Neil Patrick Harris on hosting the Video Game Awards, his beef with the Angry Birds, and why he won't dress up as PaRappa the Rapper
Image Credit: Chris Hatcher/PR PhotosNeil Patrick Harris is a great many things — a song-and-dance man, a comedian, a magician, even a wannabe supervillain — but did y’all know he was a gamer, too? The How I Met Your Mother star will host Spike’s 2010 Video Game Awards tonight (airing live at 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT), and he’s also nominated for Best Performance by a Human Male for voicing the Amazing Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions. We phoned him up to talk about how one goes about hosting a videogames awards show, what his favorite games are, and what his beef is with those wildly popular Angry Birds.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come to host the Video Game Awards? I was not aware you were a gamer.
NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: Well, I don’t have the countless hours to be on Xbox online playing lots of shooter simulator games with friend across the world, but I’m certainly fascinated by the technology and have all of the game platforms and buy games that intrigue me and play them when I can. I’m more interested in the technology of it all. [Hosting the awards] came to pass because I’ve been doing a fair amount of voiceover work for video games. I’m nominated for best performance by a human male, and then they asked me to host. I thought, that’s perfect, I can continue my streak of hosting awards and then losing to someone else. [Chuckles]
What games do you play, when you do have the time?
I really dig Red Dead Redemption. I’m easily scared by the zombie I will kill you with a hatchet games. I tried a couple of those and panicked and got brutally slaughtered, and so now I have an aversion to those. That’s what I should say, but in point of fact, I’m more of a Mario Party kind of guy. I’m more Fuzion Frenzy than Call of Duty, although I do love saying “dooty,” and every time I do it makes me laugh.
Red Dead Redemption is one of the most remarkable games I’ve played in a long time.
It’s very cinematic — the technology behind it now, it keeps trumping itself every game that comes out. I mean, I was a PaRappa the Rapper fan back in the day, so to see where the digital technology has gone from that to something as cinematic as Red Dead is unbelievable.
How does one host the VGAs? What are you going to be doing?
It’s live on the East Coast, and for about six months they’ve been creating computer generated landscape shots that will be overlaid on the live feed on the actual sets. So I’ll be standing or the presenter will be standing [on the set], the camera will go up, down, left, right, around, and the viewers at home will be seeing rock landscapes, or fire, depending on the game they’re discussing. It’s going to be an amazing visual and technological show. They’ve never done anything like it before. When that was pitched to me, I was on board pretty quick. They keep begging me to do a big song and dance number at the beginning, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Do gaming and musical numbers not mix well?
It doesn’t seem to jive. I’m trying to wrap my head around how you make a musical opening number about the gaming world appropriate for the Spike demographic.
You just said “wrap your head around it,” and not to make a horrible pun or anything, but you did just express fandom for PaRappa the Rapper.
Yes, but if I do something like go out there in a PaRappa the Rapper outfit and sing terrible raps, it will just embarrass me on YouTube for the rest of my life. I’ll end up on The Soup, in the bad way. I have to have a little self preservation in the back of my mind.
Okay, now I have a few serious gamer questions. First: Mario, Link, Sonic, or Samus Aran from Metroid?
[Exhales] You know, I may have to go old school and say Sonic. Because I played all of those back to back in my day. I have a soft spot in my heart for Sonic.
You wake up and you find yourself on a platform that’s rotating over several other platforms over what appears to be a bottomless pit, and you clearly have to jump on the next platform to get to the ledge on the other side of the pit. What do you do?
Well, I’d take a half step back, and then I’d do a double jump to make sure that I landed there on time.
I personally would just fold into the fetal position and hope I woke up.
[Laughs] Yeah, I would hope that the director yelled cut.
What game have you stayed up the latest playing in your life?
That’s a great question. It would be a tossup between BeautifulKatamari, where you’re a ball and you pick up other things like glue until you get to be a bigger ball and you keep trying to increase your mass until you take over the world. Or what I think the actual answer would be is PaRappa the Rapper: “Kick!Punch!It’s all in the mind!”
Plants vs. Zombies or Angry Birds?
I’d have to say Angry Birds, though I’m way into Doodle Jump. Doodle Bomb, that’s a great game too. I haven’t quite finished the Halloween edition [of Angry Birds] yet.
The Halloween edition I got through, but the Christmas edition is impossible.
God, they get harder and harder. And I question the physics of Angry Bird even though I play it. It doesn’t follow the rules of gravity. It’s created it’s own sort of weird physics that force you to fail a lot before you succeed — kind of like opium.
Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat?
Mortal Kombat, always. Come on, you can pull out someone’s spine and shout, “Finish him!” Or the other way around. You can say “Finish him!” and pull out someone’s spine — that’s better.
And finally, what would be a game you’d love to see?
If they came out with a new Myst, I’d probably start crying. I love those games so much. Riven was great.
But freaking hard.
Really hard — you kind of had to buy a hint book for those. But I get nervous playing games where I’m under a time limit. So I really applauded Myst for letting me just wander their landscape until I could figure out that the red button was pushed before the green button.