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Interview: John Bardinelli (JayisGames)

JANUARY 1, 2008

An interview with John Bardinelli, the reviews coordinator of JayisGames.

Ok John, let's begin with an introduction of yourself for the readers who are unfamiliar with your journalism activities.

I'm John Bardinelli (JohnB), a freelance writer who stumbled into video game journalism about five years ago. The last few years I've focused on the indie gaming scene (hooray!) as well as online gaming, especially casual Flash games on the main site I work for, JayIsGames. In the past I've worked for several sites, a few of which are now defunct (DS Central, Playgressive), but I also do some indie game writing for Joystiq, which is nice. And of course the odd gaming/geek-related article on my personal blog.

Tell us about your writing schedule.

Now that I'm focusing on a few important projects, my writing schedule has settled down to a manageable level. Back when I was full-time at Joystiq, I was a crazed writing machine.

Most of my time is spent looking for and evaluating games for JIG. I probably spend two hours a day doing that, on average, and with varying rates of success. When I get a game worth writing about I'll have something published within a few hours. I pretty much hop on and off the internet throughout the day, look for games, and if I find one, write and publish it asap.

Any personal projects?

Right now I'm working on, a central hub for the mailing list I've had for about a year. It helps newbie writers who want to get into writing about video games for a living start on their career, and the mailing list sends out game journalism jobs from around the web.

It's been a gradual and surprising success so far. One of the list members was recently hired by Gamepro to do a big article on Halo 3.

What are the sort of games you enjoy playing? (e.g. adventure, platformers etc.)

I like games that blend genres or try something new. In general, anything exploration-based is my cup of tea, but I also go for adventure-style games, RPGs, puzzles and platformers. Just keep sports games far away from me. They're evil.

How many editors does JayisGames currently have?

Jay's the driving force behind the site, as always, and even after two years of working with him I have a hard time keeping up with that guy. He's a machine. Other than Jay, I'm the only editor, but we have a dozen or so writers that contribute when they can. They're a great group.

Are you still keeping the Casual Gameplay Competition in its monthly format, or is there any changes we should expect? When is the next one starting, and can you give us a clue to what the theme will be?

We expanded the competitions to allow developers more time to work on their games. The last comp was around two months long, and I'm pretty sure we'll keep that about the same. We like good games and want to encourage creativity and innovation.

Right now we're working on the Best of 2007 feature where we round-up all the games featured over the year and choose the best of the best. The next competition will be announced about the same time. We've been discussing themes, but I'm not telling what it is. :P

Is there anything different with this year's Best of 2007 feature, or will it mainly follow the same category format as last year?

The feature format will be about the same as before, but there's going to be more audience voting this time around. Seems like a lot of good stuff has been released this last year.

This is a question that a lot of readers would like to know the answer to. Is Jay pro-Nitrome?

If I can attempt to answer for him: Jay is pro anything that's unique, as am I. We both love games that push the boundaries and try new things and get a thrill out of featuring them on the site. The folks at Nitrome have clawed their way up the ladder and are a successful studio, and we definitely applaud them for that. Not everything is as unique as it could be, of course, but every studio has its ups and downs.

Name a couple of sites that you regularly visit. Order them from the one that's getting the most of your hits to the least.

I have a big list of sites I visit, but by far yours is at the top.

Well, I havent updated in a week...

After that, the NeoGAF forums, TIGSource, 4 Color Rebellion, the Indie Gamer forums and a news aggregator (such as GameTab) or two. I spend a TON of time clicking links here and there and sifting through sites looking for good games, though.

What are your own personal favorites (Flash games) this year?

Ooh... good question. I really liked Sprout, Jeff Nusz's entry into our second competition. It was so imaginative, and the art direction was beautiful. Other than that, I got a kick out of Micro Art, The Sea of Glomp, and Makibishi Comic. That's just off the top of my head.

Let's take the other extreme. What do you think is the worst Flash game this year?

Heh. I usually don't like to rag on games too much. The designers never try to make something bad (right?), but many times the elements just don't come together to make a fun game. That's when I'll have mercy and call it a "programmer's learning experience" rather than a "game".

With that said, though, I do see a lot of games I don't like, so there ARE bad ones out there. I won't name names, though. :-D

Let's say there's someone reading this article who had never played any Flash games before. Name a couple of games that you would introduce to them, in order to get them hooked.

The first thing that pops in my mind: Grow. It's simple, it's creative, and it's got just the right amount of challenge.

Anything by Eyezmaze?

Absolutely. Some of the best online games come from there.

Any other introductory Flash games you'd recommend?

Other games I might recommend to a Flash gaming newbie would be room escape titles, especially games from the Gotmail team (Il Destino, One-Off, One-Off R, Strawberry Tomato) and Mateusz Skutnik's Submachine series.

They may be a little difficult for someone new to Flash gaming, but they're beautiful and intriguing games.

What are your favorite indie games?

I love Nifflas' work, so predictably enough I'm going to say Knytt is one of my favorite games of all time. And I really enjoy any kind of picross. Also, Derek Yu's old game Diabolika 2 is extremely fun.

Let's talk a little about IGF. Have you played any of the games which made it as finalists in the main competition?

I've played some of them, yes. I really enjoyed Synaesthete, it's a brain-altering experience. I can't wait to get my hands on The Path, World of Goo, Fret Nice, and Fez!

Who do you see winning the grand prize? How about the web browser category?

I'd like to see Iron Dukes grab the prize, but I'm probably biased because I broke news of the game on Joystiq and really want to see it succeed. :P

Final question. Anyone you'd like to see interviewed?

Tough question! Can I say something outlandish like Captain Kirk?

IndieGames Blog | Best of Features | Interviews | Reviews

About The IGF

UBM TechWeb (producer of Game Developer magazine,, and the Game Developers Conference) established the Independent Games Festival in 1998 to encourage innovation in game development and to recognize the best independent game developers.

The competition, now in its 13th year, awarded a total of nearly $50,000 in prizes to deserving indie creators in Main Competition and Student Competition categories at the IGF Awards Ceremony, held in March 2010 at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, CA, as one of the highlights of the Game Developers Conference.

The Independent Games Festival will return in March 2011 at GDC in San Francisco - look for more information soon. [More information...]

About The IGS

Featuring lectures, postmortems and roundtables from some of the most notable independent game creators around, the Independent Games Summit is a yearly event, with iterations thus far taking place in March 2007, February 2008, March 2009 and March 2010 at Game Developers Conference.

UBM TechWeb (which curates the IGF and runs GDC) plans to continue and grow the Independent Games Summit in subsequent years. [More information...]