Segawhisper Interview by JDWorld

Brief Bio (About yourself)

Andy Stinton - Hi, I’m Andy Stinton, I run a number of social media pages online and was the fan who made the Shenmue 500K campaign and also the SEGA whisperer fan page. I enjoy a variety of things such as football, horror films and anything linked to Oriental cultures. I also have a knack for collecting things such as fine antique items and coins. Gaming however is one of my main hobbies and it takes up a large part of my life.

What is your earliest memory of video games and at what point did you know it was something you would love for life?

Andy Stinton - I had a SEGA Game Gear bought for me by my Mum, when I was small, with the game Batman Returns. I loved Batman when I was small lol (Michael Keaton FTW). It was a pretty decent platformer to be fair though and looking back, the soundtrack by Motohiro Kawashima (who would later go on to do Streets of Rage, with Yuzo Koshiro) was awesome. Later on I’d experience the Snes and Mega Drive consoles, Saturn, PlayStation and even old classics like the Spectrum. Then later on, I’d get a Dreamcast for Christmas and that was when gaming really became a major part of my life. The Saturn and then mainly the Dreamcast. Remember, getting the Dreamcast at launch with Sonic Adventure and playing it for the first time after watching that amazing opening cutscene. Experiencing in particular, Shenmue for the first time, after the heavy build up before release, was when I knew gaming was more than just a casual hobby.

What are your top 3 videos games and why?

Andy Stinton - Shenmue – A brilliant experience, very involving and very much like living in a different world. The game environments in terms of sense of place and charm, have never been matched, in my opinion. Sonic Adventure 2 - My favourite Sonic game, though I also love the 2D entries. The variety of levels, the music, the character development and storyline. For me, it feels more fluid than the original which also did many things well, but this one is an all-out Platformer only. Had SEGA stuck to the Adventure formula, the series wouldn’t be the butt of jokes, that it has been in years gone by. Crazy Taxi 2 - Love the simplicity and fun the game exudes. It’s also just a game that I can put on and just mess about on, so easy to pick up and play.

What are your top 3 consoles??

Andy Stinton - Dreamcast, Xbox & Saturn.

Who is your all-time favourite video game character and why?

Andy Stinton - Joint: Ryo and Knuckles. I’m attracted by the loyal qualities they have and the fiery determination that runs through them. They’re very much the archetypal “flawed good guy” character. Strong willed and courageous, but flawed.

If any, what real life skills would you say videos games have taught you growing up? Real life skills?

Andy Stinton - It would be mainly in terms of being creatively inspired by certain games. As corny as it sounds, even the sense of right and wrong and doing the right thing, struck me strongly with certain games. So certainly, certain games were far more deep than others in their meaning.

What video game character best suits your personality?

Andy Stinton - Knuckles – Fiercely loyal and passionate, but with a short fuse.

How big is your collection?

Andy Stinton - Moderate – Relatively good sized, but certainly not the biggest. I tend to buy carefully and tend to favour items such as Official game releases, t-shirts and plush toys. I love the quirky and unique, so would usually opt for something more Japanese orientated than Western. Many gamers may be able to relate, but when you’re not able to just buy everything, you prioritise items that you want among others. And then if you can add to the collection later, so be it. I am grateful for what I do have and feel some parts of my collection are impressive. Mostly, my collection is heavily SEGA and Dreamcast orientated, but I also have a lot of Xbox stuff and soon, likely PS4 items.

What is the Dream? (Your end goal with collecting)

Andy Stinton - I’d like a complete Dreamcast collection. It’s a console I have a very strong childhood connection too and my favourite of all, without question. It took me a while to get over SEGA leaving the hardware business. I still hold out hope that SEGA will come back one day, lol.

cough cough, SEGA Emerald...

With respect to the PlayStation of that time, the Dreamcast was doing many things others didn’t. It was daring, it was creative and it tried, even though it ultimately failed. The risks and creativity of all the different game types of that particular period, not just Dreamcast – even if you factor in other console such as PS, N64 – hasn't in my opinion, been matched since. They say the golden era was the 16 bit one – but I say it’s the 99’ - early 00’s. A four horse race and so much to choose from - a lot more risks being taken creatively and financially, than with today. However, I didn’t forsee the massive rise in Dreamcast prices online (perhaps naivety) and so collecting is certainly much less affordable, than it was say ten years ago.

What are your most prized top 3 collectables?

Andy Stinton - · My Shenmue collection. · My Knuckles the Echidna doll · My two Dreamcast consoles - one New, the other multi region modded

What is one item you have always dreamed of adding to your collection?

Andy Stinton - There could be a few, but I’m going to say a signed Yu Suzuki Dreamcast console. He is often at fan events and I also have regularly opened up my consoles for maintenance. So, I’d like to think I could take the main part of my console and get it signed in the not too distant future.

As a Sega fan I must ask, what’s your thoughts on the Shenmue series?

Andy Stinton - The Shenmue series is the greatest video game and gaming experience, but also the most underrated and underappreciated of them all, in my honest opinion. It’s that level of injustice, in terms of lack of mainstream plaudits for Shenmue and Yu Suzuki, that has always driven me and many other fans to campaign so hard. There is a level of dedication and love put in to so many in-game details, that would never even be done today. Certainly, in today’s world of DLC, micro transactions and more reliance on cash cows and safe bets. Shenmue remains a massive marker in video game history, in that it marked one of the biggest steps graphically and in scope, of that era. I always say Shenmue is much more than just a video game, it’s an immersive gaming experience and there are many ways you can play the game. The second one being much more action orientated and the first one being more small town atmospheric in tone. I would recommend Shenmue in a list of games to play, even just because it Is so unique to titles of that era. With regards to current developments with Shenmue III, I’m over the moon that it is being made and coming out this year in November. I am however concerned at what happens next, the next cloud on the horizon. Part of me hopes, that SEGA will come back in for the series and truly realise its value, not just financially, but to gaming and SEGA itself.

What inspired you to start the Shenmue 500k campaign?

Andy Stinton - I was very frustrated and frankly irritated at the lack of movement regarding the third game. As many fans at that time were. It seemed there was no movement, no news, no hope. It seemed the series was being humoured and the annual E3, “where is Shenmue III?” and hoaxes, were becoming grating. Having finished the second game and experiencing what can best be described as “low mood” with no sequel in sight, I set about trying my best to engage other fans who shared the same love for the Shenmue series as me. All with the ultimate aim of eventually getting Shenmue III one way or another. This is where social media came in and not perhaps being the most regularly sociable of types, it allowed me to help the series in my own way. Then I made Shenmue 500K, in it’s earliest form, a small 4-5k Facebook group. That was the start of it all. It is crazy to think how far things have positively progressed, since the beginning.

Is there anyone you would like to give a shout out to?

Andy Stinton - To Bertie Wiseman and Fintan Bourke. Two unsung heroes of the campaign. There are many others also, but these two have seen many good and bad things behind the scenes and have remained loyal and persistent, unlike certain others. Many gamers such as this are unsung heroes, because they go about their work quietly and don’t make a fuss. They work their butts off, not craving attention or posing for ego trips and neither do they get the plaudits they deserve. The main prize that we get from doing all of this is not even the recognition of certain figures (because really, that hasn’t been the case anyway), rather it is the end result. Just getting the game and being a huge part of helping with that outcome, has made even all the negative stuff behind the scenes, all worth it.

Have your say (say anything you want)

Andy Stinton - Gaming is a prized hobby of many. What always irritates me is when people say “grow up, gaming is for kids” and so on. Never lose what makes us enjoy life and always continue to try and do what you love. Gaming is far more sophisticated than many give it credit for and it will eventually surpass film as the main media of choice. The levels of interactivity that gaming offers is unmatched, compared to other media. I just really hope that gaming gets back to its roots and focuses more on games than on media add ons. The heart of gaming is in the games itself and not anything else.

Interview by Jason Domican, @JDWORLD