Who are you?
My name is Albert Hidding. I'm a 25 year old Film Studies student. I adore culture and especially film, games, music and theatre.
Where are you?
I live in Utrecht, a city in the middle of The Netherlands. But I actually travel a lot, since my University and my girlfriend are each located in a different town. In November I will also be doing an internship for a film festival in yet another city. Fortunately The Netherlands is really small and Dutch students receive free travel with public transport.
Where are you from?
I'm originally from Groningen, a city in the north of The Netherlands. My girlfriend still lives there and it's where I have most of my friends and family. It's a great city (about the size of Des Moines, Iowa) with a lot of students, culture and very friendly people.
What do you do for a living?
I'm currently studying Film Studies, but it's my final year and I just need to finish my masters thesis to get my degree. When that's done I'll look for a job in the Dutch film industry. I have no idea what the future holds, but I know I love film, so I'd like to work with the development of films or organistation of festivals. I also really like writing and I'm trying to develop my screenwriting.
What kind of gamer are you?
I'm definitely not a hardcore gamer, but I like to invest myself in some great games when I have the time for it. I always look for reviews before I buy a game, because when I spend so much money and so many hours in a title I want to be sure that I enjoy it. I really enjoy RPGs like Dragon Age, Mass Effect and Fallout, but occasionally I enjoy a little shooter action or even some sports games.
However, there's something that I haven't told you yet. I also spend a lot of time on StarCraft II, but I consider this almost separately from the other gaming, because it's a lot more competitive and focused on improving. I‘m very interested in the professional SC2 scene and I like watching the big tournaments. The community around that game is simply amazing.
What games made you into a gamer?
I never really had a console as a kid, except for a Game Boy when I was little bit older. But I had some friends with one, so I always went over to their place to play games. It's hard for me now to recall which titles we played, but I definitely remember F-Zero, The Adventures of Batman & Robin and Sonic the Hedgehog. I also played some games on the PC of my dad and when I went to high school I got my own Intel 386. I fondly remember Bio Menace (never heard anyone else talk about this gem), The Magic Candle III, FIFA Soccer 98 and Duke Nukem 3D. My family didn't have a lot of money, so most of the games I played were shareware copies. Do you guys remember those times?
Why do you game?
There are two simple reasons. First, I enjoy stories. I think storytelling is one of the most amazing and essential things about human interaction. I like hearing or watching stories, but I like playing stories perhaps even more. Second, I enjoy challenge. I've been competitive for as long as I can remember: in sports, in school, in life in general. I like to test myself and compare my results to others, try again, learn and do better. It's extremely satisfying to see hard efforts pay off. Most games are designed to reward this process, so I find them extremely enjoyable.
Who is your video game character soul mate?
I really couldn't say. I like a lot of characters, but not because they're like me, but because they're different. It makes them more interesting.
Why are video games art?
Why not? As a Film Studies student I often get the question if a certain film is art or entertainment, or if film in general is an art form. Of course it all depends on your definition of art. Most people when discussing if something is or isn't art are actually discussing whether they do or don't like it. I think this binary label (art vs non-art) is completely futile. However, in my opinion you can discuss what something is worth (to you, to others, to society in general). That simple romantic comedy might not open your eyes to another way to view relationships, but it made you feel happy for the evening, so appreciate it for that. Whether you can label it as art is completely uninteresting when you can discuss its merits and its detriments. So in my eyes the same thing applies to video games. Many games provide amazing experiences, unbelievable aesthetics, lively characters and interesting ideas about the world. Why would they not be art?
What do you love outside of video games?
Film, culture and grapefruit juice. Fortunately my girlfriend agrees with two out of the three. As I said before I love storytelling and I think film is perhaps the best medium for telling stories. Great films can make me laugh until my stomach hurts or bring me to tears of sadness or joy. It's the closest to magic I've been. Culture in general is just amazing. The way all of us share experiences, emotions and concepts is fascination to me. But I'd give all that up for a nice glass of grapefruit juice. That stuff is the honey of the gods.
Oh and just for good measure a little list of some of my favorite games:
- StarCraft II
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
- Super Mario Kart
- Metal Gear Solid
- Max Payne
You guys are the best website on games around. Nothing even remotely comes close to your critical view on video games and games culture. And your podcasts are always thoroughly enjoyable. I wouldn't want to miss any second of it. Keep up the great work, I know you will.
If you'd like to be the next GC Reader of the Week, please submit your photo and answers to the above questions to chi [at] gamecritics [dot] com.