Close watchers of the rumour mill will have noticed that the industry has recently acquired its own Deep throat. This oesophagus of privileged information has taken the form of a very innocent, plain-looking blog titled "Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars".
Are these rumours tasty? Yes. Varied? Certainly. Accurate? Only one person knows, and that's Surfer Girl herself. As such, we kindly asked the knowledgeable lass for a moment of her time:
Logan: Would you say you're directly involved in the games industry? Surfer Girl: I'm an insider. Insider.
Hit the jump for the full interview.
PS. If you're wondering where exactly the name for Surfer Girl's blog came from, she's already done an excellent job of explaining it:
3) "Where the hell do you get a blog title like "Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars" from?" The blog name comes from a Latvian tour guide who was on some sort of hallucinogenic and spoke random phrases.
4) "You never reviewed Star Wars, what did you think of Star Wars?" Boring. A step down from a classic like American Graffiti. George did science fiction much better with THX 1138.
Surfer Girl also took the time to interview me during our Q&A. You can read it over at the Reviews Star Wars blog. It's mostly about Australian culture, which was awesome for me because I'm actually a Kiwi.The interview
Logan: So, my first two questions shouldn't come as a surprise. Do you surf, and are you a girl? Surfer Girl: Yes and yes.
Logan: You also have a second blog going: sttnw.blogspot.com. Surfer Girl: Yes. Logan: What prompted you to start STTNW as a separate blog? Surfer Girl: I'm fascinated be the sheer amount of creative things that go to waste. I don't have any intentions to solely focus on games in that blog. Logan: With SGRSW or STTNW? Surfer Girl: STTNW and SGRSW. But such things that never was prompted by my interest in the masses of films that studios attach themselves to, but never happen for some reason or another. Logan: You've set a bit of a precedent on SGRSW though with your posts over the last few weeks. I know I'm visiting it daily to see what you've put up. Surfer Girl: Well thanks.
Logan: Have you always been privy to the information you're posting, and only recently decided to make it public? Or is this a new development? Surfer Girl: I'm been privy for quite some time.
Logan: So, how far does your interest in gaming extend? Would you consider yourself hardcore or casual? Do you play an MMO on a regular basis? Surfer Girl: I have a disdain for MMOs. That study that I read on a post on Kotaku that essentially said MMOs are a waste of money and time summarises my opinion on that. Logan: So your disdain has nothing to do with a bad experience? Surfer Girl: Not really. I like when games are daring. Logan: By daring, do you mean developers taking risks? Like Looking Glass back in the day? Surfer Girl: Taking risks yes. I rarely care to play through more than a level or two of the typical franchise title. Logan: I agree. But history shows that risk-taking rarely works in the games industry, and when it does, no money comes of it. Surfer Girl: That is the sad thing. But I think that corporate behaviour or lack thereof is possibly the most significant effect on those risk-taking titles.
Logan: How long would you say you've been playing games. Or had an interest? Surfer Girl: Oh, I've been playing games somewhere between fifteen-twenty years. Logan: What have you been playing recently? Surfer Girl: The last games I've played through are Skate and BioShock. Logan: What did you think of BioShock? Surfer Girl: It is the best first-person title I've played in recent memory, 2K Australia/2K Boston seemed to get everything right. It is a step I'd like to see the industry go in, where there are titles that aggregate miscellaneous works from other mediums to create something original. There is too much emphasis on licensing and too little emphasis on inspiration. I'm paying $US 60 to support a creativity, which is a reason I rarely purchase games. Logan: In that case, it's $US 60 well spent. Surfer Girl: I think if people want games to be considered an artistic medium alongside films and books, something like BioShock is a necessary step. You are not seeing some young author writing The Catcher in the Rye IV, you are seeing them draw inspiration from Salinger.
Surfer Girl: I think that the trend toward an eventual demise of physical games distribution is going to help the industry grow exponentially. By next generation, someone creating a game equivalent of In Rainbows will be fairly commonplace. Logan: Oh, online distribution is certainly a goer. But how many years it'll take before the industry moves across as a whole? All depends on EA I'd say.
Surfer Girl: I actually played through The Getaway purely for the story. Horrible game. Logan: [Laughs]
Surfer Girl: And Indigo Prophecy too (aside from the inane third act), non-existent gameplay. But something unique. I also liked that RPG-puzzle game on XBLA. Logan: Puzzle Quest? Surfer Girl: Yes.
Logan: Do RPGs interest you in general? NWN2, Baldur's Gate... that sort of thing? Surfer Girl: I can't stand RPGs. Logan: Why's that? Surfer Girl: Boring and typically seem uninspired. I don't like turn-based combat either, strikes me as archaic. Surfer Girl: In quite a number of RPGs there is what seems to be this library music that companies have had since the early nineties and have kept recycling for their games. It is the most irritating thing in video games. A lot of the music the Nintendo uses for their various titles sounds recycled too and I cannot stand that. Nintendo should not be afraid to use an actual musical score like they did on Metroid Prime 3. Surfer Girl: However, that title seemed to have everything else about it besides controls recycled. In terms of recycling ideas, I think that is how Blizzard Entertainment makes money. Logan: Any thoughts on Bill Roper? Surfer Girl: I would not call him a beacon of originality either. I think Blizzard Entertainment makes the EA Sports label look original and daring in comparison. I think Blizzard should go to EA, seems like a match made in heaven. Blizzard also spends way too much time on the titles they make. Logan: Too much development time? Who do you feel that's in detriment to? Surfer Girl: The gaming audience.
Surfer Girl: It wouldn't hurt to make a Rock N' Roll Racing update for XBLA. Hell, they could even throw orcs, aliens, and demons so that has the Blizzard signature on it. Logan: That's a franchise they haven't looked at in a while. Didn't they do something with Lost Vikings not too long ago? Surfer Girl: I think they ported both RnR Racing and Lost Vikings get ported for GBA? Logan: Now that sounds familiar. Not much of a Nintendo person. Kind of dropped out after the SNES. Surfer Girl: Wii gave me a source of hope. The Wii title that I'm most excited for is Blocks, the first Spielberg/EA collaboration. I think it may just be the most important puzzle game since Tetris. In general, I like puzzle games, Q Entertainment especially seems to get things right... except for the mostly horrible music. Logan: So you have mixed feelings over something like Rez then? Surfer Girl: I loved Rez. I was talking more about Hoobastank being in Lumines II. Logan: Ah. What would you have preferred to have playing in the background? Surfer Girl: Fatboy Slim, Beck, The Go! Team is more along the lines of what I want to see more of.
Logan: Have you received any "interesting" email from the developers you've posted about? Surfer Girl: The most interesting emails have been from quite random people with no clear connection to the industry. Logan: Can you give an example? Surfer Girl: "u r probably hot, thats y u should subscribe to my rss feed -tim" Surfer Girl: There's more interesting, that's just the most recent thing in the inbox. Logan: Go Tim. Think he has a chance? Surfer Girl: At me subscribing to his RSS feed? Considering he did not leave me an address of any kind and has a free email account, doubtful. It is like the person who emailed me and asked "what is your email?" Logan: Sigh. Surfer Girl: I find these people hilarious. But I cannot say much about conversations with developers and/or publishers, which may or may not occur.
Logan: Do you think you'll continue to post exclusive info, at least for now? Surfer Girl: I'll continue to do, whatever it is I do. Then I'll reveal I actually write for Forbes like Daniel Lyons [the Fake Steve Jobs guy]and have book coming out in two months.
Logan: Would you say you're directly involved in the games industry? Surfer Girl: I'm an insider. Insider. Logan: It's not often you see people using bold so effectively. Surfer Girl: It's not often you are quite surprised by a compliment like that, but thank you. Logan: You're welcome.
Logan: Are you concerned someone might eventually figure out who you are? Surfer Girl: No. Logan: No because they won't, or that it doesn't matter if they do? Surfer Girl: A little of both.
Logan: Has journalism ever held your interest? Surfer Girl: College major. Not necessarily a career path. Logan: But judging from your blog, you're not a fan of print? Surfer Girl: I'm a fan of print. But I don't really care for video game or technology magazines though, to be honest. I'll read Time, but personally I think that gaming and tech magazines will be the first to go all-digital and cease to print.
Thanks for your time Surfer Girl. Keep up the good work!