In What Are You Playing This Weekend? we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Bryan Bowden is a Chicago-based comedian who dabbles in the trifecta of improv, sketch, and stand-up. He’s a judge on the wacky game show Impress These Apes and a teacher at the Second City Training Center. He’ll next appear in a stage adaptation of Troll 2 at Chemically Imbalanced Comedy in Chicago.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Bryan Bowden: I don’t have a cool system. My platform is still PlayStation 2, which is great for me because every game is super cheap. And actually, the game I’m playing now, I found for like a dollar. It’s such an old game, PaRappa The Rapper.
Gameological: What is it?
Bowden: You’re a little rapping dog. It’s one of those games where all the animation is kinda, like, paper-style—everything looks two-dimensional. At each level, you have to do certain challenges. You have to hit the buttons in the same rhythm that the person says. So basically like Guitar Hero or Simon, except you’re a rapping dog. That’s the only difference there. But it’s actually surprisingly fun and very silly.
Gameological: Why the PS2, and not the PS3?
Bowden: It was given to me. My little brother updated to, like, an Xbox and was like, “Do you want this?” I’ve had it for a while and I just haven’t updated. Part of it is that I can’t justify spending money on a video game system, and the other part is I know if I get an Xbox, I’ll get hooked and end up playing Borderlands 2 for a week straight. But with PlayStation 2 games, I can just, like, get in there, and there’s like not hype around the game, so I don’t get as sucked in as I would with newer games.
Gameological: You mentioned filming for an upcoming Gameological video series, where you had very strong opinions about Metroid. What were they?
Bowden: That was a game that I traded a baseball card for. Maybe a couple baseball cards. My friend had it and he didn’t like it. I was like, “Dude, I’ll trade you some baseball cards for it.” I liked it because it was in space, and I thought that was awesome. Mostly, my opinions revolved around the fact that I thought that Samus was actually—you know, the big surprise is that, “It’s a woman!? Whaaaaaaat?!” And I thought that when you put in the Justin Bailey code, where you start off in a leotard, that it turned her into a woman. I didn’t realize she was a woman that whole time. So when I finally beat the whole thing I was like, “Wait! She’s still a lady!” As a 12 year old, that bothered me. “I was playing as a lady the whole time? Nooooo!” Also, it was one of those games that had such a huge map that I was actually drawing maps trying to remember where stuff was. I had this really disorganized system of map drawings. My mom probably thought I was crazy.
Gameological: You perform a lot, so do you specifically make time to play games?
Bowden: There will be times when I’ll try to write something, but my brain is like, “No you’re not. You’re can’t do anything.” So I’m like, “Alright, we’ll play a video game.” Cause you’re doing something. You’re brain is kind of active, but you don’t have to think about it so hard. I have to set timers though, like my mom did when I was 12. Then there’s some games that are my evening payment. I’m just going to sit back, relax, and chop things in half.
Gameological: Because you don’t play any of the modern games, but you see all the ads, what is your impression of what those games are?
Bowden: I’m jealous of people that get to play Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. That game looks really cool. I like big games like that, like Borderlands 2 just came out and that looks really sweet. It’s weird because I never even played the first Borderlands. I don’t even know what the gameplay is like, but just based off the imagery of it I’m like, “That looks pretty cool.” I like fantastic games. I’m not a big Call Of Duty person. I don’t like things that are super realistic. It’s like, “Oh. I’m a soldier in a war.” That’s a real thing. I could actually go and shoot people in a war. I’d rather be something like Skyrim where I’m a viking dude who’s hunting dragons. That feels better to me. I don’t know why.
Gameological: What do you think is going to be the game that finally convinces you to get a modern console?
Bowden: Man, I don’t know. There have been games like Oblivion where I’m like, “That’s look really sweet, I should really get a thing.” And, what was it, Left 4 Dead? If I didn’t buy one for Left 4 Dead, something’s wrong with me. I had so many friends who were online killing zombies and I was like, “I wanna be online killing zombies with my friends!” Maybe if they make a medieval zombie game that you can play online, I think then I’ll cave. [Laughs]…What sucks is I teach kids, so I hear about these games. And as an adult I feel like I can’t say anything, but they’ll be talking about these games and I’ll wanna say, “Oh. That sounds really cool.” Some kids were talking about Arkham Asylum. That sounds like a really sweet game. So I think eventually I’ll just be like, “Okay, I got to play that game. I just gotta do it.” And then after one, I’m going to buy five more. Slippery slope, slippery slope.
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.