As a Public Relations Freelance, I meet with video game journalist in real life and contact them via internet. Passionate, kind and helpful persons. Video Game journalists are an essential link between your game and its audience. This series of interviews, of 10 questions each, presents experienced professional in the video game press from various outlets.
Today, it is a pleasure to introduce you to: Rich and Britt. Founder & Editor-in-Chief and Senior Reviewer at Games Freezer.
Hello Britt & Rich, first thing first, who are you?
Britt– Hello there! I’m Britt Roberts from South Wales, UK and I’m the Senior Reviewer at Games Freezer. Whilst I have freelanced for other sites, Games Freezer is my ancestral home and where I have written over 400 reviews / articles / interviews since meeting Rich, back in 2017.
Prior to this, I was purely a consumer of video games and had no experience in journalism of any sort and so pretty much learned as I went along. Initially, Rich approached me and Faye, my partner, in our guise as Kingdom of Carts. We had been active on Twitter for a year or so due to our games collection and Rich asked us if we would be interested in writing something about how we met and where our love of gaming game from, after we submitted said article, Rich asked if I’d be up for reviewing a game or two and it snowballed from there. I can genuinely say that reviewing games quickly became a huge part of my life and my enthusiasm for it never wanes, I’m lucky to be in the position that I am, I love it!
Rich – Richard Pett – Founder and Editor In Chief of Games Freezer (since 2013)
Do you cover different games depending on the websites you write on?
Britt – The sites I have written for / write for are Games Freezer, Nerdly, Nintendo Life and Games You Loved (probably a couple more that escape me at the moment, sorry!), each were quite different and had their own ways of scoring etc. I would describe them as:
Games Freezer – Free for all! Covering PS4 / Switch / PC / mobile / retro consoles. Whilst we do cover AAA titles, we like to focus on indie and retro. We also have Arthur Parallax as a special correspondent, when he is available.
Nerdly.co.uk – this covers a multitude of mediums such as comics, film, TV etc. but for a couple of years (2018-2019) I handled the vast majority of Nintendo Switch reviews which tended to be larger releases as well as indie.
Nintendo Life – Switch eShop releases. Games You Loved – 100% retro (Chris Hill, owner of GYL is one of my oldest friends in the gaming community and someone that Faye I have a great deal of respect for, it’s always great to catch up with him at Expos and join forces wherever possible)
Rich – I only write and produce video content for Games Freezer and we cover Indie Games and Retro Games mainly. I look for interesting indie games and am instantly drawn to indie games that have a bit of a retro feel to them.
Are you free to decide which games you cover or do you have special demands coming from your Editor at Games Freezer?
Britt – When I first started, Rich would send me specific games that needed reviewing but after a while we began to select the games that interested us from the pool of games that we are sent. I find this works much better for us because it’s hard to objectively review a game in a genre that you never normally play, for instance I tend to avoid epic strategic titles as they don’t appeal to me and playing the games feels like a slog which isn’t fair on the developer.
As I review games for enjoyment and not out of any financial incentive, I will select the titles I review purely on the basis of if they interest me or not after watching a trailer or sometimes even on how enthusiastic a covering email is from a developer to share their creation. I find the creative passion of others inspiring so that drives me, personally. Occasionally I’ll choose one blindly just going off the title alone as this can often lead to some really interesting articles. When a one-man development team from the Ukraine releases a game called, ‘Future Hate: The Endless Legacy of the Immortal Cyborg Children’ and claims it’s a cross between GTA, Deus Ex and Final Fantasy…how can I not want to play it!?
Rich – Britt and I work together to cover off the list of games we are offered each month. Britt covers a lot of the co-op games and point n click puzzle adventure games but we generally turn our hand to whatever takes our fancy in most cases.
GamesFreezer.co.uk is more looking like a retro friendly blog, could you tell us more about its story?
Rich – It all started originally in 2013 as a retro focused blog which only ran retro themed features and retro memories articles. Over the years as the blog established itself more there were opportunities to cover more and more indie games and so the blog evolved into a retro features and indie game reviews blog. With Britt coming on-board in 2016 we started focusing more on the reviews and previews as found that we just loved discovering Indie Game Gold!
Britt – Rich will be able to provide a fuller answer here as he started Games Freezer back in 2013 and I came aboard a few years later. I believe he initially began the site out of a love for gaming and just wanted to share his passion with others.
I know that for some people there is a separation between ‘retro’ gaming and ‘modern’ gaming (the endlessly repeated question of ‘what is retro’ and subsequent arguments really make my eyes fill up with boiling blood and causes my trousers to turn into dragons made of steam) but I am interested in all aspects and eras of gaming and so having an outlet like Games Freezer to pour out not only my love of gaming in a historical sense but also look at what developers are coming up with presently is both humbling and fascinating. For me, the fact that Games Freezer runs on our enthusiasm and is something that we don’t rely on financially means that there’s no pressure and we can be open and honest in our opinions on everything that we cover.
I know for sure that you are indie game lovers, where does that comes from?
Rich – For me the indie game love affair came from getting back into retro gaming around 2012 and then I realised that the retro gaming community shared an affiliation with indie gamers as there was a sense of playing games because they are fun games to play rather than the best looking games or the most advanced. It feels like Indie games have come on a long way since 2012 and now an indie game studio is just as capable as a triple A studio in terms of producing amazing looking games (albeit usually on a smaller scale).
Britt – I am indeed! As a creative person myself (I am the songwriter / vocalist / guitarist in two bands and I have written a couple of books) I’ve always been a big fan of grassroots-based creativity. I love the thought of a few people working on something purely out of love and releasing it to the world. It harkens back to the old bedroom-coder days of the 80’s and the results can be truly inspirational and awe-inspiring.
My reviewing style is pretty much based on a respect for the talent behind the games we receive. I know that games take months and sometimes multiple years to complete so I go into each review with a positive mind-set and tend to only relax the tone and get jokey in the article if it’s a game I have really enjoyed and wills core highly, that way, I’m never punching down on the game. It seems cheap and disrespectful to dismiss games and rip them apart for laughs when someone has clearly spent a great deal of time on the game, regardless of how it turns out. We tend to only give games a ‘Melted’ rating (our lowest) if the game is either fundamentally broken or deeply unpleasant and very, VERY bad, it’s not something we take lightly.
What feelings do you have for the retro game movement and its community?
Rich – The retro community is brilliant, there are so many good people out there all supporting each other’s projects. Whether that’s supporting a blog, website, YouTube channel, Twitter account, podcast or other ventures the retro community really does come together often. With the advent of the Play Expos by Replay Events there is often some great meet ups between the retro enthusiasts up and down the country. Twitter has really opened our eyes to like-minded people across the globe who share the same #GamersUnite philosophy and with one thing in common being that we all love video games old and new. There’s never been a better time to be a gamer!
Britt – I like the fact that games from previous eras are being kept alive through emulation, storage and re-appraisals but in regards to the gaming community itself, whilst I have a few friends that I regularly keep in contact with and a couple of channels I will regularly watch, I go in for information value as opposed to comedy value so I’m more drawn to things like The Gaming Historian, Kim Justice and Digital Foundry / DF Retro.
I think the online gaming community has been great for not only being a constant source of information and fond memories – it’s always great to hear from people with a shared passion – but also in raising awareness of mental health issues and in informing my own experiences of gamers with social anxieties (it is interesting and unfortunate how many people ‘retreat’ into gaming) but I’m not sure that unfiltered social media platforms are the best place to get help, purely due to the nature of them. I’m also a bit wary of people that are overly reliant on nostalgia, I have friends who are sort of ‘locked in the past’ and so I would urge everyone to appreciate the past but also look to a positive future, otherwise one can get bogged down in memories.
What excites you especially when you discover a game during a test?
Britt – I love trying to bring the focus on a game that completely wins my heart. There’s always a moment when I’m playing a game that clicks with me where I think to myself, ‘I’m completely hips deep in this and it’s solid, solid gold’. A few that spring to mind as titles that I had no prior knowledge of but ended up becoming classics (to me) are:
A big part of the process I enjoy is contacting the developers of games that really grabbed me and hearing their stories about how the game was conceived and developed. As you’ve recently said in one of your articles, Yohann, over 150 games are released on Steam every week, let alone other console platform e-stores etc. and so my personal goal is just to raise awareness of the amazing, lower-budget titles that might have slipped people by. I love getting messages from friends, family and folks online saying that they’ve picked up a game that I recommended and completely fell in love with it, it’s a great feeling and something I love being a part of and it’s all down to developers the world over.
Rich – I’m really enjoying new experiences whereby Indie Devs are taking risks with game types that triple A studios would never get the opportunity to get involved with. Not for Broadcast for example is a brilliant FMV game with a sense of humour and an interesting take on an alternate dystopian British future. Games like these really excite me!
As enlightened amateurs, do you have any advice or wish to share with the developers?
Britt – ‘Enlightened Amateur’! I like it! I don’t feel in a position to give advice to game developers as that side of things is something I have no experience with but I would like to say that I really appreciate the time and effort that goes into the games that are made and we at Games Freezer will never be flippant or dismissive of any titles that we cover. If anyone that reads this is in the middle of designing a game that’s an RPG, twin-stick shooter, graphic adventure or features local co-op, I’d be more than happy to cover it as these genres are right up my strasse!
Rich – Make the game fun first and build on that. It really doesn’t matter what the game looks like if your core game play mechanic is fun fun fun!
Are there upcoming indie video games you are looking forward to being released?
Rich – I’ll give you a few of the best Indie Games that are coming out this year (hopefully) :
Britt – There are several indie studios that I follow on Twitter due to the high quality of their previous output but no specific titles spring to mind. Sequels to Broforce, Death Road to Canada (four players, please!) West of Loathing and Streets of Rogue definitely wouldn’t go amiss and the Portuguese studio behind Greedy Guns are also a team I’m keeping my peepers firmly fixed on as well as The Secret Experiment (Simon Meek), who released an absolute blinder of a game called Beckett a couple of years ago that still resonates with me today. Honestly though, I just love seeing what we get sent as I’m constantly impressed by what people are capable of creating on shoestring budgets and dedication.
What is your life like outside of testing and writing reviews about games?
Britt – Pretty relaxed, I must admit that gaming takes up a lot of my time and that is something that I fully embrace! I have a long-term girlfriend, Faye, who is the other, smaller half of Kingdom of Carts and a female cat called Bukowski. I’m also in a couple of bands so a lot of my time is spent writing and recording music (Recluse – www.recluse.bandcamp.com & Old Samuel – www.oldsamuel.com) I love 90’s action films as well as horror/thriller movies, I occasionally play a round of golf with a surprising lack of skill and I pretty much run on bourbon and red wine. I’d also like to stress… I love video games.
Rich – I love all sports so I play and watch a lot of sport as well as doing my full time job alongside my video games job. My favourite sport is football and I play every Saturday and during the closed season, I play golf badly.
Thank you Britt and Rich for your availability at all times. As well for our past and future exchanges as for the realization of this interview. Really appreciate your values and spirit!