By Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman
vil Avatar. He's a nameless, faceless guy who opened a gaming community gossip site a few months ago, and quickly gained a reputation...whether good or bad depends on who you're asking. Since then, the site has changed significantly, with more changes to be seen in the future. We here at loonygames were curious about the person behind the site so we sat down with Evil Avatar for an interview. Enjoy!
Name/rank/serial number? Evil Avatar/First Lt. National Security Agency/L456789-1234
Well, that in itself brings up another question I was going to ask later...I know people are dying to know...who ARE you anyway? :) Hurm...Well, I think I'm some guy who runs a web page where I get to mouth off about something that I love, computer games. I'm not in the gaming industry, at least I'm not a developer, so I'm not anyone that people would hear my name and go, "Oh, I know who that is." I have helped out on a few small game projects, but I don't consider myself an insider or a developer.
What do you do in real life? I'm a programmer.
And you won't tell me for who, will you. I would rather not say, these days, all businesses have an Internet presence, so I don't really need anyone calling my boss and saying, "Did you know that Evil Avatar works for you?"
Understandable. The site you run seems to have taken a different turn since it's inception...what was the original intent of the site? I really just had a chip on my shoulder about a couple of different developers and the products they made. After getting a look at some of them at E3, I came back and said, "God, these suck, why is everyone going on about how great they are?" Sites like The Texas Martini Foundation, GamingInsider, and Stomped Enquirer were all the rage, and I said to myself, "I can put up a site like that and get to have my say about games."
Why the change lately to more content and less rants? Good question. I think that the other content, the daily news came out of my desire to have "something" online on a daily basis. But, if you follow GamingInsider, you see that you can really only rant on a few topics or just when something rubs you the wrong way. I still wanted readers to be there when I had something to rant about, so I started putting up news on anything that I personally had found and thought was interesting. Then, I started adding reviews so that I could have a forum for longer rants, stuff that would look funny if it took up the whole main page. It kind of snowballed from there...
Where do you see the site going in the future? I would like to shift back to doing more Opinion related stuff, get opinion pieces from other people, as well as do better structured opinion stuff myself. Less of the daily grind that you can find anywhere, and more reviews of demos and of the full versions of games, but still heavily biased with the reviewer's personal opinion. If I read one more generic preview that doesn't tell me if a game is any good, I'm going to blow chunks. So, I would like to get back to the real rant quality opinion stuff.
You've certainly gotten your share of hate mail and angry readers from things you've written. Is there a line you won't cross in your opinion pieces? I think that other than printing something that just isn't true, there isn't much I wouldn't say on the page. I don't have a problem with slamming someone on a personal basis, because lets face facts, if you're out there putting your personal views in a daily .plan file you have to expect some backlash. Game developers seem to go out of their way to make asses of themselves, so I don't mind calling them on it when it happens. I wouldn't want to print something that wasn't either our opinion on a game, or that isn't true, but other than that, its all fair game.
There was a pretty ugly incident a few months ago involving a site you now host publishing a 'story' about a certain game developer's wife. How do you feel about that piece now, and what did you think at the time it was printed? At the time it was printed, I thought it was great stuff, but that was because I haven't met that person or his Wife. So, I thought the person putting out the story was being accurate, digging up the dirt on someone who was flaunting their lifestyle in public. Later on, I realized that was more of a personal slam and not insider information, so it changes your view on the story. But, regardless, it wasn't a story written by that site, it was mail that they had received and then printed...so, its a weird area, if you print a slam, is that as bad as writing one yourself? The person who wrote that could have just as easily posted it to the newsgroups and everyone still would have gotten to read it...
There is a fear, however, that people could use sites like yours to wage personal hate campaigns against other people, using things that just aren't true. Do you make an attempt to verify facts before publishing them? I make quite a bit of effort these days to verify stuff. Now, if it is a rumor about a game, or a new game add-on, then I'm going to print it even if it isn't true, because rumors about new games are just fun stuff and don't hurt anyone. Anything more serious, then I spend quite a bit of time checking into it before I publish it.
You have been accused, and proof has been shown on a few occasions, of copying text word for word from Blue's website. How do you respond to that? I am new to the whole news thing, so I didn't see any harm in it...read Blue's site and you will see that he gets almost all his stuff from other sites, who get all their stuff from other sites, and they go around and around. I feel that all I was doing was the same thing everyone else did, I just wasn't putting the little "source" message at the bottom of the article. Also, Blue's articles have so little content to them, they aren't really articles at all, but more of "Headlines". So, I didn't feel it was wrong when I was doing it, but I'm not doing it any more because I don't want to step on any toes...it is their article even if it is just a headline and so when I do post something that I took word for word from Blue, I give him credit now.
Our community seems to have an affinity for pretending to be best friends with everyone, even when they're not. In your case, however, it seems a lot of people openly dislike you, 'hate' was used in a few cases when I mentioned I was doing this interview. How do you react to people like that? Neat. I didn't know anyone hated me. I think that means that I'm doing a good job. Something I wrote must have pissed them off good. I take it to mean that as a kind of rumor/rant writer I must have done a good job if anyone feels that strongly.
I saw you hanging around the forums where we were discussing the 'state of the community,' and the article we recently ran on it. What do you think about the community as it is now? I think that the community is very empty right now. There aren't a lot of personalities left, everyone seems to be so busy with the "business" of running a good web page that they forgot what they started the page for in the first place. I talked with some people running a big web site recently and I asked them, "have you played...such and such really Hot game" and they said, "I don't have time to play games, I'm too busy". That is pretty sad when you're running a game web page and not playing games.
You've started hosting sites yourself recently...was this a business decision, or done for content? Done for content and for friendship. I hosted one person because I knew them really well, and they wanted a place to put editorials without having to feel they needed to update on a daily basis. Then, I wanted to start doing something with Flight Sims because I'm new to them, but that fell through because I just haven't played enough of them yet. Other than that, I don't really host anyone.
What are your favorite games? Rainbow Six and SpecOps. I really like the idea of the change in a first person shooter from something where your character runs around a Level like a combination of Arnold and Sly to something where you really have to be careful when you creep around a corner.
You've been very outspoken about business ruining the 'art' of making games. What games are you most looking forward to in the next year? Trespasser. I have trashed them a couple of times because I heard (and saw) how poorly it ran at E3, but I would like to see them succeed because it is something kind of fresh. Hmmm...Oh, and all the WWII Flight Sims, I think those are great.
Last question...what are your favorite websites? Hmmm...I visit a lot of sites for news, but I wouldn't call them my favorites. I think that UOVault is an excellent page, they always have tons of content, and it is all game specific and important to the people who are playing that game. Oh, the site I liked best is gone...Single Player Quake/Quake 2.
I think my two favorite sites right now are Single Player Unreal over at PlanetUnreal and the Arizona Lan Bashers League over at Gibbed.com. I'm a new member of the ALL. I'm also a fan of all the Unreal pages, it is the game I'm having the most fun with right now outside of Rainbow Six and Ranger Team Bravo.
Thanks! Check out Evil Avatar's site, the Weakly Web News!
- Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman is an associate editor for loonygames.
Credits: Community Profile logo illustrated by and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Community Profile is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is just a bad idea. We have lawyers.