Here is an interview I did with Richard Booth on June 23rd, 2017. Richard gave a in-depth look at his gaming career and history. HI sfavorite game Tetris has given him ways to shoot for world records and has given a lot of hos time to Twin Galaxies back in the day.
Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Richard Booth, who currently is displayed on card number 704 from the Superstars of 2014 Collection. Richard has devoted the last 7 years to Twin Galaxies and is determined to keep Walters vision he had in 1981 alive. Richard is more of a fan than a gamer to beat world records. He enjoys being behind the scenes and spreading the word of Walter and Twin Galaxies in the gaming community. If he plans to submit a score one day it may be on his favorite game Tetris, but with the Nintendo Switch out and his favorite system, we may see some of those records come out from Richard.
Which company makes the best games and why?
Nintendo, and it’s not even close. Nobody makes a game with as much love and craftsmanship like Nintendo. The smallest example I have of this is that the games are finished when they release. There’s no need for a day one patch, and that’s huge to me. It makes the price point seem worth it. Secondly, the level of detail they put in their games is incredible. Think about it, who would have ever thought that wearing metal on your person in a thunderstorm in Breath of the Wild would could result in electrocution?
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
The first game I ever got a chance to play as far as I can remember was at a friends’ house and it was Yar’s Revenge on the 2600. I didn’t have a console at the time (I was around 8 years old), but the game blew my mind. The goal was so simple, but the game felt so deep and so dark. The atmosphere and sound really made it so appealing to me. Unfortunately for my friend, I begged him to play the game every single day for months.
What does it take to be a video game journalist?
This is going to be a long answer…A lot of patience and persistence. If you’ve got a degree in journalism it makes things a little easier, but at the same time you’ve got to find a way to differentiate yourself from the other millions of people out there. I personally don’t have a degree in it, only a little college experience, so it took me a while to prove myself. Either way, be ready for a TON of constructive criticism. Senior editors will have an awful lot of it, just always remember that as you learn, the constructive criticism will begin to minimize.
Don’t be afraid to write for free. This is absolutely huge because experience is absolutely critical if you want to do this long term. The video game journalism space is quite a bit different than any other industry I’ve been part of. Prospective employers want examples that relate to the type of content they provide. This brings me to my next point, which is to research the companies you wish to write for. This will give you an idea of what they are looking for.
Have tunnel vision. When I started I wrote for free for a long time. I didn’t mind at all because I was part of the game industry.
All that written, please allow me to share my story. I decided I wanted to be part of the industry in 2006. Around that time, I discovered Twin Galaxies and loved what they did. I wanted to be a ref, however was offered the chance to write. I jumped all over it. I was given opportunities at first to do interviews with new record holders, which was great, but I wanted more so I made the absolute best of the position I had. As I proved my worth, I was given higher profile interviews. The King of Kong was huge then, so when I was given the opportunity to interview and befriend those that were in the movie, I was floored.
After busting my butt for quite a while I was promoted to Senior Editor where I was now in control of content that was posted on the site. Matt Bradford and I pushed and expanded the content that the company featured in order to draw more attention. It worked like crazy.
I then learned that there were many business opportunities that were being missed, such as getting games direct from publishers instead of having to buy them all. I asked then Editorial Director Blaine Locklair if I could try and build those relationships, and I was given the green light with the warning that this had been attempted for 10 years and the wall hadn’t been broken through yet. Roughly a week later I had EA Sports on board (admittedly I did get a little lucky here as they got in touch with me first with a question about something they were trying to do). Once I had that in my pocket I let Blaine know and he said keep going so, so I did. I was able to use the EA Sports relationship as leverage to other companies, and as I built the relationships I drafted a press release, listing every company I had built the relationship with. This gave me the opportunity to send a blanket email to the rest and because of the amount of relationships already built, everyone else jumped on board. Games were coming in in droves. Roughly 5 per day. I couldn’t keep up and mailed these things to refs all over the world.
Because of this I was offered the position of Business Development Director. I was so scared because I had never dealt with executives of major companies before and I didn’t know what to expect, but this was a paid position and It was exactly where I wanted to be. So, the first thing I did? Drafted up a proposal to Nintendo for a partnership. Epic fail…they immediately declined. So, I started over. I got in touch with 2K Games and they wanted to partner with us for a contest where the first player to pitch a perfect game in their new baseball game would win $1 Million dollars. Although I had to really push to get this approved by the board and negotiations were tough, we finalized the deal and the contest went perfect. I learned a lot from that experience and made sure to not make the mistakes I made again, but to also make sure I took the positive parts and used them again. Because of the exposure from 2K, Microsoft asked us to partner with them at their event in San Francisco. This went fantastic and because of the lessons learned from 2K, negotiations were a snap.
I decided to reach out to G4, which was huge at the time, and while they gave me a contact to get our content pushed to their news ticker and shows, they declined a partnership. Over the next year we partnered with a lot of other companies, and the ultimate satisfaction came when Nintendo contacted us and asked us to partner. Full circle. That went very well and from there G4 called back and said “as you know, things are always changing and we’d now like to discuss partnering.”
Needless to say, I started at the bottom and worked my way up. That’s how it always should be. There’s nothing more frustrating for a lot of people when somebody shows up straight into a management role and has no idea how the company works, so the employees end up training the manager.
There are many other stories I’d love to tell, but this answer is more than long enough.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I’ve loved video games for over 30 years, and I’ve seen it all, but the most exciting generation for me was the NES era. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m older now and my free time is limited, but there was a lasting appeal to those games. In addition, the internet wasn’t around back then so I either needed to experiment with the game to find secrets and/or ways to advance, or call the pros at Nintendo.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
The first time I spoke to Walter Day was actually over the phone and completely unexpected. My son was just born and he somehow found out about it and called me up while I was in the hospital. I got so excited. It was an honor. Following that we had many conversations, however I’ve yet to have the opportunity to meet him in person.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Generous. Any time I’ve ever tried to purchase something from him he would simply send it to me and refuse compensation. Any time I’ve needed advice he was always right there to help me out. Any time I had a business opportunity with Twin Galaxies and needed his input he was always willing to lend a hand. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
Never. It wasn’t until 2006 that I decided I wanted to be in the video game industry, and once I was given a chance I ran with it. I didn’t do so to earn credit though, because other than writing all of my experience was in the executive Business Development Role. It was for that reason that the honor of being on a card and being featured in the gallery was so important to me.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
No, I turned down those offers. To my detriment I do this stuff because I love it, not for the honor and show of it all.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
Really all of them. I love to play games alone so I can take the time exploring every nook and cranny of the game. I love playing with friends because it’s a great social activity. As far as online I love the competition.
Third, the gameplay is always amazing and is always bringing something new to the industry. The software is built around the hardware and takes advantage of the capabilities, this makes the games incredibly fun.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
Nintendo Switch. Although I loved the original Game Boy, Nintendo Switch is just so far beyond anything I’ve ever seen, that to me it feels like all of the other product out there are obsolete. Honorable mention goes to PlayStation Vita, it feels fantastic and looks great. A fantastic piece of hardware. It’s too bad it didn’t get the proper support it deserved.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Games are in no way too violent, as long as parents are responsible and know what their kids are playing and allow them to play accordingly.
As far as leading to violence, no way. In fact, for a lot of these situations video games are the only way to escape the frustration these people are feeling. Violence is everywhere, and trust me, it’s not because these people are playing video games. That whole myth is extremely frustrating.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
Console. I’ve never sat down at a PC and had the seamless experience that I’ve had with consoles. There is just something about sitting down to a dedicated platform and just getting those experiences (such as with console exclusives) that can’t be experienced anywhere else.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I play it all. My favorite would definitely story based (Uncharted is my favorite) and open world adventure games (That honor goes to The Legend of Zelda). There’s something about those worlds that just draw me in
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I’ve always wanted to create a game where you are a rescue team that flies in and saves people from major disasters. I’m also a huge DB Cooper fan so I’d always wanted to play a game where you reenact the event.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Lunar Lander. The physics in that game and the challenge are so sophisticated, especially for a game built so early in the life of the industry.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
Definitely Nintendo. From day one they’ve always been willing to change. The fact that they were in so many different industries all that way back to 1889 is something to behold. In the game space, they’ve always been the company to change the way games play. Every single time. Nobody does it better.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
It’s the hook. If a game has good music with a good hook it makes the game memorable. It’s a lot like when a song gets stuck in your head and you just have to listen to it. I find that when I get a gaming song stuck in my head, I have to play the game in order to alleviate the stickiness of the song.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
Yes, a lot of problem solving.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Absolutely. Video games give gamers the chance to escape all of the problems and realities of the world.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Not really, they’re never good. However, for some reason I love the Super Mario. Bros. movie.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Mario. He always introduces a new gameplay mechanic and a new way to play. Not to mention the story is a blast.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style
Gameplay…100% The game can look and sound amazing and have a great story, but if the gameplay is garbage I’ll never finish it.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
No but I do find them to be the most satisfying. The adventure and lead up to the boss battle is the best part, but beating the boss at the end puts the icing on the cake.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Single player would have to be the Uncharted series. The story and gameplay in those games are just incredible and they look and sound amazing.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I am. I own a company called GamesRelated where we focus in on the people in the industry and provide strictly positive gaming content such as reviews, previews and news. We also are rolling out a merchandising plan that will feature all sorts of luminaries from the industries. We’ve rolled out test samples and the response has been fantastic.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
That’s a tough question. I can see virtual reality being perfected by then, although I still see it as a niche market. I also think there will be at least one more hardware company out there, and I don’t think that company exists yet. Graphics can’t really get much better than they are now, and I think the focus on graphics will no longer be an argument. It’ll strictly be gameplay. In addition, online exclusivity will be a thing of the past. By then it’ll be something we all laugh about.