Seth Rogen gets in the (video) game
Although he’s been playing games since the ancient days of the Commodore 2000, Seth Rogen hadn’t toyed with working on a videogame until now. He stars in Activision’s Monsters vs. Aliens game, reprising his 3D big screen role as the gooey B.O.B.. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried getting in the game before. In this exclusive interview, Rogen talks about why there won’t be a new game based on his next film, The Green Hornet, and how close he came to introducing the Pineapple Express game to the pot-smoking crowd. But as far as technology has come over the decades, Rogen still prefers to play the classics like GoldenEye, Contra and Double Dribble. Speaking of classics, he also believes The Wizard was the best videogame movie ever, bar none.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What games did you play back in the day?
SETH ROGEN: Well. I started out with the Commodore 2000. I had an Atari. I played the hell out of that system. I played the hell out of that E.T. game, which was terrible.
Are you saying you actually played the E.T. game that crashed the entire game industry?
I did, which is so sad to admit, but I did. I wasn’t from a rich family. Those were on sale, the E.T. games.
You know those cartridges were dumped somewhere in a landfill in New Mexico?
Yeah. Those games were easy to find at a garage sale. And then I played the Nintendo games that came out. But I have to say the most influential game that has probably sucked up the most of my time is GoldenEye on Nintendo 64.
That was a great game.
That game was an unfortunate thing in my life.
They haven’t been able to make a James Bond game as good as GoldenEye since.
They’ve almost not made any game as good as that. It’s one of the most fun games to play four players that was ever made. They really didn’t improve that much on it.
So back then four-player meant you had to look at one of those tinyboxes on the quad-split screen and keep track of what you were doing?
Exactly, but man I was good.
What are your thoughts on what they’re doing with videogames today?
I think it’s pretty cool. I like that games are more interactivetoday. I saw that video on YouTube where that guy reversed the way theWii Remote controller worked and made a virtual reality set out of it.The head tracking blew my mind. I think the implications of that couldbe amazing.
But back in the day you were sitting on the couch enjoyingGoldenEye and now Nintendo is making you get exercise while you game,right?
Exactly. I have a PlayChoice-10 in my house, which is like a stand-up Nintendo arcade machine that has 10 classic games like Contra, ExciteBike, Rush’n Attack, Double Dribble and the original Mario Bros. WhenI have a party, no one is playing Wii or PlayStation or Xbox. There’salways a line of people waiting to play the PlayChoice-10. So it justgoes to show you can’t beat the classics.
You can also download a lot of those classics on the Wii through the Virtual Console.
I know, but there’s something about standing and wiggling the joystickand tapping the hell out of those buttons that you just can’t beat.
What are your thoughts on the Wii and the new audience of girls playing videogames?
I know, they somehow found a way to trick my girlfriend into playing videogames. That’s something I’m immensely grateful for.
What do you guys play?
Man, there’s this game on Wii called ExciteTruck and she’sunbelievable at it to the point that I literally can’t play her anymoreat it. It’s emasculating and it’s frustrating. I just can’t beat her.
Did you learn anything about what goes into a videogame working on Activision’s Monsters vs. Aliens game?
I just realized that it’s actually exactly the same as doing themovie. There’s absolutely no difference at all between doing avideogame and doing an animated movie. It’s literally the exact sameprocess. If you didn’t tell me I was recording the videogame that day,I probably wouldn’t have known.
When it comes to videogames as a medium, is this an avenue you’re interested in exploring creatively?
Yeah, definitely. It’s something we talked about. It’s something we wanted to do with The Green Hornetbut the rights were tied up in a complicated way and we weren’t able toget it off the ground in time. We were even talking about how fun itwould be to do a videogame when we were working on The Pineapple Express.For me, it’s cool with movies because what those Matrix games showed isthat it can actually be part of the narrative and fill in some of thegaps. It can be an interactive accoutrement to the story, you know? Andthat concept really blew my mind when those guys did that. It reallyblew my mind.
And we haven’t really had a lot of pot videogames. The Pineapple Express would have introduced a new genre.
Yeah, it’s pretty amazing no one’s figured that out yet. Althoughsomeone just told me that that stupid group Above the Influence justdid research that found weed makes you worse at videogames. Which A)might be the biggest waste of resource funds and B) the most incorrectdata gathered by a research group.
What are the challenges of trying to be funny in the game genre with the repetition of the gaming genre?
That’s the writers. I’ll leave it in their hands. I will say thatwhat made me think it was even possible to make funny games are those Simpsons games they’ve been doing. I remember Road Rage was funny and the newer one, The Simpsons Game,was hilarious. It was like you were playing the TV show, it felt like.When I saw that, I was like, “Oh wow, if you put in the effort you canmake this an interactive experience and a true entertainmentexperience.”
What do you think is funny about the videogame culture, as someone who’s been part of this for a long time?
What’s funny about videogame culture is that I feel like you canalways qualify…I play videogames non-stop but when I walk by one ofthose Internet cafes and see guys playing Quake Wars against each other, I’m like, “What a bunch of nerds.” And I’m sure they walk by a room of guys playing Command & Conquerand they’re like, “What a bunch of nerds.” You can always qualify thatthere’s a group of people nerdier than you in the videogame world.
What do those videogame headsets add to the gaming experience on Xbox Live or PlayStation Network?
I tried that once and it was a terrible experience. There’s nothingmore humiliating than having a nine-year-old hand your ass to youacross the country while talking smack. I never need to experience thatagain.
Is that worse than the girlfriend beating you on Wii?
Actually, it is worse, I will say. It is worse.
What are your thoughts on the whole convergence between games and movies?
I feel that like anything, a videogame needs to start with a goodidea. And if they’re starting with a movie without the good idea, thatcan be their pitfall. I think it’s the same reason bad movies get made.They get too excited about the idea and they forget they need to fillit up with a story. Movies need good stories. I do think there havebeen some good Hollywood games like GoldenEye and those Matrix games and the Spider-Man games, especially Spider-Man 2was amazing. I think for the same reason they can fail very easily,they can succeed because people are familiar with the narrative of andare interested in getting involved in.
Is the videogame culture something you’d be interested in taking to the big screen in some way?
I don’t know, can you beat The Wizard? Can you top that? That’s my question.
So that was it, The Wizard?
That was it. They peaked with The Wizard. When that kidpulled the Nintendo Power Glove out of the briefcase, there wasno…where do you go from there? I liked how cool they made videogamersin that movie. That was to the point where you could be a guy who kepta Nintendo Power Glove in his briefcase and you were a cool guy, notthe biggest dork on earth.
— John Gaudiosi