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.
AJ Lee is the self-described “Geek Goddess” of the WWE. In two years, she quickly worked her way up the Diva roster of female wrestlers, and was featured prominently in bizarre storyline involving a love quadrangle between her, two unlikely stars, and a wrestler literally from Hell. She had served as the general manager of Monday Night Raw, the WWE’s flagship show, before resigning last Monday on-air. AJ is a downloadable character in the upcoming WWE ’13, her first appearance in the series.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
AJ Lee: I’m traveling around a lot, and a lot of my time is spent with my 3DS. I have Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater on it right now, and an unopened Tales Of The Abyss that I haven’t gotten to yet.
Gameological: What’s Snake Eater like on the 3DS?
Lee: I played the original one, and this is one of my favorite games. It’s a little bit of nostalgia. It’s interesting on the 3DS. I think I like playing on the TV better, but you know, it’s something to do. I love it, and I’m really looking forward to Resident Evil 6 though. Did that just come out?
Lee: Oh my gosh, I don’t know if I’ll have to sit at home and play something, because that’s only one day a week. I’m looking forward to that.
Gameological: I know some wrestlers bring consoles on the road, and you all travel a lot. So you don’t bring one with?
Lee: No, if there was any room in my bag. Those power tubes take up a lot of room. [Laughs.]
Gameological: About a year ago, I saw that you dressed up as Kitana from Mortal Kombat for a Divas Battle Royal. What was the occasion for the costume?
Lee: It was Halloween, and it was a Halloween-themed Battle Royal. It was one of those things where half the people walking around were like, “What are you? I don’t get it.” Like, “How do you not know who Kitana is!” It was a little shout out to anyone that knows this world. A very small cult following of gamers, and cosplayers in general caught that and really appreciated it, but everyone else was like, “Why are you a bio-ninja?” [Laughs.]
Gameological: You’d think there might be a bigger crossover between Mortal Kombat and wrestling fans.
Lee: I know! I think the fans got it, but the people backstage were like, “What are you doing?” The fans are on top of it.
Gameological: Do you find yourself in a minority backstage, being a gamer?
Lee: With the girls, definitely. I wanted to talk about being really excited about Resident Evil coming out, and there’s no one, people in locker room going, “Uh…” and I’m like, “Let me go find Kofi [Kingston].” [Laughs.] I think there’s a bigger amount of people now. There used to be a different generation of people that were into partying or hanging out. Now we’re getting all nerdy, and there are comic books and video games. So amongst the guys I’m not a minority, but definitely amongst the girls.
Gameological: You have not been in any previous WWE games before, but you are now going to be in WWE ’13. Have you had a chance to play as yourself yet?
Lee: Yesterday we had a THQ press event [THQ is the game’s publisher—ed.], and I had no idea that they’d be able to download me, because I’m DLC [downloadable content], and so I thought I’d have to wait a couple months. But they somehow had the technology to download me to play as myself. And I lost it. I was taking pictures of the screen, and sending it to my parents. It was unreal. It says a lot, but I’ve played all the Smackdown Vs. Raws, and the games for the past 10 years, and have always created myself in the game. I was able to do this, and I was like, “I want to see myself in the ring against everybody,” and I would always make myself much cooler than I thought I would actually be. [Laughs.] I wanted to be a ninja or something. But to actually see it, and it looks exactly like me, and she has all my moves, and my outfit. It’s so bizarre, surreal, and nice. I had such a fangirl moment. It was a big thing.
Gameological: Do you think you would have had that same response 10 years ago if you saw yourself as a blocky representation on an N64 version?
Lee: Probably still, just because I thought it was the coolest thing ever. In really old school [games], you wouldn’t even put the outfit on them, it was just kind of like, legs and here’s these pair of pants that are just a giant pair of pants on someone. It was weird, and so floppy, like the hair would stick all the way up, and women would have long hair. It was so awkward, and I loved it!
Gameological: Do any of the wrestlers ever play the WWE games on the road?
Lee: I don’t know. I think Cody Rhodes and Kofi are the ones who last year played on their own at home. They love games too, and to see themselves in a game is just as cool. I think the three of us are big kids when it comes to that. I know they were familiar with it, but I don’t think anyone else really was. We did the THQ challenge last year for the last Wrestlemania. Cody was in it, and I was in it, and he had played the game before, I kind of whupped his butt. Then I won the competition. [Laughs.] But Kofi kept saying that he was really good at it, and I only won because he wasn’t there. He gave a challenge for this upcoming Wrestlemania. [Laughs.]
Gameological: So that’s going to be another segment this year?
Lee: We do it every year. We’ve been doing it for 10 years, and I was the first Diva to win it, ever. I was proud of that. I have the trophy in my office. I think Kofi’s going to try and steal it from me this year.
Gameological: Do you have any other aspirations for competitive gaming then?
Lee: That’s the thing, I’m so not competitive, and kind of a hermit crab in so many facets of life. I’ve never been into the competitive gaming, online anything. I don’t know, something about that really freaks me out. I like the tranquility of “Oh, I can suck at this game, it’s okay.” So I was really nervous doing the THQ challenge. I thought I was going to definitely lose, and so I’m nervous to do it again. I might just have to retire as champ. [Laughs.] I definitely don’t have other aspirations though. When I was really young, I tried to do a Yu-Gi-Oh! card tournament, in high school. [Laughs.]
Gameological: Are you still playing Yu-Gi-Oh!, or is that taboo now that you’re an adult?
Lee: I was just watching an episode the other day and tweeted about it. But I lost all my cards. I had a really awesome deck, and I don’t know what I did with it, but I moved a lot. There used to be a game—I can’t remember what handheld system it was on or what it was called—there was a game on some handheld system, and I played that to death. I wish I had that right now. I’d still be playing.
Gameological: Beside video games, do you find yourself playing anything on the road, like poker? A lot of bands will play stupid games to pass the time.
Lee: When we do things like tours or really long drives, there’s always someone playing some sort of card game, and I am not into it. I’ll watch, but I never get involved in that. But there’s particular games that when you’re just driving for five hours, and you’re delirious to keep yourself awake with. [Laughs.] But nothing like an actual tradition or anything. I’m not a big card game player or anything. Except for Yu-Gi-Oh! I should probably teach Kaitlyn how to duel. [Laughs.]
Gameological: Are you planning on dressing up as another video game character for this year’s Halloween?
Lee: I would love to. I think Raw is going to be the day before Halloween, so we might have something Halloween-themed on the show. We’re not sure, but I know I probably won’t be in the Battle Royal, but who knows, anything can happen. So I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to, but I’ll have something ready, just in case.
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.