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.
June Diane Raphael is a comedian and writer who plays counter-terrorism agent Piper Ferguson on the Adult Swim series NTSF:SD:SUV::. She also stars in Burning Love, a satire of The Bachelor-style reality shows. In season two of Burning Love, Raphael plays the bachelorette at the center of the action, looking for a soulmate among a cast that includes Paul Scheer, Nick Kroll, and Michael Cera. Raphael talked to The Gameological Society about her heavy Scramble With Friends habit and her approach to the New York Times crossword.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
June Diane Raphael: The only game I would say I play—that I’ve played this past weekend [and] I’m sure I’ll play this weekend—is Scramble With Friends. Oh, yeah. Those are the only games I really play, and I do the crossword. I don’t know if that’s considered a game or a puzzle.
Gameological: A lot of people I talk to, especially people that are in “show business” as they say, they don’t have a whole lot of time to play games where you have to set up a board, or games where you have to buy a system and set it up. The mobile thing especially seems to be more up your alley. Is that how it is for you?
Raphael: It’s hard to know—if I had all the time in the world if I would still be out playing games. I don’t know if I can make that call. [Laughs.] It’s definitely sort of a nice way to let time go by and keep your mind a little bit active when you’re waiting around, or you’re in a trailer, to have a mobile game. And I also love crosswords for the same reason. You’re using your brain, but you’re not totally checked out like watching TV or something.
Gameological: Do you do any of the really hard ones, like the Sunday New York Times puzzles?
Raphael: I have done them, and yes I do them. It takes me a while, and I’m not quite as good. [Laughs.] Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday are like, “I’m pretty good.” Once it gets later in the week, I’m a weird person, though, where I’ll put it down and pick it back up a week later and have no problem. It’s very interesting finding out how people do their crosswords. On NTSF: SD: SUV, our script supervisor, who’s this huge crossword guy, I think two of the crosswords he’s created were published by the New York Times. I know most people who are really into them will pick it up once, and just work on it [that day], but I don’t have a problem putting it down and picking it up three days later.
Gameological: I can’t finish the really hard ones in just one sitting.
Raphael: Exactly. I’m not going to take that out on myself.
Gameological: Since we’re talking about crosswords, what is your style? Do you let anyone work on it with you?
Raphael: No. Don’t like that all. It’s a private experience for me. I like to do it myself. I only print it out. I don’t do it on my iPad, even though I have the app for it. I just don’t like it electronically. So I print it, but it’s really annoying because my printer, probably for about a year and a half, has major problems. It prints out without any numbers on it, so it’s just a grid. The numbers are super, super faded. Like, you can barely make them out. So my first step for the crossword is always spending five minutes and going through and writing in the numbers with my pen. It’s a weird system, but it’s always printed. It’s always a hard copy.
Gameological: It’s like a game within your game, or a puzzle within the puzzle.
Raphael: Exactly. It’s the first step of the puzzle is to figure out what the puzzle says.
Gameological: Have you ever had anyone try to do the crossword with you? Someone close to you? I’ve gotten into an argument before with an ex-girlfriend who really wanted it to be a collaborative effort, but I really wanted it to be my thing.
Raphael: I’ve heard people say, “Give me a clue,” I know people work on them together, and I’ve had people ask me, “Oh, what’s a four-letter word for whatever, soothing gel.” I feel like aloe vera is always the answer to every crossword problem. It’s such a private experience, and I don’t want to—even if I’m really, really stuck, I wouldn’t ask anyone. I’d rather leave it blank. I feel like that’s the whole puzzle, figuring it out for yourself with whatever knowledge you have, and forcing your brain to work that way. I don’t get people who get clues. I just don’t understand it. To me that’s not at all what the crossword is about.
Gameological: You mean people who search for hints?
Raphael: In The New York Times you can buy clues, but also asking people and throwing a few questions at the people. Even if I’m imploding on the puzzle, I’ll just throw myself on the sword rather than ask for help on it. I don’t get that at all.
Gameological: It kind of defeats the purpose at least the way I see it. So you said you play Scramble With Friends. Are you competitive when you play with your friends? I’ve played the Scrabble version of that with friends, and I’ve had friends who let things go for a few days and don’t really check their game. I have people who update it the second it’s their turn. Do you have friends like that?
Raphael: I only play with one friend, but we have nine games going on. He has a million friends that he’s playing with, so if I don’t respond quickly, I’m not holding him back from anything. So it works out for me, and then I always have games to play when I turn it on. I have a friend who was telling me that her dad—it’s so funny watching their parents get into their iPhones and understand what apps are—he’s a lawyer and had heard about Scrabble With Friends [Words With Friends], and really enjoyed it, but he was literally calling up his friends and saying, “Tonight at nine, do you want to play Scrabble With Friends?” and was setting Scrabble With Friends dates.
Gameological: As if it was a sit-down game?
Raphael: Exactly! Which made me laugh so hard. There’s no other person who’s playing it like that. He didn’t have any concept that it’s a mobile game that you play whenever you’re able to. [Laughs.] He thought like, “Okay. It’s time to play.” He didn’t understand the concept of people waiting to play on their own. It’s so funny to me.
Gameological: That’s like what you were talking about before when you squeeze it in when you have extra time.
Raphael: When you can. But all these grown-ass people in suburban Long Island calling each other for dates to play Scrabble With Friends. It makes me laugh so hard.
Gameological: What are you working on now?
Raphael: Well if you’re plugging anything, I’ll plug Burning Love, which is on Yahoo. Right now I’m shooting a pilot for ABC, that’s what I’m in the middle of. But Burning Love is airing—or streaming, what have you—right now.
Gameological: I haven’t seen the new season, but I watched last season and loved it.
Raphael: Definitely check out season two, it’s a lot of fun.
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.