Trading Card Spotlight - Mike Iarossi
Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Mike Iarossi who currently is displayed on card number 175, from the Superstars of 2011 Collection. Mike is the winner of the Powerfest 1994 Nintendo World Championships. Not only did Mike win the statue displayed on the card cover, but he also took home a Ford Mustang. Mike is a huge gaming competitor as he streams his gaming online on Twitch. Some of his go to games are Borderlands and Dark Souls series as well as Path of Exile and Tetris. One of his goals in life is to have fun and continue gaming as long as he can.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
PC gaming easily these days. I just prefer mouse and keyboard to a controller for most things. Obviously, some games are made for controllers and work better there but even then, I would rather play those on my PC. Part of that is ease of access. I would rather not have to switch to a console to play something. I like all my games to be in one place. I still, own a Switch and a PS4 for exclusives that I can't get on the PC but that’s all I really play on them anymore and it's far less often these days than it used to be.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
Haunted House on the Odyssey. Mid to late 70's. I was at my grandmother’s house and my uncle owned it. It had an overlay that went on the tv. I can remember sitting there saying how awesome it was.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
It depends on what aspect of current gen we are talking about and also depends on what you enjoy about video games. Microtransactions in current gaming is making a lot of money but it is starting to cause a larger backlash and companies are going to find themselves in a position where they have to look for other ways to further monetize games that aren't as predatory as they are right now. DLC's are fine it's the nickel and diming that companies are trying to do that prey on vulnerabilities and it's happening in too many places because it's working. In the coming years this will get regulated.
Aside from that I think there are some companies that knock it out of the park these days like From Software and CD Projekt Red. They make amazing games that would give any game ever a run for its money. Classic gaming is great and the games of old have a special place with me. Games like Phoenix, Track and Field, Dragon's Lair. That was a great time to go to the arcade and have fun. Then there are the classic console games such as Rampart and Indiana Jones on the Atari 2600 and Mario and Tetris on Nintendo. The PC was also pretty alive and well in the 80's for gaming with many classic CRPG's like Wizardry, Ultima and Might and Magic. Those games were great and still are to some of us but it's hard to put the genie back in the bottle and modern graphics can make it harder to go back to those games sometimes. They didn't all age well. It's nice to see pixel games making a comeback though and adding modern game mechanics into older graphic styles.
Gaming is about having fun and it's not about the new vs the old. If you have fun with it then play it.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
No. I used to collect Baseball cards when I was younger, but I never would have thought there would be anything like that for people who play video games.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
I did not. The overage I typically get is from my being the Nintendo World Champion back in 1994 or from being a finalist in the 1990 NWC.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
Columbus, Ohio in 2013. He presented me with my Trading Card award at a ceremony where he was screening Ritchie Knuckles movie The King of Arcades I believe.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Warm or Soothing. He has this way about him that makes everyone around him feel welcome and special.
Which company makes the best games and why?
From Software. They make the Dark Souls series and I'll tell you a story about this. 2009 Demon's Souls came out on the PS3. I heard about it from a friend. He had told me about how he was watching people play it on Justin.tv at the time and people were going nuts over how hard it was. So, I picked it up but I didn't start playing it right away. It says there for probably 2 months until it was around Christmas and another friend was over and I said hey I got this game that’s supposedly super hard, want to check it out? So I threw it in and he played the opening tutorial and as I watched it I am not sure what it was but I suddenly got really interested in playing it.
The next day I started playing and let me take you back to 2009 for a minute. The gaming industry was really trying to appeal to everyone at the time and there was a lot of either button mashing or hand holding going on in games. Things like the old God of War games which didn't really require skill but were fun anyway. Games were also not really letting you figure things out, and that’s true today still for some games, if you got into a room and had to do something then a character would blurt out "hey maybe we should look at that thing over there". To me part of the game is figuring things out. If there is a puzzle to be solved, I want to solve it. Once it's solved that puzzle is dead to me forever. Why would I want someone telling me how to solve it?
Back To Demon's Souls. I'm playing it and at the end of the tutorial you get your ass kicked. It's possible to win but that won't happen on your first try and even if you do win then you will still die immediately after. The way the game teaches you to play isn't like most games where they tell you how to do a thing and then you do the thing. They teach you though experiences. They want you to learn from your mistakes. You will make a lot of mistakes. They do not hold your hand; they don't care if you miss things. They respect you as a gamer to be able to figure things out on your own and overcome the challenge in front of you.
They also had a great version of online play. You could be invaded by other players who tried to kill you, but you could also summon player to come and help you. You saw writing on the ground that would be messages from other players giving you a potential tip or it could be false information and lead to you getting killed.
From Software innovated and also brought back a true gaming experience. They are also phenomenal world builders. They are the best game makers today.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I've never really gotten into handheld gaming for whatever reason. I have had several, but they never captured my attention as much as consoles or PC gaming. I owned a Gameboy, a DS and these days a Switch but I like my gaming to take place on a bigger screen, I guess.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I play a lot of different genres, but my favorites are Role Playing Games. I just love sitting down and getting into a good RPG for 100 hours or so. Some of my favorites in that regard from several generations of gaming are Might and Magic 4/5/6, Wizardry 6/7, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Witcher 3, the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy series excluding the last 20 years of Final Fantasy anyway. I also like the 2 types of ARPG's or Action RPG's which are Diablo style and Dark Souls style and I play those 2 genres a lot also.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Track and Field and the new Iron Maiden pinball. I currently am trying to get both of those for myself, but neither is cheap. Track and Field, I have a history with. When I was in grade school, I would play that every day and was really good at it. Back then games had you put in your initials and I came up with using Qik because of well-being quick at Track and Field. That name stuck and I use it to this day. Iron Maiden pinball because I played it and fell in love with it, also they are one of my favorite bands ever.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
If I had to choose one it would be Nintendo. Mainly for their history. They have great characters and make great games and they keep things pretty simple. They may not make the best games anymore, but they always make quality.
What does it take to be a video game journalist?
Being a journalist of any kind requires passion and impartiality for the subject. Something that you won't find very often these days.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
I'll get hate for this but I'm not a big video game music fan. Many times, muting it is the first thing I do.
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Depends on the game but all of the above is the only answer. Different strokes for different folks. Gaming has something to offer to everyone.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
No. It's just an easy scapegoat. It's easier to throw blame at an inanimate object than to believe that people themselves are responsible for their own actions.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
Alone or Co-op but not competitive anymore. I have found that competitive gaming has two phases, happy and angry. Happy you won or angry you lost. No middle ground and that back and forth Isn't what I want my experience to be.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
Problem solving skills and even leadership skills depends on what you are doing in games. I played Everquest and World of Warcraft for a decade+ and I led guilds there and being able to do that and get people to focus on something and be the best guild for a long period requires good leadership. I did that and it was an amazing experience. I made lifelong friends in the process as well.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Sometimes. I think it can go both ways and again it depends on what or why you are playing. Challenges can be stressful, competitive gaming can be stressful but playing a fun game with friends is relaxing.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Not really. They tend to suck and the reason for that is because they are so watered down or made for Hollywood. The Last of Us is one of the greatest story-based games I have ever played, and it would be a terrible movie. There is about 10 hours of story in that game. Squeeze that into a 2-hour movie and you lose something. Maybe if it was a 10 episode show it could be good, but it hasn't been done well so far.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Hero. It's the name of the long bar in Tetris. In the original NES Tetris manual, they had names for each piece. Who doesn't love when Hero appears, and you can get your Tetris. On the flip side of that Cleveland Z is a jerk.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
It's such a common term that don't get much of an emotion from hearing the term on its own. It depends on the context that it's being said.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style
Gameplay. You can have all of the others, but bad gameplay makes a bad game.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Exploration. To me there is nothing like exploring a new world. Especially when it was created to encourage and reward that exploration.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
I know I went on about Dark Souls a lot, but Tetris is still my favorite game. I don't play it as much or as well as I used to, but I still enjoy it immensely. Multiplayer... I have to say Everquest was the best Multiplayer experience I ever had. I really enjoyed what we accomplished there together. I also have had a lot of fun with the Borderlands games and my friends.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
It would be about a dude who played video games and ended up having to save the world. I would be the main character :)
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I am still very active with gaming. I stream on twitch at twitch.tv/qik1 and play a wide variety of things, but my true love is the Dark Souls games. I also get invited to Expo's now and then. I have done Game On Expo for what will be my 5th year this year for John Lester out in Phoenix, Arizona. My friend Dorion Whitlock and I design a tournament together for the show every year based around classic gaming consoles of all sorts. We also did Retro City Fest this past January.
Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?
That’s tough. If the market is able to continue as is then gaming could be in for some dark times as games are made with money as a priority instead of trying to make a quality product for the player. I know a lot of people look at VR, but I just see another in a long line of gimmicks that gaming had had over the years. I honestly don't see how we play games changing that much in 20 years. Just how they look and what we play.