Hardcore Gamer Spotlight: Topher Smith

The Hardcore Gamer staff is forever hunting game developers, PR reps and game designers in an attempt to bring you important-and not so important-game happenings. But we don’t do it for them.

The spotlight belongs on YOU! The real reason why the X button sticks, the right trigger spring squeaks and HDTV screens explode from Wii-mote controller projectiles! In this feature of HARDCORE GAMER SPOTLIGHT, we interviewed a name some of you may be familiar with, Topher Smith (XBL GT: TopherXPwns). 

Hardcore Gamer:  What console do you prefer to game on?

Topher Smith: Xbox 360 for sure.  It’s always been the better experience for me.  I used to be a big Nintendo fanboy but Xbox Live has won me over.

HG: I saw that you have quite the hefty gamerscore — what does it sit out now?

TS: 103,946.  That damn 6 is bothering too. Damn DJ Hero 2!

HG: You must have recently just joined the 6-digits club — was that an exciting day?

TS:  I was pretty exciting getting there.  It went pretty slow for that last 10k or so because I’ve been focusing more on completing games vs getting a higher number overall.  I think I’m at about 89% of my possible score right now.

HG: Not bad at all! What was the hardest achievement you’ve ever unlocked?

TS: There’s been a few really tough ones. Key to the City and Endangered Species in GTA IV took me weeks of hunting to do. Earning The Lubricator in Borderlands wasn’t actually hard but it haunted me for weeks.  Making an achievement based on random loot drops is a terrible idea!  Out of everything, my hardest achievement would probably end up being Teachers Who Taught Me WERE Cool in Beatles Rock Band.  It took a ton of work at drums to perfect all the different beats they had in there!

HG: So tell us, Topher. What’s a day in the life of a hardcore gamer like?

TS: My days are pretty dull, to be honest.  I kinda run on a really messed up internal clock so I start in the mid afternoon, lately I’ve been squeezing in a few songs on Rock Band 3 and then going to work. After that my evenings get split between tumblr and whatever game I’m focused on at the time.  Since I came back from PAX East I’ve been playing nothing but Rock Band and Joe Danger: SE.  That will last me till somewhere between 4-6am.

HG: On average, how many hours a day would you say you devote to gaming?

TS: Work will cut it short depending on my hours but usually anywhere from 3-8 hours.  It can go up to 12 if I’ve got nothing at all going on.  I’ve gained a reputation with my friends for starting a game in the evening and and still being online playing when they get up the next morning.  I can lose myself pretty quickly in a good game.

HG: *Laughs* Isn’t it a great feeling to spend the entire night wrapped up in a new game?

TS: I love it!  I’ve got a huge backlog of games on the shelf and from XBLA right now too so I can pull that off with older games all the time.  I just dropped about 60 hours into Mass Effect 1 over a few nights about a month ago.

HG: Have you completed Mass Effect 3?

TS: I hate to say it but I’ve not even started it yet!  The whole series has always been one of those “I’ll get around to it” games for me.  I just gave into peer pressure to start a few weeks back.  I’ll probably get through 3 by the time Summer hits.

HG: With your overnight dedication, I’m sure you will! What’s one of the first experiences with games you remember having?

TS:  The first clear one I have is being about 4 years old and being given a fully working NES with 4 controllers and about 40 games from a friend of my parents.  Their kids moved on to college and they gave it to me instead of trashing it.  I still have it all of them to this day.  Funny enough, the marathons started early too, I burnt out the power adapter running Super Mario Bros. 3 for a few days straight.  I would leave it on and keep going before and after school.  Never did beat it…

HG: Crazy to imagine you had to play a game as deep as SMB3 in one go.

TS:  Right?  I don’t know how anyone could have done it back then.  With all the game sites that we have now we’ve gone soft from sharing all the tips and tricks.  You had to be pretty crazy or have a lot of really slick tricks to pull it off back then!

HG: Has gaming affected your lifestyle at all? Do you spend time with friends gaming or things like going to tournaments?

TS: It’s funny how it’s changed.  Growing up it was sorta cool in small circles but nobody really talked about it that much and it’s exploded into this giant lifestyle in the last decade or so.  In some ways I’ve grown more outgoing.  I’ve gone to PAX East the last 2 years and met lots of cool gamers from all across the world as well as a few developers, I’ve gotten involved with performing on stage with Bang Camaro because of the original Guitar Hero games, I’ve been involved in various tournaments starting in the DDR scene and moving on to Halo, Rock Band and a few others.  I’ve always enjoyed gaming with a few friends but it’s been great to see it expand and connect people on a whole new global level.  Hell, if it weren’t for gaming I wouldn’t know you or be doing this interview right now.  I’d say it’s gone from a hobby to a whole new lifestyle for many of us!

HG: Well said! It’s interesting how something once deemed “trivial” can have such a positive effect on some of us. You have some history with Hardcore Gamer, don’t you?

TS:  I do!  I like what you’ve done with the place, by the way!  How far back do we go now?  It’s gotta be close to 5 or so years.

HG: I think at least 6, believe it or not.

TS: Anywho, I came in early during a contest to win a PSP if I recall, maybe a bit before that.  There were quite a few of us who showed up just for that.  That scavenger hunt was pretty crazy.  Had us digging around a lot of pages trying to find these green bugs.  I think I kept pretty extensive notes through that whole time too.  They’re probably on an old hard drive still.  The forums stayed running for awhile till the magazine went online only.  We had a lot of fun!  I still keep in touch with a few of the old regulars.  If you look back I’m pretty sure I’ve got my username at least in probably 20 issues of the old print version.  I’ve held onto a signed copy of the first issue since the original site came down.  I could continue but I feel like I’ll just end up rambling through about 20 or 30 inside jokes the forums had.

HG: It really was a great time, wasn’t it?

TS: I loved it!  We saw lots of people come and go with the various contests that would happen but those of us that stuck through all of it really had a blast!

HG:  What’s your favorite game series or game?

TS: That’s like asking to pick your favorite child!  I’ll probably take shit from the Halo/COD crowd for this answer but I’d say Rock Band as a whole has been huge to me.  Music has always been a big part of my life and that in turn grew to include music gaming but the connections and the memories I’ve had around Rock Band have really been big.  I don’t care if the music gaming bubble popped, it’s still a blast for me and I never have a hard time finding someone who wants to pick up a guitar or play drums and just have fake being rock stars for an hour.  I think Rock Band is a perfectly respectable choice. What other game are you able to put on a show as you play? DDR used to be a good answer for me but I’m way off my game at this point.  I’m pretty brutal in Halo Reach, especially in SWAT.  I’ve grown able to lock in some insane headshots recently.

HG: As far as gaming goes, any signs of slowing down anytime soon?

TS:  Slowing down… I’d say I have a little bit.  Came with growing up.  I’ll never stop for sure.  I may put in a few less hours a week than I used to but you’ve gotta make money for new games somehow!  Once I settle down and have a family and all that stuff it’ll drop back a bit but I hope to bring up a kid into gaming when that time comes.  Man that’s a scary thought!  Gaming is already so incredible and has grown beyond our imaginations in the last 20 years, what’s it gonna be for the next generation of gamers!?

HG: If your kid can share the great experiences you’ve had from gaming, you know the industry has done well.  Thanks for stopping by, Topher!

TS: Thanks for inviting me!  This has been a lot of fun!

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