Hi there, gamers!
With this in mind, I hope it is appropriate to interview Mr. Corey van den Hoogenband of the website Button Masher T.O.
Let’s begin. Firstly, how would you describe the Button Masher T.O. blog?
What is your personal process by which you get an idea for a post, and how do you go about writing it?
More likely than not, the process begins with me jumping out of bed late at night to grab my phone and make a memo about what it is I want to write about. I can say with confidence though that in my experience the key to writing a successful article is writing about what you care about and why you care about it. There’s going to be a million other sites covering the exact same news stories whether that’s gaming, politics, what have you – and readers can get that same news anywhere. What’s going to bring people towards your article is how you perceive that news. Your opinion is your greatest ally – and if it differs from everyone else, even better!
If you wanted an example, early in July a trailer dropped for the “A Matter of Family” Batgirl DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight. I noticed that in the trailer Harley Quinn, a character I think is great, is sporting her original outfit from the ’90s Batman cartoon. Instead of writing an article saying “Check out this new trailer!” like everyone else did, I wrote something along the lines of “Harley Quinn Goes Old School in New Batgirl DLC.” Even a month later, that article brings in at least 30 visitors a day.
Are there any writers who particularly inspire you?
I think I’m influenced most greatly by Greg Miller and the rest of the guys at Kinda Funny. I’ve been reading Miller’s stuff since he first showed up at IGN in the late 2000s, and his style of writing worked in such a way that it didn’t feel like text on screen, it felt like your nerdy friend telling you why you would or wouldn’t like game x. I hope my writing comes across the same way to readers – that there’s a guy on the other end who’s excited to tell them about whatever the article is about.
Now that the Button Masher podcast is up on iTunes, can you share some interesting things about making a podcast?
Without a doubt the hardest part of a podcast is starting each episode. Once the ball is rolling you feel fine going for 30, 40, 50 minutes, but I know whether it’s me on Podcast Engage or Nic hosting CineMasher, we always do four or five intro attempts before we get it right. “Heeeeello internet and welcome to the… no no no that was way too lame.” Picture that but in ten plus variations each episode.
I see you cover a lot of cool nerdy pop culture, focusing on video games but not exclusively so. From Muppets to Bojack Horseman, what are some of your favorite non-gaming franchises and stories?
Well the whole idea of not exclusively covering games is an extension of our longing to just share and celebrate the stuff that we would talk about anyways if Nic, Damion, the others, and myself were sitting around at a bar. When it comes to non-gaming I’d say some of my personal favourite franchises would have to be Batman: The Animated Series, Breaking Bad, the A Song of Ice and Fire books, and most recently this exceptional comic book series, Saga.
What were your favorite games growing up?
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask was the first game I got addicted to. I was too young to beat the game’s first temple so I’d just run around exploring Termina as Link until my three day cycle ran out, then I’d start again and repeat. You wouldn’t believe how excited I was when I found an old Nintendo Power Magazine with a walkthrough of Majora’s Mask’s dungeons and realized there was more to Zelda than just cutting down bushes. My life was changed…I’ve yet to figure out if that was for better or worse.
What are your favorite games currently?
Right now I’m obsessed with Batman: Arkham Knight. I caved and bought the 40 dollar season pass, so hopefully it’ll supply me with the Batman fix I desperately crave all the way up until the new year. I’m a weak, weak man.
Other than that I’m all about Splatoon on the Wii U and just downloaded Rocket League, but I still haven’t had a chance to try it out.
What games these would you recommend for the novice, casual gamer (like myself)?
If you have a PS3 or PS4, the number one game I’d recommend a casual gamer to check out is Journey. It’s a short game, no longer than 3 hours, but it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and in such a short time is able to take you through the emotional highs and lows that made me fall in love with games. Also, the story is super ambiguous so it forces you to let your imagination fill in the blanks, kind of like we used to do with early 8-bit games where those consoles simply weren’t strong enough to craft high levels of storytelling.
Lastly, with the advent of smartphones and ever-evolving computer technology, from the casual gamer to the most hardcore console warrior, what do you predict will be the future of gaming?
It’s a long way off, but the future of gaming should be a single platform where all games new and old are accessible. You’re already seeing the consoles fuse; the Xbox One and PS4 are more similar than any console generation before them. The only real difference is exclusives, and more and more developers are publishing games on multiple consoles. The only reason we don’t yet have a “single console” is because both Xbox and Playstation (and Nintendo!) want to be that system and refuse to let the others take the throne. PlayStation Now; Steam; and Nintendo’s E Shop are all championing digital access to games of yesteryear, so I don’t think a single platform that hosts both a multitude of brand new games developed by Nintendo; Sony; Xbox; or any other company, and also offers access to any game in the industry’s relatively short history is too far off the mark.