Meet the Crew

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Ainsley Bowden

President and Founder

Twitter : Porshapwr

Me3

What’s your history with gaming?  I started gaming on the Atari 2600 and Collecovision when I was 4 and quickly fell in love with it. When I was 6 I played Super Mario Brothers at a friend’s house and was hooked for life. In my early twenties I began collecting quite seriously and have owned more consoles and games than I could count over the years. Nowadays, I play on all platforms and collect many gaming related collectibles including figures, statues, books, and prints.

What’s the game you remember most from your childhood? Phantasy Star. I was a Sega kid and received the game for Christmas when I was 10. Back then there were no guides and no internet and the game was incredibly obtuse (especially for a 10 year old). I played it over the course of a couple of years with one part of the game taking me months to finally find/figure out. I eventually beat it and can still remember that moment to this day.

What is your favorite franchise?  Halo. I was big into Doom in the early 90s and playing titles like Turok, Goldeneye, and Perfect Dark on the N64. When the Xbox launched in 2001, I had no interest at all. That is, until I played Halo at an EB Games (while paying off my Gamecube pre-order funny enough). I couldn’t get it out of my mind and went back to buy an Xbox and Halo the next night when it launched. My Gamecube barely got touched and I have played Halo C.E. beginning to end tens of times. Since then I have been heavily involved in the Halo community, played tournament level on C.E. and 2, and continue to be a huge fan.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made?  The Witcher 3. In a number of ways, it is simply astonishing and accomplished aspects of story-telling and world building that had never been done before. The expansions somehow only made it even better. It’s a modern masterpiece.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made?  I’ve thought about that a number of times and the same few titles come to my mind for a few reasons. Immediately I would throw out Tetris and Mario 64. Tetris as it’s timeless and has transgressed gaming. Mario 64 because it was the true definition of a revolution upon release. I also believe that in a number of years, Minecraft may insert itself into this discussion. That said, I have to say Super Mario Brothers. It single-handedly put the NES into tens of millions of homes and erased the memories of the video game market crash in the early 80s. It brought gaming back to the spotlight, in a positive way, and it has been on the incline ever since.

What is your favorite console of all-time?  Tough. I’ve always adored the 16-Bit generation just due to the quality of the games and my memories with them. So the SNES and Genesis immediately jump up there. I was a Neo Geo collector for a while and adore that system as well. In the end though, I think I have to say the Xbox 360. The number of timeless franchises that can be played on that system is incredible, it brought HD gaming to the mainstream, it introduced the marketplace and app support for consoles, and did things for online gaming never done before.


Dan Rodriguez

Senior Contributor and Live Show Co-Host

Twitter : Drodriguezwdsc

Dancrop

What’s your history with gaming? Started playing in the late 70’s on Atari with my dad and never looked back. I’ve owned a variety of consoles throughout the years from Colecovision to Dreamcast to all the current gen consoles. It’s always been a family affair and it’s awesome watching my kids continue the love of the hobby that’s meant so much to me.

What game do you remember most from your childhood? Obviously all of the early Nintendo games spring to mind. Honestly though, Venture from the Colecovision always sticks out. It was the first game my dad and I played together so it holds a special place in my personal gaming journey.

What is your favorite franchise?  Bioshock probably, though there’s so many. As a series though, I’d go with Mass Effect. The Bioshock games hold up on their own really well, and even have some crossover. Mass Effect was better as an ongoing, fluid story experience.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made? From just a technical standpoint, Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to be hard to top. The immersion level is off the charts. It’s both its strongest and weakest points in my opinion. Objectively, it’s on a different level though.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? Pong was the alpha. Without it, maybe we don’t see the industry where it is. Culturally, the original Super Mario Brothers is the king. Everyone knows what it is. Every few years though, another game comes out and changes the landscape of the industry. It’s always evolving and improving, and that’s great for gamers.

What is your favorite console of all-time? Whatever one is pushing the envelope. Right now it’s the Xbox One X. Tomorrow it might be the PS5. I want the best experience when I play the game, regardless of where that is. While I’m pretty entrenched in the Xbox ecosystem, the older I get, the less time I have for the hobby. So when I do play, I want it to be worth my time.


Karl Dwyer

Senior Contributor

Twitter : OSTX78

What’s your history with gaming? I’ve been a gamer ever since seeing ‘Yars Revenge’ on my cousins Atari 2600 back in 1982. Needless to say that Christmas I got my very own Atari 2600 and never looked back. From Gen1 through to the current generation I’ve followed the industry and the technology that drives it forward.

What game do you remember most from your childhood? Turrican II was my most played game. I originally had it on my faithful Atari STe and later on the Amiga A1200. A game to this day I’ve still never completed, I just savour the experience…

What is your favorite franchise? My all time favourite franchise has to be Half-Life. It was just a game changer for story driven first person shooters. The original Half-Life and Half-Life II are just timeless classics, I still play them to this day and keep up to date with the mod community that surrounds them #PC.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made? This one is easy, its Half-Life II but I have to say The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time is a close second.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? Doom has to be the most influential game of the past few decades. It spawned a genre and kickstarted the first person shoot down innovation lane. It’s an all time classic and its still a strong brand today.

And what is your favorite console of all-time?  Now this is subjective and it might well be influenced by where you grew up. I grew up in the north west of England and although the likes of Nintendo and Sega had a strong presence during my childhood the Commodore Amiga and Atari STe ruled, where else do you get the best versions of Speedball 2, Turrican 2 and The secret of Monkey Island? The Amiga of course. Plus there was a very active demo scene where coders had started to leverage the Atari STe’s untapped functionality and pushed the machine beyond what the big software houses had managed to do and in some cases beyond what you’d typically see on the Amiga, those there the days.


Bert Saenz

Video Editor

Twitter : RealBertSaenz

Sigggggns2

What game do you remember most from your childhood?  I was a Nintendo kid growing up and Mario was where I spent a lot of my hours during the summer and vacations. Super Mario World, Mario Kart and Mario 64 would be my game(s).

What is your favorite franchise?  This is a tough one for me because I don’t have a single franchise that I’d call my favorite. Historically, I’d have to say God of War as I’ve played every single game in the franchise, including handlhelds. Of the past 2 generations I’ve spent the most time and replayed each Dead Space game twice.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made?  At the moment it’s a really close tie for me between The Last of Us and The Witcher 3.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made?  Mario 64 brought us the 3d open world where you could jump all into any area/world you want. Goldeneye brought us console couch multiplayer, which would later evolve into online multiplayer.

And what is your favorite console of all-time?  From a nostaligic point of view I’d have to say the SNES as it was part of my childhood. Realistically it would have to be the PlayStation 2 as it birthed so many franchises that I love and still play today. I’ve always been a bigger single player gamer compared to multiplayer. The PS2 opened my world into multiple franchises outside of Nintendo and Sega, at a time where the gaming industry was evolving into something bigger.


Ryan M.

Contributor

Twitter : Connectd86

What’s your history with gaming? I’ve been gaming as far back as I can remember. I was 5 or 6 when the Super Nintendo launched, and still recall the day our dad brought it home. Games like Super Mario World and Legend of Zelda were some of my first experiences. It’s great that I can introduce these titles to my own kids now, as our dad did for us.

What game do you remember most from your childhood? Final Fantasy : Mystic Quest is one that always seems to standout the most from my childhood for some reason. It was one of few games we owned, and played through many times. It was also the first entry into the FF series for me.

What is your favorite franchise? Favorite franchise would have to be Final Fantasy. I personally think the games have set a high standard over the past couple decades in terms of storytelling and gameplay. Some of the most memorable characters I have seen in videogames are also from the series.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made? Greatest game ever made. It’s not one I consider a favorite, but I would have to say Link To The Past. It paved the way for a lot of adventure games after its release. There are still games being released to this day that were heavily influenced by the gameplay introduced in Zelda, and I’m certain we will see many more.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? Read Dead Redemption 2, Witcher 3, and GTA V have definitely had a large impact on the gaming industry, and will continue to do so for years to come. I’m always amazed by large, expansive and open world titles. It’s amazing how alive everything really is in each of these games.

And what is your favorite console of all-time? Super Nintendo will always be my favorite console of all time. It’s where my passion for gaming started.


Patrick Shields

Contributor

Twitter : Iluspook

What’s your history with gaming? Like many of us “seasoned gamers”, I started gaming with the classic systems with the first I owned being a ColecoVision and an Atari 2600. Since then, I have owned and played a huge amount of games on nearly every system and computer generation, including the Atari Jaguar.

What game do you remember most from your childhood? Can this be a more challenging question? Being gamers, so many games helped to shape experiences and memories in us, but I’ll give one for the 3 phases of childhood: Dig Dug for my early childhood, Ikari Warriors for pre-puberty, and Super Metroid for my teenage years. Each has a very nostalgic place in my heart.

What is your favorite franchise? For my favorite franchise, I’ll have to go with good ol’ Final Fantasy. Being a novelist, I appreciate the stories and adventures that those games have taken me on. I feel like every major part of my life had a Final Fantasy game associated alongside it, and here’s hoping that continues.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made? The greatest game ever made is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. It has everything I could hope for in a game. It starts with the foundation of excellent 2D gameplay, then mixes in a great variety of creative enemies, incredible level design, challenging boss fights, and an unbelievably excellent and memorable soundtrack. It packed in secrets and details, and stirred in loot and loot grinding, being one of the first games to successfully do so. To top it all off, it added a perfect sprinkling of RPG mechanics for good measure.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? My initial reaction to this question was Super Mario 64. Not only did it provide the world with the blueprint for 3D gaming, but it also opened the door to open world game design. However, I have to admit that The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time really deserves the spot for not only incorporating all of those details from Super Mario 64, but doing so against all odds. Upon hearing about a new 3D Zelda, the gaming media was hugely skeptical, but the game blew the door to open world games off the hinges while also inspiring the future of 3d fighting, boss, level, and puzzle design across a sprawling world that was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Make no mistake, nearly every game created in modern times has some sort of thank you card it needs to send to the creators of Ocarina of Time.

And what is your favorite console of all-time? The final question has the easiest answer: the Super Nintendo.


Steve Esposito

Contributor

Twitter : AgitatedStove

What’s your history with gaming?  My history with gaming starts when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old when I first played Super Mario Bros. A couple of years of playing and I landed a job at Game Crazy, a video game store tied to a video rental store. From there I worked for GameStop as an assistant manager for several years and moved to working for Microsoft. I got into writing about video games because of working in retail where customers always wanted to know what was good, so I went from explaining gaming not just on person but online too.

What game do you remember most from your childhood?  The game I remember most from my childhood was Sonic the Hedgehog. Specifically the second iteration. Between my brother and I, it got to a point where my mom would have to set a time limit because we would end up fighting over the player 1 spot.

What is your favorite franchise? My favorite franchise is a hard one to answer but I will always go back to Halo. It was the game that introduced me to online play, and gave me some incredibly amazing moments in gaming that I still remember till this day. In preparation for Halo: Infinite I am going through the Master Chief Collection and I’m getting all those feelings of nostalgia back.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made? The greatest game ever made might be Resident Evil 4. I’m not a fan of horror games by any means, but RE4 was that game that had just enough action and pacing to offset the horror elements. I still replay that game from time to time.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? I like to say that mobile gaming has had the largest impact on gaming overall. Since mobile gaming came into fruition, we have used the mobile model within some console games in an effort for more companies to gain additional profit. It’s not good by any means which is why I think we need to stay ever so vigilant when it comes to how these tactics are used in the future.

And what is your favorite console of all-time? My favorite console of all time will be PC. Just kidding, I’m going to say the Nintendo Switch. It’s just a piece of hardware that seems like it’s from the future, and we shouldn’t have it. The concept doesn’t seem feasible to me still, and the machine has been out for quite some time now. It’s just amazing how the experience is on that hybrid machine, and it’s truly not like anything else.


Angela Qustandi

Contributor

Twitter : akaPhasma

What’s your history with gaming?  I don’t know life without video games. I started gaming with the Atari 2600 back in the early 1980s. I remember playing Fishing Derby, Kaboom, Megamania, and Space Invaders. We got a Nintendo Entertainment System shortly after and fell in love with Super Mario Brothers and Castlevania. I grew up primarily playing Nintendo games until 2013 when I finally got a PS3. Once I discovered the Uncharted franchise, I never looked back.

What’s the game you remember most from your childhood? The aforementioned Megamania game on the Atari 2600. I spent a lot of time trying to “beat” all the levels, and get the highest score. I loved blasting the hamburgers, tires, and bowties (unofficial names) while they rained bullets on me. I remember the sound of the energy bar as it refilled. I think this game kick-started my love for shooters.

What is your favorite franchise? This is the hardest question I’ve ever been asked in my entire life. I’d have to go with Assassin’s Creed. There’s no way to say this without sounding like a psycho, but there’s something so satisfying about stealth kills in AC games. I really enjoy open world exploration, and coupled with a good story, kick-ass protagonists, and beautiful scenery, it’s hard not to adore these games. I also have made it a personal goal to get the platinum trophy in each AC game on PS4. It’s a work in progress.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made?  Skyrim. In an instant I went from zero interest in the game to I can’t stop playing this long enough to pull myself out of a burning building. Once I killed my first dragon, it was on like Donkey Kong. It’s endless entertainment. A massive open world environment. Taking down spiders, Fus Ro Dah-ing enemies off cliffs, the magic, searching everywhere for an always-lost Lydia, what is not to like? Looking forward to buying my 64th copy on the new gen consoles.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? Super Mario Brothers without a doubt. These side-scrolling adventure games shaped modern day gaming.

What is your favorite console of all-time? GameCube. I really enjoyed games like Luigi’s Mansion and Animal Crossing. I had a great time trying to master all of the shortcuts in Mario Kart.


Elliot Porter

Contributor

Twitter : DirecktGaming

What’s your history with gaming? The first memories I have of gaming were titles like Commander Keen and Alley Cat on early PCs, and then Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Another World and Bungie’s Pathways Into Darkness on Macintosh in the mid-90s. My brother and I were given a SNES for Christmas one year and my love for console gaming really blossomed from there. After a few years without a whole lot of gaming, in 2009 I got an Xbox 360 and my love for the industry exploded in a way I never imagined, and have been playing pretty much daily ever since.

What game do you remember most from your childhood? Donkey Kong Country 3 was the game we got bundled with our SNES and it was my favourite game for years and years. My brother and I finished it 100% and still to this day everything about that game gives me huge nostalgia and I still rate it in my top 5 games of all time. From it’s music and it’s diverse levels to the great world map and progression, DKC3 is a legend in my books. Kiddy Kong is hugely underrated.

What is your favorite franchise? Mass Effect. The first Mass Effect game changed the way I consumed video games and got me hooked on the RPG genre in a big way, and I absolutely fell in love with the universe and the characters that BioWare created.

What do you believe is the greatest game ever made? Mass Effect 2. Its incredible story telling, pacing, combat, characterisation and world building, that still holds up 10 years later is nothing short of perfection in my opinion.

What do you believe is the most significant game ever made? That’s a really tough call, but I think it could be GTA 3. It’s sort of the birth place for open world games, which are now such a huge part of our industry. I mean, the GTA series as a whole as been massively influential, but GTA 3 kinda started a trend that continues to dominate the triple-a landscape.

And what is your favorite console of all-time? Probably the Xbox 360. It really rekindled my love for video games in a big way, and introduced me to so many new genres and games that I previously hadn’t explored. So many great games released that generation as well and that console helped pave the way for how entrenched I am now with the gaming world.


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