Currently, I am 27 years old.
My life is pretty much video games all the time. When I’m not working on a video I’m at my day job where I’m a supervisor at a video game shop.
Favorite game genre:
While I truly enjoy a little bit of everything, my go-to’s are generally Rhythm Games, Stealth games and, of course, roleplaying games. RPGs make up the vast majority of my gaming diet and my content. Beyond that, I really love games that are unique or try to do things in a unique way which makes me lean pretty heavily on older titles and indie games. I’m also a huge fan of games that manage to mix several genres at once and do so well. Games like Dark Cloud with it’s rogue-lite, action RPG dungeons and simple but satisfying city building, or Yakuza with its… everything. Seriously a desert Island game for me, because Yakuza is packed with content and different kinds of games to play. Bored of the beat-em-up gameplay? Go play a Rhythm game at the karaoke bar or literal whole video games at the arcade. I love variety, especially when it is well-executed, and Yakuza is incredibly well executed.
You could ask me this every day for a month and get a different answer depending on my mood. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for being the staple of my childhood. The Last of Us for its sheer quality. Rockband 4 for the hours and hours worth of memories I’ve created with friends. Nier: Automata for its… everything really. Since I have to choose one though, I always tend to fall back on Dragon Age: Origins as the safest bet for my favorite game. I’d go into all the reasons why in more detail but there’s a video on that coming out (hopefully) in the not so distant future.
Systems you play:
It would probably be easier to list the systems I don’t play. I lean towards PC these days as my primary system of choice, but I also have an Xbox One, Xbox 360, Xbox, PS4, PS3, PS2, PSTV, Nintendo Switch, Wii U, Wii, and Gamecube all plugged in and ready to record at a moments notice. I like to say that I follow the games, not the system, despite the fact that I grew up as a Sony fanboy. It’s Final Fantasy’s fault okay!? I grew up in an era where RPGs were basically Sony exclusive!
Recommended Content Creators:
So far in these articles, all of the recommended content creators have been pulled from the same circle of people, so I really struggled with making a list that wasn’t just copy and pasting Librascope and Wizfishs’. Obviously you should check out all the people they mentioned, but in the spirit of helping out somewhat smaller channels, I’m gonna list the few I can think of that the other two have missed:
- MinimattReviews: This is probably the first content creator friend I made in the Youtube space and he still helps me out to this day, often contributing to my videos by editing intros and offering help in general. His own content has great production values and he tends to only cover games he really likes, so if you want a break from the negative and want to watch a talented guy discuss games he loves, you should really check him out.
- Avalanche Reviews: He’s actually really been coming up in the world lately, so listing him as a ‘smaller’ channel may not be appropriate anymore. His content is fantastic, especially his recent and ongoing series covering the Resident Evil games. If you haven’t already you should definitely check him out.
- John Paul Hayward: I’d like to give a personal shout out to my buddy John Paul Hayward, whom, for some reason, I can never just call by his first name. He isn’t a reviewer, but a music composer/arranger who is currently working on a project entitled “Cross Symphonic” which is a reimagining of Chrono Cross’ soundtrack. He does absolutely amazing work and you should definitely check him out.
Started making content/ How did you get into Content Creating?
I actually got my incredibly amateurish start back in 2008 on gamespot.com by writing really bad user reviews of games I was playing at the time. I was in Highschool, and while I would have rather been making videos than written content, I had no means of getting any of the equipment. I ended up joining a Final Fantasy Union on the site, which is basically a dedicated fan forum, where I met some really awesome people who liked the reviews I’d written and encouraged me to continue. It was there that I tried my first attempt at would eventually become Stiles’ Series Synopsis, by writing lengthy text reviews on every Mainline Final Fantasy game as I played through them. I also did this with about half of the Tales series, before gamespot.com decided to throw out the Union system completely.
A few years later I saw a small gaming website that I often visited put out a request for volunteer content contributors. I sent them a slightly polished version of one of my Final Fantasy pieces from the GameSpot forums and was accepted pretty much immediately. I got a small taste of semi-professional reviewing under my belt but left the site after only a few months because of some internal issues there, but it gave me some much-needed experience and cemented my desire to pursue this line of work.
I then had a couple of years of a hiatus because of some real-life issues before a good friend of mine offered me a position on her own personal gaming blog, which I happily accepted, and I got back into writing there. This eventually leads to me creating my own blog and eventually, my current youtube channel, where I resurrected my dream project of Stiles’ Series Synopsis of Final Fantasy in the always desired, video format. Since then I’ve dabbled in working with some other gaming sites, all of which are defunct now, and I’ve decided to focus entirely on my Youtube channel.
Platforms you share content:
Good ol’ Youtube and Patreon. I also have a website (stilesreviews.wordpress.com) where I have some older, text only, content posted. I must admit I’ve neglected to keep the site up to date; however, It is the only place where you can read the original Stiles’ Series Synopsis which covered the Mana series.
Have you run into any obstacles when it comes to creating content? If so what did you do to overcome them?
I’m self-taught when it comes to every aspect of my video creation. Scriptwriting, audio recording, video editing, so every step of the way has been an ‘obstacle’ to overcome. On a much more personal level, I struggle with anxiety and fairly frequent panic attacks which often get in the way of the video-making process and have made it all but impossible to keep a consistent upload schedule. Which is likely the biggest obstacle to my channel’s growth. Aside from that, the type of content I make just doesn’t lend itself to a quick turn around. An average Stiles’ Series Synopsis video will take me upwards of 200 hours.. and I have to schedule all that around a day job and normal day to day living.
One of your favorite videos you created and why?
I feel like I’m constantly improving, and looking back on a lot of my old videos tends to make me cringe, so I’m likely to recommend the more recent ones. I think my video ‘The Chrono Trigger Paradox: A Myriad of Misconceptions’, while arguably a bit controversial, is the closest to what I aspire to do with the majority of my content; a truly thorough analysis that points out both the merits and flaws of the games I cover. It’s one of my longest videos though, so for new potential viewers who want a taste of what I bring to the table, I’d suggest my video on the first Kingdom Hearts, or my uncharacteristically positive video, “Why Final Fantasy IV is a Masterpiece”, which is part of my on-going project ‘Stiles’ Series Synopsis: Final Fantasy’ the main draw to my channel and a passion project of mine almost a decade in the making by this point.
What type of things do you do when it comes to creating content that makes you unique?
This is a tough one. There’s no arguing that the technical side of my videos can use a bit of work, but I’m always striving to improve on them. With that in mind, I feel like the biggest draw to my videos are the observations I make. My general thought when making videos tends to be if I’m not interested in the topic no one else will be either, so I always try and bring something new to the table while making my critiques. I think the best compliment I’ve ever gotten was something along the lines of, “You always cover aspects that I haven’t thought of or I haven’t seen covered elsewhere,” which is confirmation to me that my intentions are shining through to at least some viewers.
My mantra is ‘Enjoyment does not equal Quality” which people often see as a negative view, but I really don’t feel it is because it works both ways. I’ve admitted multiple times that I enjoy games that are quite poorly constructed, and I’ve disliked many games that are very high quality. I’d rather play a flawed but interesting game than an incredibly polished but boring one.
When it comes down to it, I just hope that viewers will walk away from my content with a more open mind when it comes to game criticism in general. It’s not all about the consumer review bullet points: Does it have a good framerate, does it control well, does it look good. Those are all important aspects but they aren’t all that matter. How gameplay systems interact with one another, how the narrative themes fit the gameplay, how the context of specific design choices may make them work in one title, but not another. These are the sorts of things that interest me, and I really hope that I can help further the discussion of games as a medium, not so much by saying my opinions are the correct ones, but by bringing ideas to the table that players may not have thought of before.
What do you believe has attributed to your success when it comes to Content Creating?
The obvious thing to do here is laugh and say, “What success!?” given how small my channel is, but for once I’m going to try and give myself some credit and look on the bright side of things. This kind of ties into my previous answer, but based upon the comments my channel has received people find my take on things interesting.
I’m guessing it also helps that I primarily cover RPGs, which is a pretty underserved market on Youtube, mostly because putting 100 hours into a game and then having to script out a video, record the audio, edit the video, etc… takes an obscene amount of time. Unfortunately, it’s where my passions lie, so the slog shall continue. (Seriously though, to any of my viewers who read this, thank you so much for your patience between uploads!)
Any tips or advice for other Creators?
I think I have a few bits of advice: The first is always be looking and willing to learn. Listen to opinions that are different than your own, because you will learn far more from opposing arguments than you will people parroting your own. On that note, If you are into critique, cast your net wide. Don’t only learn from video games, learn from literature and film. Draw from history. Oh, and if you are a video game critic, play Dungeons & Dragons. You will learn more about general game design from studying a Dungeon Master’s Guide and running a game than you will by playing fifty video games.
Another bit of advice I have is that constructive criticism can be difficult to hear at times, but it’s the most useful thing you can get. Of course, not all constructive criticism may fit your vision, so it’s important to truly take into consideration what you’ve been told, but be willing to stick to your guns when necessary.
Focus on creating content you are interested in. Don’t try and fit a mold, unless said mold happens to be the exact type of content you enjoy making of course. If you are particularly interested in story progression and narrative themes, focus on that. If you are deeply interested in the technical side of games, focus on that. If you are into shrieking at the top of your lungs because of a jump scare than get too it!
Reach out to other small content creators. No one will understand your struggle like they will. There is a lot of negativity online that you will inevitably face if you try to take being a content creator seriously, and no one can possibly be more supportive in those moments than others who have also dealt with the same thing. I’ve been extremely lucky, but I’ve made a number of friends who have helped to keep me going. I honestly might not be doing this interview today if it weren’t for people like MinimattReviews, Librascope, Avalanche Reviews, SuperDerek RPGs, and Emceeprophit. While I’m at it I may as well throw a special thanks out to Charlotte, Gabe, Cody, and Jeremy for their support over the years. They know who they are.
I think the absolute most important bit of advice I can give, however, is to be proud of the work you’ve done. I struggle with this all the time, I’ve got a huge case of Imposter Syndrome. Even your early content, which, more than likely will be bad, is still a stepping stone to creating better content. Celebrate the small victories and try not to beat yourself up for your mistakes. Don’t revel in them, learn from them.
Outside of creating content for YouTube, how are you involved in the gaming industry?
I sell games for a living, but we’ve already gone over that. I also wrote for a couple of gaming sites in the past, but that didn’t work out. Nothing official really. I’m a huge supporter of fan translations and tend to promote those whenever I get the opportunity to. I’ve worked in what I can only describe as a ‘consultant’ role for some friends who have worked on indie projects, some of which resided in the tabletop realm as opposed to the video game realm, but since none of those projects came to fruition I don’t know if I’d count that.
What is your biggest prediction for 2019 in the game’s world?
I predict that working Black Friday is gonna be a drag! The year is almost over and most of what’s going to be happening in the gaming world this year has already been announced, same with early next year. I don’t really have any predictions for gaming as a whole. I do predict that I will be releasing a horror video on October 31st of this year, a video that I have not announced the content of as of yet.
You know what? If you’ve actually read this far, you deserve a little something, so here’s an exclusive announcement for 181Gaming: Stiles Reviews will be covering the Square published, Nintendo DS horror games, Nanashi No Game and Nanashi No Game -Eye- this Halloween! You should definitely check it out!
A word from the Editor.
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