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Media Consumption: Pocketwatch's Andy Schatz

Media Consumption: Pocketwatch's Andy Schatz

December 1, 2005 | By Simon Carless

December 1, 2005 | By Simon Carless
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More: Console/PC, Indie

Todays Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic media food groups of audio, video, printed word and games, speaks to Pocketwatch Games founder and Wildlife Tycoon designer Andy Schatz.

Andy Schatz started independent studio Pocketwatch Games in December of 2004, in response to his concerns regarding the over-commercialization of games. Pocketwatch's first title, Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa, is currently in the process of shipping, and is an entry in this year's Independent Games Festival. Prior to Pocketwatch, Schatz had a hand in a number of commercial products, including Whacked! at Presto Studios and the Medal of Honor series for Electronic Arts.

Sounds: "My left and right brains fight over my two favorites, Beck and Van Morrison," said Schatz. "Coldplay got forcibly ejected from my CD player after that last album, and in its place went the overrated but fun "Hot Fuss" by The Killers. Of course, it all depends on the mood, so Ben Harper and Radiohead often grace my ears, along with the occassional Gypsy Kings if I'm feeling sassy. Complex music, heartfelt performers, anything that leaves me with unanswered questions."

Moving Pictures:"I'm beginning to learn why the '70s were a golden age of American cinema," said Schatz, who recently watched the re-release of The Passenger at the theater. "The Godfather and Chinatown are two of my other favorites flics. I tend to go for complex, artsy stuff that sparks thought or conversation like City of God and Traffic. It takes a really well-told story to interest me in a big-budget Hollywood film, as Batman Begins had." Schatz says he doesn't watch television ("can't stand it"), but does sheepishly admit to his addiction to reality show Survivor. "I'm a bit embarrased about it," he said.

Words: Schatz has been reading war novelist Jeff Shaara's body of work lately, including The Killer Angels and Gods and Generals. He's also taken an interest in books relating to mathematics, computers, and human thought, including Doug Hofstadter's Gdel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid and David Foster Wallace's Everything and More. "Of course, I can't mention books I've read without mentioning my favorites: Neuromancer, anything remotely readable by Kafka, and the Patrick O'Brien 18th century naval historical fiction," he said. "I also read a lot of cheesy business books; business isn't really in my background so I'll take any help I can get."

Games: "Honestly, the best game I've played in a couple years is a little indie game called Deadly Rooms of Death: The Journey to Rooted Hold," said Schatz. "It's a real thinker in the vein of the classic box-pusher game, Sokoban. Other than that, Shadow of the Colossus was phenomenal, and I'm a big, dorky Dance Dance Revolution fan, both of which I appreciate for their ability to immerse." Schatz is also anticipating Will Wright's upcoming Spore. "My biggest inspiration as a game designer is the great Will Wright; player interaction within complex systems is the focus of my work."

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