The man I had the pleasure to talk to today isn't a game industry vet. He isn't a reviewer, and he isn't a let's player. He is something we rarely see: a gaming historian. He collects video games and consoles across the entire history of video games, and discusses what's significant about them. It's not about what it is with Adam Koralik; it's why it is. Why did the Dreamcast fell, why Shenmue III took so long to get here, and why the PS4 is beating the Xbox One in sales. He covers it all, and today, we're going to be the what, and see what Adam is thinking:
Influential Gaming: What first inspired you to start FigureItOut Productions? Was it any specific instance, or was it a general desire to make videos?
Adam Koralik: I went through film school. One of the basic things they taught everyone was you need your own production company to be taken seriously. Originally we did short films and movie review shows. In an effort to gain more content and expand the brand, I started doing videogame videos. Eventually, it was pretty much nothing but videogame videos, on that channel anyway.
IG: You're a big Shenmue fan. That's no secret. In fact, it may the first thing anyone learns about you. If you had to pitch Shenmue to someone who grew up in a post-Shenmue world, what would you say?
AK: It's the game that created the sandbox open world genre. But rather than focus on a massive map for the sake of scale, it focused on total immersion detail. You can have the main character, Ryo Hazuki, explore his house and pick up items like an orange and just look at it. Why would you care? Because it aides in the immersion. When the game can so expertly engross you into it's world, it's hard not to get passionate about the story it's giving you. No doubt this plays a large reason why so many people never gave up on the series, despite that 13 year gap (XBox version of Shenmue II is released in 2002, Shenmue III is announced in 2015.)
IG: Generally, you talk video game history and politics, but you don't do typical reviews. Is there any particular reason for that?
AK: I often find the story behind the scenes to be way more interesting, and I HATE editing game play footage. Not to mention, few people actually discuss the economics of gaming. I always find this baffling, as in modern society we're almost all taught to follow the money for everything. So, when you want to understand why a company does what it does, it's best to understand the economic motivations, helps to explain a lot of their actions.
IG: Looking back at Sega's catalogue of IP's, they produced some of the greatest games in video game history. Now that we are starting to recover from the realization that Shenmue III is real and on the way, which other Sega game series would you like to see revived?
AK: Ironically, Sega had essentially nothing to do with Shenmue III. They just didn't stop it. They granted Yu Suzuki permission, that's pretty much where their involvement ends. But even so, I give them credit. Many other publishers, Capcom, Konami, Rare (technically Microsoft) just to name a few were not as friendly about that when developers wanted to make a sequel to a beloved franchise. (Mighty No 9, Bloodstained, and Yooka Laylee come to mind). Personally, aside from repairing Sonic, I'd like to see Ristar make a return, Nights perhaps. Sadly, a lot of Sega's talent left them years ago. Short of getting people like Yuji Naka back, I don't think Sega still has the creative capability to bring any of their franchises back.
IG: The Dreamcast seems like it will never die, what with the increase of post-life cycle independant titles, like those that Orion makes, Pier Solar and the Great Architects, and Redux. You made a whole video explaining why you think that is. Do you think that maybe we'll see an increase of games being developed for other retro systems, like say, the PS2 or the Fair Child Channel F?
AK: I think one of the strongest things that helps the Dreamcast stay alive in a zombie like way is that it can read unsigned code. Anyone with the right programming skills can make a Dreamcast game that runs on all consoles. That's not the case with things like the PS2, GameCube, or XBox etcetera. I don't know enough about the Fair Child Channel F to give you an educated impression. People make new games for cartridge consoles a lot, ironically because it's easier to bypass protection issues than most disc based platforms. People could be making independent software for consoles like the Sega CD, 3DO, Jaguar CD, CD-I, and CD32. While there are some examples in there (even for the Jaguar CD), far and away people don't. The Dreamcast is something special...that and people actually bought one.
IG: What are some other Youtubers you enjoy or recommend, and why?
AK: These days I mostly watch Classic Game Room, ReviewTechUSA, Rerez, HappyConsoleGamer, the Gaming Historian, and GameSocietyPimps (though this may not count as it's another channel I run). The channel I have to give the most credit to is one called MN12Bird. He's since retired, but this dude was the inspiration behind doing gaming videos at all, watch him, you'll see it.
IG: What are some of the challenges you come across when collecting video games?
AK: Money. That's always the first one. Second is just finding stuff you want and find worth going after. It's not fun to collect something when it's just too expensive. But, if you're interested in getting sets of things, you'll always find there are some titles that just cost a lot. It's up to you whether you pull that trigger or not.
IG: Okay, so Peter Moore is holding a school bus filled with the Shenmue III dev team off one side of a bridge and a car with the love of your life and all your Dreamcasts (Assuming those aren't the same thing) off the other. You can only save one. Who do you save?
AK: Apparently I'm Superman now, so I'm saving both.
IG: Anything else you would like to add?
AK: Thanks for interviewing me, it's been fun!
You can find Adam on his website FigureItOut Productions, on Youtube, and on Twitter. We thank him for his time and his contributions to the video game community and the many people he's inspired along the way. Keep Dreaming, Adam Koralik!