Review Fix chats with Video Game historian, author and now YouTube sensation Brett Weiss, who discusses his new retro game show, “Tales From a Retro Gamer.”
REVIEW FIX: What inspired this YouTube show?
BRETT WEISS: More than three years ago, I started a video podcast with a friend of mine named Curtis Newton. He ran a PlayStation 4 website and was up on all the current games while I’m more old-school, so we complemented each other nicely. Each week, we would discuss modern and retro gaming news and in general have a lot of fun. Unfortunately, he started having headaches, dizziness, and other health problems. On January 26, 2017, he passed away. Our family was devastated.
Ever since, I’ve been angry about it. Not only did I lose a podcasting partner, I lost a good friend. But life goes on, and I’m finally ready to give YouTube another shot, but just me this time and focusing primarily on the past. I’ve been around the industry a long time, so maybe I could focus on that. I’ve been gaming since 1975 and writing professionally about video games since 1997, and I’ve got a lot of war stories to tell.
This led to my new show, Tales from a Retro Gamer. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, some are ridiculous, some are serious. Most are historical in nature, but they are often related to current events.
REVIEW FIX: What makes it different from other retro game YouTube shows out there?
WEISS: Instead of just making fun of lousy games or reviewing some of my favorites, I’m going back in time to tell stories of what it was like growing up in the 70s and 80s (and on into the 90s), hanging out at the mall arcade, renting games at Blockbuster, getting a special console for Christmas, riding my bike to friends’ houses to play their new consoles, and much more. I talk about the time I asked Ozzy Osbourne if he wanted to play Pac-Man, the time I helped Santa Claus get me a ColecoVision…the list goes on.
Some of the stories will paint me in a not-so-flattering light, such as my epic Game & Watch fail and the time we convinced my best friend’s little brother to steal some ColecoVision games. No, I’m not proud of everything I did, but the show is an unflinching look at my gaming past, warts and all. I’ll also talk about recent events, such as gaming conventions I attend.
REVIEW FIX: What are your goals for this project?
WEISS: To resonate with older viewers who can relate to many of the stories. To inform kids today that gaming was much different decades ago than it is today: That arcades were crazy, sometimes scary hangouts; That Christmas was magical because sometimes it was the only time you could afford games; That playing Combat and Pong (via Video Olympics) on the Atari 2600 was the ultimate in couch co-op; That there was nothing better than going to Sears and playing games on the display kiosk while your parents shopped in other departments.
REVIEW FIX: How will this affect your writing career?
WEISS: I’ll always be a writer first and foremost, regardless of how much my YouTube channel grows. I feel more comfortable behind the keyboard than in front of the camera, but I’m having a blast so far and look forward to telling more stories each week. I see the channel as supplemental to the writing. Maybe after reading one of my books for a while, readers will want to kick back, relax, and take in a few amusing and informative stories.
REVIEW FIX: Bottom line, why must someone tune in?
WEISS: For stories that can only be told by someone who lived through those times. I was 5 when Pong came out, 10 when the Atari VCS was new in stores, and 15 when I got a ColecoVision for Christmas in 1982. I hung out at the arcades and was a pinball wizard, popping extra games and selling them so I could afford to play video games. There’s obviously nothing wrong with younger people talking about video game history, but there’s nothing quite like hearing it from someone who lived it.
REVIEW FIX: What’s next?
WEISS: I’ve got episodes planned on the first time I played Super Mario Bros. (spoiler—it was mind blowing), my first video game convention (2003’s Classic Gaming Expo), the hatred for video games at the 1999 Texas Pinball Festival, my previous dating life in relation to video games (one girl I went out with hated arcades, and that pretty much ended it right there). Lots of stories to tell.
REVIEW FIX: Anything else you’d like to add?
WEISS: Please take a few seconds to subscribe to my channel, which is simply “Brett Weiss.” I thought about maybe having a goofy video game nickname like The Brettro Gamer or something, but decided against it. Clicking on “subscribe” on the channel and “thumbs up” on the videos will help the channel grow. I hope to continue doing this for a long time—it’s a lot of fun, and I’ve got a lot of stories to tell. Thanks for watching and subscribing!