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Meet Wugga (A.K.A Austin Sedgewick)

01 Apr 07

Q  You’re well known in the gaming community for competing in video game tournaments. Did you ever think you would do as well as you have in New Zealand?
A  Prior to my first notable win, I think I’d always been somewhat defeatist about how I would stack up against the rest of the country, so I guess not. I still tell myself I’m not the best in the country - I’m just the guy that turned up on the day and won. There’s probably any number of people out there that could beat me (or have beaten me in the past), but stay home because of a similar defeatist attitude that I once had.

Q  What do you find is the most stimulating part of being involved in the Video Game industry in New Zealand?
A  Meeting fellow gamers. The size of our country has the nice advantage that we’re never too far from each other so long as one person has the dedication.

Q  You’ve appeared on TV and in newspapers for your gaming successes, but what is it really like behind the scenes when you’re competing?
A  It’s more or less what you’d expect - I don’t suffer from crushing anxiety, but there is the occasional nagging concern in local matches saying “Is this the guy that’s going to take me down?” and the more oppressive feeling of going up against someone far more experienced and intimidating. The enjoyment of the game and thrill of competition still remains of course. Without them I obviously wouldn’t bother.

Q  Free stuff – we’ve read your blog and we know you score some pretty nice goodies for your efforts as a gaming celebrity. People may think all you do is sit on your butt all day and play games. Is that what life is really like?
A  Nah not at all. Sometimes I stand up while I’m playing games.

Q  You’ve managed to travel a fair bit as a gamer. What countries have you been able to visit during your gaming career?
A  Not including stopovers, America, Italy and Australia.

Q  What are some of the highlights of your career so far?
A  Visiting the Tecmo booth at E3 with my fellow contest winners from around the world. Given the treatment Microsoft was giving us, I think we all felt a bit like anonymous kings among men (as arrogant as that may sound).

Q  How did you get started in gaming in the first place?
A  I think the blame/credit lies mostly with my father - he brought home a “personal computer” the size and weight of a fully loaded suitcase. I was hooked from that point on.

Q   Didn’t you used to be a PC gamer first? Why make the switch to console gaming?
A  Yeah, I was a real PC snob for the most part, looking down on Playstation’s and such. When I was young a friend and I would rent out a Sega Mega Drive 2 and play Street Fighter and Sonic among others but I was all about the PC for the longest time - then I actually suffered a seizure playing a game. Though no direct link was or has ever been determined, I was a bit spooked and shied away from gaming environments that involved me hunching over and being as close as one to two feet away from the screen. Then on in an impulse, act I purchased a Dreamcast off TradeMe and got hooked all over again.

Q  Do you think PC gamers are a dying breed? Why?
A  No, not at all. The PC enjoys the ubiquity of a device most households have for one reason or another - which is a claim consoles won’t be able to make until the standard TV comes with them built in (not that I’m seeing that in the near future).

Q  What is your favourite game genre?
A  I think I’ll have to say “Action”, since it’s broad and vague enough to encompass games that lean heavily on other genres as well.

Q  Are there any games that you don’t like? If so, what and why?
A  I’m not a big fan of MMOs or RPGs like Diablo - any game that heavily relies on Pavlovian tactics to keep the player interested and engaged. I feel that the act of playing should generally be the reward, so the idea of “doing the level grind” in World of Warcraft or whatever to get some weapon or to allow your character to do something really doesn’t appeal to me.

Q  You also review games for a few places when you get time, do you enjoy reviewing games as much as just playing them or competing?
A   I feel like every review I write, just as every competition and game, is almost its own unique experience, so this sort of feels like I can’t really take an aggregate of the enjoyment and give you a straightforward answer. I will say however, that sometimes my alter-egos of hardcore player and critic do feel at odds with one another, when in one hand you have a duty to assess a games’ (perhaps many) flaws, and on the other you could just appreciate it for what it is.

Q  If you could choose your perfect job, what would it be?
A  Game designer - all the creative power, none of the responsibility of the hard work of coding it. As an assignment for a university course, we were charged with designing a pervasive game - after the initial period of feeling daunted, I surprised myself with how into it I was and how much fun I had.

Q  Who are some of the celebrities in gaming that you look up to?
A  Peter Molyneux - I’ve been sucked into almost all of the titles he’s been in charge of, and Syndicate remains one of my favourite games of all time.
Tomonobu Itagaki - The Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden series are enough to endear this guy to me.

Q  How do you think the gaming industry in New Zealand can improve in the future? If you could change one thing to improve things locally, what would you do?
A  A little more recognition from the establishment would be nice - if chess and darts are officially recognised as sports and apply for government funding accordingly, I’d like to think videogames would be in the same boat, but currently they’re not.

Q  How does your family feel about you being a gamer? Do they ever get involved or support you?
A  They support me for the most part, but rarely, if ever, get involved - which is probably just as well!

Q  If someone wanted to become involved with gaming in New Zealand, how would you suggest they go about doing that? How would someone be able to do what you do?
A  Just play a whole lot of games, get involved with like minded people, and find your niche.