Roar: The Podcast | Episode 6: Staffers talk gaming


Roar: The Podcast | Episode 6

Welcome back to Roar: The Podcast! In this episode, senior Stefan Pantic and freshmen Nathaniel Hekster and Elias Panou speak about the world of gaming. From discussing their opinions on the term “gamer” and the Game Awards, to their favorite games during quarantine, this episode is all games, all the time.

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  • Elias Panou, freshman at Santa Clara High School 
  • Nathaniel Hekster, freshman at Santa Clara High School 
  • Stefan Pantic, senior at Santa Clara High School

Edited by Melina Kritikopoulos


Nat: Hello everyone, and welcome to Santa Clara High School’s Roar: The Podcast.

Stefan: Hello, I’m Stefan Pantic. I am a senior at Santa Clara High and a staff writer for The Roar.

Elias: Hello, I am Elias Panou. I am a freshman at Santa Clara High School, and I am a staff writer for The Roar.

Nat: I’m Nathaniel Hekster. I’m a freshman at Santa Clara High school, and I’m also a staff writer for The Roar.

Stefan: Today we’ll be discussing some of our gaming habits and some of our gaming that has happened during COVID-19 pandemic. Elias, do you have points you want to make first?

Elias: Obviously COVID-19 has been a time of utmost boredom for us. We have been bored, alright, and you know what gamers do when they are bored. Our main go-to is playing video games. Obviously, we are all gamers? Gamer-gamer-gamer-gamer? Yeah?

Nat: Absolutely.

Elias: I hate using the word gamer. We will talk about that one later.

Stefan: Yes, that’s correct.

Elias: Anyways, we have been playing a lot of video games, right? Let me tell you what I have been playing Stefan and Nat. Basically, from 2007 to 2015, EA, they invested a lot into video game studios making Sci-fi video games – “Mass Effect,” “Dead Space,” “Crysis.” I have been binging those games so fricking hard.

Stefan: And they’ve been ruining all of them lately, haven’t they?

Nat: Yeah, I tend to stay away from EA games ‘cause the pay-to-win system is just egregious.

Stefan: They are all horrible now, except for that one Star Wars game developed by Respawn. That was pretty good, but other than that, mediocre.

Nat: Are you talking about Battlefront?

Elias: Actually, I’d have to disagree with that statement. I like EA video games. Mainly because you don’t have to buy into microtransactions anymore the way you had to with that disastrous “Star Wars Battlefront” launch. It’s not really as pay-to-win anymore. It’s the microtransactions, which are annoying. I try to avoid sports games that you have to buy things and whatnot. But you know, their Sci-fi video games: “Star Wars Battlefront”… I’ve named them all already. Those games are true aspects of childhood. I have these fond memories of playing them. At times I think back on the good times. I was just playing “Crysis” the other day, and I had the biggest déjà vu. One time, when I was about nine, the game crashed right as I was about to get to the climax of the story, and the exact same thing happened again. This time, I was old enough to have some very spicy words to say about that. You know what, that was very nostalgic, right?

Nat: Yeah, but that’s the thing with old consoles though. They’re always crashing.

Elias: Stefan, what have you been playing during the pandemic?

Stefan: I’ve actually been playing way more RPGs lately – you know those take a lot of time to beat, right? Some more than others, but (they) usually take a long time. Are you two familiar with “Persona”? It’s basically this JRPG series combined with a life simulator. It’s really good. “Persona 5” is the latest one and also the best, and they remade it to “Persona 5 Royal” which is basically everything Persona 5 is but better. I’ve been playing that a lot. It’s really good. It took more than 100 hours to beat, but it was totally worth it. 

Elias: 100 hours? That’s like a week of quarantine. That is a week of quarantine, mate.

Stefan: But also “Final Fantasy VII Remake” came out… I know it’s only part 1, but it was really good. I‘m really into “Final Fantasy,” so it was good.

Elias: How do you feel about “Kingdom Hearts”? 

Stefan: Oh yeah, I love it, dude. The story is garbage, but everything else is amazing.

Stefan: Nate, what have you been playing recently?

Nat: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am very basic, I only own like three games. I have been playing an unhealthy amount of “Minecraft” multiplayer, and “Minecraft Survival.” I’m too terrified to play in a hardcore world; I’m just doing a basic survival world on easy mode. “Star Wars Battlefront II” is one of the few console games that I own. I’m not a big console player. I play mostly my games on an old, crappy PC that I have at my mom’s house. “Battlefront II”… I’ve heard terrible things about the story, the single-player, but I actually liked it. It’s pretty decent. There were a lot of aspects about it that were controversial, but I enjoyed it a lot.

Elias: Yeah, sad that they ended up freezing that game, no longer updating it. You know what? It has a great memory to leave off with, so yeah.

Nat: I was not told of this freezing.

Elias: Well, sorry to break the news to you buddy, but they’ve completely stopped updating content and everything. That whole “no more paying for DLC thing,” that just ended up being a bust. Games like that, “Battlefield 5” and whatnot, I kind of wish they brought back the whole season pass thing because at least you got content.

Elias: Seriously, talking about buying games digitally versus physically… Digital video games versus physical games, I need to know y’all preferences.

Stefan: At first, I was exclusively physically. I was like, “If I can’t feel it, then what’s the point.” But after a while, after getting into PC gaming and having a Steam account and using the online stores for the consoles, I’ve been getting kind of lazy and just using digitally instead since you can get it immediately if it already came out. That’s my thought

Nat: Yeah absolutely. There’s definitely a respect for buying games physically, but I feel that in today’s era, it’s definitely a lot more convenient and in some cases, cheaper to buy games physically.

Stefan: Yeah, and if you use Steam, there is always at least some game on sale, so it’s a big reason why I’m into that now. 

Elias: Yeah, my big tif with digital games is, half of the price they sh— They should automatically be 35, 30 dollars. Why? The majority of the price on physical games, it’s always going to come from the same things: shipping, managing, whatever. Now that you don’t have to do any of that and it’s straight up just an online interface where you buy it… You know what, it should be like $30. But I am not going to fight Sony, Microsoft or Origins about that. As much as I wish I could, I’m not. Alright Nat, I heard you have some pontifications about the term “gamer” right?

Nat:Yeah. In the early 2010s, we found a new usage of the word “gamer,” not seen before… well I mean, never mind. I was going to say it was seen before, but no one was gaming in the 1800s. Anyway, I feel like the term gamer has become ironic in the sense that boomers and such use the term gamer to make fun of us for things, like, “Oh my son is a gamer and he does too much stuff on his phone!”For a while, I called myself a gamer and now when I look back at it, I’m actually really regretting it. I definitely feel that the word gamer – just every single time I say it, I get goosebumps. It’s become a cringy word.

Stefan: Yeah, every time I hear, “Oh yeah, he’s a total GAMER” I just think, “Why do we say that still?”

Elias: But the term gamer is so often used by the “dark side” of gaming. But whether or not it’s being satirical, whether it’s “barbaric” or straight up misogyny, you are going to hear about it no matter what. I hate the usage of the word so much, even though I used it in the podcast, what 12 minutes ago? I hate it so much, frankly, because it makes me feel like I am nine years old, and I hate that. Second of all, because I— 

Stefan: This is a really bad tie-in, but you brought up the point that, for those who don’t know, the next-gen consoles have been out for a couple of months now, and we have some hot takes. Elias, why don’t you start.

Elias: Out of pure, dumb, bloody luck – as I have described it many times before – I checked the Target website near midnight on November 10, and I found a Series S in stock, so I straight up just bought it. Now I am one of the few people in the world to own a next-gen console, and it will be like that for the next month. If you don’t know, the Series S is an all-digital console, and that is why I was talking about digital gaming and whatnot. Holy crap is it a good console. I used to use a crappy old PS4, and the noise on that sounded like a jet-engine compared to the Series S, which was the first thing that came to my mind as soon as I opened it up – modern interface, XBOX game-pass, the graphics – so much better. I didn’t even need to upgrade my TV or anything. I could just sense that, I could just feel it. Obviously, I feel bad Stefan. I am kind of bragging about being able to pick up a next-gen console when you are still out searching for one. 

Stefan: Yeah, I’ve been trying to find a PS5 for the last two months now, still haven’t found one at all. I know I shouldn’t be this agitated, but I really want one. That new Spider-man Miles Morales game looks amazing. I was a huge fan of the first Spider-man game on the PS4, and the Miles Morales game looks really cool. Also “Final Fantasy XVI”! I mean, knowing Square Enix, it probably won’t come out until 2025, but I still want to play it. It looks awesome.

Nat: I definitely feel that getting PS5s is hard, but as a PC gamer, I feel really lucky in the sense that I don’t give a crap about PS5s. I couldn’t care less if the PS5 has been coming out. I’ve been considering… because a lot of the good games are on the PlayStation – I have two Xboxes: a really old one and a slightly newer one – and I was thinking, “Hey, maybe I can buy a PS4 since everyone’s buying PS5s.” There’s gonna be an overflow of used PS4s that nobody’s going to be wanting anymore.

Elias: Talking about the hype of the release of the next-gen consoles, I feel like you and many other PC “gamers” are out here scoffing – arms crossed over your chest – scoffing at the very mention of it, and that brings up the next point about the console wars.

Stefan: The mostly pointless thing humanity has ever done.

Elias: Console wars: those things suck, you know why? Because now that I have switched from PS4 to XBOX, I swear, the crap I have gotten from people I used to play PS4 with, or people I used to play XBOX with – vice versa-vice versa – I can truly tell that it is g******n pointless. You know, you have just as much fun on any console, any platform, whatever, no matter what you want. As long as you want to have fun, you are going to have fun. You are going to have fun no matter what, so why do people almost have to make a race upon it, PS4 gamers vs Xbox gamers or whatever. That whole point is so stupid because it feels like you are trying to exclude people from the whole mix.

Stefan: We haven’t even touched on Nintendo consoles. I feel like Nintendo is kinda just doing their own thing, separate from Playstation and Xbox.

Nat: I definitely feel that Nintendo is basking in the pools of the Xbox gamers and the PS gamers. I could be wrong; like I said, I’m not a real avid console gamer. I had this one friend, and he was very pro Xbox, and he had a switch. I also had another friend who was very Playstation, but he still had a Nintendo Switch. 

Stefan: The Nintendo Switch is awesome though.

Nat: I’ll have to take your word on that ‘cause I didn’t spend my money on a Nintendo Switch.

Elias: I feel like the Nintendo Switch was more marketed towards younger children, the same way that the Wiis, from our earlier years when we were four-five-or six or whatever, they were marketed towards us. Then a few years later, we ended up getting more ‘hardcore’ consoles shifting into the world of more mature video gamest. I am glad to see the same thing that we had in our earliest years now, and it makes me happy seeing kids who are happy with their Animal Crossing or whatever.

Stefan: You don’t need to be really young to like “Animal Crossing.” A lot of Nintendo are timeless – you can enjoy them as a kid or adult, like with Zelda.

Elias: The whole thing is marketed towards younger audiences. I see what you mean though. We have talked about next-gen consoles, we talked about gaming, so we do need to talk about video games that have launched during the pandemic. We kind of touched on that, just a tiny little bit when talking about the video games we have been playing. I feel like the big one out of them all is “Cyberpunk 2077,” “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla”— 

Stefan: That was a disappointment.

Nat: I feel bad. I’m probably the only gamer – oh God, gamer – I regret saying that. I feel the only person who plays games that feels bad for the “2077” developers… People keep saying “Oh, the game is late. Release it now,” and then they release it earlier than they meant to, and it’s really crappy and buggy. And then they’re like, “Oh, there’s a bug you should fix this before you realize it.” People who complain about that… they can’t have both sides.

Elias: The game community straight up just bullied CD Projekt Red into releasing a game an entire year early, and then blamed them for the issues with the game. If that isn’t the most “gamer” moment that I have ever heard of.

Stefan: It sucks though. CD Projekt Red are legitimately good developers. You guys are familiar with “The Witcher,” right? It’s legitimately good. If it had six more months of delays, maybe it would have been less glitchy. I wasn’t expecting a complete masterpiece from it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t assume any game is a masterpiece by trailers alone.

Elias: That game was announced before I even lived in the US. That game was announced when I still lived in the UK. I was five years old. At least I think so. I think I was right on my timing. I can understand that fans were frustrated. Every year they started to tease the game till we got that core-gameplay trailer or something like that, and then they continued to delay it and delay it, so I can understand the frustration.

Nat:  Yes, absolutely. I have a small YouTube channel – nothing big, nothing important – but I definitely understand the frustration of giving yourself a deadline, missing it over and over and over again. It’s extremely frustrating, it’s not even my own YouTube hobby… with school as well.

Stefan: Way to advertise your YouTube channel in our podcast man.

Nat: sub now.

Elias: The big plus in video-gaming in 2020 and 2021, I feel like this game went completely under the radar, for some reason, and that game was “Assassins Creed Valhalla,” because that game was great. I had so much fun playing that game.

Nat: What I’m about to say might infuriate you, but I’ve never played an “Assassins Creed” game.

Stefan: Me neither.

Elias: That game was, you know, it got so hyped up, and then because of “Cyberpunk 2077,” it just flew right under the radar. My recommendation for a video game of 2020 is “Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.” You need to try the game out, for sure. It was a true way to combine the franchise’s older-school games with a modern touch, and I love that feeling because it felt so nostalgic, but also so modern. 

Stefan: We can’t talk about disappointments of gaming during 2020 without mentioning the Game Awards for 2020, am I right, guys? You know who won Game of the Year? Freaking “Last of Us Part II”! Over “Hades”! Over “Final Fantasy VII Remake”! Over “Ghost of Tsushima”! Over “Doom Eternal”! 

Elias: This is going to sound like a real “gamer moment,” but we all know why that game won Game of the Year. That is why you can’t give IGN a vote anymore in the whole thing, but I do have to say that the Game Awards – by the way [Stefan] your review was great. As I was watching it, I was so disappointed, and I wanted to strip IGN of their voting status in the whole process. They had too many votes. That’s all I have to say.

Stefan: The only good thing about it, in my opinion, was that Sepherath was revealed for “Smash Bro,” but “Hades” should have won.

Elias: The “Mass Effect” teaser? Oh my god, I jumped out of my chair when I saw that.

Stefan: Remember what they did with “Mass Effect Andromeda”? That was kind of a mess.

Elias: True true, but remember how EA said they were going to step back from their independent development right now because of what happened with “Mass Effect” and “Star Wars Battlefront?” They directly took a hold of it, and now that they said, “We are going to step back.” They said they are going to let this game be developed and all just with the publishing tag – we are going to fund it or whatever. I am excited because I think that this is a new turn for EA, especially the next “Mass Effect” game.

Nat: The reason why I’m lurking in the background being silent because I have no idea what the games you’re talking about. “Mass Effect”? Never heard of it! “Final Fantasy”? What are you talking about! I’m sorry I’m just not as cultured as you are. I have different interests, as I said, in the beginning. “Minecraft” is basically the only game I play. Sometimes “Battlefront,” sometimes “Roblox” games… do those even count as games?

Stefan: Not really no.

Elias: Anything you want can count as a game as long as you are having fun.

Stefan: Yeah, don’t get me wrong; that made me sound like a total jerk. Sorry, “Roblox” gamers! I’m kidding. With “Mass Effect,” I’m still kind of skeptical. From what I’ve heard, most of the team who made the previous “Mass Effect” games left Bioware, so there is a chance it won’t be as good. Also, I didn’t really like “Anthem.” That was also kind of a mess.

Elias: That is the thing about Bioware and all. This game is going to be the new leaf for them. Partially, the reason I believe that is because if you didn’t know – if you lurk around hiring pages, listings, whatever – you can see that they have been doing a lot of hiring recently. I do think they have been taking developers and whatnot from around the whole video game community, world, or whatever – the “dev” world, I should say – and they have been adding a little bit of whatever is good of every “dev” to their studio… if that’s not going to help them make a really good game to make up for the last terrible two games… “Apex” was pretty good… wait, that’s Respawn. It has to be the new leaf; otherwise, I think it is the end for them. Definitely is. 

Stefan: I think we should close this out by saying what upcoming games we’re excited for.

Elias: Nat, do you have anything to say about this?

Nat: Yeah. Like I said I don’t know what “Mass Effect” is, but I’ve heard of “Fall Guys” and “Among Us.” It’s sort of off-topic, but I feel like “Fall Guys” died immediately and “Among Us” didn’t so yay.

Stefan: “Among Us” is overrated in my opinion.

Elias: I’ve never played it and I’m not going to play it, but that’s not the point. Nat, do you have any games that you are looking (forward) to in the future?  

Nat: Well, the closest thing to that is the “Minecraft” 1.17 update. “Cave and Cliffs,” super hyped for that.

Elias: “Cave and Cliffs,” yes. I’ve heard of that.

Nat: I’ll let you and Stefan talk about it while I activate my two brain cells.

Stefan: I already talked about the upcoming “Final Fantasy” games that I’m excited for. Let’s see, what else, what else?

Elias: A game that just came into the back of my head – sorry while you are thinking – is the next “Battlefield” game. That is kind of crucial because if you don’t know this, “Battlefield 5,”  the last game in the franchise, was a game, and that’s all I can say about it that is not negative. You know what, I applaud EA for taking that step with female diversity – I don’t understand why people hated that so much – because it is just a game at the end of it. It should be about letting players be who they want, but the next “Battlefield” game should be releasing sometime this financial quarter. So that’s May sometime this year until May next year? I am not entirely sure. I think it is crucial because, again, EA is trying to take the diversity route, and video games should be more inclusive. Stefan, did you think of it?

Stefan: Yeah, I’ve just thought of something. Are you familiar with “Resident Evil”? “Resident Evil VIII Village”… I’m not too familiar with the “Resident Evil” games. I’ve played “Resident Evil 2 Remake” and a little bit of “Resident Evil 7”  right now, but “Resident Evil 8” looks freaking amazing, right? It looks really good.

Elias: Well guys, I think we have talked, we’ve joked, we’ve laughed, but now I do think it’s time to wrap up this podcast. I feel like we ranted on about a lot of things, and you know what? It may not be the most entertaining podcast, this was fun. This is Elias Panou signing out.

Stefan: This is Stefan signing out.

Nat: Nat Hekster. Goodbye.