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My Perfect Console with Simon Parkin

Correspondence Special #3: What was the best year for video games?

In this special correspondence edition, host Simon Parkin reads out listeners' correspondence, answers questions, and offers at least one clue about a forthcoming special guest.


Hear Simon discuss which was the best year for video games, which video game characters would make the best stand-up comics, and what Hollywood will do for #content when the only video game left to adapt is Fortnite...

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  • 81. Rhianna Pratchett, writer for games (Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge, Tomb Raider).

    01:18:25
    My guest today is an English writer for video games, TV, film, comics, and books. Born into a literary household – her father was the celebrated fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett –– she studied journalism at the University of Arts in London. After graduating she joined the staff of PC Zone, where she worked her way up from editorial assistant to the role of section editor. In 2002 she left journalism to write video games, soon earning a BAFTA nomination for her work on Heavenly Sword.In 2013 she wrote the award-winning reboot of Tomb Raider, then its sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider, for which she won the Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing award from the Writers Guild of America. My guest has also written comics for DC, Dark Horse, and Marvel, and her film and TV projects include collaborations with Film 4, and the Henson Company. As well as being the first woman to write a Fighting Fantasy novel, she has co-authored Campaigns & Companions: The Complete Roleplaying Guide for Pets. Last year she hosted the BBC Radio 4 series Mythical Creatures, a compendium of Britain’s mythic beasts, and what they tell us about our history.LINKS:Rhianna's website.https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2018/mar/12/terry-pratchett-moomins-rhianna-pratchett
  • 80. Richard Sparks, librettist, writer (L.A. Opera, Not the Nine O'Clock News).

    01:11:55
    My guest today is the British scriptwriter and librettist for opera, Richard Sparks. In 1978 he wrote a sketch for Rowan Aktinson, the actor who later played Mr Bean, which Atkinson performed in the Secret Policeman’s Ball, a series of benefit shows organised by John Cleese to raise funds for Amnesty International. The success of the sketch led my guest to become a writer for BBC2’s ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’ comedy show, and a slew of other TV writing gigs followed.In 1992 he moved to Los Angeles where he began to write libretti for the L.A. Opera. In 2016 he directed Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which starred Jack Black in the leading role. Now he has returned to his comedy roots, with the publication of “New Rock New Role”, a fantasy comic novel about a retired teacher who discovers video games while in his sixties. Website: https://richardsparks.com/The School Master Sketch
  • 79. Kelsey Beachum, narrative designer (Outer Wilds).

    01:21:37
    My guest today is the American game writer and narrative designer Kelsey Beachum. After graduating from Michigan State University, she worked in publishing, first as editor of the Cryogenic Society of America, then in editorial operations for the satirical current affairs publication, The Onion.In 2012 stared work on a space-mystery game titled Outer Wilds. Published in 2019 by Annapurna Interactive, Outer Wilds released to widespread acclaim. My guest was named a Nebula Award finalist for her writing on the game, which also won the 2020 BAFTA for Best Video Game. On this very podcast Ronan Farrow described the storytelling in Outer Wilds as “incredible.”
  • 78. Mike Drucker, comedy writer, the Tonight Show.

    01:13:48
    My guest today is Mike Drucker, an American comedy writer and producer. After graduating with a master’s degree in literature from New York University, he worked as a localisation editor for Nintendo, writing English language jokes for games such as Kid Icarus: Uprising. After a year working as Head Video Writer for the website IGN, he joined Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, then, in 2014, went with Jimmy to the Tonight Show. After a stint as head writer for Bill Nye Saves the World, my guest became co-head writer and executive producer for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, a show for which he was nominated for five Emmys and won two Writers Guild Awards. More recently he returned to the Tonight Show writing sketches for the likes of Jon Hamm and Ryan Reynolds. He’s also currently working on a book titled, Good Game; No Rematch a heartfelt memoir about the classic video games that entertain and inspire us, and even hold the power to transform our lives. 
  • 77. Michael Sherman, director of e-sports, Riot Games.

    01:14:13
    My guest today is Michael Sherman, director of esports for Riot Games. While attending the University of Texas at Dallas for Computer Science, he worked as an Automotive Safety Software Engineer for Texas Instruments, inventing a wireless car-seat that would sound an alarm if a child was left in the car. In 2013 he moved into the emerging world of competitive video game playing, developing broadcast tools for live esports competitions. The following year he dropped out of college to help oversee the growth of college-level League of Legends in North America at Riot Games. In 2022 he joined the team behind Teamfight Tactics, a chess-like spinoff of League of Legends, working to establish the game as a competitive eSport. Today, he is helping to build Riot’s forthcoming fighting game, 2XKO. NOTESTwitter: @RiotShermanA Falconer Enters the World of Video Games
  • 76. Eric Barone, creator of Stardew Valley.

    01:15:06
    My guest today is the American game designer and musician Eric Barone. Born in Los Angeles, he spent his childhood in the suburbs of Seattle. In 2011 he graduated from the University of Washington Tacoma with a degree in computer science, but was unable to find employment. He started developing a video game to hone his programming skills. Supported by his girlfriend, and an evening job he took as an usher at the Paramount Theatre, for four years my guest worked on his game, a farming simulator. In 2016 he released Stardew Valley, which became an overnight success. To date, it has sold well over thirty million copies, while continuing to evolve via regular updates. In 2021 my guest announced a follow-up, Haunted Chocolatier, which casts players as the owner of a chocolate shop. He once described video games as “a powerful form of art, a peaceful escape from the chaos of modern life, and a way to have experiences that are impossible otherwise... Through these means, games have a powerful and growing influence on culture.”
  • 75. Nina Freeman, gamemaker (Cibele, Tacoma, Last Call).

    01:12:51
    Nina Freeman is an American independent video game writer and designer. While a student at Pace University in New York, she was drawn to the work of Frank O’Hara and other poets of the New York School, who documented their lives through witty, confessional verse. She began to explore ways in which she could employ a similar tone, not in poetry, but in video games.Her 2014 game “how do you Do It?,” puts the player in the role of an awkward tween who is desperately trying to figure out how sex works while playing with dolls. The game established a tone and themes that my guest explored in her subsequent work, most famously Cibele, an adventure video game about a romance developed through an online multiplayer game.Her memoir-like approach has proven influential. The video game designer Francesca Carletto-Leon recently told the New York Times: “Her work has been hugely inspirational to me and important to the larger industry.”USEFUL LINKSNina's Instagram: @PersocomninaNina's Itch.io page: Size ZeroIncrepare's Slave of GodDiego Garcia's website
  • 74. Abubakar Salim, actor (Napoleon, House of the Dragon).

    01:13:06
    My guest today is the British actor Abubakar Salim. Born in Hertfordshire to a family of first-generation Kenyan immigrants, he joined the National Youth Theatre at the age of sixteen, then won a scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.He made his professional stage debut in 2010 playing Osric in Prince of Denmark at the National Theatre. After securing minor roles in shows such as 24 and Black Mirror, he played major characters in Sky One’s series Jamestown, HBO’s Raised by Wolves, and in Ridley Scott’s 2023 motion picture film Napoleon.My guest has also starred in several video games, including Assassin's Creed Origins, for which he was nominated for a BAFTA Games Award. A keen player of video games, in 2020 he founded Surgent Studios, which recently released its debut title, Tales of Kenzera: Zau, a game which explores grief through the lens of Bantu mythology.Twitter: @AbzybabzyPhoto: Michael Schwartz for Tatler.