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.
TJ Miller is a comedian and actor from Denver who cut his chops in Chicago. His first film role was in Cloverfield, where he also had the unusual task of being the found footage film’s cameraman. Since then, he’s stayed busy in film and television, and even dabbled in voiceover work for games. He’s currently working on The Goodwin Games, a Fox sitcom, and is the co-creator and host of the stand-up and sketch showcase Mash-Up, premiering October 9 on Comedy Central.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
TJ Miller: Basically, I’m on a pretty rigorous schedule. I do PapiJump for about two or three hours. Are you familiar with PapiJump? It’s a free app on the iPhone, and about as easy as they come. It gets me in the right mood. I love playing characters that are smiling balls. I do that for about two or three hours to prepare myself for Tomb Runner. Are you familiar with Tomb Runner?
Gameological: I’m not.
Miller: Ah! You haven’t lived. That’s all right. Tomb Runner is the most addictive game that I’ve played in years. I used to be a huge gamer. I’m an expert at Sonic The Hedgehog and Counter-Strike—the first computer game that I made a lot of money betting on in college, betting that I could beat people. Tomb Runner’s as addictive as any of those games, and it’s really, really fun. You’re running away from spirits and zombies from the tombs that you were trying to do your Indiana Jones thing in. It’s really addictive. I’ll be playing a little bit of Tomb Runner, and once I do that, I come down by playing Modern Warfare 3, which is the latest Call Of Duty. I just have no idea what’s going on there. I go on there mostly to be yelled at by pre-teen boys.
Gameological: That’s a nice feature.
Miller: It’s one of the best features, because it really puts me in my place. It’s like when a 14-year-old kid from Iowa is like, “You suck, man! You’ve got your head where your butt should be,” that really helps me. It keeps me humble. It’s important then to come down off of that verbal lashing from pre-teens and grade schoolers with a little more PapiJump—and I’m going to say to everyone out there, if you haven’t played PapiJump, then I don’t think you’re enjoying life as much as you should be. You can play it in on your iPhone, your iPad, and some people play it in real life. You’ve got to get a rubber ball, you gotta put a face on it, and you’ve got to find literally thousands of little shelves that you have to bounce up onto. It’s easier to play on the iPhone than to replicate in real life. [Laughs.]
Gameological: Do you get material for your stand-up from games? That story about being berated by some 14-year-old jackass in Iowa seems like it would work well.
Miller: Oh yeah. I love Chris Hardwick and Kumail Nanjiani, who are into the gaming world, but most of my jokes are about PapiJump, about how hard it is to jump in PapiJump, about how “Papi” is sort of slang in the Spanish language for “sexy daddy.” I sometimes do a bit on how I always find it strange when people are complaining about their career, or their life, and they’re playing online poker. Because they’re wasting hours, and in the time they played online poker, or some of these video games, especially gambling games—I saw this guy playing video poker on his iPad for the entire flight. It was eight hours. I was like, “You could be conversational in Italian right now!” I hope this guy is not going home and saying, “Ah! I don’t get it. I’m not where I want to be in my life. I don’t know how to get there. Also I lost $3,000 on video poker on my phone.”
Gameological: They’ve made games out of things that 10 years ago, we’d never be able to imagine it as a game, like Guitar Hero or PapiJump. Is there going to be Stand-Up Comedy: The Game, where you play as a stand-up comedian?
Miller: How crazy is that? I called it in the beginning. I said, “Look, PapiJump one day will be a game.” It’s a very popular sport in New Guinea. I could see in the future there could be a stand-up game. where you don’t go out with the right amount of delivery power and material power, you end up bombing, and that’s the equivalent of dying. You have to do 10 sets in a night. To me, stand-up comedy is like Grand Theft Auto, except instead of beating up prostitutes with baseball bats, you’re asking them to work for free.
Gameological: If you fail a level, you become a miserable alcoholic, which could be a mini-game.
Miller: Exactly. And the worst you could do is can get through a heroin addiction, but you’ve gotta have four Letterman spots to be able to do that.
Gameological: Sounds like this could be huge, maybe you should pitch this game?
Miller: [Laughs.] Let’s get in there. Activision is making money right now! I also think the potential for the absolute worst game of all time would be a Guitar Hero version of stand-up, where you have to deliver the lines exactly like George Carlin, and have to stay in time. If you can do that. you can score points. Can you imagine something more boring? That’s the reason music always has the edge on stand-up: It doesn’t make for a good Guitar Hero game.
Gameological: Are there other gaming related topics you want to touch on here?
Miller: I loved doing the Legend Of Karl thing [for the Call of Duty Elite subscription service]. I love how the gamers will come up and get into it. I’m a fan of being intense about anything. I’m intense about nonsense, so it’s very rare that I’m able to judge other people for being seriously into something, except for the Tea Party—I’m not really into that. I find that gamers are really intense. They love that world, just like comic book fans, and movie fans, like cinephiles and all that. I like the thought of somebody who will spend nine hours pretending to be something else, because that’s what I do too, nine hours every single day.
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.