Austin Mackert – “Gameplay and Talk”

austinbaby

Austin as baby

When reflecting on the video game circuit on YouTube it’s easy to remember AVGN and the popular channels that saturated the platform. For me one of the channels that may have gone under the radar of most mainstream channels, is none other than Gameplay and Talk with Austin Mackert. A die-hard gamer that holds no bias when it comes to console or pc games, he is even avid pinball player. For me what got me hooked was his live feeds he would do on Thursday nights, and later his active streams on twitch. What started out for me was watching his gameplay to better achieve success for myself, later became an active gaming community that I thoroughly enjoyed participating in.

Q: What got you into making you tube videos?

The short of it is I was inspired by other video creators at the time (roughly 2007 to 2009), like Lukemorse1, Derek Alexander (Happy Video Game Nerd), and a host of video creators on Retroware TV’s web site. I did have what I felt to be a unique upbringing when it came to videogames, always being around them and always playing them, but then also collecting them after a point and experimenting with the less popular/more obscure games and consoles that a lot of people missed out on. With those experiences I felt I had something to offer that others making videos at the time may have not.

Austin’s console collection, circa 2000.

I had no prior experience with video recording, but since the standard at the time was simply shooting your TV with a camcorder, I invested in one and just went for it. It was pretty ghetto in the early days, but as I tend to tell people, you’ve got to start somewhere. The initial focus was just playing a game and talking about it (hence the name, “Gameplay and Talk”), giving my opinions but also talking about the gameplay and mechanics. About a year and a half in I got my first capture card and began toying with the idea of full playthrough recordings with commentary on top, and then that led into the idea of live Let’s Plays, and eventually live streams starting in 2015. I’ve been a mix of those later two formats ever since, with less of a focus on opinions and more of a focus on showing people how to play the games I show off. 

Q: What’s your earliest childhood memory with video games?

Playing the Atari VCS/2600 in my Mom and Dad’s basement in the early ’80s. They owned that console prior to when I was born, so you can say videogames were basically there for me right from day one. I distinctly recall being scared by the sights and sounds of games like Missile Command. Big, booming, and scary for a toddler.

There may have been earlier experiences that I don’t recall. For instance, my parents still have a photo of baby me in a Pac-Man shirt, and I probably wasn’t even 1 year old by that time. I can see it in the photo, but I naturally don’t remember the actual experience first-hand. (edited)

Q: was your brother or any other family friend an influence in you getting into gaming?

Nope, my brother didn’t exist for the first four years of my life (he’s the younger one) and my parents already had a 2600 when I was born, so the influence was there right out of the gate. When we moved from the city I was born in to where we currently reside (Fairfax, VA, roughly 1986 or 1987), I did meet neighbors and make friends with people that owned both the Sega Master System and Nintendo Entertainment System, and both would have a huge influence on me. The NES in particular, as it was the more common of the two around here. (edited)

Q: One thing I’ve never been able to pinpoint is your interest in music, what are some of your favorite bands or artists? whether it be music or any other creative outlet for that matter.

I’d say I have a wide variety of tastes, in a limited sort of way, if that makes any sense. I generally prefer music that’s melodic and moody, often times depressing, a lot of times simplistic but edgy at the same time (you can likely thank all the videogame music in my upbringing for that).

Music is a big part of my life and it’s been a long journey forming my current-day tastes. These days I find myself bouncing back and forth between hard rock/heavy metal and electronic music (particularly trance, progressive house, breakbeats and the occasional drum ‘n bass).

Some of my current “all-time favorite” rock/metal bands are Zeromancer, Paradise Lost, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Eisbrecher, A Perfect Circle and Linkin Park’s earlier output. For the electronic side of things, there’s so much to pick from and a lot of artists that only have a small range of output, but Adam Freeland is pretty much the greatest of all time in my book, so his stuff gets a ton of rotation here. The Crystal Method never fails, and since I’ve also been playing a lot of BeatmaniaIIDX again and hearing a bunch of trance, I’ve been rotating and zoning out to a bunch of older trance mixes by Armin Van Buuren (via his State of Trance album series).

Q: Please with all due respect, Way of the Warrior is not that, “bad” of a game, why the hell do you hate it so much?

Hate” is a strong word. That said, I do not like the game very much. I find the framerate inconsistent and choppy, the gameplay unresponsive, the jump arc irritatingly tall, and the visuals generally ugly. Keep in mind I was raised on smooth, polished arcade fighting games, like Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat II, Primal Rage, Killer Instinct 1 and 2, Virtua Fighter, among others. By the time I got around to playing Way of the Warrior, it was already one of the goofiest things in the genre (Shadow: War of Succession aside). Maybe one of these days I’ll put more time into it and it’ll finally “click”, but I doubt it.

Q: Were “shumps” or “shooters” a first love interest, or did it take you a lot of time to get into them?

That’s interesting to ponder, because when I was growing up, everyone played just about everything, and we didn’t really think of things as “genres” so much as whether the game was fun or not. It was honestly like that for me until the PlayStation and Saturn era, where I first gained access to the internet and stumbled upon dedicated communities for these “genres” (for example, shmups.com). Shoot ’em ups are absolutely one of my favorite genres today and I spend an excessive amount of time playing them (and have since the ’90s), but I wouldn’t say that was the case in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I had favorites all over the place, some were shooters, many were not.

Q: Future plans? goals or ambitions you want to share?

Just keep chopping away at this wood we call “YouTube”, and hope my channel continues to grow. I don’t have any major projects off the top of my head, but I’ve traditionally been pretty random and spontaneous with the things I create (that’s how my recent “shorts” video content came to be), so who knows what I’ll come up with in the future.

Gameplay and Talk – YouTube

Austin (@GameplayAndTalk) / Twitter

amackert – Twitch

Gameplay and Talk

 

 

Embrace of Thorns Interview -Entropy Dynamics

Without much delay, they have delivered to me the answers to some of my most pressing questions. This release of Entropy is a signal of the atmosphere for sure. I think this is a powerful discussion and I hope you will enjoy. And yes, I will introduce a new page specifically for interviews.

embrace of thorns

First of all, how the hell are you, anyway? considering the social and political climate in the European disaster that is happening, it goes without saying.

A, Thanks for having us again. We have just come back home from a show in central Greece, we did a local festival there. This is the second show we played since the whole pandemic thing ensued. Regarding climate, I don’t really feel like discussing inflation, fuel shortage, energy crisis etc. . It seems like an endless downward spiral, let alone history tends to repeat itself. Regarding the band during the COVID crisis, we suffered the cancellation of a festival appearance and we saw a tour going down the drain, eventually also getting canceled. We try to stay afloat. Entropy Dynamics, which is the upcoming album, was recorded a year ago. In the meantime, we released an Ep. Needless to say, that I don’t have any grandiose expectations when it comes to the near future as there is still turbulence around. One thing that I find pleasing is that we managed to write and record a damn great album, filled with darkness and contempt, totally representative of the Kali Yuga age we are undergoing.

Q, I was actually browsing over your recent Facebook post and I saw your aggression and concern about the genre of black metal, I think you spoke it rather well, and no need to divulge. But it’s with a passing concern that we allow Hollywood to narrate our music? or it be the other way around? 

A, I don’t really lose any sleep over the future of Black metal and metal in general. We are in the middle of a weeding out process (to quote BLACK FLAG). You see when it comes to black metal there is a certain sensationalist approach plus it is a very popular subject matter for the press to write about, as well we are witnessing a generational shift when it comes to who is involved with the black metal scene. I said, in a stream of consciousness style, but rather calmly, what I think about the whole issue. I was asked in an interview, and I answered back. Black metal is a big part of my past, present and probably my future, so I think my 2 cents are somehow relevant. Suffice to say, that this is no longer a scene consisting of renegades and outcasts. Back when I was a teen, I had to make a stand when it came to my choice of black metal t-shirts, now it’s been an integral part of the pop culture. People are making feature films and documentaries about black metal. But this is the reality of the situation.

Q, I’m still thinking about Antigone and that goddamn scene of suicide and sacrifices of humans, its unthinkable this Greek mythology. How much does this affect your music?

A, what is most interesting in my eyes is sacrilege, blasphemy and divine punishment involved and inherent in ancient Greek tragedies, as well as other forms of social commentary. Human sacrifices among other measures were utilized to appease the angry gods. Burnt offerings, such as animals were mostly used and sacrificing humans was considered the last resort. That was common in many pre-Christian civilizations.
Antigone poses critique to the social structure of many ancient Greek states and uses some very interesting symbolism. When primary identity is reduced to “us” and “them,” the definition of justice narrows. It becomes simply what helps “us” and harms “them”. When a leader urges citizens to identify his enemies as enemies of the state, what those citizens may end up having most in common with each other is anger, fear and mutual contempt. Thucydides’, one of the most significant ancient Greek Historians, observed that when a community is at war with itself, “moderates suffered most, because they were subject to attack by both factions.”
Sophocles offers another lesson in Antigone. Namely, that a single person in power, if he persuades or frightens enough people, can cause the suffering of innocents and the loss of institutions and customs on which civil order rely.
Of course, this masterpiece could have taught the future generations a lesson or two. Alas, it wasn’t bound to happen.
Art in general, be it music, literature, cinema or theater profoundly affects our music.

Q, I have had 2 psychotic breaks and dislocated my right shoulder, I need a replacement shoulder, it’s been on my mind to get the surgery, what do you think?
Yeah, shoulder is a flawed joint anyways,please do get a replacement shoulder…

A, as for the psychotic breaks of yours, I don’t know your background and I don’t want to patronize you, but it seems that more and more people are in a bad place and are struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, self-harm tendencies etc. This should be of primary interest. I am very aware of the reality of mental disorders and very supportive of people who struggle. I’ve had people close to me who suffered in silence. When I was young, I was clueless, I was raised to buckle up and suck it, bite the shit sandwich and smile type of approach. This is of course wrong, and I figured this out on my own, when shit hit the fan in more than one occasions.

Q, it’s exciting your releasing new music, how about Dead Congregation? any idea if they might be brewing something up? {maybe I should ask them myself?}
A, Yeah, they have written the new album but haven’t found time to record yet. Hopefully soon…

Q, what are your thoughts on Ketamine and mushrooms? do you think the world will ever get there shit straight and consider the fact that this does indeed help people?

A, there’s been a discussion since the Sixties on hallucinogens and other mind-expanding drugs or drugs that serve medical purposes. It is without doubt that people get helped by certain drugs. However, the whole drug culture is definitely not my thing.

Q, You guys like video games?
A, some of the past and present members like them. I was never a fan. I am mostly infatuated with music, cinema and literature.
Thats the best of it, I look forward to your response.
I would like to thank you again for hosting us again. New album is going to hit you hard.
Die by Power!
……………………………
https://embracethorns.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/EmbraceOfThorns/

Interview with one of my favorite Sega web sites growing up

sega SHIN FORCE

The web sites are booming!!!!

When I first got into the Internet and using a personal computer, my interest was mostly with using it to play games and perform routines with educational software. Things didn’t start to get exciting until America Online was introduced. This brings the beginning stages for me and where I started out.

Fastforward to a more modern time, I’m browsing through the Sega Force or Shin Force, for the uninitiated. A bounty of content and elaborate details about much prized Sega memorabilia. I was always fascinated with this site and especially because to me, all life really was and is about GAMING.

I really enjoyed the shin force, and I used it as a valuable resource for news and information, hell I even went as far as becoming a staff member and contributing even some of my own content, which now that I think about it, I cannot even remember whether I even contributed anything or not?  whatever the case, I really liked the Shin/Sega Force. So, with that, it’s my great pleasure to get to ask the webmaster himself some questions and get his feedback.

I’ll answer most of those questions……..

Q. what got you into sega?

A I became a Sega fan for life by going to arcades in the 80s and realizing how many amazing games were created by them. Games like Buck Rogers, Zaxxon, Turbo, Shinobi, After Burner, and Golden Axe we’re always among the most popular at local arcades. The Master System release in 1986 was a match made in heaven, with Sega hardware and software in one neat package.

Q aside from your fandom of sega, what enticed you into building and making a webpage? why did you think to make the shin force?

A Sega/Shin Force was inspired by my opinion that too many video game magazines didn’t match my view of Sega. I thought it would be a great way to commune with others that appreciate their originality and creativity.

Q you seem to have a lot of interest in airplanes, where you ever in the air force?

A I love everything about airplanes, but I never served in the military. I grew up playing with airplanes, making model airplanes, visiting aircraft museums, and attending airshows regularly. All flying games are of instant interest to me, beginning with the original Microsoft Flight Simulator (PC).

Q what do you suppose would rebirth sega? is it even possible?

A My vision of the rebirth of Sega is not probable, because it would be Sega making its own modern console and supporting it with awesome software. That dream died with the Dreamcast when Sega discontinued it in 2001. If there was an avenue of rebirth, it would probably involve being purchased by Microsoft and kept as a second party exclusive developer.

Q how did you learn to code and design web sites? any formal education or schooling?

A I used Netscape Communicator to produce HTML, which featured a WYSIWYG interface that made website creation accessible to everyone. No formal training necessary, just a creative idea and the desire to see it through.

Q what kind of music do you like?

A My go to music genre has always been Heavy Metal. I grew up on Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Loudness, Earthshaker, Motley Crue, Accept, Grave Digger, and Yngwie Malmsteen, to mention a few.

the Sega Reform

My first ever Sega webpage

 

Q Would love to hear about any other sega web sites or anybody else who was doing something like yourself at the time. Really hash this out and give us information on what the web scene was like when you first started doing your web page.

A The web scene in the 90s was young and growing by leaps and bounds. There were a few sites I would visit daily to see the hottest video game news, which I would compile into news articles for Sega Force. Honestly, people would constantly ask for web link swaps, and I almost always agreed. Sega/Shin Force had enough impact to gain the attention of some companies like Sega and Tecmo. For example, Sega gave me access to their media FTP and Tecmo sent me a pre-release version of Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast). The best part was knowing that like-minded gamers were finally getting what they craved: a Sega biased view on video games. Fast forward to current times. I’ve been covering Sega for 25 years and will continue to do so, mainly on social media, until it no longer gives me satisfaction. I don’t do this for popularity or profit — I do this because I want to share Sega fandom with others. We also have a couple of international correspondents on Facebook that provide occasional content. The main focus is outlined as follows: we specialize in Phantasy Star, Sega, Xbox, and retro gaming.

That about wraps it up. I am very grateful to Shin and the FORCE for giving us all a whole of courage and inspiration in a dark cold and depressing world. Is it getting close to fall yet?

For those interested, please consider checking out:

http://shinforce.com/index.htm

Sega / Shin Force | Facebook

Interview with Dead Congregation

Much of today’s metal bands are a dying stagnant breed. We do still have a handful of new and old faces, that offer a refreshing change to the bunch. But it is rarely happening by new and upcoming faces. Which brings me to the music of Dead Congregation, a death metal band from Greece, that plays a charismatic mixture of death metal. I was privileged to have the chance to talk with them about several interesting topics. I hope you all enjoy.

Let me first off with saying how much of an honor and privilege to finally get into a dialogue with the band. Your music takes a chaotic blend of the earliest roots of death metal, and have delivered a new refreshing sound, to the stagnant death metal flock that has been a forbearance, in regards to the new flock of “death metal bands is a lot of cases a decline of the roots, of what makes death metal such a pivotal piece to a stagnant genre. What lead you to go with against the grain, and produce something that is so overtly driven to technicality in favor of a slew of releases that hold no boundaries in terms of the new death metal bands. A chaotic blend with rhythmic overtures which lead to an agonizing ministry of sound. 

Thank you very much for the kind words. We never tried to go against the grain, we always write and play the music that feels natural to us, the band is a medium to channel our creativity and serves as a cathartic vessel with which we outflow our spiritual and artistic restlessness. There is not much thought behind our compositions, only primal instinct and emotion.
I want to slowly get away the obligatory questions and dive deeper into what makes you such a pivotal piece in the underground.

It’s not up to us to say if we’re a pivotal band in the underground so we can’t say what makes us that either. We don’t really feel like an underground band anyway, maybe a band that refuses to conform to the marketing side of things and sign to a big label but our music has passed the boundaries of the underground circles.
The geographical location Greece, has a lot of mythology surrounding your culture, and how much of that influences your impacts your music and lyrical approach.?

It doesn’t really. Although we all have huge admiration of our country’s history it doesn’t affect the way we write for Dead Congregation.
Your standard of lyrical content comes from a almost nihilistic stance as far the establishment of organized religion. How much does the church deter you away from social norms of religion?

Our lyrics are mainly about the ongoing decline of organized religion, however we prefer to write them rather abstractly so they can be loosely interpreted, as we don’t wish to preach our personal beliefs to anyone. We just want to create discomforting images/feelings to the listener by combining sardonic lyrics with the suffocating atmosphere of our music.
I want to also admit that my actual first introduction to your music was Promulgation of Fall*, which lead to me seek out your earliest releases, namely Graves of the Archangels, which still holds me in a contempt to your newest release, which is very unique in its ability to include what sounds to me like chanting monks, which surprisingly blends with the overall sound and creates an undeniable atmosphere, which works perfectly well with the sound surprisingly enough.

You mean ‘Promulgation of the Fall’ (not ‘Promulgation of Dead’). In regards to the chants in ‘Graves of the Archangels’, they were means to an end. The idea of using those chants came after we recorded all the music, then we thought about using some chants of Orthodox priests that sing hymns to the Archangels which we had and they sounded just perfect for the specific case. It was something that fit and enhanced the concept of the album.
Promulgation of the fall, has left behind the monk chanting and delivers a myriad of memorable riffs that derives the brutality and brings about a more presentable masterpiece. Slow churning riff, that assembles a opus of brutality. All the while, keep it all in context. 

Indeed, it was a very conscious choice to not repeat ourselves by using similar samples but instead create all the opposing atmosphere with the sheer aggression of the riffs and compositions themselves. The new album is more direct and more diverse at the same time, there are a lot of things happening in the structures of the songs but all of feelings we want to get across are channeled through our instruments and our music’s balance between melody and disharmony.
The lyrical  content is very anti-religion. and makes me wonder how much a part of the church in Greece, that fuels your hatred for the stigmas of organized religion.?

We just feel scorn towards people who are easily manipulated and have no individual thought, such as the mindless followers of any organized religion. Since Christian religion is not only prevalent in our country but in the majority of western civilization, our lyrics are mainly targeting that.
I guess my next question, is your worldview on life and morality. Do your lyrics directly influence your lifestyle of individuals?

In general we are into individualism and personal spiritual elevation. Each one should be constantly striving for self-improvement and not conform to hypocritically moral rules instructed by any church.
To me you have made a credible sound for yourself, in the ability to bring a unpresented disregard, for the typical run of the mill death metal bands. Slow churning, while instantaneously delivering a hard driven force to meld together a perfect blend of chaos with rhythmic sections that leave a lasting impression in your mind. 

Again, thanks, it’s nothing intentional. That’s just how we express ourselves through music to feel fulfilled as artists.
Now I would like to lighten up the mood a little, and ask about hobbies, and work related obligations. Its presumably with this brand of music, it must be difficult to make a reasonable living outside of your touring and being an active band.

I think the majority of our hobbies are very much music-oriented. We also read books and personally I like a lot of activities that bring me closer to nature, from snowboarding to fishing, mountain biking, even just a walk in nature. All of us enjoy trips very much so it’s a great privilege to be able to see all these foreign countries when playing with the band. Sometimes if we play in a city that is particularly interesting we’ll make sure to stay some extra days, like we did in Prague, Bergen and some others. We do have regular jobs as well so that we can afford a descent life and not live like bums.
Not to back step a little and ask, where does the monk chanting come from? is that all done and performed by the band.

No, as said, they are Orthodox hymns to the Archangels, sung by monks in a Greek monastery.
I always want to lay the nail in the coffin, because when I first heard your music, I found a slight influential from the band Incantation. But to be honest the more I listen to your music the more I hear less of Incantation, and a created sound all of your own.  

Maybe our ‘sound’ and our music’s suffocating atmosphere has similarities to Incantation’s sound/atmosphere but the music and riffs and drumming themselves don’t have much in common with Incantation. We have tons of influences and the strongest are probably Slayer’s first 5 albums and Morbid Angel but as a principal we don’t try to sound like anyone in specific. We just filter all our influences and have our own interpretation of how Death Metal must sound.
What is your favorite brew of choice?

I like a lot of beers from small and big breweries but if I have to narrow it down to favorites from ‘known’ brands I’d say Kozel Dark for anytime and Corona for the hot Greek summer days when you need something very refreshing to cool you down.
Favorite past times? outside of music. 

Movies, books, historical documentaries, trips, walking my dog, spending time with my girlfriend and close friends and spending time in nature.

What is the Greece metal scene like? any notable bands that you respect?


It’s quite active lately, we always had a lot of passionate metal heads in Greece and in the last 10 years we see many good bands popping up in the underground. My respect goes to Acrimonious, The Psalm, Resurgency, Embrace Of Thorns, Impure Worship, Convixion, Exarsis, many others…
I would be interested also into know what your philosophical approach to live? and what has determined your worldview? 

I’m a fucking pessimistic nihilist.
The tone of your music has a inherently depressive tone, and chaotic as all hell. You hold no boundaries in your abilities to create something almost esoteric. It’s outright original in presentation. Not a single track is left without a guided direction, your writing approach is absolutely blasphemous. 

Our music IS very esoteric and not calculated at all. Maybe it appears like we have tremendous

attention to detail but in reality all the layers in our songs that work together in favor for the bigger picture are just strokes of inspiration – sometimes you sit down with the guitar and an entire song takes shape without effort, ideas pop in your head one after the other and you don’t even know how you came up with all that because the composing process is not a conscious one at all. It’s not like we can sit down and say ‘ok, we’ll use this riff, then we must do a riff like this and put a lead on top like this’ and voila a song takes shape. Our music is multi-dimensional because balancing fast aggressive parts with oppressive slow parts and chaotic moments with melancholic melodies is OUR way to express ourselves, at least on this specific album. Other artists feel fulfilled with creating a 10 song album out of 9 riffs, like VON’s ‘Satanic Blood’ for example, and there is nothing wrong with that either! There is no recipe on how to write songs, you just need to be in a certain (inspirational) state which may last for a few or a lot of ideas before you fall in a writer’s block for some time. But in any case, if you’re sincere to yourself as an artist, you never force yourself to create on purpose, everything just comes naturally.

Well that is all I got. Feel free to share any final words to publicize your music accordingly. As I have said before, your music alongside Triptykon, are the reigning champions of the calendar year of 2014. Slow foreboding harmonies that leave a lasting impression. All the while unleashing a chaotic face ripping masterpiece. 

Again thank you for your kind words and for having us here.
I thank you for this opportunity. And I am thoroughly impressed with your ability in musicianship.