Beyond the Canvas with Tim Hosey

If you’ve visited the Insert Coin Theater (www.insertcointheater.com) blog, you’re familiar with Tim Hosey’s upbeat and fun podcast. Tim’s the host, and both he and Jorge discuss anything—and I mean anything–game related in a playful manner that might cause you to think the two guys were still playing a game.

But below the banter, there is a philosophical undertow that demonstrates Tim’s passion for the industry and his understanding of the artistic nature of games; he appreciates a well-developed game and the artists that produce them.

I can’t think of a better way to start off this series of interviews, Beyond the Canvas: An Artist’s Impressions, than a chat with Tim.

M. Duda: Welcome, Tim. You must be a pretty busy guy, having to deal with the show and everything else going on in your life. Can you tell us about what you have to do every week to get a podcast out to us, your eager listeners?

Tim: Thanks for having me! I’m usually the one asking questions so it’s interesting to be on the receiving end for a change. Every week is a bit of a process. We’re constantly refining how we do things to make it work more efficiently. Every week consists of selecting discussion topics for the show, selecting the music from video games (which is challenging in its own right), and working with chiptune or nerdcore artists to plan their segment. On Thursdays, Jorge and I get together and record in the studio – dubbed Insert Coin Studios – where we set up our mics and cameras and do our bit. After that, I edit the audio of the show, add the music, make sure the levels are good and package it into MP3 format. The video is sent off to Trey for editing. Then I post the audio on the site, the Facebook and Twitter accounts to let everyone know it’s available. Our site automatically updates our RSS feed so subscribers get the new episodes automatically. After that, Trey does his deal and puts the video out on YouTube.

M. Duda: That does sounds like your busy—you must really love what you do. What inspired you to do this, the podcast, anyway?

Tim: I do love every minute of it! A big inspiration for me is Rooster Teeth Productions (http://roosterteeth.com). They run a weekly podcast show that discusses just about anything they want to; they cover news and the like – sometimes focusing on gaming. Watching their podcast made me feel there was a hole in the realm of deep discussion on gaming topics. This really inspired me to combine my passion for games and music into a format that would be pleasing for others.

M. Duda: Are there other inspirations in your life? What else do you do?

Tim: I’m fortunate enough to live in the Sarasota, FL area, and there are a LOT of artists around here. Whether they be musical or more traditional, a large proportion of my friends are artistically inclined, and their skill and talent always propel me to do the best I can. I wasn’t blessed with artistic merit in the same way typical artists have been, so I decided to take my knowledge and zeal for technology and apply it in a way that I thought made sense.

M. Duda: By making more sense, you mean the blog serves that outlet?

Tim: Yes, it gives me the chance to be creative and play to my strengths and deliver new content every week.

M. Duda: Do you work a day job?

Tim: In my normal job, I’m an Application Server Administrator for an insurance company. I make sure the applications our developers make don’t break the servers, and I keep things running as smoothly as I can for the end-users.

M. Duda: I don’t see how you manage it all.

Tim: There’s a certain level of dedication and a large desire to succeed that I’ve not had for a project before — the passion for delivering a product that the ICT crew and I can be proud of is palpable. During lunch time at my day job, I’ll often work on my phone to gather and develop ideas I’ve had. Instead of watching TV or playing video games when I get home, now I’ll prepare for Thursday’s recording. There’s a lot of retooling of priorities when the desire for success gets too strong.

M. Duda: So, going back to video games, which one is your favorite?

Tim: This is always a seriously hard question, since I’ve played games on just about every system that’s run games. In terms of modern gaming, one of my favorites is Bioshock Infinite. Not only is the voice cast amazing (Troy Baker and Courtney Draper are incredible), the music, theme, and setting are mind-blowing. Add to that a powerful story about loss and identity and some other craziness and you have the recipe for an impressive entry in the gaming lexicon. It’s one I recommend to anyone who really loves the story of a game.

M. Duda: I’m curious—which game do you consider to be the worst game ever made?

Tim: Another tough one since the gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar one, and as such, there will always be terrible cash-grab attempts made on the unsuspecting public. The biggest blight to gaming I’ve experienced is Superman on the Nintendo 64. Rarely has there been such an unnecessarily difficult, not-fun game released. Some folks may see this as bandwagoning since reviewers panned it as the worst game ever, but it’s one you have to play to truly understand just how terrible it is: glitchy, ugly and terribly designed overall. It has weird time limits that give no forgiveness for mistakes, and the control scheme is awful, culminating in a recipe for disaster in gaming form.

M.Duda: I have played that and agree that it’s pretty bad. The game doesn’t seem like something to appreciate as art. Since this interview series does revolve around artistic themes, why do you consider video games an art?

Tim: Video games are more often than not an expression of a collection of ideas.

M. Duda: Video games are a combination of art forms?

Tim: Yes, they are a combination of music, sound, visual and graphic art, and story which make an undeniable artistic expression. The artistic ideas represented in games are the hard work of well over a hundred individuals in some of the AAA titles and a small handful of folks in the smaller indie titles. Even the worst games are still artistic expressions from someone in the most micro sense of the definition.

M. Duda: Then, what do you think of games in the ‘macro sense’?

Tim: In a macro sense, some of the titles released are truly a beautiful, and — in some cases — a life-changing experience. Good art affects you – whether it be emotionally or mentally. A good game follows the same principle. That’s what makes it art to me.

M. Duda: After listening to your podcasts “Episode 13” and “Episode 14,” you certainly do have an appreciation for the artistic nature of video games. Do you like other types of art?

Tim: I do! I love music; it’s one of the most profound art forms around, at least to me. Music has a way of reaching into your soul and dredging up what’s hidden there; some songs can really speak to you, your situation, or your life at the time. For some reason, it’s a most satisfying feeling to identify with that.

M. Duda: Any other types of art that you enjoy?

Tim: I love novels, but I don’t get much chance to read – too many video games to play. I also really appreciate anime – since Japanese animation has been around since the ’70s and ’80s, it’s really evolved into a massive market. Then there’s movies – I’m not much for “art films,” but I do like what gets released in theaters. A good story is one of my favorite aspects to a movie release.

M. Duda: There’s a lot depth to you. How does that depth come out in the show?

Tim: I realized something interesting when I was developing the idea for the show: I like talking about games as much as I like playing them. Jorge, the co-host of my show, and I have known each other for a while, and we have all sorts of crazy philosophical discussions about games, the industry and the community. So, I reworked the original idea for the show, which was to play game music, and changed it to a discussion format. This gives us a playground to explore thematic elements in video games and aspects of the industry and community that I’ve not really found in a podcast before. To answer the question: I get the chance to really exercise my mind during the show and stretch where my normal preconceived notions lie. It’s awesome to see what Jorge’s take on a topic is, as it can give you that different perspective you may have been lacking before.

M. Duda: I don’t want to take up too much more of your time. Before we end this, any inspirational words for budding video game artists or podcasters?

Tim: Keep trying! Find a formula that works for you. If it’s something you’re happy with, it will show in the final product. Always keep pushing the idea, always try to innovate, and don’t let it stagnate. Also, a release schedule helps a lot, too!

M. Duda: Thanks, Tim, for your time.

Tim: Thanks, Mike! I appreciate the opportunity.

Tim and Jorge can be heard every Friday evening at Insert Coin Theater (www.insertcointheater.com). The guys discuss all kinds of things–game reviews flavored with light-hearted humor, developer insights, philosophical deliberations, and toe-tapping chiptunes. Be sure to check them out.

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