UPDATE 03/11/18: For clarity, Richard is a former writer at Nintendo Life, this change occurred after the interview.
Richard can be found on Twitter and you’ll see his genuine passion for gaming plastered all over there. Aside from his work for Nintendo Life and newly apointed position as features writer for Switch Player Magazine, Richard is extremely active in social gaming events and is currently organising a gamer’s meetup in London – something our UK readers should definitely keep their eye on.
Look who’s comin’ with that Freshness!
Mike: Video games, in my view, can be used as a positive means of coping with anxiety and other mental health issues. Having used gaming for this very reason throughout my life, I always like to hear about other people’s stories or opinion on the subject. Are there any periods of your life where you have turned to gaming as a means of tackling problems with anxiety or other mental health issues? Or, if not, do you believe gaming has anything to offer in this respect?
Richard: “I believe gaming is a great way to relax, to escape and to sometimes cope with difficult times in your life. As you mentioned in your opening statement for this interview, I am very active on Twitter with organising meet-ups and the like, but when I first joined Twitter, I made it my mission to use to the platform to speak openly, in public, about the struggles I deal with in terms of anxiety and depression, and I’m not afraid to hide that.
Some will argue that it’s opening myself up to criticism and trolls, but I can safely say that 100% of interactions I receive when I post about my road to recovery are positive. I have like-minded people from all walks of life asking how I cope and it boils down to doing what I love doing and that’s playing games. I’ve dealt with mental health issues from a young age and I remember retreating to my town full of lively and bubbly folk in Animal Crossing and sailing the gorgeous open ocean in Zelda: Windwaker as a way of shutting out my challenging thoughts, but it’s only when I turned 20-ish that I realised that I needed extra help.
Still diving into titles that I adored, seeking professional help with my doctor also did the world of good, but my all-important down time was spent losing myself in Nintendo games and I never forget how my burning passion to enjoy the next big video game from the House Of Mario spurred me on to keep fighting, even in my darkest times.”
Video games journalists get a lot of stick for their opinions and I believe a lot of this stems from the passion gamers have for the medium. Unfortunately, a lot of this also seems to stem from the toxicity which is rife across the wider online community. Do you believe gaming journalists should take an active role in bringing topics like inclusion and positivity towards people in the industry to the forefront? If so, how should they go about it?
Richard: “Discussion, opinions and debates are healthy for the industry but it’s increasingly noticeable that harsh divides are often made when it comes to people talking about what they’re passionate about. Any respectful journalist won’t deliberately spark cross-platform tension for the purpose of clicks, but I know it does happen. The recent inclusion of cross-platform play, with games like Fortnite and Rocket League, however, does a great job of bringing opposite ‘sides’ together and if we keep seeing more of that then I firmly believe the toxicity of online communities will die down.
Video game journalists automatically put themselves out for getting stick from their audiences because they’re telling people about their experience with a game and that won’t stop. Writing a review should be all about 1) what a game has to offer a potential consumer but importantly 2) does it do what it’s set out to do and does it do it well. To answer your question, no – I don’t think it’s down to journalism to bring inclusivity and positivity to the gaming community, but rather the big game companies have this responsibility by offering open-play online across all platforms when it can be done.”
I noticed you mentioned your work experience during school years meant you were able to work on an issue of the Official Nintendo UK magazine. That had to have been exciting as a kid! Was this one of driving factors for pushing your journalism? What factors motivate you to write?
Richard: “Being able to sit at a desk at Future Publishing – where Nintendo Official Magazine was based – was one of the proudest ‘yeah, you’re living your dream!’ moments of my entire life. Being in the same room as the magazine editors and content creators that I had read the words of for years and to finally be part of was truly exhilarating. Initially, my application was rejected as they didn’t do work experience schemes but I persevered through many emails, sample pieces and phone calls until they let me join.
If you want something really bad, you’ll do anything to get it and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing today. From managing a busy DS forum (which reached the number 1 spot in the UK online for hits for 2 years) to writing for smaller websites with every spare minute of my time, the hard work has paid off and I’d urge anyone with a passion for gaming journalism to do the same. Sure, there’s a tall ladder to climb, but you can’t lose sight of your goal. Reading, reading and more reading is also paramount“
How much of a role does gaming play in your lifestyle beyond your work? Is gaming something you share with those closest in your life? Has gaming ever assisted in bringing about any close relationships?
Richard: “Thankfully I come from a gaming family and all of my friends, bar a few, are hard-core gamers. I also run a busy Discord channel that has members from across the globe that all play together with weekly events like Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart sessions always being a popular hit for the community. Recently, I organised a meet-up at EGX in Birmingham where some of the group got to meet for the first time and enjoy the convention together. It was truly incredible to witness; online friends flourishing into real life friendships and we have more meet-ups in the pipeline.”
In the UK, I’m always surprised when I hear gaming still referred to as something that’s still unusual to have as your main hobby (outside CoD, Fifa etc – apparently guns and football don’t count). I hear people talking about their partners giving up their games console as though it’s some sort of victory. Have you any experience of having to ‘sell’ gaming to sceptical people?
Richard: “While I agree with you to a certain extent, there’s no denying that gaming has become more mainstream. Gone are the days when gaming was refined to ‘geeks in basements’ and I think that’s a real victory for the gaming community, old and new. With the rise of eSports (we’ll be seeing it at the next Olympics for crying out loud!), gaming is becoming the norm. Step foot in any household and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll spot an Xbox or a Playstation nestled under a TV set up. The revenue generated by the sales of video game entertainment is worth noting when it’s stacked up against the revenue of film, and that’s nothing to be sniffed at.”
If you could strongly influence one facet of the gaming industry and/or community, what would it be? Is there anything you would love to see change?
Richard: “I’d like to see the continued crack down on loot boxes. It’s been all over the media and with the likes of EA coming under heavy fire from fans, critics and the public; we’re seeing unfair pay walls being broken down. A lot of the community is used to grinding to get that shiny new sword or that elusive character with buffed-up stats and I think it should stay that way.”
Last question… which is the seventh question, thus reducing the relevance of my opening paragraph… NO REGRETS! Octolings or Inklings?
Richard: “Inklings hands down. Octolings have had a rough ride but Inklings are the true good guys! Also, Pearl over Marina any day…”
Feel free to plug anything you’re currently working on.
Richard: “Instead of plugging my work or my community, I want to take this opportunity to those who have read down to the bottom and are finding themselves struggling to say “You’re not alone”. Sometimes life is overwhelming and although you may think that your problems and worries are insignificant, or that a friend or family member has bigger issues that makes yours seem silly… they’re not. Reach out for help. Talk to a friend who you trust as a problem shared is a problem halved. Be strong.”
Thank you very much for sparing some of your personal time to answer my questions and good luck with your upcoming event!
Reggie Reviews recommends readers follow @Ninten_Mau5 on Twitter where you’ll find passion and optimism for gaming as well as links to Richard and his colleague’s work. Well worth following.