use that build, like there's a big incentive for when

Spencer:

you're wandering the open world to put on the traveling cloak,

Spencer:

because that's gonna unlock more of your map, and it's going to

Spencer:

help you find objects and stuff in the world a lot easier. And

Spencer:

yeah, when you're jumping into a fight, and you didn't have the

Spencer:

opportunity to be in stealth mode, like you want to be

Spencer:

wearing the armor that's good for melee damage, like either

Spencer:

the - thinking of the intense Samurai armor or the Sekai

Spencer:

family armor, you know? And then yeah, when you're sneaking into

Spencer:

a place you want to be wearing that ghost armor. So the fact

Spencer:

that it didn't have a way to easily swap out those loadouts

Spencer:

was Yeah, a huge pain point for me with the game as well.

Spencer:

Like, you'd have to manually - like my favorite thing would be

Spencer:

like, oh, standoff mode, pause for eight minutes while I just

Spencer:

switch out my charms one by one

Jamie:

Kind of breaks the immersion a little bit.

Spencer:

Yeah. So like, I love that in this game now with each

Spencer:

armor, you can create a custom charms slot build, and oh my

Spencer:

god, that was a huge quality of life increase. Um, but I was

Spencer:

like, "Okay, I'm gonna do this." It was, it's great. It drops you

Spencer:

right into the open world. So you pick your horse. This is my

Spencer:

first just moment because you choose your horse. But it's a

Spencer:

new game plus, so you still can only choose between two horses.

Spencer:

But it was cool because I chose my horse, Kage. And he's a black

Spencer:

horse with this like red mane. He's really pretty. So that was

Spencer:

kind of a cool, fun surprise. And okay, but here's the thing

Spencer:

that I have to tell you about. So the difference in New Game

Spencer:

Plus is that when you're riding through the field as Jin in the

Spencer:

open world, and there's a there's an icon that pops up on

Spencer:

your screen, and it's like, "Visit a mysterious merchant."

Spencer:

And so in the distance you ride up on this mysterious merchant,

Spencer:

and he is like, this man standing here with a mask that

Spencer:

has many faces. It's like this very demonic mask that's like

Spencer:

you'd see in the world from Legends. And I walk up to him,

Spencer:

and I go, "Who are you?" And the man turns to you and just goes

Spencer:

[muffled screaming] like, he's like, talking in this muffled

Spencer:

voice. His name is Baku, Baku, the voiceless merchant. I just

Spencer:

want someone to tell me if Baku is okay. Because literally he is

Spencer:

this horrifying, many expression mask with all of these different

Spencer:

horrifying faces. And every time you talk to him, he just speaks

Spencer:

back in this muffled, strangled voice of a person who has no

Spencer:

mouth so Somehow Jin knows what he's saying, and he's like,

Spencer:

"Okay, thanks. Uh huh, Goodbye. See you later." I'm just like,

Spencer:

hold up like,

Jamie:

Wait....the fuck?

Spencer:

I just like, I just I kind of feel like my - like when

Spencer:

your Jin in the original game there's a scene where you fight

Spencer:

a demon in order to access a new skill and I was, I was safely

Spencer:

under the assumption that, oh this must have been a battle

Spencer:

that happened in the mind. Like demons aren't real.

Jamie:

Yeah

Spencer:

but now

Spencer:

Or like some sort of drug, you know? Like maybe Jin got dosed

Spencer:

or something.

Spencer:

But yeah Baku can give you cool new armor and new masks that are

Spencer:

a new part of New Game Plus, so it's exciting. It's great to

Spencer:

have. Like I'm jumping right into like raiding Mongol camps

Spencer:

and it's actually been like really cool jumping into New

Spencer:

Game Plus, but um Baku is nightmare fuel and

Jamie:

that sounds horrifying

Spencer:

There's some weird shit going on.

Jamie:

I don't really like that at all but if he has cool shit

Jamie:

then I think it's worth our time.

Spencer:

Exactly.

Jamie:

Are you gonna stick with it, you think? Do you think

Jamie:

you're gonna play through Ghost of Tsushima again?

Spencer:

I might I am very distracted because I did just

Spencer:

impulse buy a Wii and so I have like Hades and Breath of the

Spencer:

Wild.

Jamie:

You mean a Switch?

Spencer:

Oh

Jamie:

For a second I was like "oh my gosh, Spencer another new

Jamie:

console?"

Spencer:

I know. It's 2008, I guess. Yes, I bought a Switch.

Spencer:

And it's been calling my name but I gotta say like, it's a

Spencer:

good game. Love me some Tsushima. And I'm so excited.

Spencer:

Like, I feel like this is a perfect segue for our guest this

Spencer:

week, who is Earl T. Kim who plays Norio in Ghost of

Spencer:

Tsushima.

Jamie:

He sure does. Really well. And honestly, you know,

Jamie:

part of the reason Spencer and I wanted to talk to Earl is just

Jamie:

because Norio was one of our favorite side characters in

Jamie:

Ghost of Tsushima. We really loved him as a character. And I

Jamie:

think, in talking to Earl it really just cemented that he put

Jamie:

a lot of himself into the character too. But yeah, we have

Jamie:

a really great conversation with Earl about authenticity in

Jamie:

acting, kind of the way games acting is changing nowadays.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And also this idea of like, the unsung hero and why

Jamie:

people are so drawn to that as like this romantic concept.

Jamie:

Really, really a wide breath to the conversation. And really

Jamie:

deep and emotional. Earl really went there with us.

Spencer:

Yeah. And when you're talking about authenticity, like

Spencer:

something that really stood out to me was, you know, when you're

Spencer:

playing Ghost of Tsushima and you're really observing this,

Spencer:

this tenderness, this chemistry between Jin and Norio. I think

Spencer:

that that speaks to the real life friendship between Daisuke

Spencer:

and Earl. They, they've also started streaming. They have

Spencer:

their own twitch channel now, D and E Saga. And, like, I just,

Spencer:

there's a lot of connections between the character that Earl

Spencer:

plays and who Earl is in real life. And I think that it makes

Spencer:

for this unforgettable fully fleshed out character that we've

Spencer:

all come to love in Ghost of Tsushima. And so yeah, we're

Spencer:

really excited to just share this conversation with you guys.

Spencer:

With all of you.

Jamie:

100%. So without further ado, here's our interview with

Jamie:

Earl T. Kim. [music break]

Spencer:

Earl T. Kim, thank you so much for joining us in the

Spencer:

Pixel Therapy studio. We're excited to be having you here

Spencer:

today. For folks who, for some reason, don't know who you are,

Spencer:

Could you maybe take a minute to introduce yourself?

Earl:

Sure. My name is Earl T. Kim. I am an actor, voice actor,

Earl:

performance capture performer, model, director, theatre person,

Earl:

film person, creator of stories and Teller of Tales, I guess is

Earl:

the way to put it. [laughs]

Spencer:

Little bit of everything. Yeah, and you've had

Spencer:

a really fun acting career. You've popped up in everything

Spencer:

from Avengers, to Shameless to Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

Earl:

Yeah.

Spencer:

Was the goal always to get into voice acting? Or was

Spencer:

that a goal of yours? or How did you sort of end up in - so you

Spencer:

know, for for folks who, who don't know, Earl plays Norio in

Spencer:

Ghost of Tsushima. Sucker Punch's latest release, and, and

Spencer:

yeah, and it seems like it's your first game, right?

Earl:

It is. It is my debut video game performance, I guess.

Spencer:

Yeah. So was that always a dream of yours? or How

Spencer:

did this kind of come together?

Earl:

Well, I mean, yes. I think video game work because - video

Earl:

game work has always been sort of this weird, like, fantasy of

Earl:

fantasies that my nerdiest core self has always dreamed of

Earl:

doing. But the, I guess, serious actor, part of Earl was, you

Earl:

know, sort of encouraged to be pursuing TV and film and

Earl:

theatre. And it was sort of - it had been on that list, but that

Earl:

list that I keep, like, in the back of the notebook that I

Earl:

don't show anyone. That's like, "mmm, yes, these are these are

Earl:

high up on my list of priorities, but they're secrets

Earl:

for me." But, uh, it Yeah, really, it's, it's, the whole

Earl:

process of I think how it, Ghost happening to me, is kind of

Earl:

magical and bizarre and wonderful, mainly because I,

Earl:

prior to Ghost really hadn't had that much experience doing

Earl:

voiceover or motion capture or anything. Most of my wheelhouse

Earl:

is, is in theater, live theatre. And so yeah, when I was in LA,

Earl:

I've been living in LA since 2015. And, yeah, I got the

Earl:

audition from my agent, just sort of, and the really

Earl:

interesting thing was that they were looking for actors. And I

Earl:

think that's a trend that's happening more and more now,

Earl:

with the technology that's been developing that, you know, and

Earl:

of course, you have the incredible swaths of voice

Earl:

actors who are primarily voice actors who are excellent at

Earl:

their craft. But I think that the industry is definitely

Earl:

shifting and changing in ways where I think the desire for

Earl:

authenticity, I think, is the thing that's constantly being

Earl:

refined in just, our society. But I think that that has really

Earl:

pushed for a lot of companies looking for, for real people to

Earl:

play these real people in these games that they're trying to

Earl:

make. So yeah, I think I was just - I was very very lucky in

Earl:

that you know, I kind of had put video game work out of like, in

Earl:

like a maybe, maybe when I'm a bit more something. Like maybe

Earl:

when I'm a bit more established or you know, or there'll be a

Earl:

thing that I can kind of get into or maybe I can try and get

Earl:

in through sort of like being like voice course, but life and

Earl:

fate sort of brought ghosts to me which Yeah, I think it's a

Earl:

really interesting story. I've talked about it on my, on my

Earl:

stream and sort of with a couple of people like on social media,

Earl:

but I actually originally auditioned for Khan.

Spencer:

Oh, Earl!

Earl:

Yeah. There's so I was originally brought in by the

Earl:

amazing amazing Ivy Eisenberg who is the casting director for

Earl:

ghost who is the casting director for name it. If it's a

Earl:

video game, she's probably had her finger in it. All the Call

Earl:

of Duty's like, Robot Chicken like this woman, she the things

Earl:

that she that she casts are incredible and her mind. Yeah,

Earl:

exactly. And I was just really lucky, I think, and IV really

Earl:

took a shine to me as far as I guess what I brought to katoon

Earl:

or tried to and, but ultimately, she, she sat me down. And

Earl:

essentially, it was like, sweetie, honey, Baby, you're

Earl:

doing great. I love everything you've given me. But I like you

Earl:

a little too much. And I have to not like con at all. And it was

Earl:

like, it was the most wonderful and like heartbreaking but like,

Earl:

Oh my god, I'm so actually having this conversation with me

Earl:

because, you know, like it because really, when I first got

Earl:

the that that initial audition for con, I was like, oh, okay,

Earl:

like I side note, Earl has played games con before, but not

Earl:

at a Renaissance Fair early on in his career. Let's we're not

Earl:

gonna like try and parse out the logic of why gangs con was at a

Earl:

Renaissance Fair.

Earl:

Supposedly, in some part of him anyways.

Spencer:

He's trained his entire life.

Earl:

Okay. Um, but yeah, but but it was sort of that thing

Earl:

where I was like, this is this role is mine. It's mine to lose.

Spencer:

Oh, no, it's interesting to hear you say that

Spencer:

because I think something that Jamie and I have talked about

Spencer:

playing the game is there is out Norio, something about the

Spencer:

earnestness, something in his voice that just compels you

Spencer:

draws you to him. And so it's funny to hear you say that

Spencer:

you're acting for coaching con was like, listeners liked you

Spencer:

too much, because I think that that, that, that love that

Spencer:

joyfulness, that that earnestness within Norio, it's

Spencer:

impossible to ignore. And I think lots of people see that.

Earl:

Yeah.

Spencer:

I did want to kind of go back to something you said

Spencer:

earlier on, which is just about how no more actors are being

Spencer:

sought out to be in games. And I think that, versus people who

Spencer:

come from a more traditional, like, voice acting background,

Spencer:

and I think that there is something really interesting in

Spencer:

terms of how gaming has, even in like, the past 10 years, I

Spencer:

think, if you had said, Oh, I'm really into video games, like

Spencer:

five years ago that I think even still, today, there's some

Spencer:

stigma around it as a hobby. That's not really serious. Um,

Spencer:

but more and more, I feel like game the wall between, like

Spencer:

fiction and reality. Like I feel like with games coming out

Spencer:

today, like thinking of like The Last of Us part two, for

Spencer:

example, like you're really placed into the mind body of

Spencer:

these very real people. And there's, there's a weight there,

Spencer:

that I think, is sort of bringing games so much closer to

Spencer:

what we experienced from theater from film. Yeah. Um, and I was

Spencer:

wondering when you said earlier about how you would sort of keep

Spencer:

your desire to get into gaming in the background? Like you

Spencer:

wouldn't you wouldn't share that with folks. It felt unreachable,

Spencer:

or something that you would get to later like, Can you say more

Spencer:

about about why you felt that way? Like, like, why I think

Spencer:

like something you couldn't Yeah,

Earl:

I think you hit a bunch of things on the nose is sort of

Earl:

like the the stigma around gaming or gamers or you know,

Earl:

because like I've been on lifetime, I've been a lifelong

Earl:

gamer, my parent, my brother, I think I remember playing the we

Earl:

had one of those, like, it was like a fake computer, but it was

Earl:

just like a typewriter. And then there were these cartridges that

Earl:

you can sort of put in and, and they were the most rudimentary,

Earl:

like, race around the square. Like and like Space Invaders,

Earl:

you know, like, like, it was like a total knockoff of a

Earl:

knockoff of like a Apple to E meats and Atari, you know, like,

Earl:

and I, you know, this is like, early 90s. Like, from that

Earl:

moment on, I think it was like, Okay, I'm a gamer. I love this,

Earl:

you know, and then let's take a Master System and Genesis Did

Earl:

not you know, I wasn't Sega, I was a Sega to PlayStation kid. I

Earl:

was not a Nintendo boy. My partner's a Nintendo boy, which

Earl:

is sort of this really funny.

Earl:

We sit at opposite end. Yeah.

Earl:

But I think I think Yeah, there was sort of there was when I

Earl:

first got sort of an actor.

Earl:

You know, there's sort of this.

Earl:

I don't know, there's this sort of like, Oh, I hope I don't show

Earl:

my cards too early, and then get pigeonholed into doing certain

Earl:

things. Or, you know, and I think there was a bit of a worry

Earl:

about that. If I sort of, you know, like, told me when I got

Earl:

here, and I was like, y'all, I want to like cosplay. And do all

Earl:

these, you know, like, yeah, I'll be the weakest week.

Earl:

But I, you know, I think that was sort of,

Earl:

yeah, the stigma that had sort of existed.

Earl:

I guess, growing up, you know, because really, now, like you

Earl:

were saying spans like this, there is New Horizons being

Earl:

brought to, to our brains and souls and hearts through these

Earl:

games. Because of this. I mean, just the interactivity around

Earl:

around this story, like, the way that I love talking about games

Earl:

is sort of similar to how I like talking about theater. But like,

Earl:

I you saw, I also work a lot in site specific.

Earl:

And sort of

Earl:

immersive theater in that context, where audiences often

Earl:

will have to make choices or do things or be sort of make make

Earl:

themselves a part of the story that they're actually seeing.

Earl:

And I think that that sort of links up with with video games

Earl:

in such a seamless way. But I think that really these new

Earl:

stories that have been coming out like these new harat like

Earl:

just what's possible in in a video game and how and what we

Earl:

can do with it, I think is especially yet like last 10

Earl:

years last five years, like it's just shot through exponentially.

Earl:

And it's really wonderful because I feel like now that the

Earl:

technology has sort of caught up slash is now pushing the

Earl:

boundary for what's really, really possible when we look at

Earl:

the implementation of technology into storytime, like, a sort of

Earl:

the pinnacle and highest point in my brain being like

Earl:

Mandalorian, that the idea of this sort of fully re imaginable

Earl:

and visually seeable, sort of digital landscape that's

Earl:

constantly being able to be changed by by by production. You

Earl:

know, that's sort of the like, oh, how become, you know, and I

Earl:

think that, that, yeah, at first, I was a little like, we

Earl:

don't, we don't show up. I don't show everyone, I'm a big nerd.

Earl:

And then I think the more and more that I've sort of

Earl:

personally been learning about my life and my career and

Earl:

everything, it's that

Earl:

I'm that person, I'm kind of okay. I'm

Spencer:

fine.

Earl:

And so I think, yeah, I've even you know, and I think I

Earl:

just feel so lucky about this opportunity in, in ghost in

Earl:

particular, because I think it is, for all of the like,

Earl:

numbers, reasons of like, oh, the best selling Sony IP, you

Earl:

know, like, all, you know, we've all these awards, and all these

Earl:

accolades, and those are great. But like, for me, the things

Earl:

that are truly remarkable are, you know, the cast, the level of

Earl:

care that was put in by Sucker Punch by Sony, by, I think

Earl:

pretty much every single person that worked on the game, as far

Earl:

as knowing the tone and texture of the story and wanting to

Earl:

really honor it, as opposed to trying to trying to shape the

Earl:

story for the needs of the game, or the company or whatever, I

Earl:

think that that there was a real sort of respect, or at least in

Earl:

my position, I think that there, you know, there was so much care

Earl:

put into all of the choices that were made that I think, you

Earl:

know, it's such an amazing feat to look and, and for me to look

Earl:

at the cast and see that the people that they are in real

Earl:

life are the people that are appearing on these screens in a

Earl:

light and

Spencer:

the bats appearing on

Earl:

the butts of hearing on the screen, but even in like a

Earl:

way that like, like, gin has dices mole. And that is the

Earl:

thing that could have been so easily like, just like not even

Earl:

thought about just that. Alright, just, you know, clean

Earl:

that up there. Okay, thank you. No, but it's, it's there.

Earl:

There's nothing

Spencer:

that makes them human.

Earl:

Yeah. And I think that that's again, like going, going

Earl:

back to the authenticity thing. Like, I think that there's a

Earl:

there's just sort of this, I don't know, I feel you know,

Earl:

moles and all it sort of is able to give this, this this fuller

Earl:

idea of of these people and these, you know, these legends,

Earl:

these stories, these tales that that I think, especially with

Earl:

ghost, you know, we're sort of supposed to go on that journey

Earl:

of man becoming magic. Become a ghost, you know, and I think

Earl:

that that I'm constantly still ties back to, but they're

Earl:

people. Yeah, but they're people. But despite all of this

Earl:

crazy stuff, we're still just people. And yeah, I really love

Earl:

that about about the game. Um, yeah, I don't

Spencer:

know. I'm sorry. I don't know. No, no, yeah, no, I

Spencer:

mean, yeah, like, let's let's definitely talk about about

Spencer:

ghosts. I think that, you know, something that I've found really

Spencer:

relatable as a as a trans person, specifically as a trans

Spencer:

masculine person is that I see Jen's journey as being one of,

Spencer:

you know, redefining what it means to be a man what it means

Spencer:

to be a warrior for himself and pushing back on people like his

Spencer:

uncle who represent, you know, what was a sort of becoming

Spencer:

outdated way of thinking, a way of thinking that's just as much

Spencer:

keeping you a prisoner, as it is giving you a place in society.

Spencer:

Like, I think that his journey of, you know, having to redefine

Spencer:

and make peace with his relationship with his father to

Spencer:

you know, figure out what honor means to him and and the that

Spencer:

decision that I won't get into specifics on at the very last

Spencer:

moment of the game. How'd that? Just I? Yeah, I cried. I was I

Spencer:

was so emotional after playing that game. And I think it was

Spencer:

because, you know, I'm not a Japanese Samurai Shima. But I am

Spencer:

someone who has been told that I am nothing that I that I deserve

Spencer:

to die because I made the decision to break from tradition

Spencer:

to break from what I was allowed to be, or what I thought I was

Spencer:

allowed to be. And that's something that lots of people

Spencer:

can relate to. I'd love to know, for you, like, I think to the

Spencer:

relationship between Norio and gin as a sort of parallel to the

Spencer:

relationship between like when you compare relationship with

Spencer:

reuse. Oh, I think that be there's a tenderness between

Spencer:

between Jenna Norio, and there's space for emotion, I think, in a

Spencer:

way that you don't often see in relationships between two like

Spencer:

mad men. Yeah.

Earl:

Yeah, and especially in, in the sort of context of, like,

Earl:

traditional Japan. Um, I think there's a lot of stuff in that,

Earl:

that I, you know, I'm one, it's easy to, I think the

Earl:

relationship was easy, is it's fostered easily, just because

Earl:

dice is a lovely human being, and he's, you know, quickly

Earl:

becoming one of my closest friends. Like, um, and, like, I

Earl:

think that that there is a thing about Okay, so this is like,

Earl:

random way back, like bizarre thoughts coming up, all of a

Earl:

sudden, but when I was in university, I had an acting

Earl:

professor, who basically gave me shit all the time, because he

Earl:

thought I was fucking terrible. And it was, and he constantly

Earl:

would bring up this thing about if you're on stage, you should

Earl:

only be thinking about sex or death. And that whole concept to

Earl:

me like goes against every fiber of my fundamental being that it

Earl:

just I it fills me with rage thinking about it now but like,

Earl:

yeah, like, I feel like I had gotten so like, weirdly bullied

Earl:

by this concept of counteracting all like, hmm, you know, and,

Earl:

and it wasn't until, like, going through and and then, you know,

Earl:

reading an interview with with the esteemed Hayao Miyazaki. He

Earl:

makes a statement about the reason why I don't have romantic

Earl:

relationships between my female protagonists, and my male

Earl:

protagonists is because oftentimes, they don't, they

Earl:

aren't necessary and we don't need and I think that there's

Earl:

something in that like, that I really vibe with in a way of

Earl:

like, yeah, just in a way that I guess I don't think that I

Earl:

really fundamentally do not believe that literally, all of

Earl:

our actions are motivated by sex, or a fear. You know, like,

Earl:

I think it's vastly reductionist and all this stuff. Anyway,

Earl:

bring this back. I think Norio really, for me, when, when I got

Earl:

the sides when when I got called up when I was like, Hey, we have

Earl:

this other character that you're probably way better for. Um, but

Earl:

one of those things that I was today that I sort of noticed is

Earl:

that that, that, yes, there's a fear of death. And yes, there is

Earl:

that but like, the, the relate the relationship between gin and

Earl:

Norio is is this sort of wonderfully, platonic, brotherly

Earl:

relationship that I, the thing that I really loved about it is

Earl:

that it very rarely, I think, do we see that, that close

Earl:

tenderness between two males as well as this, this idea that

Earl:

our, our beliefs and our ideas, and are the things that make us

Earl:

who we are fundamentally as these characters actually

Earl:

influence each other? Like, the time that we spend together in

Earl:

the game? Actually, like, you think about sort of the

Earl:

progression of my tales, in conjunction with the progression

Earl:

of Jim's primary story. There's, there's sort of this constant

Earl:

balancing that happens where each person sort of leaves an

Earl:

imprint on the other and then sort of you go away, and then

Earl:

you come back, and then you're like, What's happened? What have

Earl:

you been doing Norio? Like, and then the gym goes away is like,

Earl:

Oh, this thing just happened. Like and everyone sort of has

Earl:

this like push and pull effect on each other where Yeah, you

Earl:

know, it's very similar to real life like, we see how These

Earl:

characters fundamental beliefs around life and death and belief

Earl:

and freedom and and family are constantly being butted up

Earl:

against and we see to people who are who are struggling against

Earl:

those strictures, but in different contexts, like in, in

Earl:

a very, very different ways. Yeah. And so I think that that

Earl:

becomes a really great I don't know, just a back and forth just

Earl:

a quick, you know, just it creates this this kinetic

Earl:

friendship that's dynamic as opposed to one that's I don't

Earl:

know, I feel like not that the other relationships are

Earl:

different, but like free to take Rousseau in sort of vast

Earl:

contrast there in that context, neither of them are able to, to

Earl:

really get past the people that they were to each other. Yes.

Earl:

And sort of that creates more hurt. And that creates more

Earl:

division. And that creates a sort of lack of understanding in

Earl:

where we get that ultimate.

Earl:

Those moments,

Earl:

those conflicts, if you will, and I think that that it sort of

Earl:

does, I don't know, I feel like Norio provides this.

Earl:

This tender foil.

Spencer:

Yeah. Something that Jamie and I were talking about

Spencer:

about Norio that we also loved is that, you know, he is, he's a

Spencer:

big person, and he is a gentle person. And it's never, you

Spencer:

never really get stories that have people that have bodies

Spencer:

that don't fall within the typical, like white, your

Spencer:

Eurocentric idea of what is strong, what is beautiful, and

Spencer:

it's really awesome to see a character who is a strong

Spencer:

warrior who is a gentle, a gentleman who is a friend, and

Spencer:

he's not the butt of a joke, like, he is just as much of a

Spencer:

badass as Jen. Um, and I just think that you know, as a, as an

Spencer:

Asian person, too, like, I have never seen Asian men as rarely

Spencer:

you rarely see Asian men allowed to, you know, step outside of

Spencer:

stereotypes of like being submissive, or I know, I'm not

Spencer:

having or being late. Really? Yeah, because

Earl:

I have a

Spencer:

right.

Spencer:

There's a video that's like that online of you having a really

Spencer:

emotional moment and crying the first time that you see yourself

Spencer:

in the game. What were you kind of, like, what was that? Like?

Spencer:

Like, like, I can't even imagine turning on ps4 and like, turning

Spencer:

my character around, and it's like, fucking me, like, what

Spencer:

were you can you just kind of, like, bring us back to that

Spencer:

moment? And like, talk about what you were going through?

Earl:

I mean, really, I think the core of it goes back to

Earl:

that, like, you know, seeing myself, I think it was just a

Earl:

purely surreal experience. Really. And it's really funny,

Earl:

because, like, I had seen, like renderings, like we, we, you

Earl:

know, I'd even seen a bunch of the scenes like that had been

Earl:

sort of previous and like, using sort of our basic, sort of not

Earl:

fully completely animate, so it wasn't like, I never see it, you

Earl:

know, but like, I think there was something in I think the

Earl:

most overwhelming thing for me, when playing the game, and when

Earl:

I run into Norio is it's just sort of how how real he seems

Earl:

like just I mean, and this is sort of across the board about

Earl:

anyone but like, I, I constantly have these moments. There is

Earl:

there moments like in certain cutscenes where I see the

Earl:

rendering that's happened on that that's happened on my face,

Earl:

and I'm able to like I can see like my like weird, dissociated

Earl:

memories of like looking at a mirror or like knowing exactly

Earl:

what that face that's being made feels like on my face, which

Earl:

then just sort of is just the most like well

Unknown:

yeah

Earl:

and I think that Yeah, for I think in that first moment

Earl:

there was there is sort of all of the mic I hear you know that

Earl:

it's it's a tiny moment of reprieve from all the bullshit.

Earl:

That's an underworld like really, for me in that moment.

Earl:

It's sort of this like, like, Oh, my God, this thing that that

Earl:

I felt that was so impossible or That I felt like would never

Earl:

happen or would never be a thing or not be reality like, holy

Earl:

shit. It's, it's, it's become a thing. Also, like, I feel like

Earl:

there's a certain possibility and not that it's like with a

Earl:

game this sort of scale but like, there's always like, Oh,

Earl:

it's gonna be delayed or like, oh, and it was delayed but like,

Earl:

Oh, it's like oh, and then difficulty came up and then the

Earl:

game just got canceled here though, like, like, I feel like

Earl:

it's always that like it's not real until I'm actually playing.

Spencer:

Yeah,

Earl:

that was really like and I had been playing it like I've

Earl:

been, you know, cuz you have to get through all of that one to

Earl:

get but you know and I think and knowing like, oh you know I'm in

Earl:

there and like oh I've uncredited but then like oh what

Earl:

to say like everything I want to say like, you know, like cuz at

Earl:

the end there's pretty much no nothing I can do about it but I

Earl:

think that was sort of it all just sort of jelled in that

Earl:

moment of seeing or and like obviously like my my initial

Earl:

reactions because I'm just the way I learn self deprecating

Earl:

like is I look at that asshole

Spencer:

oh my god no, that's beautiful. I yeah, like it was

Spencer:

an awesome moment. I think ghosts Shama it, it surprised me

Spencer:

the narrative and emotional depth. I think those first that

Spencer:

first those first two acts, I mean, the, the setup, the

Spencer:

payoff, the the Jin's journey. It's, it's a lot and I think

Spencer:

ghosts has lessons about healing from trauma. It has lessons

Spencer:

about being open to change. It has lessons about accepting that

Spencer:

impermanence is a thing, and there are some things you can't

Spencer:

change. What are some things that like, you're still taking

Spencer:

with you after?

Earl:

Okay, so here's an interesting thing. Um,

Earl:

Norio is a Buddhist monk. And I think it's, I just found, like

Earl:

the, the whole process being really interesting because I

Earl:

went to a Buddhist University, actually, strangely enough.

Earl:

Yeah, I went to this crazy, weird hippie Buddhist University

Earl:

in Boulder, Colorado, called Naropa. Yeah, that's so cool.

Earl:

I'm in Europa graduate, which is very strange. Also, because my

Earl:

program no longer exists at Naropa, the performance program

Earl:

has was essentially shelled. Also, because the university

Earl:

experienced a lot of financial hardships because, like 26,

Earl:

there was a woman, someone was money laundering money out of

Earl:

out of the university to personal accounts, and it ended

Earl:

up being like, upwards of like, a million dollars. But like,

Earl:

essentially, money that should have been going to the

Earl:

university and resources and things basically went all this

Earl:

lady's pocket and her partner's pocket, and it was garbage. And,

Earl:

like, the FBI got stepped in and all this stuff, but like it, it

Earl:

did a lot of damage. And it's really unfortunate. And one of

Earl:

the really unfortunate things happening was that my degree

Earl:

program is now been canceled. And then now, I recently found

Earl:

out that the entire sort of Performing Arts structure at the

Earl:

university is kind of going away, which is really, really,

Earl:

really, it just kills me. Um, yeah, anyways, like my, my

Earl:

connection to Norio. I guess just sort of practice based.

Earl:

And, and sort of that, like, weird to heart connection based

Earl:

of like, Oh, right, this person is, like, a fictional person,

Earl:

but Whoa, dang, there happened to be your life. Yeah. Um, and I

Earl:

think that there's a there's a level in, one of the things that

Earl:

I really appreciated about Oreo in particular, was the openness

Earl:

that the writing team sort of had an around sort of, because,

Earl:

you know, an Oreo who Norio was from when I was cast to who

Earl:

Norio became a I think there's also been quite a journey in

Earl:

that transformation. And I think that Yeah, just the the ways

Earl:

that that everyone knows sort of able to bounce around and

Earl:

feedback and, and really, again, at that, at that point of seek,

Earl:

like, in seeking to serve the story. It doesn't become

Earl:

personal, you know, and trying to find these characters. It

Earl:

doesn't become personal when it's like, Hey, I don't really

Earl:

know show this is working. You know, like it's just a Hey, I'm

Earl:

not Not really sure if this is going to be the best way to tell

Earl:

the story, and then everyone being like, Oh, yeah, you know,

Earl:

like, I think there's just this like, a different mindset. And I

Earl:

think that my background in ensemble theater sort of and and

Earl:

device work is sort of been a large part of my wheelhouse and

Earl:

sort of, I think that that experience, I think, has

Earl:

definitely been really, really helpful in, in sort of the beast

Earl:

that that Sushma Rahim. Yeah, like

Spencer:

you are Norio, what you've brought to that

Spencer:

character, he would not exist, if you had not done that. So

Spencer:

that that's really beautiful. I think it does speak to, you

Spencer:

know, what you were saying earlier about, you know,

Spencer:

theater, and gaming sort of coming closer together. Because

Spencer:

theater is very experiential, you can't, you can't experience

Spencer:

it the very same way, just because humans are not going to

Spencer:

be able to act exactly the same with every performance, like

Spencer:

every performance is unique. And it's really cool to have that,

Spencer:

you know, calcif, like forever preserved in this game, like

Spencer:

that was a unique character that you brought, that's really

Spencer:

awesome.

Earl:

You know, so just like it's a win for chubby Asian kid.

Spencer:

Exactly. Yes,

Earl:

you too, can be you too can be powerful.

Spencer:

You too, can be gay, queer, you know, fat, happy,

Spencer:

Asian, powerful. Yes, all of this. Thank you.

Spencer:

In this show, we invite folks to come in and talk to us about a

Spencer:

game that had some sort of meaningful impact on their life

Spencer:

so that not everyone we interview identifies as a gamer,

Spencer:

but out every, every one of us shares a love of games. And so

Spencer:

you told us that Final Fantasy Tactics was the game that you'd

Spencer:

like to discuss with us today? If somehow you had to describe

Spencer:

this game to somebody who had never heard of it before? What

Spencer:

is it like a couple sentences? How would you encapsulate this

Spencer:

this game?

Earl:

God,

Earl:

it is a

Earl:

strategic role playing game

Earl:

that places you

Earl:

in a world

Earl:

that is experiencing political turmoil.

Earl:

And your character

Earl:

has to do some intense soul searching to figure out who he

Earl:

is, and why he's there.

Earl:

is incorporated

Earl:

and incorporates many of the familiar aspects of your typical

Earl:

final fantasy RPG. And then in many ways, in many ways subverts

Earl:

them. Hmm. Beautiful.

Spencer:

Yeah, in so when we were reading about this game, we

Spencer:

couldn't help but notice that there was a slight similarity to

Spencer:

the narrative in ghost of Tsushima. You know, this is a

Spencer:

story that ultimately centers on our hero, who has been lost a

Spencer:

time who has not had his story, you know, preserved in history,

Spencer:

because power is outside of his control decided that his story

Spencer:

should not be told. And you know, there is something that is

Spencer:

really resonant about these stories of these these sort of

Spencer:

tragic heroes, their selflessness, like why do you

Spencer:

think these types of stories resonate so strongly with

Spencer:

players like what makes them so timeless? Because this is this

Spencer:

games come out, what, like 25 years ago, but these stories

Spencer:

still resonate so deeply?

Earl:

I mean, I think that there's always this this idea of

Earl:

unsung heroes. I think there's I think we always I think everyone

Earl:

has experienced a moment of like, wait, but I did that you'd

Earl:

like some moment of like, of credit, not of being

Earl:

disproportionately placed in the wrong in the wrong in the wrong

Earl:

place, or even seeing or witnessing moments of, oh, that

Earl:

person is using their XYZ to get a thing that they might not be

Earl:

the thing that they deserve? Or, you know, I think that it's a

Earl:

very sort of human understanding of like, Oh, yeah, there are

Earl:

people that don't get talked about and there there are people

Earl:

who do the do the deeds, and then get forgotten and I think

Earl:

that there's something really beautiful and romantic and, and,

Earl:

and sort of sad and tragic about that, that I think we are always

Earl:

attracted to at least I'm always attracted to.

Spencer:

Yeah. And so tell us more about like, what is it

Spencer:

specifically about Final Fantasy Tactics that speaks to you so

Spencer:

much.

Earl:

I think that in a nutshell, Final Fantasy Tactics

Earl:

is A story of, of ally ship i think it's it's a story of a

Earl:

young man

Earl:

who

Earl:

through his own circumstance is

Earl:

forced to reckon with privilege and power and stock class and,

Earl:

and sort of the awful things that humans do to each other and

Earl:

chooses to change themselves and chooses to. Sorry. You've had it

Earl:

Ah, ah yeah, I can just make that choice to, to,

Earl:

I guess stop being passive.

Earl:

I think in and, and in, in terms of the greater thing that's

Earl:

happening around them. They choose to I guess look further

Earl:

and do their again do their own research and do all the things

Earl:

that but but it's really I think ramza is a such an incredible

Earl:

character that I think he gets very little credit. He is my

Earl:

favorite Final Fantasy protagonist of all time. He's

Earl:

also like, in one tiny arc of an act like Romsey goes through

Earl:

more change than any other Final Fantasy protagonist ever does,

Earl:

like shows a level of self awareness and, and, and

Earl:

reckoning in a way that I think this game really for me as a kid

Earl:

growing up was like, Oh, that's, that's a real fucking hero. I on

Earl:

another completely, like, super nerdy level of this game. When I

Earl:

was a young child, I was in Korea when this game came out.

Earl:

And I was at a

Earl:

bookstore that had a bunch of video game magazines. And I

Earl:

remember buying it was an imported Japanese game. I think

Earl:

it might have been a family too. But it basically included a

Earl:

like, hundred plus guidebook to this game. Yeah, yeah, I had

Earl:

never played in this game I had never heard of I just been Final

Earl:

Fantasy seven was like, you know, like, well over 11 at the

Earl:

time, like I was a wee lad. But so I was looking at this

Earl:

magazine. And it had this little insert of this like, chapter

Earl:

book on the and it had all the art and all all of the stuff in

Earl:

this game. I was like, What is this? What why did why do you

Earl:

see? And I basically bought magazine. Ah, at that time, I

Earl:

knew no Japanese, like absolutely zero Japanese like

Earl:

my, my parents, my mom's both my grandparents, you know, like,

Earl:

but I myself had no comments without so like, I took this

Earl:

little like this, this tiny book that had like, you know,

Earl:

pictures of the dungeons and like layouts and like enemy

Earl:

lists and like stats and stuff. And like I I wish I had it so my

Earl:

parents house but like, I took little like a tiny sharp like a

Earl:

tiny little marker and like translated little things on the

Earl:

side. Like, had my mom's dictionary my dad like, I was

Earl:

literally sat there and it's the first time that I have like,

Earl:

obsessed over a game in a way that was like, I must know

Earl:

everything. Yeah. Like this world, these people these

Earl:

abilities this art like I I just got so obsessed with it in a way

Earl:

that and I honestly don't think it would have happened if I

Earl:

didn't have that little like, because it's like a little chat

Earl:

book. Like it looks like this little like, little like insert

Earl:

and I Oh, I I wore the shit out of that.

Spencer:

Yeah, it's funny you say that. Like I remember being

Spencer:

a kid and like, I'm playing through. Like, I feel like today

Spencer:

when I play games, I don't have the guide next to me, but

Spencer:

something about Lana's young, like I would say like six to

Spencer:

1314 something about having a guide it almost was like a spell

Spencer:

book or mythology. Like it had power. It was it drew me and

Spencer:

when I I felt like it was another piece of like immersing

Spencer:

myself in that world. There's something so so magical. Yeah.

Earl:

Um, definitely, there's also Yeah, I just just, like,

Earl:

the sheer like advancements that we've made in these, you know,

Earl:

like, again, these, this it was these like screenshots of these

Earl:

like, little pixel, you know, and like, like maps of like,

Earl:

super rudimentary with like, like red arrow, red arrow, red

Earl:

X, red arrow, red arrow, red arrow, x, you know, like,

Earl:

there's these really simple diagrams. And then like, now

Earl:

where where it's just like, Oh, you want to find out how to do

Earl:

the thing like on YouTube and like some doodles like walk you

Earl:

through it. But it was, it seemed like a treasure map or

Earl:

like a Yeah, like a book of spells like some sort of thing

Earl:

that was like, connect

Spencer:

me to this. There was a there was this quote in a Kotaku

Spencer:

article called why everyone loves Final Fantasy Tactics. And

Spencer:

the quote was, you know, this story has all the weight and

Spencer:

intrigue of a Shakespearean tragedy. And it's an ambitious

Spencer:

and epic story delivered using these doll like characters that

Spencer:

look like they could have come from a children's game. And it

Spencer:

just, I just from how you're speaking of it to it, it there

Spencer:

is something so I'm just really cool about that dichotomy of,

Spencer:

you know, almost this story is hidden behind the facade of what

Spencer:

you think on surface level, is just your typical tactical

Spencer:

strategy game. But when you get into it, there is so much more

Spencer:

under the surface.

Earl:

Yeah. I mean, also, like there's, there's a whole section

Earl:

of like, church intrigue, like the whole, like, it's, it's a

Earl:

lot of like, biblical and sort of church intrigue and like, for

Earl:

me, at that time, had good Christian boy and God, you know,

Earl:

being terrified of Korean Jesus growing up. Um, you know, it's,

Earl:

it's at the point where I like that, you know, I'm 12, and I am

Earl:

starting to figure things out about myself that are making me

Earl:

question a lot of the things that I've been fed in church.

Earl:

It's sort of like, you know, never brazenly in that way, and

Earl:

I like really experienced a piece of media that was like,

Earl:

hey, the church, the church is really corrupt. I know this,

Earl:

churches have a church of a completely different religion,

Earl:

like in a faraway land and place. But like, hey, if a

Earl:

church in this faraway land and place could be so terrible,

Earl:

corrupt, and awful. Hmm, I wonder what that says about

Earl:

church? Not like, you