“An Interview with a Hyperactive Coffee Mage”

Cloud taught me that surviving the ordeals of the past and pushing forward makes one stronger. He taught me how to rise above my own weakness and be a better person.
-Ryan from Games with Coffee

 

 

Not too long ago I decided that I would seek out the Mages across the globe, and bring them kicking and screaming to the interview table.

For my next interview, I’ll be talking with Ryan from Games with Coffee, though you might know him better as the Hyperactive Coffee Mage. In our thrilling chat we discuss what lessons life has taught him, what makes games unique, and of course what roast our extremely caffeinated friend prefers. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: First off, thanks for taking time out of your day to chat with me Ryan. These are usually pretty fun and I look forward into prying into your deepest and darkest secrets. Uh….I mean interviewing you.

coffeemageCoffee: Not at all! Thank you for inviting me. If you’re talking about deep, dark secrets, I must confess: Tim Hortons coffee is superior to Dunkin Donuts. But neither are better than Starbucks. And I also drain an average of 20 oz of black gold a day. You can see why I’m so wired.

ninjamage.pngNinja: Gasp! How dare you besmirch the good names of Dunkin Donuts coffee. Ok, so actually I have no idea, I don’t drink coffee. They could both be awful and I would never know. Considering you drain 20 oz of the beverage a day, and your site’s name happens to be Games with Coffee, I suppose it is safe to say you sort of like coffee. What is it about the drink that makes it so enjoyable to you?

coffeemageCoffee: Like coffee? Dude, if coffee was a person, I’d marry it! Then again, I am married to someone who shares a slightly healthier obsession with the drink so, I guess that works out? To properly answer your question, it’s the taste that I enjoy. It’s a bit of an acquired taste to be sure, but I thoroughly enjoy the bitterness combined with the flavour notes that makes each roast distinct. Take for instance Blue Mountain Coffee, my absolute favorite coffee grown in Jamaica: it’s indelibly smooth and you can taste the hints of cocoa in every sip. It’s just so good. Coffee to me also represents simplicity – you don’t need the sugars, whipped creams and the fancy toppings to enjoy a nice, hot sophisticated and elegant drink. It’s much like working in your career; try not to be overbearing and overreactive with the extras and toppings, but keep things simple, keep a level head and above all, stay frosty. Coffee for anybody who gets that reference. Besides that, coffee is also literally the only thing keeping me awake during the day. grins

ninjamage.pngNinja: You make it sound almost like something I’d want to drink! I wish I could bring myself to enjoy it. I certainly need something to help keep me awake during the day. So now the question becomes the site’s name: what connects coffee to gaming for you?

coffeemageCoffee: So why Games with Coffee? Good question. Games represents the life lessons I’ve learned from the gaming characters I grew up with, like Cloud Strife, Link and Sonic. Coffee meanwhile represents the virtues I’ve developed in my career as an engineer: self confidence, maturity and competence. Combining the two together forms the basis of my story, which is about a responsible grown man who still takes time to play video games and listen to gaming music.

ninjamage.pngNinja: So the name is really more of a touch point of what you identify as. I think that is a really cool way to come up with a site name, and certainly helps to encapsulate your ideals. You mentioned Link, Sonic, and Cloud being there as you grew up. What lessons have you learned from these games?

coffeemageCoffee: Growing up, I had been bullied and picked on for my love of gaming and writing, which was why I gravitated towards those three characters. Cloud taught me that surviving the ordeals of the past and pushing forward makes one stronger. He taught me how to rise above my own weakness and be a better person. Sonic taught me to keep a positive attitude even when things looked bleak and to never give up, no matter what the odds are. Finally, Link had taught me to live generously, to live with courage and to adhere to my convictions of being an altruistic individual. I’d also like to add that I follow the sage advice from one Peppy Hare on Team Star Fox: “Never give up, trust your instincts!” So far as I know, my instincts have never proved me wrong yet! knocks on wood

ninjamage.pngNinja: That is such a fantastic answer that I find myself inspired by it. As a gamer my whole life, I know that games have inspired me, taught me things, brought me closer to people, and provided me with great joy. Many people might say that video games are the frivolous past time of children, though you and I know different. What about games would you say allows them to provide these sorts of experiences?

coffeemageCoffee: I’d say it’s the ability to become intimately familiar with the characters and their story as you continue to play. Mind you, the same can be done through books, movies and TV, but really, what other medium allows a person to physically have an effect on their characters growth as they play? Take for instance God of War (which you and I have discussed intently) and Kratos’ transformation from the embodiment of rage to a hardened, guarded individual who cares about his wife and son despite the dark secrets of his bloody past, to a father opening up to his son about said past and the mistakes he’s made, culminating in a plea for him to be better than he ever was. We’re not only visually seeing this, but we’re experiencing it with every Draugr we hack or every puzzle we solve. We have a hand in Kratos’ growth as we progress with the story and we grow close to these characters as a result. Another fantastic example is Final Fantasy X and Tidus’ story. Through the random battles, story events and sphere grid allocations, we see Tidus grow from a whiny brat to someone who seems to accept their place in life and helps to bring a better future, even if he ends up not part of it (until X-2 that is…).

ninjamage.pngNinja: Right, it is that ability to physically interact with that world rather than just observe it that makes video games so intrinsically interesting to me. No other medium allows that level of interaction with it. Throughout all the years of games you’ve played what game would you point to as the embodiment of why you play video games?

coffeemageCoffee: In Mimir’s voice Aye, you’re always asking the hard questions, eh brother? in normal voice I’m gonna take a feather out of the cap of The Well-Red Mage and pick three games spanning the 26 years I’ve been gaming, just because I can!

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: A regular gallery of rogues we have here. Real maverick elements. Fire away!

 

coffeemageCoffee: Final Fantasy VII embodies why I played games from when I was five up to when I was 18. Games provided me an escape from everything that was wrong in my world, like struggling with school, bullying and ADHD issues and I had heroes to look up to and try to emulate as I tried to figure out my place in the world. I’d say Sonic Generations represents the second phase as to why I played games, from when I was 20 to when I was 25. I has little to do during those times – I graduated from my program, I wasn’t married yet, I was paying off school debt and such, but at the same time, I was struggling to get my career started. Gaming was something to do, something to pass the time while I waited for my big break to happen and the games I played in that period reflected that: they were short, sweet and full of nostalgia, with Generations being a prime example of that. I mainly played remakes or re-releases of old games, along with emulation of all the classic systems during that time period.

 

I eventually did break ground on my engineering career when I landed a job with (at the time) my dream company. Simultaneously, I got married, moved out from my parents house and started bearing more responsibility, which significantly reduced my time for gaming. However, with less time to game, I found more time to think about what I was passionate about and this leads to my third selection. Breath of the Wild represents why I play video games from when I got married at 25 to now, as my 31st birthday approaches. It’s the fact that this game and games released in the last six years in general, pushed the boundaries on imagination in gaming. The story lines were more relevant, the game play was more immersive and I felt that we were entering a period of renaissance in the gaming industry. This translated back into my passion for writing, which I rediscovered.

 

Around this time, I started my blog and also focused more time on my personal writing, such as fan-fiction and my original story. I felt that games like Breath of the Wild helped to broaden my creativity in terms of presenting a story. I single out this game due to its minimalist approach: you’re not given much background into everything, you’re thrust into an unknown world and you have to figure out where to go without really knowing where to go, you know? In this case, you as Link, have to create that story yourself, fill in the gaps between waking up 100 years into the future and defeating Ganon.

 

I should also like to honorably mention God of War (broke the rules again!) simply due to its narrative structure, wholly different from Breath of the Wild. That game’s been helping me on crafting a compelling story around parenthood, which I feel is lacking in the industry.

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: You strike a cord with me with some of your mentions, especially Breath of the Wild. That game is sublime in a lot of ways, and encapsulates everything I love about gaming as well.
It seems like you went through a lot of searching in establishing yourself in your professional career as an engineer. I find it fascinating the way our gaming habits grow and change as we do. Are there any games or a specific genre that younger you would never play, but you now do, or games/genres that you did play then, that you simply don’t connect with now?

 

coffeemageCoffee: Well when I was younger, I avoided tactical RPG’s, simply because I didn’t like them. I never played one at the tine, but I guess I found that they were too confusing to understand. There were so many paths one could take in a tactical RPG and it was hard to know which one was the right one to take, since any wrong move would result in me either losing troops or even the mission. I was also pretty indecisive as a kid, so it only added to the difficulty.

 

I’ve taken the liberty recently to try playing some Tactical RPG games for a change in the present time. One such game is Shadowrun Returns, which I picked up from a Humble Bundle back in late February/early March and I have to say, I’m enjoying it. I haven’t had much time to play it because, well Zelda, a bunch of indie games and now God of War have literally taken up my time. However! It’s still on my list of games to play and review for this year. I just need to get around to playing it more that’s all!
In terms of games or genres I played as a kid but don’t play anymore, it would be sports games. I used to play those a lot but honestly, I’d rather just watch the sport than play it on my TV nowadays. Laughs

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: I’ve been meaning to get around to Shadowrun Returns. It is almost making me want to turn on my computer to game. Almost. This is a more standardized question, but I find people’s answers fascinating. I’m sure you’ve probably thought once or twice about the game you would make if you had the resources. Could you give me an elevator pitch of what that game would look like?

 

coffeemageCoffee: Oh man… If I could make a game, it’d be about the original story I’ve been working on. Take the revenge story, narrative and weapons combat of God of War (both new and old versions), add in puzzle and ruin exploration elements from Legend of Zelda and Tomb Raider, an Action-RPG interface similar to Kingdom Hearts II or higher and a magic system loosely based on Brian Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series and that would be the game I’d present! Barring that, an actual Mistborn video game would be a dream project of mine! There was going to be a game at one point, but it got cancelled…

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: I like all of those things, sign me up! The fact that the Mistborn game was cancelled was really disappointing. I’m a big fan of Brandon Sanderson’s writing, and that universe–which is basically fantasy superheroes–would absolutely work as a video game.
You brought up an original story which makes me want to question you more on the writing side of things. I’ve read some of your fan fiction that I’ve felt was quite good, of all the things you’ve written what are you most proud of?

 

coffeemageCoffee: Laughs Truth to be told, my fan fiction is pretty much the one thing that I’m most proud, in terms of my writing! It’s a deeply personal love letter to my two favourite franchises and my all time favourite game. Plus, it’s perfect practice for when I start writing my own original work. Speaking of original work, I also once wrote a short story for my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time). It was a little romance story of a woman who was to be married off who ran away, gets into an accident and ends up in the home of the guy who she was to be betrothed to. She thought it was really sweet and urged me to submit it into a writing contest. Needless to say, I didn’t win, but I’m still pretty proud of what I did.

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: I had a lot of fun reading your fan fiction, I found you had a real way with blending these two universes of Final Fantasy VII and Sonic together. There are so many nods to both fandoms that are fun while the story also walks the line between both.Anyone that sounds interesting to should go check it out here, and maybe all of us together can force you to write more of it!
You bring up your wife, and I know you have a son, so like myself you are a gaming Dad. How did becoming a father change the way you related to or played games?

 

coffeemageCoffee: Sounds good! More readers and more comments = more motivation for me to write! Thanks for those kind words! It’s funny that you bring up my kid, he’s now 5 months in age and rapidly growing! I keep telling him to slow down, but to no avail… In all seriousness though, being a dad changed everything about gaming. Obviously the biggest change is the time factor; I’ve no time to play console games like I used to before. But I’ve also been paying more attention to the games I’m playing. Take God of War for instance. I’ve resonated so much with that game’s story and it’s take on fatherhood. I’ve teared up at certain points of the game because as I watch Kratos and Atreus interact, I think of my own son and the lessons I want to teach him as he grows. Aside from that, I’ve also started second guessing my choices for games these days. I take quite a long time to decide whether or not to buy or play a game, considering my play time is very limited. Which is also why I’m thankful for the Switch, it’s the best gaming device for a gamer dad, or any parent who likes to play video games.
With the Switch, I can basically game in the comfort of my bed at night. On top of that, I also have a Vita, a PSP and an old Nintendo DS. Seriously, portable games rock for a parent!

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: I agree, the Switch has let me increase my gaming drastically, and include more people in gaming so it is less of a me sitting in the corner thing. So where do you see Games with Coffee going in the future? Do you have any big projects on the horizon we should know about?

 

coffeemageCoffee:  Hah! Funny, I was thinking about plans for the blog on my way to work one morning. Well, for starters I got a couple of game reviews planned, both on Games with Coffee and on The Well-Red Mage, so expect to see those soon! I’ve revamped my review format based on my work as a Mage, so expect to see some more historical and personal anecdotes. I’ve jumped on NekoJonez’s Tomb Raider writing project, where I’ll be talking about Tomb Raider Anniversary and the difference between it and the very first game of the series, so I have that coming along. Also, I’ve started up my own interview segment: Beans And Screens! I’ve done my first interview as a part of my blog’s first year anniversary. I’m currently have two guests – a certain princess and a hero – booked for an appearance. Oh and I still have you, dear friend, to interview as well! I’m hoping to do more interviews down the road, so it’s definitely a feature to look forward to. Beyond that, I don’t have a set schedule of posts to do – I basically follow what I put on my Google Keep notes. Laughs However I’m hopeful I can get to a point where I can get a dedicated schedule going, both on this and on my writing. Oh, one thing I do want to add here is that when I’m at the point in my fanfiction that it’s the best it can be, I plan on hosting it on the blog. I feel like I’ll get more exposure that way, but that’s going to be a long way down the road… I still have the first draft to finish and revise and I’m only 12 out of 27 chapters into the first part.

 

ninjamage.pngNinja: Well it sounds like everyone should certainly keep an eye on Games with Coffee, you have some good content coming soon it seems, especially that interviews. I mean, what greater highlight could there be then interviewing me? laugh Thanks so much for sitting down with me, I really appreciate it, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know you more. If anybody is interested in learning just a bit more about you I intentionally asked some different questions from another interview you have on your site, and people can find that here (link).

 

coffeemageCoffee: Thanks for having me! And I look forward to having you in the studio for Beans and Screens! I surmise it’s gonna be hilarious! Laughs And as we close, I’ll sign off by saying “This is Ryan from Games with Coffee, reminding everyone to Keep Gaming and Keep Brewing!”
The Mail Order Ninja Mage loves video games across every console: an assassin of fanboy nonsense. He also really loves martial arts and pizza, though that is of no consequence here. To read more of his random word soup, or to view daily(ish) photo mode screenshots from his favorite games, visit him at Home Button

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