GC Reader of the Week Eapen Leubner


Who are you?
I'm an opera singer and long time GameCritics reader and podcast listener. 

Where are you?  
I am based in Brooklyn, NY but I travel a bit.

Where are you from?
Just outside of Rochester, NY but I singing has taken me from Ithaca, NY to Seattle, WA, to Binghamton, NY to Denver, CO to New York, NY to Fairbanks, Alaska with tons of small stops in between.

What kind of gamer are you?  
I really enjoy FPS games on the PC (I'm a keyboard and mouse fan) but I certainly play a range of games.  I have a 360 and a wii.  I just built my first PC in 10 years.  It was infuriating and fun.  Oh, and never underestimate the fun of a trip to Barcade.  This gen is the first one in years that I've been able to really dig into games on.  I've spent time with Borderlands, Batman, Mass Effect, Too Human and I just got a copy of Gears of War- an interesting game.  It wasn't at all what I was expecting.  Is it good?  Not sure. Is it interesting?  Certainly.  I enjoy listening to the more heated arguments on the podcast and then trying out those games.  Chi loaned me Way of the Samurai III.  I think I still have it. 

What games made you into a gamer?  
Defining games would include: The Space Quest games and then later Civ 1 and Wing Commander (liked them all but Privateer was my favorite).  I was an avid Dreamcast player.  I loved Soul Calibur 2 and I spent an absolutely ridiculous amount of time playing Tony Hawk 1.  I've had to pause frequently and for stretches of time because of singing training and gigs but now that my career is a bit more settled, I try to game as much as possible.

Why do you game?  
It's a great way to unshackle my mind from the focus that is required on stage.  You can get pretty wrapped up in the technique of singing and acting and the work in making a believable scene with your colleagues.   After that, it is pretty fun to log into Left 4 Dead on Steam, meet up with my oldest high school friend and run through a level.  Talk about a dichotomy!

Who is your video game character soul mate? 
ME!  None of them have a real name… Even though I love FPS games, RPGs are what I connect the most to because my training as a singer has been a complete (and completely rewarding) grind.  My favorite character was myself in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I spent 50+ hours as a saintly Jedi after a long break from gaming during my opera apprenticeship.  I had just gotten married and my wife was kind of surprised to see this long-hidden aspect of my personality.  Since my career is based on pretending to be someone else and having an experience, I enjoy games that put me in that situation.  None of the branded characters can hold a candle to that.  Sorry, Mario.  Sorry, Knuckles.

Why are video games art?  
When a group of people get together and make some sort of experience for another person that combines music, visuals and drama (yes, there is drama in video games), the result is an artistic experience for the player of the game, the "audience". I think that there is art in the graceful headshot in Modern Warfare 2 and there is art in the sinister mathematics of Dragon Quest grinding.  I'm not sure about Braid though… I kid!  

Seriously, the problems that we currently face in convincing nay-sayers that games are art is that video games are relatively new and only now are starting to be ubiquitous.  Also, the community still is searching for common expressions that can sum up the experience of gaming.  It takes time to establish that commonality of language and it is only through the tireless efforts of enthusiasts talking and thinking about "games as art" that we can move the conversation out of the "yes/no" or "on/off" or "art/fart" and get to the real meat of talking about our shared experiences in video games. Art engenders conversation and GameCritics.com is a great venue for people to talk about games.

What do you love outside of video games?  
I love taking my two daughters on "food adventures" in NYC and it is a family tradition to find cheap eats.  We know the best places for a cheap falafeldumplingsokonomiyaki… many times we end up in Chinatown but it could end up being anywhere.  It's great to hop on the train and find something new and interesting that we might have seen on a website or magazine.  I also like taking out the double-bob stroller and going for a run in prospect park with my wife and daughters.  

I also enjoy doing product endorsements. Eapen Leubner says, "Visit www.gamecritics.com: Games Culture Criticism." I'm still waiting for the Sri Racha and Cafe Bustelo marketing staff to get back to me. 

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.

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