Staff Bio: Bryan Berg

Name: Bryan Berg
Nicknames: Berg, The Game
Location: Long Island, NY

Three Favorite Genres
– Sports
– RPGs
– Platformers

Three Favorite Games
– Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
– Super Mario World (SNES)
– Mortal Kombat II (SNES)

Favorite Console: Super Nintendo

Other Places I can Be Found
The Rivalry – New York Islanders/Rangers Blog. I cover the Islanders.
Mets Merized Online – A New York Mets Blog.
Facebook – I occasionally post notes about such irrelevant things as baseball and my personal life.

Bio
Before burning out on the gaming industry in early 2005, Bryan Berg enjoyed a lengthy run as one of the industry’s most influential commentators. Sure, he took himself way too seriously in those days, but he has a very impressive legacy of stolen ideas and ripped-off columns as a result. Bryan has always been more fascinated with the business of video gaming than the actual games themselves, but he still enjoys playing as often as he can. The greatest highlights of his video gaming life were receiving a NES for Christmas in 1989 and winning Super Bowl XLII in Madden 07 when his own custom player returned a kickoff for a touchdown with 30 seconds left.

Q&A
1)Chuck Platt: Berg? Didn’t he die in a pet store fire?
– Not to my knowledge.

2)ML Kennedy: You are going to spend the day in Tijuana with a Nintendo villain. Whom do you choose?
– I’d have to go with Wario. I can see him being a quality wingman. He can hit on young girls and do his creepy laugh, which would amuse me to no end. Besides, I appreciate his keen sense of fashion. If Wario wasn’t available, I’d have to go with Golgo 13. He just seems like he’d be the coolest guy in person.

3)Guy Desmarais: You can build your own hockey team from any video games character EVER for the upcoming “Super Smash Hockey” game. Who’s on your team, and what position do they play?
– OK, here goes…

Goalie: King Hippo. Maybe not the mobility you’re looking for in a netminder, but he’d take up the entire net. That goes a long way with me.

Defense: Waluigi. Just the kind of doofy, lumbering, stay-at-home defenseman you need. If he couldn’t clear out the crease, he’d look pretty funny trying.

Defense: Sonic. He’d be the Paul Coffey of the team – blazing speed and skill at both ends. And he’d be impossible to take out of the play as long as he has at least one ring in his possession.

Left Wing: Mega Man. Mega Man is the de facto “soft European” of the group. He has great skills on the wing and flies back like a little bitch when he gets hit. Has a great shot from the point.

Center: Ryu (Ninja Gaiden). Has there ever been a video game star more prepared for hockey? Tremendous athletic ability… zero personality. Quotes like “…” have him ready to compete with the league’s elite for Most Entertaining Interview.

Right Wing: Zangief. The prototypical power forward – just park it in front of the net and tap in the garbage. More than willing to drop the gloves if necessary. Zangief also fulfills the Russian player quota.

4)Charlie Marsh: If you could give any Mortal Kombat fatality to Jack Thompson, what would it be?
– Probably Kano’s heart fatality. I’d like for him to see just how blackened and shriveled his heart has become. I’ve never seen someone so content to just blame products rather as opposed to attempting to understand the society that creates them. Just a repulsing figure, one certainly deserving of any fatality. Kano’s would just make me smile a little bit more.

5)Bebito Jackson: What is the favorite thing you have ever written & why?
– That’s a tough one. There are a lot of pieces I’m proud of. But I think the one that stands out is the ESRB feature. It really showed me how far we had come as a site and how much I had progressed as a writer. Most importantly, it was the one piece I wrote that had tangible results – a few months after the feature went up, the ESRB made a modification I suggested. The success of the article really is a tribute to everyone involved with the site, which to me is the best part.

6)Alex Lucard: As an avid football (both types), how would you explain why American football is popular over here to a European and why real Football (sccoer) is appealing to the population of the rest of the world except the US?
– Well, the first thing I’d do is point out the similarities between the two games. First, the obvious – both the NFL and the European football leagues print money at will. But going deeper than that, they’ve got a fair amount in common. Both have intricate strategies that get lost in highlight films. Both have superstar players that electrify as well as nauseate, not to mention enjoy fair amounts of times on police blotters. Most importantly, though, both football and soccer require a total team effort to win.

The phenomenon that is American football, while rather simple, is hard to explain. It’s the sport with the most contact, played by the most highly-skilled athletes. But the real reason it’s been so successful? The game has been passed down through the generations, with proud parents telling stories to their children about their football exploits. The team nature of the game makes it so that football becomes a part of those who play it. Later, it becomes a family thing, with father and son bonding over football on a Sunday afternoon. Then, it gets passed on to friends and future generations. Simply put, Americans have such a deep affinity for football that it’s displaced baseball as America’s favorite sport. When an American thinks of baseball, the first word that comes to mind is “steroids”. But Americans are so into the history of football and what the sport means to them that the NFL’s corrupt practices (steroids, shady business deals, etc.) are ignored in favor of The Game.

Americans love watching the highlights of their football heroes, so it’s tougher for them to get into soccer – a game where 90 minutes may go by without anything close to a goal. But in Europe, it’s the only game that matters. The English Premier League, probably the biggest soccer league in the world, is on par with the NFL (if not even further ahead) in terms of its visibility and its popularity in other nations. There is such passion surrounding soccer in Europe that it makes the rowdiest NFL crowd look tame. And the skill, will, and toughness of the players is second to none. People like to talk about soccer players being sissies, but some of these players get beat up worse than American football players. Unfortunately, the United States seems only to care about the highlights that get shown on SportsCenter, and soccer doesn’t really translate to that model. Which is a shame; enough Americans play soccer at a young enough age to be hooked for life. And with the Internet and digital cable, they’ll follow the European game rather than MLS, because the focus just isn’t there in America. Why? Because America is used to winning everything and won’t support a league and national team that is just starting to emerge as an upper-tier soccer power. Perhaps, when the US is in a World Cup final, the sport will reach its’ potential in America. Until then, though, it’ll be a niche sport at best.

7)Misha: What video-game beverage would you most like to try? Pick one alcoholic, and one non-alcoholic.
– I can’t seem to think of an alcoholic drink in a game. But those pills that make you go berserk in Grand Theft Auto look like fun.

As for a non-alcoholic drink… it would have to be some sort of healing potion, like the ones you’d get in Final Fantasy or any role-playing game. I can’t imagine being tired and sore, then drinking something and magically being restored to full health. According to the games, that’s exactly what the potions do.

8)Michael O’Reilly: Name the one thing you wish a game would let you do.
– The one thing that I keep thinking about is first-person gaming. I’m not talking about first-person shooters, because those have been done to death. But what about a first-person action game? What about a first-person hockey game? I feel like the surface has barely been scratched in terms of what developers can do to really put the player inside the game. I mean, how much more realistic can graphics get? That may be the next step developers take to give the illusion of realism.

9)Lee Baxley: Back when I was new to writing, I’m pretty sure I screwed up your first name a lot. Did you hate me for that? Have you ever killed someone because they mess up your name? I know I would.
– If I killed every person that messed up my name, I’d have committed a thousand murders by now. It literally happens all the time. The list of people who think my name is spelled “Brian” is endless, from old teachers to current friends to every single person I work with (they put me in the Outlook system as “Brian Berg” and I can’t change it). So, long story short, I didn’t hate you for that. Do it again, though, and we’ll see how I like it…

10)Chris Pankonin: Has there ever been a movie based on a video game that you actually liked? If the answer is no, do you think there will ever be a decent video game-based movie – especially considering how cinematic most big-time games are these days…
– Outside of the Mortal Kombat movies, I’ve yet to see a game-based movie. I intend to keep it that way. It’s a total Catch-22 for all involved. The movie can never be faithful enough to the game for the fans of the game to like it, and it can’t be separated enough from the game to shake the stigma of a “video game movie” for casual viewers to get into it. In short, it’s money that’s flushed down the toilet, and that loss of money convinces companies to play it safe rather than innovate.

Also, on the topic of games and movies, I believe very strongly that there will never be another good video game based on a movie, because most times the game is just another way to grab money from consumers while it’s still a viable brand name. In my mind, the only good movie-based game was Aladdin… and that was like fifteen years ago.

11) Frederick Badlissi: One of your most poignant pieces was in response to a column you wrote about how much of a racket the game industry was, and one of the responses you received was from a guy who sold all of his games and felt better for it; to borrow a line from a Bad Religion song, he “renewed himself with depravity.”

I’m wondering- have you ever thought of just sparking off your own catharsis by selling it all?
– Ah, yes… Bad Religion.

I still remember that e-mail like it was yesterday. I was shocked, floored, awed, upset, and ecstatic all at the same time. The game industry has always put itself first, and I’m glad somebody finally took a stand. But a lot of us would rather deal with the hassles and have our games. Which side is right? I don’t know.

I’ve briefly thought about selling it all, but ultimately that just concedes defeat to the GameStops of the world, and that’s not the point. However, I do think I stopped writing about video games to achieve that catharsis. From being so intensely involved in the business of the industry, I couldn’t fathom that all of these people were making so much money, but didn’t understand the first thing about customer service. I saw an industry that simply was not going to learn its lessons anytime soon and railing against it burned me out. Since then, it’s gotten a little better… but not much. If gaming wants to be on the level movies are on – and that’s certainly where we’re headed – the industry has an awful lot to learn about putting its’ customers first.

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