Welcome to another episode of the Creative Spotlight. This week I caught up with Dan Hsu. “Shoe” is one of the co-founders of the ultra-cool video game website known as BITMOB. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), editorial director of the 1UP Network, and editor-in-chief of Gamers.com. Needless to say, the man stays busy! I used to rare opportunity to pick his brain and to tell him my favorite video game of all time, to which he promptly disagreed with. After I dried my tears, we moved on to other topics! Interview below…
Most people probably don’t know that Japan Cinema are huge video game nerds. Could you tell our readers a bit about BitMob and how it all came about?
Shoe: Oh, you think you’re gaming nerds, do you? We should have a nerd-off…see which site has the biggest dorks!
I used to work for a magazine called Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) and 1UP.com, and people were always asking me how they can do what I do…how they can become a video-game journalist. So we formed Bitmob with the idea that we can give all these writers out there an outlet for their work, so more people can read what they have to say. At the same time, we didn’t want to ignore professionalism, so we vet (fact-check, edit, etc.) any community articles before we post them to the front page to sit alongside our own content.
We encounter the same dilemma as you, reviewing materials for agencies we might be more biased towards, but we have to have a certain level of integrity giving all our reviews fair critiques. How difficult is it to maintain journalistic integrity for you and your contributing writers?
Shoe: Not hard at all! It’s pretty easy to maintain journalistic integrity, so I don’t know why it’s even an issue. All you have to do is be honest to your readers. You write for your audience, and your audience is not the game companies you’re covering. You stay on the up-and-up and keep everything transparent, and you’ll do well as a journalist.
What is your opinion of Koei Corporation who just released a game based off the highly successful anime ‘Fist of the Northstar’. Also do you see any longevity left in the Dynasty Warriors franchise?
Shoe: Sheesh, I can’t believe the franchise even lasted this long. So obviously, no matter what I think, that series will continue to defy all odds.
Why do you think games based on movies don’t fare as well as regular games?
Shoe: Oh, lots of reasons…short development cycles (they can’t start the game until they know enough about the movie, then they have to finish it by the movie’s release), creative handcuffs (they have to follow an established storyline or canon), Hollywood getting involved in the creative process, etc.
Got any favorite Asian films or anime?
Shoe: I actually just got Oldboy on Blu-ray in the mail. I’m looking forward to watching that again. What an f’ed-up movie!
What has been your favorite game of 2010?
Shoe: From a critical perspective, it’s Red Dead Redemption, followed by God of War 3. From a “how much time I put into it” point of view, it’d have to be Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Yeah, I know that came out last year, but I still spent more hours in 2010 on that game than any other.
Xenogears is the best game of all time. Can you confirm or deny this?
Shoe: Deny. It’s Super Mario Bros. 3.
You have created quite the online presence over the past decade for the gaming community to gather around. Do you see print publications exiting out of the picture altogether in the near future?
Shoe: I tell you what. If someone wanted to invest in me to start up a new print magazine, I wouldn’t do it. It’s a really tough business, with paper costs, slow distribution, dwindling advertising, and the Internet giving everyone all the content they could want…for free. I respect all the current print publishers who can still make it in today’s market.
What is the biggest change in game journalism today compared to 10 years ago?
Shoe: Two things. First, what we just talked about: the slow death of print and the rise of the Internet. Second, because of that same Internet, it’s given the average gamer a voice, whether that’s a blog, message board, or social-networking outlets like Facebook and Twitter. Anyone can speak his mind, and that’s another reason we founded Bitmob.
Thanks for sharing some insight with us, we will be sure to keep tabs on your site. Thanks for dropping by!
Shoe: Thank you for interviewing me!
Want to keep tabs on Mr. Hsu and the ever-so-popular BITMOB site? Check out the cookie crumb trail below: