Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Michael Sroka who is displayed on card number 25, from the Superstars of 2011 Collection. Michael is also featured on card 1311. Michael is one of the driving forces behind the old online podcast known as the “Twin Galaxies Show” which would discuss high scores and other Twin Galaxies information. The show has now been recreated as “Settle it on the Screen” and can be seen on Facebook and YouTube. Michael is an avid gamer as well with many high scores in the database on such games as Worm Whopper and Q’Bert for the Intellivision and of course his all-time favorite game Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. Michael is currently looking to break the Gorgar Pinball record and is currently in 5th place with a score of 435,420.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I don’t see any difference between today’s generation of video games and classic video games. They are still a median of entertainment and since technology has gotten better, the in depth of entertainment has gotten better. I like to compare it to movies. We used to have short movies without sound, black and white. They were maybe 5 or 10 minutes, everything was just one take. As time progressed, we added color, we added sound, we could edit the film, now days we are able to add special effect. I look at the entertainment of video games the same way. It’s exactly the same, some people like older movies, some people like older video games.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
My very first video game I can remember playing would be Burger Time for the Intellivision. I want to say I was maybe 7 or 8, not exactly sure. Video Games were not introduced to me by my parents or friends, well maybe my parents, but it was introduced because I found them in the basement in a box. I figured out how to hook it up and the game that was in the machine was Burgertime. It was more of a natural discover of a toy in my parent’s basement. Of course, the NES was out for about 3 to 4 years but I still did not know too much about Video Games at that point.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Sonic the Hedgehog. His attitude. His complete 180 from Mario. We are talking about slow jumping on Goombas. We are talking running as fast as possible trying to complete the level. Killing bad guys, collecting things, and based on the characters that Sonic is around makes it humorous that Sonic is the center of the universe. Because everyone else is definitely the second story. But Mario. You got Peach, Toad, Luigi, all those characters can have side stories. Wario and all the characters in the Mario universe. But in Sonic, no one really cares, except for Sonic. Tails is sort of a sidekick, Dr. Robotnik is a silly bad guy which you can’t get too much into depth, other than he is just the bad guy. So maybe that’s why I like Sonic too, it’s just about Sonic, no one wants to play as Tails, you still want to be Sonic, but Mario games, you want to be Toad, Toads cool, Princess is awesome, etc.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
It was about February, 2010. It was myself, Nick Houslander and Josh Houslander were given the opportunity to restart Twin Galaxies podcast, which ironically only had one episode. We were able to continue that a couple of months prior, and by the time we got the invite to go visit Walter Day and create a retirement interview for him, which previous owner of twin galaxies wanted us to feature for Walter. Try to get some good press, say goodbye to Walter and the aspect of all his hard work with Twin Galaxies, but as you know Walter did not retire from video gaming or promoting gamers. He is still actively involved today. It was at his home. We met him at his home in Fairfield, Iowa to do the interview at his house. There was no better place to do it.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
One word is tough to describe Walter Day, but I would say humble. He still thinks of himself as an ordinary person. The way I feel, is that he doesn’t feel like he has done anything special for other people. In all honesty, Walter Day, has touched many lives positively for what people say just playing a video game. He has helped people out. He is very humble about his accomplishments and what he does.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video Game Trading card?
Being on a video game trading card is a unique thing that Walter created. It was very cool at first. Walter was trying to make it like a sport, like baseball. So, at first, it was very cool, being with Walter, introducing these things, trying to get s sponsor to get the video game trading cards to players was a pretty cool experience.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
No I have not, if there were any media coverage, it would be myself promoting it on my show, Settle it on the Screen or Twin Galaxies podcasts etc. But I have not received any media coverage.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
I am going to say no. I like a lot of video games that don’t have boss’s. I like sports games, I like classic Atari games where the objective is just to beat the level, not necessarily a boss at the end of a game.
What does it take to be a Video Game Journalist?
It doesn’t take much, I literally just keep my journalistic stuff about world records in the Twin galaxies realm, the history of it. It doesn’t take much, it does take time. That is the probably the hardest thing to find. Trying to get free time to do it, that’s the tough part. If I had more time I probably would do a much better job.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
My favorite portable gaming devices would still be the Sega Nomad, people would argue with me that it is not a portable gaming system. I feel the Nomad was the perfect antidote at the time for mobile gaming. We were able to get the home console graphics in a hand-held version. Now it wasn’t that portable. It did drain batteries. It was still one the largest portable systems. But to me it was like playing arcade games in your hand. Like Gameboy, I even want to say the PSP in a way, kind of arcade-ish it felt like to me. The Sega nomad gave you the thing you were craving when you were away from home.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style
I have to say Gameplay, if there is no challenge or nothing engaging then who cares about the Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style. All that stuff is oblivious to Gameplay, because when it comes to other Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style, you can just watch a movie for that. That’s the difference between the video games and movies, the Gameplay which allow you to interact. So, I think that is more important than the other ones. You can get Music and Story form other medias.
Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?
I don’t prefer PC or Console Gaming. I enjoy them both. I believe there is a place for some games to played on a keyboard, computer, and mouse. I believe there are games that fit well with controllers, sitting on a couch aspect. There are too many broad versions of games that need to played with different controllers. For instance, let’s take a racing game. A racing game really shouldn’t be played with a controller, it should be played with a steering wheel, like at the arcade. So, that way steering wheels you can play on a console or your computer, but when you are playing certain specific games like Warcraft or Starcraft you need many buttons to control what the game is doing. I call that a PC oriented game. Now when you talk first person shooters, they can perform on either platform. I don’t prefer either or, I love playing them both. Some Systems I prefer to play. I like to play Pinball Arcade. It doesn’t matter if I play on my phone or PlayStation 4 or PC it still is just an awesome game.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
That is another open-ended question that I can’t really answer. The only reason I play a lot of pinball games lately is because of the amount of time I can dedicate to gaming. When I want to game, I want to make sure I can get a high score and compete a highest level instead of just sit back and enjoy the cut scenes. That is the only reason I play those types of games, but now it hard to have enough time to get into in depth games or speed runs or classic games that might take an hour or so. I just have the time or focus.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
To be honest, I do own the one arcade game I want and the one pinball game I do want. I do own a Neo-Geo system with a couple of games. I do own Puzzle Bobble which I s my favorite game for that system. For pinball, I do have my beloved Gorgar which I picked up a few months finally. The reason I like Gorgar, its complex enough but simple enough that anyone can pick up and just play it. Gorgar is a very unforgiving game that you can’t get board of it too quick. It’s frustrating, you really want to try to get a high score on it, the sounds, the look of it, the art, the playing field, the back glass. I feel that was the pinnacle of that time period. The mid-70’s to mid-80’s which was the coolest time for pinball and ironically the time arcades were thriving as well.
Growing up were you team Sega or Nintendo and why?
I was Sega! Everyone else had a Nintendo. I don’t know the main reason I got a Sega over a Nintendo. I got a Sega Genesis and Nintendo still didn’t come out with Super Nintendo so I want to say the bit wars by Sega coming out first with 16-bit won me over, but once I started playing it, Sonic, NHL 94, I couldn’t go back.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
I want to say it’s just like at a movie. There is a certain soundtrack that people will remember forever in their minds. That relates to the memories of them playing the games. Was it the music that was memorable, was it the game that was memorable. I think the game was memorable since the music was so good that you were able to absorb so much in your memory, that is why some movies and video games and TV shows, are better memories in our mind. The whole combinations of everything.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I prefer playing video games, not against friends, but with friends in the same room. Especially, if you are just trying to beat a computer, if you are playing against a group of friends, I look at co-op as my favorite way of playing video games, like we use arcades, the Turtle machines, Captain America, Rampage, X-Men, all those button mashers when you work as a team. It is very satisfying when you do a good job together, simultaneously of course.
Which company makes the best games and why?
That is another subjective question that I really can’t answer. Every gaming company is better doing something than the other. Of course, Nintendo has been the most innovative in trying to evolve their games and their brand to keep on going, gamers old and new will like it. But then when you get in genres, some people are better at first person shooters, some are better at the open world games such as Grand Theft auto and Red Dead Redemption.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
I believe so, if you treat it as an entertainment type of media, where you can sit back and play. I want to say I get stressed playing video games because I don’t have enough time to play video games, so I stress myself into playing as many games as possible. I buy to many games and I don’t have enough time to play, so I stress myself that I spent this money and I can’t enjoy have I have purchased.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
I have not particularly seen any movie that I have liked. So, I would say no, but Hollywood can make a movie about any subject they want, just like you can make a video game about any subject you want. Because video games make something about movies, it’s just another version of the entertainment media that hopefully doesn’t get you too relaxed.
What is your favorite singe player game and favorite multiplayer game?
I have to say right now my favorite single player game would still be Sonic Spinball for the Sega Genesis. Favorite Multiplayer game, that is a real tough one. I would have to say NHL ’94, it could also be my favorite single player game too, but playing that 2 on 2 is pretty darn awesome.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I don’t think I would want to design my own game. I think it’s the only entertainment media that I can kind of sit down and enjoy. I have a hard time reading, TV shows and Videos, I have created so much in past career and still do and know so much about the movie making magic, it kind of doesn’t inspire me to get away and watch a move. It has to be really awesome. Where a video game, I know there is a lot going into building a video game, but I have no idea about how to design a game, code it, market it and sell it. So, I want to keep that a mystery to me as much as possible. So, I would never design my own game but would rather enjoy someone else’s game than work on my own.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I wish I could have more time to enjoy video games as a form of entertainment The role I play is kind of my career of doing the Settle it on the Screen show for Twin Galaxies. A version of the old twin galaxies podcast show.
Did you learn anything from playing video games?
I want to say I did learn something, maybe some rules of sports games that I particularly didn’t like, like I learned about basketball playing basketball games. Maybe some history lessons that are partially true. I would play the video game based on some old event and then research the old event and learn things about it. So, I don’t think I learned it from video games, I might have been motivated to learn from video games.
Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?
Honestly, nowhere. It is going to be in the same spot as it already is. It is going to be a form of entertainment. As far as a competitive nature, I do see it advancing. It has made leaps and bounds in the competitive arena, but when you start watching someone playing a video game, you want to participate. Since you can participate and more people are able to participate at such a higher level, instead of having physical ability to hit a fastball like in baseball, I believe more people will play more as entertainment than a competitive game.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.