Monday, January 17, 2011

Player Profile: Interview With Nathan Barnatt

"They call me the wreaker the wr-wr-wr-wreaker cuz I wreak so much havoc with my l-l-leg sweeper." - Keith Apicary, Classic Gaming Wiz

Nathan Barnatt, better known in the gaming community as Keith Apicary, is a force to be reckoned with. A gamer actor hybrid, similar to James Rolfe (The Angry Video Nerd), Keith plays on all of our nostalgia for gaming days gone by. Keith Apicary is a 28 year old man who lives with his mother and sister. According to Nathan, Keith is a man "who probably stopped growing mentally at the age of 14 when he was having the most fun, playing Genesis." Every week, through his documentary Talking Classics, Keith gives us a glimpse into what it's like to be astoundingly good at video games, unless he's at a convention, then all hell breaks loose. Nathan's brand of nerdcore humor in combination with his pratfalling abilities have made a strong fanbase and caught the attention of networks, a Keith Apicary pilot has been made, and hopefully will be picked up by a network soon.

I recently had the opportunity to have an interview via Skype with Nathan. I don't have the time or effort to transcribe the entire hour and a half interview, however here are some highlights.

Maxon Foster: What are you playing right now? What's on your now playing list?

Nathan Barnatt: Starwars: The Force Unleashed, Just Cause 2, I really like Geometry Wars, Trials HD, Uncharted 1 and 2. Those are the current gen games that I'm playing a lot these days.

MF: When Keith is at E3, the VGA awards, or Comic-Con, he sometimes has sort of a negative reaction towards the people he meets. He treated some people disdainfully at the VGA's, but it was sort of warranted. He made a good point with the idea of "If you're not here for video games, then what are you here for." Was that done for comedic effect, or was Keith trying to make a point? A little of both?

NB: A little of both. Normally when I go to conventions I'm in a good mood... but when I went to [the VGA's] I was in a bit of a bad mood, and I got irritated because there were all these phoney-baloney people dressed up, and I was like "This is video games, they're for playing on the couch." ... Video games should be more low-key... I looked out at all these people and I thought "You don't know video games. I bet I could ask you some really basic questions, and you wouldn't get them." ...Why do the people on the red carpet have barely anything to do with video games?... It's unrelatable. I asked them questions about video games, and if they didn't know, I didn't want to talk to them anymore. I felt bad afterwards for being kind of mean, but people were kind of into it because it was just for me to do that.

MF: Your fans know that the genesis was your first console. When did you first get it? What was gaming like for you as a kid?

NB: We got our Genesis for Christmas, the summer after it came out. Before I had one, I thought it was something for rich people. I remembered going to my friend's house, and they had a Genesis and an electric stove. I didn't have those things so I was like, wow, these people are rich. When we got the Genesis, my mom had an egg timer and she would set it to 15 minutes, and every time it went off either me or my brothers had to pass the controller off. Our Genesis came with Sonic, and we bought a game called Road Rash. We played Road Rash the most.

MF: There are a lot of very specific references that Keith makes to some parts of gaming that some people might not pick up on. How do you feel about your viewers not always getting the jokes that you make?

NB: There's a lot of nostalgia in Keith's character, and a lot of the jokes come from playing games with my brothers. There are some viewers who might not get the jokes, but hopefully they'll look the references up. I know that when I watch James Rolfe's show that there are some things like glitches I don't get, and I have to look them up. It makes it all the more rewarding.

MF: You do a lot of pratfalling and physical comedy as Keith. When did you first start doing that? Were you classically trained, or is it a hobby?

NB: I've never been classically trained, I'm just good at it. Maybe I'm not good at it, but I like doing it and I keep doing it. I've always been physical. My dad build us a tree fort, so we were always playing around. I'm a skateboarder, and when I was 13 I taught myself to do backflips. ... I didn't really start utilizing my physical abilities until I was around 21. It's really been paying off. Cirque Du Solei has actually hired me to be the clown in their upcoming Michael Jackson show.

The full interview will soon be available on YouTube.

Nathan Barnatt's Talking Classics can be found on his youtube channel.

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