Nik Mikros, Josh DeBonis, Brooklyn 2015

EPISODE 001: Nik Mikros & Josh DeBonis on loving the game

Jenna: Ok. How about another way to make real life more interesting? … So if your games are like a…
Nik: I don’t think my imagination is that big. I think real life is really fucking interesting. It’s incredibly interesting. The more you find out about real life, the more you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s kind of incredible. That’s amazing.’

Our first NODcast episode goes to Nik Mikros and Josh DeBonis, the game designers behind BumbleBear Games and the famous 10-player arcade game, Killer Queen.

Killer Queen is a game where, “two teams, each led by a powerful Queen, face off to be the first to bring the giant snail god home, fill their hive with nectar, or execute a triple assassination of the enemy Queen.”

Killer Queen has won numerous awards, and is at the forefront of a multi-player arcade game revival. It even has its own eponymous beer.

Here’s what Josh and Nik had to say about how they got started as game designers, Killer Queen, and why it’s important to play games – especially as an adult. Subscribe on iTunes

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Josh:  …I just always love games.

When I was a kid I would always want to play board games and nobody would play them with me. And then video games… so I got really into that. I thought to make my own games I had to learn to program, which is wrong, but I’m glad I did. So I taught myself to program to make some games.

I honestly never thought of it as a career. It wasn’t… I didn’t really think of games as a… I didn’t think of the designer behind it very much. I think the one designer that I definitely knew as a teenager was Richard Garriott who designed the Ultima games.

I don’t know, I never really saw it as a career path. Then I went to school for music, I was playing music. And I think I started just to see more independent games being made and I just saw that as an opportunity that I felt I could do. And it seemed creatively fulfilling and I just started doing it. I don’t know, there wasn’t very much behind it other than it just felt right, and I just fell into it. To some extent I always did it. Even before I was doing it professionally I was making my own experimental little projects or games I would play with friends, we would mod them…

Nik:  My story is pretty similar. I think I probably played less board games than you did when I was growing up. I played Dungeons and Dragons quite a bit, which is not really a board game. I played a lot of, I just remember playing… I have a big family so there was a lot of tag games and running games and stuff like that. When the cousins would get together, it’s just like immense. My father has 7 brothers and sisters and my mom has 5, so, it’s a pretty big family. There was a lot of that, a lot of playing games on the street, I grew up in New York… And when video games came around, it was just like, it was magical.

It was just magical. It was just like – “I can play the TV!” That was what I was thinking. I can play the TV. And I thought that was the most amazing thing.

Me and my brothers started making some little games. We had an Atari 2E and then a Commodore 64, yeah a Commodore 64. We made some games. And I was always playing a lot of games. But I didn’t really think… this could be my career. Much like Josh, there was just like… now it’s like, “Go to Full Sail academy and learn how to play games, learn how to make games!”…and all this stuff. Now, you can… Every school in the country has some kind of games development program.

Josh: Do you think that you would’ve gone to one of those if they had existed?

Nik: No.

Josh: Because you wouldn’t have thought about it or because it didn’t appeal to you at that age?

Nik:  …I don’t know, they just look like junk to me, most of them.

Josh: Well, because you know better now.

Nik:  Right. But I think even at the time.

Josh: I don’t know, like the NYU Game Center has a great program.

Nik: That’s definitely a good program. I don’t know, maybe. Maybe, you know? I think I would’ve tried to get in to something.

Josh: I think I probably wouldn’t have. When I was in my late teen years, I moved away from games for a little while.

Nik: Me too actually, I really got into painting. I was a painter, and then that led to me doing a lot of underground comics. I just was really getting into all of that. And I think I just started playing games again when I moved in with my brother again. We were playing a ton of War Craft 2. I was just like, “This is the best thing ever. I’m just not getting any sleep and just dreaming about War Craft 2 all the time…” That’s when we were just like, “Yeah, I think we can start making games again.”

So… Just started doing it again and this was like pre GameLab and pre… like there was no such thing as indies. It was all shareware. There was no clear path to… I feel like when the indies started rolling around, then a business model emerged. Then there was really… We were programming databases and doing IT work to pay the bills. There wasn’t a whole lot of, “Oh yeah, I’m going to do work for a higher game.” That didn’t really exist.

Jenna:  What was the point of no return for the both of you? You’ve always loved games and you came back it and you thought they were interesting like, “Oh, we should make more games…” You know, there’s a lot of time between being interested in games and then both running your own companies doing games. What was the moment or series of moments where you looked at it and you were like, “Well, I’m going to be a video game designer now and this is going to be awesome.”

Josh: For me I’m pretty sure that moment must’ve been… I had been doing games on my own part time and doing some other work the rest of the time just to pay the bills. Then I got a freelance gig with GameLab. That was a turning point for me because I met a lot of people through that. I think it was very formative for me as far as philosophy of how to develop games and design games. It was a point when I realized, “Okay, this is definitely something that I can dedicate to fully.”

There was really no turning back from there. After that point there was no doubt, whether it was something that I could really make a career of. I really didn’t see myself doing any other types of software, which I had sort of been doing previously to pay the bills. I also, that’s when I stopped playing music commercially. I think that was the point. Which was around I think 2004 or something.

Nik: For me it was… This company, this start-up, I don’t even know what to call them these days, start-up web company I guess. Had hired me and my brother. The company was started by a bunch of guys that I knew in grad school. We were there for literally one month. It was just like, we were just both miserable. We just hated it. We didn’t even know why we were there. We were just like, “What are we doing here?”

We quit and then like “fuck it… We’ll just quit.” And then we got a tiny studio under the Empire State building. It was like, smaller than this room. And I’m like, “Okay, we’re just going to make games.” The rent was $200 a month, which seems absurd now, right? We’re just going to sit in this room, this mouse infested like fruit fly infested room and just crank the shit out. And around the same time, I met Eric actually… through John Simon.

Josh: Eric Zimmerman?

Nik:  Eric Zimmerman, yeah. He was just starting off GameLab a little bit after that. And I was like, “Okay, this is a whole other way to do what I’m doing.” I felt that, that was really… I guess that must’ve been around 1999-2000. I was just like, “Okay, this is like… ” I wasn’t really quite sure. We made our shareware game and it did okay. It wasn’t like… but we were still sustaining ourselves mostly by fixing people’s computers and whatever.

I just couldn’t really wrap my head around how I can make a living out of this. So when I met Eric, I was like, “Oh, I see. This is a whole other world.”

Josh: I had a similar revelation with, I had somehow got on their mailing list. I must’ve downloaded one of their games or something. I got an invite to a party that they had.

Nik: Was it their first party when they opened up?

Josh: No, they had been open, it was maybe an anniversary party or something. They’ve been around a year, I don’t know how long. So I went there and I saw the studio. Then I really realized like, “Okay, this is a real thing.”

Nik: Yeah, this is a real business. This isn’t like what I doing.

Josh: Right. And yet the games were really cool. I’ve never really been enamored with a whole lot of AAA games. It’s just never appealed to me and still doesn’t. When I saw the types of games over there…

Nik: You say that but you love StarCraft.

Josh: Yeah. It’s a rare exception. There’s some that I like. Not to get too sidetracked, but StarCraft, it doesn’t have a lot of things that are problematic in AAA games like cut scenes and, emphasis on story and stuff like that. StarCraft, I only play the multi-player part of StarCraft.

Anyway, I loved the games that they were making. They were like these little tiny, very experimental, weird games. And…

NikJunkbot.

Josh: Yeah, and I met some of the people there and I was like, “Okay.” And it was cool, it was a really hip office party. I felt not nearly cool enough to be there.

Nik: Oh yeah. No, me too man. I felt like, I am not, way not cool enough to be hanging out with these guys.

Josh: There’s a DJ there and like …

Nik: It’s just like, kind of crazy.

Josh: I mean that may have been the point where it kind of clicked for me. I had no idea that a year or two later I would be working there.

Nik: Yeah, I think I feel or felt exactly the same way. I was like, “I don’t know if I belong here.” I was not cool enough to be with these guys, but I was really inspired by what they were doing.

Josh: Mm-hmm.

Jenna:  So what makes a game good?

Nik: Ah, nobody knows.

Josh: Nobody knows, that really depends on the player, doesn’t it.

Jenna: It’s just like a secret sauce for…

Josh: It really is, I mean… That’s a question we’ve really struggled with because of Killer Queen. Right? Because there is, I mean I can say without a doubt that it’s a good game now. And I feel like I’m not tooting my own horn or anything. Enough people have told me these amazing experiences that they’ve had with it. That I know there’s something really great about that game. It’s not just good, there’s something great. But I don’t know what it is! I which I knew how because I want to do it again.

You know? Ah…

Nik: It’s easy to make a good game, it’s hard to make a great game. I think that’s really… Like Pixel Prison Blues, it’s a good game. You know? And people have a lot of fun playing it, but it’s not the same.

Josh: Right. It’s not great. Yeah… It’s tough to say. There are certain fundamental things that have to be there to be good. To me a big part of that…

Nik: Those are just… That’s like nuts and bolts game design stuff, right? It’s not like… if you were a chef, you wouldn’t want to use rancid butter, right? You could put all the ingredients in, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to make, that thing. It totally has like its own life now. It’s its own thing, apart from us.

Josh: Right. The one thing that I have realized that can make a game great… It’s not in every great game but it’s in a lot of them, is there’s something just a little weird about it. Defining what that means I can’t do. Just as a designer, I know like with Killer Queen there’s just something a little off. But that’s what makes it great. And I’ve seen this in other games that I would consider great.

Nik: There’s a lot of games that have that and are terrible. Where it’s like, you really want to believe in the game and there’s something a little weird and off about it, but it just falls flat. I don’t know if that’s it either.

Josh: Right. Obviously it’s no one thing.

Nik: It’s no one thing.

Josh: But… luck? I think my answer is luck. A lot of it is just…

Nik: Divine intervention.

Josh: Enough games had been made at this point that there’s like a certain number of them that are really great. And Nick and I, we were counting… We counted at least 70 games that we’ve each made and it’s probably more than that.

Nik: Mm-hmm. There’s definitely some real gems in there. But it’s not the same, it’s just not the same. There’s games that… I say this all the time, there’s games that I’ve made that millions of people played and they’re okay. They’re good games, but it’s not, it’s just not the same. People aren’t crazy about them. They’re not, they don’t inspire this kind of loyalty and just rabid… I don’t even know how to describe it.

People talk about the game, they make videos about the game. They send this fan art, they do all this stuff. That’s really kid of… For us, I think for both of us, that’s really a whole different kind of thing. Also, a lot of those games that I made I’m completely anonymous. So, even if they were talking about it, it wouldn’t come back to me at all.

Josh: I know another thing that also makes a lot of games great, which is iteration in the process. All of the best games are just iterated upon relentlessly. They don’t resemble their original form in any way. I think that’s true of many games. Especially the really great ones, they take so many, so many revisions and players playing it, and revising it.

Nik: Isn’t that generally just our process though? Again, it’s just game design fundamentals, right? Where you’re like, it’s going to be shit and then you’re going to work on it and you’re going to iterate on it and hopefully at some point, it’s not going to be shit. Right? That’s the trajectory. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be great. So… I don’t know. I feel like all the games that we did for Come Out & Play were kind of great in their own way. They all had a really, I don’t know, there was something really special about all of them.

Josh: Right. Yeah. I wouldn’t really, I wouldn’t consider…

Nik: They’re not on the same level.

Josh: Yeah.

Nik: You know what, if you would say Killer Queen the field game… I don’t think it’s on the same level as the arcade game.

Nik: No.

Jenna: Who do you make games for? If you could describe either a person or a group of people… Do you have them in mind when you’re designing or are you just trying to satisfy yourselves?

Nik: It used to be art directors. [Laughs]

Josh: [Laughs] We’ve both made games that are for all different specific audiences. I think our certain aesthetic that we’d like to design for is a pretty broad one. It’s not everybody, but it’s a lot of people. Definitely, Killer Queen for instance, I mean we purposely wanted to make it something that you could have kids play, and teenagers and adults, and they go and play together. You can also have people who have played hundreds of thousands of games paying side-by-side with somebody who it’s their first game. They’re all working together, they’re all contributing and they’re all having a good time. I think …

Nik: We’ve also done a lot more niche stuff too.

Josh: Sure, but I think that general philosophy is what we like designing. We like designing for everybody, or at least everybody who really cares. I think we don’t really like designing these incredibly casual games that are meant to just fill time and that literally anybody will play for 30 seconds. I think with our games, our games that we really want to design, you have to engage with it. You have to give it a little bit of effort. If somebody… It’s not for that person who says, “I don’t really like games. I don’t play games.” Even though I think if they tried, they would totally get into it and they would understand it. We don’t try to just suck in everybody, in the way something like Candy Crush does.

Nik: There was a while where I was doing a lot of, these kind of advergaming games. The most important thing was that you actually finish on time. It didn’t really matter whether the game was good or not or whatever. And most of the time…

I remember this one project in particular, stuck in my mind, where you had to, it was for Slim Jim. You had to… there was an antelope that was made out of Slim Jims, that was running around in a deli or something…

Jenna:  Ew.

Nik: …and you had to shoot him. [Laughs] Yeah, exactly.

I was programming this thing and I was trying to make it somewhat challenging. And the art director on the project kept telling me, “No, no, no, no! The player has to win.” I’m like, “Oh, but then it’s not a game.” He’s like “It’s not a game, it’s an advertisement.” It was just, that’s when you start really hating your job I think.

I feel like, yeah I want to design for casual players but I want to design for players. I want to design for people who really want to play games, who understand that there are consequences that they might lose. And that it’s not just about self-glorification and winning all the time. I think that that’s become a big part of games now. The uber-juiciness, the uber-stroking of the ego has gotten kind of out of control.

In Killer Queen we don’t really need to even think about it. Because it’s player versus player. I don’t know if it were something else. How would that feel? I don’t know. I think that when it’s player versus player, people are more willing to say, “Yeah, I lost because it’s another human being, it’s not a machine.” And I think, I mean I know I’m going off the track here. I think that that’s really part of the universal appeal of it too. Is the fact that if you lose, you’re losing to a person. I think that people are more willing to accept that.

Josh: Sure.

Jenna:  So for people that really care about their work, they want their work to say something, sometimes. And they want it to be a part of something greater than just the room that you created it in.

Right? You’re creating it with the hope that these players play it and they love it and have fun.

We’re living in this gaming environment right now where there’s certain things happening. Certain games that are coming out that people are really into and there’s trends… Where do you see your work falling into that environment, and what do you want to be able to say about your work when all is said and done and you’re sitting at a beach somewhere, drinking a margarita and looking back on it?

Nik: I don’t know, do you know?

Josh: Yeah, I know. I think our games, especially the games that we want continue making in the future, we want to really focus on the social aspect and on the people playing them and the communities around it.

Both of us has been floored by the community that’s come out of Killer Queen. It’s just so amazing. I think that’s probably, that is the most rewarding part of making games that I’ve had to this date, it’s that community that’s around it. To be able to go hang out at the NYU Game Center every Friday and people pay Killer Queen and I just go to play, I’m not there as a designer. That’s really amazing.

Nik: Where do you think that we fit in… I mean to answer your question, where do you think we fit in, in the world of League of Legends and Spelunky and all that? We’re really kind of, totally out in the left field too.

Josh: I don’t think it’s very far off from League of Legends. Both of those games are very similar. The main difference is, one you’re playing at home with people over the internet and one you’re playing at an arcade cabinet. They are both very community-driven, they’re both multi-player. The game-play is actually pretty similar once you strip away all the trappings. They’re both…

Some people have said to me that they feel like Killer Queen is a, what do you call it, MMO-MOBA [Massively Multiplayer Online GameMultiplayer Online Battle Arena]. I can see that. And in many ways it is. I wouldn’t consider it that, but I could see the argument. Certainly there is a lot in common. What I would love to see, my ultimate dream is to see a resurgence of multi-player arcade games. That’s… If we can make that happen at least in some small part, I will be more than happy with that.

Nik: I feel like we’ve kind of almost done it.

Josh: We see a certain habit and we see a lot of people wanting it…. Ultimately …

Nik: I’m not saying we’re there, but we’re getting pretty close.

Josh: We see new arcades opening all the time and they’re all focusing on all of these multi-player games. A lot of them from the 90’s right now. Because that’s what exists. They’ll have 6 player X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and some Skee-Ball or NBA Jam, and Killer Queen. What I would love to see happen is that these places start to become even more prevalent and they also start to have more and more newer games that are in that vein.

I hope to see other designers doing it and I hope that it creates a space that we can do more. Because we used to love doing it, it’s the process that’s so much fun. We kind of need those venues to exist. Also I want them to exist just…

Nik: Outside of us.

Josh:  … just to play as a player. I was just on vacation last week and I went to two, I went to a Barcade, and to this multi-player gaming thing in Kansas. While I was there, just as a player because I wanted to check it out. I was excited by it, even though I was on vacation, I still was just, doing the same things I do for work.

Nik: Isn’t that funny “you’re on vacation so you won’t play any games?” [Laughs]

Josh: [Laughs] I did, I played a surprising amount of arcade games out in Kansas.

Nik: I couldn’t agree more about seeing more games in public spaces and arcades seem to be a good way to do that…

It’s exciting. And I think we’re kind of a little bit at the forefront of that. Which is kind of amazing.

Josh: Yeah. Yeah, you know what blows me away is especially talking to some of the Chicago Killer Queen players, because we’re kind of removed from them. It’s them saying, “You see all these people here? They’re all my friends. And I didn’t know any of them until I started playing Killer Queen.” And that’s so amazing.

Nik: Yeah, that’s amazing. It is amazing. You can see it, they’re really close. They’re really, really close. They’re just such a tight community. There’s so much love there, it’s kind of amazing.

Josh: And we’re friends with a lot of them too, that’s the other thing that’s great…

Nik: Yeah, we’ve become friends with them now. That is pretty amazing.

It’s like we’ve become friends with like there’s all these little pocket communities that we’ve become friends with now.

That alone is worth the price of admission, I think.

Jenna: Did you ever have anyone that was doubting that you guys would do this? Did you ever like, I mean …

Josh: Yeah.

Nik: Us. [Laughs]

Josh: Us and everybody. [Laughs]

Nik: Everyone, everyone.

Josh: To this day, I mean it’s something that we still struggle with. In that even though the game has to some degree proven itself, to a lot of the people involved in the arcade business, they either don’t get it or generally…

Nik: They don’t want to get it.

Josh: Yeah, they either don’t get it or don’t want to get it or it really doesn’t work in their world.

Jenna: Do you think you maintain positivity in… It takes a lot just to be like, “You know what? We’re going to do this anyways and it’s going to be awesome.” Right?

Josh: Yeah.

Nik: I think it’s also easy when the players are fueling you. When the players are so excited about it and you know, “Okay, this is something good, despite whatever all these other people say.” I think, we feel it’s good, but I think that there’s also this whole army of people who think it’s great, and that really helps I think.

Josh: Even with many of our peers who are game developers, maybe not or definitely not doing commercial arcade games. Many of them are, always surprised to hear that there’s more than just a couple cabinets out there now. It’s just not, it just doesn’t seem something feasible. Even to me I’m astounded that there’s almost twenty of them out there.

Nik: Now the phenomena is like, “Well you guys did it, but you were unique.”

Josh: Right. They don’t think that somebody else can do it.

Nik: They don’t think that they can follow in our footsteps, which is absurd. I get a lot of that. “Well, you guys did it, but you know, now it’s done,” as if it it’s a one-off or something…

Josh: I have to admit, I’m worried about our next game in the vein. We’ve done other games since, but not really like the spiritual successor of that game, of Killer Queen. That’s something that we want to make soon. It’s a high standard to live up to. It’s also… we’re going into it knowing all the hurdles that we had to cross unintentionally with Killer Queen.

Nik: We’re so much more knowledgeable too.

Josh: That’s true. Which could be dangerous, right? Killer Queen worked because…

Nik: We were so ignorant. [Laughs]

Josh: [Laughs] Yeah. Because we didn’t set out to make an arcade game. So many things came about unintentionally or just naturally. It naturally worked as an arcade game, it sort of fell there. But what I worry about it we start making another arcade game, it may naturally evolve into a mobile game, an IOS game or something, who knows.

Nik: Well would that be so bad?

Josh: We can actually make some good money.

Nik: Yeah, exactly.

Josh: What I worry about is if we really try to shoe horn it into another arcade cabinet, that’s… that’s a dangerous proposition.

Nik: It is, it is. It’s something that I think about a lot too. Now we’re in the arcade business, can we make something as good? Can we really like, if not top at least be on the same level as Killer Queen?

Josh: One thing that we’ve sort of, I mean we’ve discussed this before a little bit. One thing we want to do is something that is in, a slightly different vein. We don’t want to make another 10-person platform or joust-like game.

Nik: Yeah. We don’t want to make Killer Queen 2…

Josh: We want to make something that’s…

Nik: Sorry Kenny. [Laughs]

Josh: Yeah. [Laughs] It has a lot of the same things that are great about it, but is a really quite a different thing that maybe appeals to a slightly different audience or works in a slightly different type of space. Of course there will be a lot of places where both will work well together but also they’re just a little bit apart from each other. I mean I’m saying this, we don’t even know what the game is. I think that’s our guiding philosophy for what we think would make a good follow up. We’ll see once it… It will be something totally different than what we intended, I’m sure. It always is.

Nik: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I mean with Pixel Prison Blues, I mean, there were so many iterations, it was crazy. That’s a game that we did recently for this 30 player platform.

Josh: Called ESC.

Nik: Called ESC… We just went through so many … I think we drove … We did it for Warner Brothers Games and I think we drove them a little bit crazy with our… process.

Jenna: As cheesy as this sounds, if Tron was something that could happen in real life and you could go and you could live inside a video game, which ones would you choose and why?

Josh: Hmm.

Nik: Oh wow… Does it have be a video game?

Jenna: It could be any game, I’m curious to hear what you’d say.

NikDungeons and Dragons, right? It’s kind of like built for that.

Josh: I would want to live in Grand Theft Auto.

Nik: Really?

Josh: Yeah.

Nik: Well you are a rapper though.

Josh: Because of the, I don’t know… it’s all these… It’s a power fantasy based in real life, right? You can’t actually do that in real life. But, of course everybody would like to.

Nik: I don’t have any fantasies in real life. I really don’t. I’m just like, eh.

Jenna : Wait, so you’re living out the life that you, like there’s nothing else that you’d want, or?

Nik: Yeah. I mean it’s like, I don’t know, my life is pretty blessed honestly.

Josh: So, The Sims? That’s your choice? [Laughs]

Nik: No, that’s what I’m saying. Well if I’m going to fantasize about something, I’m going to fantasize something other than real life.

Josh: Right. I see what you’re saying… Ok.

Nik: I’m pretty content. I’m pretty blessed with the life that I have right now. I’m not going to, I don’t know, I don’t want to be a pimp daddy or anything.

Josh: Don’t you want to just drive really fast cars off bridges…

Nik: I can already do that.

Josh: Yeah, but you would kill yourself in doing so. [Laughs]

Nik: You just pay for the collision, it’s the insurance. Just rent out a Ferrari and pay full insurance. [Laughs]

Jenna: K. How about this one, super powers.

Nik: Oh, that’s easy. Flying. Flying I think, no?

Josh: …I want x-ray vision.

Nik: That’s because you’re a perv. [Laughs] X-ray vision would be cool, but come on, flying is kind of amazing.

Josh: Flying would be cool.

Nik: I think flying is, I think flying would be the one. I don’t know.

Jenna: K. How about another way to make real life more interesting? … So if your games are like a…

Nik: I don’t think my imagination is that big. I think real life is really fucking interesting. It’s incredibly interesting. The more you find out about real life, the more you’re like, “Wow, that’s kind of incredible. That’s amazing.”

Josh: Well, you know, I wish that more people had that lust for knowledge, like you were talking about before Jenna. Wanting to know about all these nuances of people’s specialties and seeing how other people live… I feel most people don’t appreciate that and want to go into that level of depth. I think that adds a lot of interest. That’s one of the things that I love about making games is that I get to go so in depth in so many different fields. To researching history for one game, to then learning about graphic shaders for another, to building hardware… using saws to cut arcade cabinets and whatever…

Nik: But you’re not making the world more interesting. The world is coming to you.

Josh: Right. But I wish more people would have that lust for knowledge and for the depth. That’s what would make the world more interesting, as interesting as it is to you, to the three of us.

Nik: Right. Right… Or it would be just… unlivable.

Josh: Why? Why.

Nik: Maybe that world would be completely unlivable, I don’t know.

Jenna: Why, because everyone actually likes what they’re doing or finds interest in what’s around them?

Nik: Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know what the consequences of that would be.

Jenna: Why would that be bad?

Nik: I’m not sure. I’m not sure. I do think the world is fascinating and I do like to learn more about it all the time… In general, I haven’t found that most people are that way. A lot of people are that way, but then there’s a lot of people who are really not that way.

Jenna: Cliché question, what do games teach you about life?

Josh: Problem solving. I think that’s the obvious thing. Don’t you think?

Nik:  Problem solving is one of them. I think there’s… I don’t think people really value play, like playing. It just gives you an excuse. It’s this thing that we do as human beings to give ourselves an excuse to just play. To be playful. And that’s a very powerful thing. Problem solving is part of it, and yes you can become smarter. There’s all the… What is that, the thing that they keep advertising on NPR that makes you smarter, these games that make you smarter and all that stuff.

I think we’re a little bit embarrassed, as a society to just play.

An answer to your other question, it would be great if people… If I saw people just like going out into the street, like adults. And just start hula-hooping or whatever. That would be amazing. That would be incredible. I think that games … I think a lot of the games that we have especially give people the license to run. And to experience that kind of joy again. And not be children.

I think that’s an important thing that games do for people. That is… It’s immeasurable how important that is.

Jenna: Why?

Nik: Because the world is awesome.

And if you filter it in a certain way, then it’s even more awesome.

But if you can’t experience joy, if you can’t tap into that part of yourself, then it’s just… like a miserable place.

I think if people could experience that more, it would be a better world.

That’s hard to do when you live in a war torn country or whatever. But we don’t. We live in the most affluent country in the world.

We could be even better than we are. If.. if I think if we could tap into that more and tap into understanding each other more.

One thing that games also do is you really understand people on a different level when you play games with them.

I feel like if I play a game with somebody, I really understand that person much better. What their true personality is.

So I think it’s… it’also a way to bridge people together.

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