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Exclusive Interview: Ask A Pizza

Exclusive Interview: Ask A Pizza

September 7, 2009 | By Matthew Wasteland

September 7, 2009 | By Matthew Wasteland
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[For a Labor Day treat, Gamasutra gets a rare exclusive game development-specific interview with one of the industry's "unsung heroes" and key productivity drivers -- a slice of pizza.]

If you've been in game development, it's a given that, at some point during the construction of any given title, you've eaten more than your fair share of pizza.

For this very special piece, we were fortunate enough to land an interview with this widely eaten foodstuff - and one of the video game industry's unsung heroes.

What's it like being the crunch food of choice for game developers?

It's pretty cool. I like knowing that my calories are going to a good cause instead of, say, a local frat party. It's really exciting that there's a chance my carbs and fats will turn into the fuel for the next great advance in video games.

Of course I know that most of the time I'll be the fuel to just barely ship an inferior sequel to some insipid licensed title.

But I have to hold out hope just like everyone else in this business, right? Plus, in comparison to the frat party, there's a reduced chance I'll be vomited back up later.

Do people on the team ever get upset that the producers just order pizza over and over?

Oh, sure, there are complaints. I've endured my share of the sarcastic, "Oh, awesome, freaking pizza again!" comments. I try not to let that affect me. Obviously, anyone would get tired of the same thing over and over, even a food as delicious as myself.

To deal with it, I rationalize. I know that part of the reason I appear so often is that I'm easy to order and I can be ready at a moment's notice, which is important since the producers usually forget until the evening, even though it's totally obvious the team will be there late. Oh, and I'm cost effective, too! So that's a plus as well.

Seems like you've really been around the block! What are the different ways you've been consumed?

Well, I'd say the main way is what I call the "shovel," which kind of looks like what it sounds like! (laughs)

Most people tend to eat pizza the same way -- put as much as you can in your mouth and just freaking chew, know what I mean? It's not like people think about it much. They've got so much else on their minds anyway. I guess there's a little variation, now that I think about it.

Some people leave the crusts, and other people do weird stuff like put mayonnaise on me. I think that's a European thing. What else? Oh yeah, smokers can't taste anything so they load up on the crushed red pepper and Tabasco. That's about all I can think of right now.

Do you have any particular advice for people ordering you in the future?

Hmm. I'd say, try to vary it up a little. Sure, your favorite might be the Extreme Meat Supreme, but other folks might appreciate the Mega Meat Combo, and still others might want the Jumbo Cornucopia of Meats with the Meat-Stuffed Crust. All of those are legitimate choices, so a selection between them will go a long way to pleasing as many people as possible in a single order.

Oh yeah, and don't forget those hippie vegetarians. I can't tell you how many times those whiny people have come into the kitchen and recoiled in horror at the sight of me. So you might want to do something for them just so they freaking pipe down, if you feel me. And don't even get me started on lactose intolerance.

Recently, there's been concern about "Quality of Life" in certain sectors of...

You mean the people who are mad about crunch and don't want to do it? Yeah, I've heard of those folks. I've got something to say to them, so I hope they're listening.

You can talk all you want about working nine to five and how the long hours are burning people out, but as long as I'm around, I think it's gonna be pretty difficult to change anything. What game developer could possibly turn down the prospect of a fresh, mouth-watering pizza? I mean, seriously.

So you're saying that you make crunch tolerable to...

Tolerable? Look, eating pizza is a communal thing. People do it together. There's a certain camaraderie that comes into play when it's late at night and game developers are huddled around the table shoving me down their throats together.

As long as I'm there to "grease" the wheels, so to speak, I don't see why it would change. I'm as much a part of the system as anything else.

Oops, looks like we're out of time. Well, thanks for chatting with us!

My pleasure. See you all during your next crunch!

[This humor column written by Matthew Wasteland originally ran in Game Developer magazine earlier this year. Please note that the pizza has no idea that he is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Thanks to Christopher Ford for the candid snapshot of our interview subject.]


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