What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Gabe Serbian

Gabe Serbian, musician

The legendary drummer has only one game on his mind. And he’s just happy he doesn’t have to buy memory cards any more.

By Chris O'Connell • February 22, 2013

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.

Gabe Serbian is the drummer for The Locust, a renowned art-punk-grind band from San Diego that’s set to reunite at ATP in London this summer. He now lives in Austin, Texas, where he plays drums in local hardcore and punk bands like Wet Lungs and Skycrawler. Serbian talked to The Gameological Society about his Skyrim singularity and playing long-form games without memory cards.

The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?

Gabe Serbian: Same thing I’ve been playing since I got my Xbox, Skyrim: Dawnguard. That’s pretty much it. Nothing is as fun to me as Skyrim.

Gameological: The other games just don’t do it for you?

Serbian: No, it’s—this is the first video game system I’ve had since PlayStation 2, in the probably early 2000s or something, and, I dunno, the map is just enormous and you can just run around. It’s just cool because you can just do whatever you want. If you don’t want to play missions, you can just run around and fight stuff. It’s just fun to—I don’t know, fight animals or bandits or make potions and stuff.

Gameological: Have you ever played any music that utilized video game sounds?

Serbian: No, but I’ve always been into the—I had this plug-in on a program that would do an 8-bit crush of anything, so anything you did would sound like early Nintendo or Atari games.

Gameological: Like, you could play The Locust, and it would sound like insane NES music?

Serbian: I never tried that. I would just make keyboard lines and crush ’em. It was pretty cool.

Gameological: Do you ever play drums at home?

Serbian: No, because of my neighbor. But I kinda want to start just to fuck with that neighbor. I don’t care to practice at home, it would just be to piss off the neighbor. Just for the satisfaction to know I am irritating these people.

Gameological: Did you grow up playing video games, or was your focus just music from the start?

Serbian: Yeah, I had a Nintendo and was super into all the Mario Bros. games and Zelda and stuff like that, and then, like I said, I got a PlayStation 2 and would play Resident Evil forever. I didn’t even have a memory card, so I’d just try to stay alive as long as I could, and then I’d die and have to start all over again.

Gameological: It’s like when you play Nintendo when you’re younger, and you couldn’t save anything.

Serbian: Exactly. I knew I could get a memory card and start saving my progress, but it took me a while to do that because I would rather spend my money on pot or something like that, you know?

Gameological: The funny thing is, games like Resident Evil, at that time weren’t designed to be one-shot games like the ones we grew up with.

Serbian: Yeah. It was also a point where, I get into video games every once in a while, but when I got into Resident Evil it was this new type of game that I had never played before, and it was really cool, and it was scary even. I’d play it at night and stuff would just jump out at you out of nowhere and I’d be low on life—with no way to save it.

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.

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  • ferrarimanf355

    Anybody playing some Kenji Eno titles in remembrance of that crazy guy?

  • Cloks

    Mother 3, which I just started for the third time. I feel like that’s the charm, and I’ll probably play through it all the way now that I’m actually playing it on a handheld, like it was meant to be experienced.

    For those who follow my weekly exploits, I finished Klonoa: The Phantom Door or Something Like That this week. By finished, I mean my emulated PSX version crashed out three different times before the final boss (I beat that bitch of a level three times while rescuing all the goddamn buddies or whatever) so I watched the ending on Youtube. It’s kind of a downer, but it’s a great cap to the game.

  • Cheese

    I’ll probably be wrapping up Ni No Kuni, and starting…something else. I don’t really know what, but I’ve got Ico/Colossus, Catherine, Dishonored, and XCOM on deck. Any thoughts on which to play when?

    • http://twitter.com/HttpLovecraft Http Lovecraft

      Hey @TheOnceAndFutureCheese:disqus , I just finished with Al Mamoon/Old Smoky, going to collect my merit stamps and move on soon.  Does the game open up after the port?  Does the game de-linearize?  I know a JRPG will typically have a ‘you should go here next’ element but wondering if I can finally explore.

      (side note, after 12 hours, I can gladly the report to anyone curious that the tutorial/training wheels feel like they’re finally off)

      • Cheese

         So it’s about a third as long as the FFXIII “tutorial.” Japan, you patronizing son of a bitch.

        It does open up a bit when you get the boat, and much more when you get a teleport spell and the airship-esque thing that you get (it’s a spoiler).

        • Cheese

          Towns and dungeons. Any place that transitions out of the overworld.

  • PaganPoet

    Finishing up my Insanity playthrough of Mass Effect 2, which is surprisingly not as difficult as I expected. I mean, I’ve been dying…a lot. But there were only 2 or 3 battles that have given me a ton of trouble. The best part about being an Engineer is you can make a combat drone to distract the enemies, and it works pretty well.

    Also, I chose Morinth over Samara this playthrough. I felt pretty terrible about it, but…how awesome is Morinth’s unique power “Dominate?” That’s my jam, y’all.

  • HobbesMkii

    Planetside 2. If anyone has tried/heard of it and felt intimidated, it’s always fun with more people, so hit me up on Steam.

  • Enkidum

    Beyond Good and Evil. Got it last week when it was on sale for less than 5 bucks on PSN, it’s a fine game but not nearly as good as people seem to have given it credit for. Good voice acting, and a decent – if very short – story. Definitely very short – I’m probably going to finish tonight or tomorrow night and I’ve played less than 15 hours.

    I also broke down and got Virtua Fighter 5 and will probably stink that up for a while. But really I just want to play the old drunk dude and get him to drink a lot.

    And there’s the super bonus game of discovering that a paper I published last year has incorrect results in one chart – nothing that changes a goddam thing of any importance, but about 10 numbers need to be changed. And the online supplementary data file is half garbage, so I need to replace that too. So I get to play “compose a grovelling letter to the editor requesting an errata to be published and hope that he doesn’t decide to withdraw my paper out of spite”. And in future I get to play “check the goddam numbers a lot more carefully or you’ll lose your fucking job that you don’t have yet”. Sigh.

  • rvb1023

    Finally finish up Ni No Kuni (I had a busy week) so I can start my Revengeance. I’m super pumped.

  • ComradePig

     I bought the PC RTS title RUSE on sale for $2.50 on Steam last weekend and have been having quite a lot of fun with it. Namely, I’m fairly decent at the online component of the game which is a rarity compared to most other RTS titles, where if you you didn’t buy it on launch you’re probably doomed online.

    Granted, other sale buyers probably account for a lot of that. Outside of RUSE, I’ll be continuing with the usual assortment of titles I’ve listed on here before.

    • valondar

       RUSE is good fun! While an RTS it’s the closest I’ve felt to tabletop wargaming while playing a videogame.

  • goawayinternet

    Methodically working my way through System Shock 2 now.  I now have just enough stats to really hold my own, but of course now I’m on deck 5 and there are security bots everywhere.  Never felt so alive though :)

  • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

    So, I acquired Dead Space 3 and I’m somewhat surprised to say I’m enjoying it a lot more than most of my recent purchases. It’s mostly going through the motions of the past 2 games with some stupid shit slapped on top, but the core of the game is the same and that’s what the engrossing and fun part really is. The weapon crafting shit is needlessly obtuse, though. Can’t say I like that so far. Also the human enemy sections are completely stupid. 

    I WILL play some god damned video games this weekend! I MUST!

  • Cheese

     I never played Warrior Within. I’ve played all the others, though I didn’t beat Forgotten Sands. Tonally and artistically Warrior Within is the worst of the bunch. Gameplay wise, I dunno.

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    After the spectacular Silent Hill 2, yeah, it was a bit of a disappointment to see 3 go back to the boilerplate cult scariness of the first game rather than the more affecting psychological horror that 2 had done so well.

    3 has some nice moments – like the darkly funny “haunted house” segment, or the casual off-screen decapitation of a mannequin in one of the store rooms that for me was genuinely unsettling – but it doesn’t hang together as a whole thematically and experientially as 2 did.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    Gameplay-wise, it’s the worst too. The combat is better than in the other installments, but the quasi-open-world design coupled with the utter lack of signposting makes the game impossible to beat without a walkthrough.

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t played Forgotten Sands yet either.)

  • Captain Internet

    If you want short and weird, try listening to his band

  • uselessyss

    I just recently played the first Broken Sword and followed it up with Gemini Rue – I found Gemini Rue’s fairly straightforward  logical puzzles very refreshing after Broken Sword.

    Not to say Broken Sword is bad, but it’s definitely an Adventure Game. Still fun, if only for the outrageous European stereotypes littered throughout the game.

  • stakkalee

    I think most lockpicking minigames are pretty worthless, but the AC3 lockpicking is a special kind of awful.  I’m not going to call it difficult, because it’s essentially the ‘electronic lockpicking’ from the Batman Arkham games with a right-trigger action bolted on, but the number of times I had the trigger-pull screw up my stick position was seriously in the double-digits; it just felt clumsy as hell.

  • PaganPoet

    So is it because you dislike Wrex? Or maybe you just like Mordin so much, you can’t bear to let Wrex live?

    C’mon, Fluka, I sent my hasubando to his death on my second playthrough of ME1, you can keep Wrex alive!

  • Citric

    I lost my soundtrack, possibly because it never left my CD changer in my old car.

  • Chip Dipson

    I really loved BG&E the first time I played it on the PS2, and enjoyed playing it again in HD, but I agree that it’s a product of its own time. I always hate it when anything is overblown in reputation because how can you possibly match such high expectations?

  • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

    http://residualvm.org/ Should get you up and running with Grim Fandango in short order. It’s aged all right. It wasn’t ever my favorite LucasArts game, and I don’t generally agree with the “best PC game ever” touting it gets, but I did enjoy it a lot. It still feels quite strong and inventive, and doesn’t feel diminished much from my initial experience of it as a teen whenever I play through it as an adult.

    BG&E likewise for me wasn’t a case of “aging poorly” – my opinion of it now is about the same as it was when I first played it (though I haven’t ever re-played it more recently like I have Grim Fandango) – but I was pretty unimpressed when it first came out and I picked it up following good press, and continue to not get what the fuss is about.

    I mean, it’s a pretty solid, if thoroughly unremarkable, game. You could definitely do worse, and it might be worth trying out if you can get it for cheap, since you might turn out to be one of the several people who think it’s really good.

  • Enkidum

    Well I would definitely advise you to go back in time to last week and pick it up for less than 5 bucks! 

    Like I said, it’s a perfectly good game. It’s just not Half-Life II or whatever. Not sure what price it’s on PSN now for, but if it’s less than 15 bucks I’d say it’s a reasonable buy (and I’m pretty sure it was on sale for half price, which would mean that it’s 10 bucks or less now). 

    And, as @paraclete_pizza:disqus says, you might be one of those for whom it just clicks. A lot of people clearly love it, and at worst you’ll be playing a fairly generic game with flashes of excellence.

  • Enkidum

    Are you any good? Because if not then we might be perfect for each other!

    My username is the same as it is here. Catch me if you can!

  • Chum Joely

    Sweet, thanks a lot. I will try to check that out this weekend.

    As for BG&E… well, I think part of the reason I felt such a pressure to try this game is that every time I tell someone where I work, they ask me when BG&E 2 is coming out. So the first one must have been pretty incredible, right?

  • Enkidum

    I find it helps if you call everyone a f*g and tell all the women that they’re too fat to work there. Gets everyone off on the right foot, you know.

  • Enkidum

    Well, I had other plans but since you invited me so nicely, I’ll be there on the 5th with bells on! And, uh, not much else.

  • Effigy_Power

    Now I have to listen to 2 hours of Red Fang just to get that taste out of my ears.

  • http://twitter.com/HttpLovecraft Http Lovecraft

    So agreed about Red Faction Armageddon.  I gave up on playing the story about 5 hours in, maybe less, but gimme the magnet gun and that destructo game mode and that’s a great 15 minute-unwind-from-the-day activity.

    Are you playing Dark Souls on console or PC?  The DLC area looks particularly excellent when modded for shinier graphics.  Also, the Lord’s Blade armor set is awesome and the silver/gold Tracers look great.  (though when I actually use them on an enemy I get immediately killed)

  • Jackbert322

    Man, you max out your social link with one alcoholic, and you get labeled for life.

    Yeah, even though I sounded all bored up there, J am excited about ME2. I’ve really liked the last couple loyalty missions I’ve done, for Samara and Grunt, as well as Tali’s mission which (though not particularly interesting gameplay-wise) had a great story.
    Although I was disappointed that Jack’s mission sucked, because I was hoping for a reason to not actively despise her as a character.

    Anyhoo, excited in ME2, sounded bored because of those damned Final Fantasies.

    @PaganPoet:disqus : Thanks for the tip about Thane’s mission! Dissidia has got me down a bit; I wasn’t expecting much of a story, but I thought the battle system would be awesome. I’m quite bad at it though, which takes away the fun.

  • Jackbert322

    I have played three and a half hours of Half-Life 2 so far. I dislike almost everything about it. *runs away like Zoidberg*

  • Enkidum

    *hurls @Douchetoevsky:disqus against a wall with a gravity gun*

  • http://twitter.com/tapirman Kyle O’Reilly

    I’m still on Xbox.  I’ve thought about picking it up for PC but I abhor Games for Windows Live, and I’m strangely attached to my character, who I drunkenly named, “CIA”.  I’ve got 45 hours with her and all my upgraded weapons and armor are shit for PvP (it’s impossible to NOT dodge the Black Knight Halberd but it’s still my favorite weapon dammit!) but I figured I’d take out Artorias with her like I took out every other damn boss in the game. 

    I might buy it on PC though cuz it’s $13 bucks on Amazon right now, and I hate having money anyway… 

  • Bakken Hood

    I faced a conundrum in my ME3 Renegade run; I had two ME2 imports available, and I had to choose between the one where I killed half my squad just for the hell of it, and the one where I passed the reputation check to kill Samara.  I went with the dead-friends playthrough.  I lament not knowing where Morinth shows up, but I 
    *SPOILER*
    at least got to watch Samara die and promptly murder her last daughter.  It was cathartic or something.

  • HobbesMkii

     I barely ever crash in the Libby any more. I’ve smashed into a lot of trees as a Reaver.

  • PaganPoet

    Oh, well now I feel dumb. Heh, I got distracted by the keeper that’s walking around in the catwalks, wondering if anything happened if you bumped into it, and then when I looked down, my mark was gone. It’s such an easy mission technically speaking, you just have to be careful not to get too distracted.

  • Jackbert322

    Just finished the loyalty missions for Thane and Garrus. I did fail Thane’s mission on my first try. I thought I had to turn somewhere and couldn’t find a door and lost track of everybody. 

    @Fluka:disqus : Wow, he’s…having fun. Btw, talked to Garrus after his mission. I SEE WHAT YOU MEAN ABOUT FLEXIBILITY.

  • Bakken Hood

    In my experience, part of the problem with ME1 was that the classes were unbalanced.  My level 50-something Soldier ate Benezia for lunch on Insanity, while my spongier characters (my Adept and Engineer) spent most of the game hiding on Veteran.

    But it’s true, smart use of powers is a learned skill.  A couple years ago, I tried and failed to convince a running ‘n’ gunning friend to use Warp on the krogan on Therum, that weakening enemies’ armor would make his guns considerably more effective.  I watched that friend die a lot.

  • uselessyss

    One album that I think served as a good entry-point into jazz is John Scofield’s A Go Go, which is his collaboration with Medeski Martin and Wood. It’s pretty accessible, and if you want to go deeper into straightforward jazz the rest of John Scofield’s catalogue is right there.

  • djsubversive

    well, it’s a multiplayer shooter with potentially hundreds of people fighting each other. Emperor Norton plays from Japan, and he hasn’t mentioned any problems (SolTech is a US East server).

    It’s free, so I’d say download it and give it a shot. We can use more soldiers fighting for freedom and those sweet NC riffs. If it’s unplayable, then at least you didn’t spend any money to find that out.

  • http://twitter.com/djbeema beema

    As stupid as it was, I actually LOVED the first Far Cry. Possibly because it was the first “open” shooter I had played. The environment was wonderful.

    I enjoyed Far Cry 2 quite a bit, as well, but it suffered greatly from endless back-and-forth interchangeable quests. 

  • Jonathan Dewar

    I think your points about the map and stuff no longer being in the game world itself might be the biggest for me now that I think about it.

    I *loved* the map in Far Cry 2.  As crazy as it sounds, some of my favorite moments where just walking from place to place looking down at my map on occasion.  It just felt so damn awesome to me.  Also, driving that way.  I don’t drive in real life, so I guess I was living vicariously through Far Cry 2.  The feeling of navigating unfamiliar places in a vehicle while juggling a map, something I’ll probably never do in reality.

    I think another thing that turns me off is that there might be too much for me to do.  Far Cry 2 was much more focused on the core story missions and the occasional weapon seller missions, but in Far Cry 3 there’s an icon every 5 feet and it’s sort of overwhelming.  I’ve been trying to force myself to just do the main storyline, but the extra stuff inevitably creeps in and slows the pacing down.  This is interesting to me because Skyrim on the other hand, the sheer volume of stuff to do whenever is what I love, so maybe it’s just that I’m not interested in the random stuff in Far Cry 3 specifically.

  • Citric

    The school is SH1.

    It’s one of the only game series’ where dodgy controls actually work, because it just makes everything that much more scary. The monster is coming but you really don’t want to see it and have to do combat, because combat is sort of crappy and you have only so many bullets and so you spend most of your time screaming and running around like an idiot.

    It’s awesome.

    SH2 is the best of the ones I’ve played, which is the first three. I haven’t touched SH1 for a really long time though, but it and SH3 (which is a direct sequel to SH1) have this magical cult business that’s kind of silly while SH2 is primarily about the lead character’s effed up mind and holds together much better. 

  • evanwaters

     I’m trying hard not to give GOG all my money at once, is the thing. First it’s Ultima, then there’s Starflight, then Planescape: Torment, and God knows what else…

  • KidvanDanzig

    Before it goes full-blown, vampirism can be cured by visiting any shrine and receiving a blessing, unless that was modded out somehow. You can go to Whiterun and get Talos’ blessing behind the screaming blatherer.