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.
Aaron Bleyaert is the senior digital producer at Conan, and the man behind the show’s Clueless Gamer segments, in which Conan O’Brien—who admits to having zero interest in video games—reviews popular video games. Bleyaert spoke to The Gameological Society about how gaming might just make him a better man.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Aaron Bleyaert: For work, I’m playing the new Tomb Raider, which is awesome, and I just finished Halo 4. I might go back to Peggle, honestly. Peggle is kind of my go-to. I’ve been super into the Xbox Live Arcade games recently. They’re just little nuggets of fun to download and play.
But I have a whole stack of games to get through. I’m playing Far Cry 3, although I’m not very far—ha ha—into it. I gotta say, I’m not really convinced. I’m usually a fan of sandbox games. I love Skyrim. Oh my God, I played Skyrim forever. Same thing with Fallout 3. When my apartment got burglarized, what I was most pissed about was they stole the Xbox and they didn’t leave the hard drive. I was like, “Duuuuude. I know you stole my TV, all my DVDs, but leave the hard drive, bro. I’ll pay you. I’ll buy you an extra hard drive, you can take it with you.” It was heartbreaking.
Gameological: That’s kind of a hard thing to put on a “missing” poster.
Bleyaert: Yeah, exactly. “Missing: All my saved games.” But Far Cry 3, for some reason I just cannot get into it. I don’t know if there are too many leaves or what the deal is.
Gameological: Boy, there are a lot of leaves in that game. I just finished it. For the first 10 hours or so, I did every hunting mission, liberated every outpost, but after a while, it all started to feel the same.
Bleyaert: I totally agree. Though I do really enjoy going down the ziplines. That’s the best part, because you’re like, “Wheeeee!” That’s me going “Wheeeee!” in my apartment by myself. But I’m having trouble with it. I’ll play for a while, then go play another game, and then think, “Ugh, I have to play more Far Cry 3.”
Gameological: Once a game starts to feel like a chore, that’s usually when I put it away.
Bleyaert: That’s why I’ve been so into the Xbox arcade games. It’s like a short story as opposed to a novel. Sometimes you don’t want to sit through a 10-minute prologue, then you have to learn the game, and then you have to get into the game. Sometimes you just want to pick up a game and play. Like Super Meat Boy. I just want to play a cube of meat for 20 minutes and then go do something else. We’ve reached this point in video games where they become an emotional burden. It’s too much.
Gameological: What’s on the docket for Clueless Gamer?
Bleyaert: [This week] is Halo 4, which was super fun. It’s interesting because Conan is actually getting kind of good. All right, “good” might be an overstatement. He had trouble in the beginning—when we did Minecraft, for instance—he had trouble with the two-stick thing. He would move, and then he would look. Now he’s gotten to the point where he can do both. So now that he’s got moving and looking, he also needs shooting. But I get punched a lot less, now that he’s less frustrated.
Gameological: My favorite parts are when you’re trying to explain a game’s backstory and Conan’s eyes immediately glaze over.
Bleyaert: That definitely happened with Halo. The game has such a rich history, and you try to explain, okay, Earth’s forces are battling the Covenant, and the Covenant worships this race called the Forerunners, and the Forerunners perished in a fight with Flood who were trying to take over—you know, there’s no way you don’t sound totally insane. And Conan’s coming from a normal person’s perspective, which is just, “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Gameological: The show is headed to Atlanta soon, and you accompanied Conan on his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On TV tour. How do you get your gaming fix when you’re on the road?
Bleyaert: I actually brought my Wii on the tour bus, and one thing I learned is you can’t really play the Wii on a moving bus. It was the dumbest thing to bring, a gaming system that relies on motion almost exclusively. The back of the tour bus is a very small room with three couches, and the TV is up really high, and you can stand almost two people across. So you’re standing there, waving your arms back and forth, looking up at the sky as the bus is jostling back and forth. So many bruises.
But we did just get a Wii U, which is super fun. It feels to me like the next step. For the first time playing any video game system I was like, “Oh my God, I actually feel kind of old.” It was a similar experience to when I first started playing the Wii. It’s like you’re learning new skills. You’re almost powering up yourself. I felt like, okay, this is going to take a little getting used to, and when I do it, I’m going to be a next-level human being. I’ll have more speed or awareness or whatever. It’s definitely going to take some more playing.
Gameological: Well, I look forward to Bleyaert 2.0.
Bleyaert: Yeah. Twice as aware, half as handsome.
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.